Mad Men Power Rankings, Week 12: 'Everything's Going To Be Fine'
That terrible thing that we all knew was going to happen? Yeah, it happened. Now no longer just a knowing chuckle we shared when we saw a close-up on the date on Margaret Sterling's wedding invitation, That Terrible Thing finally came to pass during nooners, fights about art directors, and whiny conversations about job security, without regard for anyone's petty problems. After the jump, how That Terrible Thing (and some other, less terrible things) moved around the names on this week's Power Rankings (you will be shocked!) (Or possibly not shocked!):
1. Betty Draper (up) Last week: (2, but thought she was 1)
No more positional tomfoolery. After twelve grueling episodes, innumerable cigarettes consumed while staring out of a dramatically lit window, and countless soul-weary sighs each time the kids, like, asked for things, our Betty now sits atop the power rankings, alone. And now, entirely from memory (were we sobbing too hard to accurately transcribe? Ask the washing machine full of spent hankies), we recreate the heart-wrenching conversation between two-timing, identity-pilfering husband and fed-up, lost-little-girl wife that resulted in this unprecedented power-shift:
"I don't know where to begin."
"I don't know where to begin with this conversation about all the things going on right now. With us. The shoebox things, Don."
"Hold on, what?"
"I want to scream at you for ruining all this, which was never really real at all, was it, but which I wanted to believe was real because it's what I always thought I wanted. But then I got it, and maybe it wasn't what I wanted at all. Especially not this fake version you ruined, but then tried to fix. And there's no point. There's no point, Don."
"Bets, calm down."
"I will not calm down."
"Listen to the calm cadence of my voice, Bets. Bets...Bets...Bets."
"Bets...Bets, you're upset. I know it's painful, but it's going to pass."
"I don't love you."
"Bets... Don't, Bets. You're distraught, Bets. Bets, Bets, Bets."
"I said stop that, it's not going to work this time!"
"Bets. We're all suffering, Bets They're not going to shoot the president and make us all reflect on our lives every day, Bets. An assassination's just an unexpected change of direction, a quick veering off the road, but someone will grab the wheel and steer us back to a good place. A different place maybe, a place we didn't intend to go to when we went out for the drive. But a good place nonetheless."
"I kissed you yesterday. I didn't feel a thing."
"Bets, you'll feel better tomorrow. You'll see, Bets."
"You can't even hear me right now."
"Bets, you hear me. [untranscribable hissing/shushing sound] Bets. It's all OK. Everything's going to be OK. Bets."
(Catches herself nodding off, but snaps back into the moment. Steals a glance at the piece of paper she prepared for just such a situation.)
"I don't love you. I kissed you and didn't feel a thing."
(We scream at the television, full of sadness and desperation, "We''ll take you back, Don! We'll take you back!" then realize we haven't breathed for two full minutes.)
This is Betty's show now. For at least one week.
2. Don Draper (down) Last week: 1
Following last Sunday's shocking gut-stabbing, Don's been trudging through his suddenly turmoil-buffeted days with a kitchen knife protruding from his belly, somehow willing himself to ignore the burning sensation spreading through his abdomen. That is, until Betty finally grabbed the handle and gave it a deliberate, angry twist. "I don't love you." No more ignoring. No more labored stabbing metaphors. She's dumped the shoebox's contents onto the table, spent some more time lingering over every item revealing his deceptions, and called his bluff. So what now? Is she going to take the kids? Ask for a divorce? And who's that guy who seemed to be lingering at the edge of every frame of the wedding with a goofy grin on his face, her lawyer or something? She's probably meeting him to talk strategy when she says she needs to go take a drive to "clear her head." Oh, things are f*cked. So very f*cked. Maybe Dick Whitman should've come back from Korea and tried to reinvent his life without the lies and elaborate cover-ups. Things would be simpler. There would be no shoeboxes, at least. But Dick Whitman didn't come back, and Don Draper is where he is.
Also, the president is dead.
Don Draper Fingerbang Threat Level: Escape and Reversal!
There were two emotionally charged moments -- when a hysterical Betty told him she couldn't stop crying over The Terrible Thing, and when they were dancing at the Sterling wedding -- where Don seemed poised to pull Betty close, reach underneath her dress desperately, decisively, and bury those mind-erasing fingers inside her, holding on for dear life as he whispered in her ear, "You feel that? Everything's going to be fine." But he didn't. Instead, when Don extended an arm towards her after she said she didn't love him, attempting to take back what was his, Betty intercepted his usually reliable instrument of control, her once-delicate hand now twisted into a defiant claw. And, using the leverage provided by her brutal withdrawal of love, she turned those fingers back on him, driving them deep and true into his suddenly vulnerable undercarriage. "I kissed you yesterday. I didn't feel a thing," she hissed. Don, self-violated, fell to his knees. Defeated. Then Betty left him there, elbow-deep inside himself, to think about his lies while he tried to extricate his forearm from his own ravaged nether-regions.