Mad Men Recap: Fever Dreams

A purse on a table and a dead woman's shoe poking out from under a bed: These are the images that keep reappearing when I think about "Mystery Date." Co-written by Victor Levin and and series creator Matthew Weiner and directed by Matt Shakman, this episode is a fine example of what the show is and how it works. It delivers plenty of dramatic incidents — so many that if you'd never watched an episode before, you'd feel as though the main rap against Mad Men, that it's just an intellectualized soap opera, is right on the money. But it also demonstrates that this series, like its main stylistic predecessor The Sopranos, is more than the sum of its melodrama. It's always operating on the edge of metaphor while maintaining plausible deniability.

On a pure plot level, there's plenty to talk about. Roger, who has always been borderline useless, seems headed for a disastrous reckoning thanks to his utter non-engagement with the Mohawk account; this is the second episode this season in which he's flat-out bribed another character (in this case Peggy) to get what he wants. The fissures that opened up between newlyweds Don and Megan in the pilot widen thanks to a chance encounter between Don and an old flame, Andrea (Madchen Amick of Twin Peaks!) in an elevator; Don, who's operating at half-strength thanks to some sort of flu bug, goes home and has a grotesque and meaning-packed dream about her. Read More...


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