Fetters: Chris, I think I can speak for both of us: That was a lot to handle.
I guess we did have fair warning. This episode, “The Runaways,” was prefaced by the “Viewer Discretion Advised” banner—and sure enough, Mad Men delivered the most bluntly sexual episode I can remember since Don’s day-long domination-submission game with Sylvia last season.
Tension is palpable when Megan dances with her acting classmate; Megan’s friend Amy makes repeated advances toward Don, until finally and to the collective delight of Twitter, Don and Megan have a threesome with her. Elsewhere, Lou Avery and Jim Cutler get spotted in what Ginsberg perceives to be a quasi-erotic weekend meeting. Ginsberg comes onto Peggy in her apartment—well, as much as “If there were a way to do this without having sex, I’d do it” counts as coming onto someone—and later expresses his feelings for Peggy by presenting her with his bloody, severed nipple in a box, like something from a less terrifying, more botched-rom-commy Seven.
That last part was decidedly unsexy, to say the least. What struck me about all the swirling erotic energy in this episode, though, is that almost none of it served to advance the plotlines whatsoever. After all, it’s Ginsberg’s psychological instability that finally gets him escorted out of SC&P, not his infatuation with Peggy. The oddly intimate conversation between Lou Avery and Jim Cutler, it seems later on, is probably just a clandestine meeting about Philip Morris. And did you catch Megan’s frustrated reaction once she’s alone again in the kitchen after her night with Amy and Don? Amy departs awkwardly; Don says he has to go take a shower and then get back to New York to act on what Harry Crane told him. Suddenly Megan’s alone once again, any connection she had fleetingly rekindled with her husband now snuffed out. Sex and sensuality, it seems, are distractions from—or obfuscations of—more powerful forces at work.