Mad Men Season 3 Episode 12 starts pretty much like most episodes of Mad Men. The smarmy Peter Campbell gets the bad news that he has been passed over for a promotion. Don Draper is still suffering the consequence of his being found out by his wife.
Then everything changes. Spoilers surely follow.
Peter is in Crane’s office grousing about how ill used he is by Sterling Cooper’s British masters for not being made Vice President of Accounts. The TV is playing in the background, the sound turned down. What Crane commiserates with Peter, Walter Cronkite appears, unobtrusively, without a fuss, to announce that everything is changed.
Don Draper, who has just finished yelling at one of the Brits for not giving him a new art director, stomps out to see that everyone is gathered around a TV and that no work is being done. “What the hell is going on here?”
Hell doesn’t even begin to describe it. For many people alive that awful November Friday in 1963, the Kennedy assassination was the most traumatic day of their lives. The world seemed out of kilter, off balance. Even though Presidents had been shot before, this sort of thing was not supposed to happen in what was then the modern age.
The reaction of some of the characters is somewhat interesting. Peter Campbell is well on his way to becoming a conspiracy nut. Duck turned off the TV for fear that Peggy would be more interesting in watching the coverage than having sex with him. Don, characteristically, was trying to be strong and reassuring to the family. We’ll be sad for a while, but we’ll have a new President and then everything will be alright. A lot of people would disagree with the last bit.
The assassination turned the wedding of Sterling’s daughter into something of a disaster. Half the guests did not show up and neither did most of the help for the reception. But the girl braved it through and will no doubt be boring the grand children well into the 21st Century about how Lee Harvey Oswald ruined her first wedding.
There was a nice bit of dialogue at the wedding reception. Something about people being sad about FDR’s sudden demise in 1945, but three months later we nuked Hiroshima and then felt all better. His solution was to declare war on Texas and-indeed-the whole South. Why is it that Texas took the hit for an atrocity committed by a communist loser is something that is still a mystery.
Don Draper has some more things to worry about. The Kennedy assassination has crystallized certain things in Beatty Draper’s mind. She really doesn’t love Don any more, having found out that he is a fraud as well as an alcoholic philanderer. This devastates Don more than one would have thought. JFK getting killed did not throw his world into chaos. But the cold, final words of dismissal from his wife has.
Source: Mad Men, The Grown Ups, TV.Com