Pressure keeps building, more and more, until eventually it forces its way out, resulting in an outpour and uncontrollable flood. What am I talking about? The assassination of Martin Luther King was the last pressure needed to open the flood gates of racial tension. His death affected everyone in different ways (some more than others) and that is the focus of this episode.
Don is in an advertising awards dinner when he hears the news. No, he’s not being nominated but Megan and Peggy are. His response to the news is the way he usually responds to things: calm, cool and collected. He’s also a little distracted over concern for his lover Sylvia because she is out of town in Washington DC, where the rioting is the worst.
On the other side of town, Betty is with the children and Henry has to go out and deal with some of the political fallout of the MLK assassination. Meanwhile, Betty needs to call Don and remind him to pick up the children, especially Bobby, who has been acting out. Note that it’s been a while since Don has spent any real quality time with his children, and that old saying, “boys need their fathers,” comes into play. While Megan takes Sally to the MLK memorial, Don goes to see Planet of the Apes with Bobby. *SPOILER – They reveal the way the film ends in the episode, mainly because it perfectly parallels the destruction of a civilization with the destruction in this episode.*
Later that night, Bobby can’t sleep, and Don finds out that it is because Bobby is anxious and worried about someone assassinating Henry, his step-father. Don bluntly says that Henry isn’t important enough to kill. Ouch. [Little does he know that Henry will be running for state senator soon.]So Don stays with Bobby until he falls asleep. He reveals to Megan later that he has lost touch with his children and how he feels about them. He admits that he’s played the part of caring father without really feeling anything for them, up until recently, when Bobby tried to show his condolences to a black worker at the movie theater. Don said that gesture rekindled the love and pride he had for his son, and it also made him feel shame for not having felt it before.
Peggy, on the other hand, feels nothing. As she is apartment hunting, her realtor tries to take advantage of MLK’s death to low ball them on the price. It ends up going to someone else. When she heard about the death of MLK, she was more upset about the many inconveniences it caused rather than the death itself. She also doesn’t win the award, but at least Megan did. Man, that woman can sure do anything.
Ginsberg is set up on a blind date, which ends pretty bad when they discover that MLK has been assassinated. Well, even before then it was doomed for failure, but that death made a nice excuse to end the date rather than facing the possibility that Ginsberg might be gay. At least there was some comic relief for him when he went into a meeting with Don, Sterling and Stan with Randall, a very strange (and probably on a lot of drugs) guy who works in the property insurance business. He presented an awful advertising idea, citing the ghost of MLK as his inspiration.
With all the race riots, most of the secretaries don’t go to work. Dawn does show up late and even when she gets the opportunity to leave, she says she would rather stay. Then Joan walks in, and you get to witness the most awkward hug I’ve ever experienced. Yeah, even I felt awkward, but not as awkward as when Pete calls his wife Trudy. Pete takes advantage of the chaos in order to be able to go back home. Trudy doesn’t fall for it and tells him not to bother coming that weekend either. Pete also has a fight with Harry because Harry is more concerned with the fact that the death of MLK has interrupted his broadcasts and the clients want their money back. It’s not Harry’s fault though because he mistook it for a work day.