‘Mad Men’ Episode Four Review- The Mystery of Men

Written by Spencer Sterritt April 09, 2012

Violence from afar and violence in the home

Here we are again, another incredibly weird episode of “Mad Men”. Don has hallucinated and slipped out of reality a few times before, but nothing like this.It was an absolutely thrilling episode, fast-paced and drama filled with enough angst and aggressive call-backs to fill another decade.

If last week was a bit too on the nose, I thought tonight’s use of the Richard Speck murders, where he butchered and raped eight girls in Chicago, was a great metaphor for the evil underlying all of the men in “Mad Men’s” universe. Especially since one of the girls who got away from that massacre hid under the bed, which is where Don ends up stowing his hallucinated dead girl.

 

From the moment Don and Megan ran into Andrea, an old fling of Don’s, I knew she’d be trouble, but not that much trouble. Add in the fact that Don was looking very sick, physically and morally, and you knew something was going to be up. Lo and behold, Andrea shows up at Don’s apartment repeatedly and they eventually have sex. But then Don strangles her, to try and get rid of her and rid himself of his memories. All of the scenes with Andrea seemed…off, from the very beginning (especially since Megan would have definitely been home for it), but right up until Don put her dead body under the bed I was never absolutely sure that it was a hallucination. It was a very difficult thing to pull off, something “Mad Men” hasn’t done before, but they did it so well.

I've never seen Don Draper so angry

Even though Andrea wasn’t real, she brought up all sorts of questions that hopefully “Mad Men” will probe, specifically when Don actually had sex with Andrea. It’s mentioned that they had hooked up six years earlier, but Andrea talked more as if it was a recent thing. Has Don already slept around while married to Megan? There’s no way Don has told her everything, and this could be the big thing that brings down their marriage.

I liked how this episode took place primarily in one night, as Don lost his mind and Joan lost her husband. I thought Joan’s plot was airtight and perfect, and finally brought back the horrible night when her then-fiance Greg raped her in Don’s office. He’s back from Vietnam, but he volunteered to go back for another year without telling Joan, as if she didn’t have a say in anything. All he does is loudly talk about how important he is back on the home front and violently grab Joan. He was never a nice man before, and maybe the war has changed him. Thankfully he’s gone, as Joan tells him to never come back. Good for you Joan!

 

It was a bleak night for “Mad Men”, but it was also a funny episode too, at least at the outset. About the time Greg and Joan went to dinner with their families things went down the drain, but until then the episode hummed right along, especially in the early scenes between Roger and Peggy. I knew Roger would fall way behind in dealing with Mohawk Airlines, and he had to sneak around the office to bribe Peggy to stay up late and make a huge campaign from scratch. They bounced lines off of each other with such swiftness and humor that I almost thought it was going to be a rare “Mad Men” episode that was just funny.

 

A night of great work from both Peggy and Joan

 

Alas, this is “Mad Men”, so humor is fleeting. The humor gave way to intense creepiness, especially since Don hides the dead Andrea under his bed, and then in one of the last shots we see Sally sleeping under the couch, trying to hide from the nightmares about the Speck killings. Chilling, strange stuff, but it fed really well into “Mad Men”, and hopefully this oddness keeps on bubbling back up to the surface of this already stellar episode.

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About Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt: former Editor-In-Chief for We Eat Films, future President of the Men With Beards Club, and hopefully candidate for ruler of the world.

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