Crumbs: Reviews » Dramas » Mad Men » Season 5 » Mystery Date
Critical reviews of U.S. TV shows
and analysis of what makes them
good, bad, irritating and enlightening.

Mad Men



Episode 4 - Mystery Date

30 April 2012

Credit AMC

I liked this a lot even though not everything clicked. But as a mixture of dreams, ideas and fears it all came together well and was pretty memorable.

The horrible mass murders of Richard Speck were well described early on as was the Cinderella concept which Ginsberg was working on. Together they provided the imagery which informed several of the stories and the fact that each took place over the same night worked really well.

I instantly wondered if Don was having a feverish dream but that took nothing away from what it achieved. He is worried that the cheating part of him will never go away and that it might destroy his marriage. It was simple and clear and his numerous conquests made it just plausible that maybe he would sleep with Andrea even with Meagan on her way home. When he shoved her under the bed it became clear that his addled mind was mixing the lurid discussions of what Speck did with his own issues.

Sally meanwhile had to deal with another parent figure who doesn’t understand her at all. Grandma Paulina’s tale of parental abuse would have taken place around 1910. That’s such a long way away from Sally’s experience of life and her teenage existence must seem alien to her Grandmother. Again the way Speck’s actions were used to tell this story of inter-generational dialogue was effective and ended with the nice mirror image of Sally hiding under the sofa to get some sleep.

Peggy also got a little scared, alone in the office, before bonding with Dawn. The race issue was handled neatly again as Peggy accurately compares her situation to Dawn’s (first female copy writer to first black employee) before realising how far apart their worlds are. It was interesting that drunk Peggy kind of assumed that Dawn would want to write copy (as Meagan did) but Dawn hadn’t even thought about. The job she has is more than she might have expected.

I really liked the emotions over on the Joan plot. First the excitement and expectation of seeing Greg again and then the sadness when he tells her he is going back to Vietnam. Then comes the anger when she realises he volunteered to go back and then the numbness of finally calling him out for raping her and kicking him out. It was pretty strong stuff even if over the seasons I never felt entirely connected to this. It’s tough for a character like Greg to fully integrate on a show where Roger and Joan were the focus of our attention. It certainly tells a complete tale though as she tried to make the life she wanted only to be sorely disappointed with it.

I was less happy with the Ginsberg story where he convinces the client to go with his idea instead of Don’s. It felt a bit fast to suddenly set him up as both the new Peggy and the new Don. It would seem he is meant to be innocently sure of himself. He clearly manipulated the client into agreeing with him and yet didn’t understand why Don would be angry about that. His reaction to the murders was one of disgust rather than the excited titillation of his peers. We’ll see how he develops but I feel as if I am supposed to know who he is already but I don’t.

Finally I liked the different ways social attitudes came across. We saw Lane mistrust a black cab driver two episodes ago and here Peggy also sees a black face and associates it with theft. It was a black man who mugged Roger last season (409) so it’s easy to imagine white parents teaching their children who to trust and who not to and how ingrained that thinking would be. I also liked Greg’s touchiness on the subject of Vietnam. Sure in his case he is getting a lot of validation from being serving but I think in 1966 many people would have felt how he did. He clearly sees himself fighting a just war and is irritated by the less favourable talk back home. And we finish where we started with Richard Speck. As mentioned above Peggy and the others delight over hearing the gory details just as people do today. They seem so much more real for not all acting like Michael Ginsberg and being shocked and disgusted by it.



Add your comments on this episode below. They may be included in the weekly podcasts.

Post your comment


  • Peggy remains my favorite character. I agree with Jeremy that her drunken negotiations with Roger were very well done. It'll be interesting to see what she comes up with.
    I agree with Robin that Don's fevered dream felt very real and his self doubt was well displayed. I am eager to learn if he has more than a cold and where they will take that (Breaking Bad, anyone?)

    Posted by Yogabon, 11/04/2012 12:11am (8 years ago)

  • Also just because of the awfulness of Beer Bad from Buffy is still fresh in my mind. Don strangling a past fling in a fever dream is the way you metaphorically demonstrate dealing with your id on a TV show, no cavemen required.

    Posted by Derek, 10/04/2012 8:53pm (8 years ago)

  • I actually quite enjoyed this episode and while I never liked Greg. I felt like this was a rather cheap way to get rid of him. It wasn't that I wasn't connecting with Joan's emotional arc of this episode and I didn't want a big soap opera confrontation with Greg realizing that Kevin is not his baby, but this seemed maybe too neat. I'm glad to see Greg go but Joan is made to seem like the victim here when she is raising another man's baby as her husband, a husband who once raped her but still.

    Viewer score: 69 / 100

    Posted by Derek, 10/04/2012 8:41pm (8 years ago)

  • Peggy stole the show. There was the amusing negotiation with bribe-happy Roger, first of all. Then when she gets drunk and betrays her infatuation with Don and her self-consciousness over being too "manly". All just adds to the richness of her character and makes her so interesting and idiosyncratic.

    I think Ginsberg was right when he said he wasn't even close to getting fired. Yes, he screwed up, but Don sees greatness in him, and probably sees himself in him, and Ginsberg knows it.

    Viewer score: 72 / 100

    Posted by jeremy, 10/04/2012 5:40am (8 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments