Every week for the sixth season of AMC's acclaimed series Mad Men, our roundtable of Eleanor Barkhorn (Sexes editor, TheAtlantic.com), Ashley Fetters (editorial fellow for TheAtlantic.com's Entertainment and Sexes channels), and Amy Sullivan (National Journal correspondent) will discuss the latest happenings at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
Barkhorn: Wow. Well. Wow. Ok. Just...wow.
After the initial shock of everything that happened in this packed episode passed, the first word that came to mind is, finally. So many things took place in this episode that have been building for weeks, even years. Yet now that they've happened, they feel surprising. I've been lulled for so long by the slow emotional inertia of Mad Men that when big things finally materialize they're both startling and inevitable.
The most shocking-yet-predictable moment was, of course, Don and Betty's tryst. The possibility of their reunion has been building since the season four finale, when they said goodbye to the old house in Ossining. Betty had such a look of longing in her eyes in that scene, I thought they'd end up in bed right then. But, of course, no. It took another season and a half for the reunion to take place: For Betty to get fat and then thin again; to go brunette and then blonde again; to find herself again waiting for her husband at a party while another man hits on her, the exact set-up for when she first met Henry. And, conversely, Don had to get happy and then unhappy again, to be a faithful husband and then cheat again. And then they had to meet again, without their new spouses, at Bobby's camp, where it could almost look like they'd never split up.