Mad Men and the Speck murders: Season 5’s treatment of Richard Speck’s infamous crime.

Julia Turner Chats with Readers About a Thoroughly Satisfying Episode of Mad Men

Julia Turner Chats with Readers About a Thoroughly Satisfying Episode of Mad Men

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
April 9 2012 5:36 PM

"Yay Joan!"

Julia Turner chats with readers about a thoroughly satisfying episode of Mad Men.

(Continued from Page 1)

June Thomas: I agree that his connection is too tenuous to be dramatically interesting. But if his disappearance allows us to avoid the equivalent of a Downton Abbey trenches scene, I'll be OK with that. Mad Men has often dealt with the big events of the day by showing them on TV or in the news headlines.

Jamie Hood: Good point! I think MM's sideways-handling of the Big News Stories has always worked to its favor (Marilyn Monroe, Kennedy, Bay of Pigs, etc), and I'm likewise unsure that I really need to see hand-to-hand combat derail the show's usual aesthetic and tone.

Jake Howell: Pete Campbell seems like a good choice for the draft.

Julia Turner: I think Pete may be too old. But how about wunderkind Ginsberg? Someone who knows more about the mechanics of the draft should chime in here!

BJ Fischer: That's what I was thinking, Ginsberg could be drafted.

Daisy Cusick: I don't think Pete would be likely to be drafted. He's married with a child and by now he's in his late 20s. Unmarried, young, and childless were the likely draft picks.


Charlie Harrison: Roger seems like a bit of sad case who's lost his touch as of late—do you think this will last?

Julia Turner: Charlie, I do think Roger's downward spiral will only continue. He's the old guard, lazy, put out, continually waiting for things to get "back to normal," even though there is no normal any more.


Julia Turner: How did you guys feel about Don's nightmare date? Did you think it was really happening?


Kate Andrews: I figured Don was dreaming, but it may have some basis in (recent) reality.

Jamie Harding: I was not totally sure whether it was real or not. It took me back to the end of last season and his sudden proposal to Megan, which at the time I thought had to be some kind of weird dream. But that marriage turned out to be real, so that's why I was uncertain about the nightmare last night. It was just a really dark episode—especially Granny Pauline and her knife and Seconal in that creepy house. Poor Sally doesn't have a single mentally healthy adult in her life.

Brett Strand: I was waiting for Don to wake up, roll over, and find Medgar Evers lying next to him. Alas, no.

Marc Naimark: I have heard some questions about whether Andrea's first visit to Don's apartment was part of the dream or not. For me it clearly wasn't. What do you think? (As to finding him, wasn't everybody in the phone book back then? And she could always use her doorman-charming ways to find out where he lived from someone at SCDP.)

Julia Turner: Marc, that's an interesting theory, that Andrea's first visit to the apartment was real, and the rest just figments of Don's fevered brain. She did say something interesting about the decor on that first visit—that Megan probably thought the design choices were her idea, but that they were all Don's. That line is more telling—of what, I'm not sure—if it's coming from Don's psyche than Andrea's mouth.


Marc Naimark: At the restaurant scene, the soldier saluted Greg, presumably just because of the uniform. But did they know each other? Greg spoke of the soldier being from Fort Hood. How would Greg have known that?

Michael Clementine-Everest Dominguez: The soldier at the restaurant saluted him because he was of a higher rank. And he knew he was from Fort Hood by the division patches on his uniform.


Deborah Gobble: Julia, no one has yet mentioned "everyone under the bed.” What a fascinating trope. And as one who was in Chicago during that period, I can attest to the sick fascination the story held.

Julia Turner: You're right, there was a lot of hiding under beds. I saw it as a metaphor. Usually, we cower from the monster under the bed—but the monster generally has the decency to stay down there, glaring out and spooking us, without doing too much damage. In the '50s and early '60s, that's where the monsters—violence, unrest, rapes like Joan's—lived. Out of sight, and mostly out of mind.

With the focus on the Speck murders in this episode, though, we see an inversion: Malice is loosed and running through the streets, and under the bed is where people find safety alongside the dustbunnies.

Brett Strand: Anyone else find significance to the overhead shots of lying in bed, between Don and Joan? There must be something there, but I haven't yet put my finger on it.

Calla Windsor: And what is to become of Sally Draper?

Kate Andrews: I don't think that the Sally storyline is all bad. Grandma Pauline is the only adult in her life that didn't shy away from telling her some hard truths (albeit from a completely f'ed up viewpoint!).

Julia Turner: Agreed. I am ready for the Sally/Pauline buddy comedy. They should go on a road-trip, Thelma and Louise-style!

Kate Andrews: All I can say is that I couldn't get to sleep very well after reading the Wikipedia entry on the Speck murders!

Julia Turner: Me neither, Kate! I'm afraid that's all we have time for this week. Sweet dreams until next Sunday.