This might be one of those episodes that grows on me with subsequent viewings, but at first blush I didn't love most of it.
The overarching theme of women struggling to make it in a man's world felt overwrought for most of the episode, written by Victor Levin and Matthew Weiner and helmed by Matt Shakman.
What I did like was Elisabeth Moss -- it's a testament to her skill that she made her scenes in "Mystery Date" work for her character. I also really like the actress, Teyonah Parris, who plays Don's secretary, Dawn.
What I really disliked was the Zosia Mamet bit. She just needs to stay off this show -- enough already. The character doesn't work, and she's not convincing in the slightest. It didn't help that they gave her a ridiculous scene to play, but I think that's just a symptom of the fact that she is poison on this show. I didn't buy for a minute that creepy Joyce would barge into to the
Sterling Cooper office with grisly murder photos and get the gang to stop everything and get kinky with her. Yes, I understood the subtext that Michael Ginsberg would be outraged because he's not even a generation removed from the Holocaust, but that didn't make it any better, for me.
In this hour we saw variations on the theme of women taking charge. Joan takes charge of her destiny with the baby that is not her husband's. Her decision to throw Greg out has the added benefit of alleviating her guilt for pretending that he's the father. Not that he doesn't deserve it -- it's time she confronted him for the rape in season three (I think it was S3).
Peggy takes charge with a desperate Roger Sterling. Sally takes charge with her step-grandmother who is more than a little sadistic.
Megan confronts Don in a very different way, and winds up with the desired result even if she doesn't know it yet. I found it refreshing that she was so unabashedly upfront with him about her feelings about their latest encounter with one of his many conquests. And it was just her luck that he had a nasty fever that led him to work it out in a wacky dream -- I suppose it was a sign he's getting over his sickness of being a serial philanderer.
And yet, it surprises me to say this, but even Jon Hamm wasn't on his A-game tonight. He was good, just not great in his dream scenes.
Hamm's best bit was chewing out Ginsberg in the bar ("In my heart I want to throw you in front of a cab") after the latter's strange decision to throw a second pitch at the last second to the "footwear" client -- who sticks with tonight's theme in complimenting Ginsberg on his understanding of women.
But they're all too clueless to realize that a campaign about Cinderella being stalked may not fly in the wake of the headlines about Richard Speck's massacre of eight student nurses in Chicago on July 14, 1966. It was interesting to see this episode depict the terror those national headlines spurred. The case is legendary, but I never thought about how frightening it must've been for those few days before Speck was caught.
Again, for me the highlight of this underwhelming seg was the Peggy storyline. I loved seeing her get the best of Roger, who is so out of practice on handling an account that he forgot to get his copywriter ready for a golden opportunity to win market share from its competitors (and for Sterling Cooper to impress other airlines at the same time). The look of glee on Peggy's face when she actually gets him to part with $400 is great -- you can tell it's not so much the money but the power that makes her giddy.
I liked her drunk scene in her apartment with Dawn, who probably had the single-best observation of the episode: "You all drink a lot." Peggy's boozy introspection about whether she wants to ultimately be Don in a dress was well played, and I loved her "Star is Born" reference: "I was discovered like Esther Blodgett."
Like Moss, Kiernan Shipka made the Sally scenes work. Although Pauline nags her to act like an adult, Sally's problem is that she's been forced to be a mini-adult way too soon. Hope the kid doesn't develop a taste for Seconal.
The theme of the night was hammered home right down to the music over the closing credits, the Crystals' "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss"). It's a Goffin-King tune rarely heard on oldies radio these days for obvious reasons -- and that was before Phil Spector went to jail for murder. Mostly it's just not a great song, especially by Carole King standards.
And perhaps that's appropriate for this episode. All in all, I just didn't dig this one, as the kids would say. Everyone's entitled to an off night.