Mad Men Season 3, Episode 12: "The Grown-Ups" - Recap

After dominating the last two episodes, Don Draper, Dick Whitman and , well, everybody really, take a back seat to the most speculated-about moment of Mad Men's third season: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Creator Matthew Weiner put the drama of the event front and center, but still managed to show the changes happening in the lives of those sitting transfixed on their couches, those unable to look away from the situation that kept going from bad to worse. Betty finally realizes that her feelings for Don no longer exist. Pete, after being less than graciously not promoted, convinces himself, then Trudy, that leaving Sterling Cooper might be his only move. And Roger Sterling, unable to crack wise about Kennedy's death like he does everything else, realizes only one person can make him feel better after his daughter's train wreck of a wedding ends.

But how exactly do we cope with tragedy? Do we, like Don, talk it away by focusing on the hope for a brighter tomorrow? Or do we react like Betty by immersing ourselves in it and allow it to break us down? Could we be like Pete and misplace our anger at those around us? Or do we take Roger's approach of just being baffled by it, knowing that with persistence we'll pull through? All of those initial reactions, however, give way to reflection, which gives way to honesty. And it's in those moments of honesty that the realizations listed above are made, for better or worse.

He basically said I care too much about my clients and they notice it. How could that be bad?" — Pete Campbell

Before the country came to a screeching halt, Pete learns that Lane has decided to make Ken Cosgrove the senior vice president in charge of account services (or "senior something of something accounts," as Pete hilariously calls it in his retelling to Trudy), while Pete remains head of account management. Lane's rationale is simple: "You are excellent at making the clients feel their needs are being met, but Mr. Cosgrove has the rare gift of making them feel as if they haven't any needs," Lane says. Pete takes it like a man (and doesn't lose his temper to Trudy's great relief), but heads home early with the intent to take Duck up on his offer, despite Trudy's warnings to the contrary.

Once the president is dead, however, Pete sees his colleagues for what they really are. He's infuriated that Roger won't cancel his daughter's wedding. ("One thing to go and act like I don't hate them. It's another to go and act like the president hasn't been murdered," Pete says.) He is disgusted that Harry Crane crunches numbers about how many commercials aren't airing while the news coverage dominates the TV. Eventually, Pete brings Trudy over to his way of thinking. She encourages him to gather his clients and take them with him. Maybe we will see how many like seeing Pete tend to their needs after all.

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