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."

"Stop that."

"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."

(She exits.)

(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.

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  • DarkKnightShyamalan says:

    Am I the only one who thought this was the worst Mad Men of the season (and possibly ever)?
    I feel like the only purpose of it was for Matt Weiner to show us why he didn't want to do a "Where you you?" episode in the first place. After seeing it, I agree with him. I just don't know why he changed his mind. Did AMC put a gun to his head?

  • rebecca says:

    Most depressing episode ever!

  • sweetbiscuit says:

    It was definitely weak, I thought. For all the things that were happening, nothing really happened. And yes, depressing, too.
    On a side note to M. Lisanti: "get his chew on" is awe-inspiring.

  • bess marvin, girl detective says:

    I totally disagree with Sally not being ranked. She was looking menacingly at Betty as if to say "What happened to ol' Jack could very well happen to you mommy."
    Or maybe that was me projecting. Weak episode. Then again, I was watching the Yanks snuff the Phillies in their crib.

  • academy screamer says:

    which is it? Is Weiner playing Bets for an idiot for seriously considering Henry's proposal after a cup of coffee and one period of tonsil hockey, or is Henry serious, and MW's playing his audience for idiots. I really can't decide.

  • Majean says:

    No you are not the only one. I just kept watching and thinking "This show is really going down hill."

  • snarkordie says:

    I thought Mona should have been ranked over Margaret. "How very Jane Siegel Sterling of her..."

  • WHAT IS HAPPENING. [awk] says:

    No comment on the "they're a couple of homos" line? From Duck's mouth to God's ear.

  • OldTowneTavern says:

    I don't think I could have continued to watch the show if it left out the Kennedy assassination. What's the point of setting the show in the 60s and then ignore the decade's most defining moments?

  • Nell says:

    I thought it was great, but sad. It was like the whole show was mourning Don's disintegration. The end where he was peeking in on his former life like an audience member was heartbreaking.
    Betty may be using Henry's interest to free herself from the marriage. After talking to lawyer and learning she had no power and could lose her kids, she was resigned to stay. Henry is plugged in enough to bring the hammer down on Don Draper's usurper.

  • Kissinger says:

    Best episode ever - those not living then cannot appreciate how the JFK assassination hit the nation's broad middle class between the eyes like a bowling ball...
    After Ike, Truman and FDR, the future belonged to "a new generation of young Americans", and the fashion culture, Camelot etc., became a new thing with Jack, Jackie and their 2 kids--until he was murdered in broad daylight on a US street.
    Peggy gets it--she can't deal with the anguish everyone's going through.
    She also sees Don's despair at the very end - JFK was his role model -the embodiment of the well-spoken empty suit and haircut, with trophy wife and young family - cut down in the prime of life--replaced IMMEDIATELY by the crusty, mercurial Master of the Senate, Lyndon Johnson (Pete Campbell comments on this 'back to the same old guard' disdainfully);
    It even gets to Betty: She can't deal with how quickly the conformist life-path that she and Don are following is crumbling before her eyes, when Lee Harvey Oswald--who is heard yelling "I'm just a patsy" in one of the file footage scenes (as he's first brought in by police)--
    is later assassinated himself,
    robbing Americans (especially younger ones) of the possibility of ever gaining closure (via trial) over the reason for the murder of their first pop culture Presidential couple.
    Later polls in the 1960s revealed that well over 50% of Americans did not believe Oswald acted by himself.
    This gave rise to a well-funded industry designed to assure the truth would never emerge - vital records are sealed for over 70 years, and many of the key witnesses died within 24-36 months after the assassination.

  • polly says:

    Good for Betty for finally getting to the top of the power rankings!
    You should have included Sally's PatricideWatch for the look she shot her dad after he told her to go upstairs.

  • polly says:

    Don hated JFK. He was a Nixon man.

  • Not Mad Man says:

    I agree with those that wanted a Sally ranking this week. She was clearly moved by Lee Harvey.

  • J says:

    Surprised nobody has commented on Peggy's Aqua Net storyboards: pretty much an exact replica of the Zapruder film! (which hadn't been unleashed on the public yet)
    Very clever of MW.

  • Kissinger says:

    True, Don did seem to express an inclination toward the Ike/Nixon "Establishment".
    However, if you recall, that was prior to the 1960 election, when Sterling Cooper was hired to promote Nixon
    (they ultimately failed in their mission partly because the JFK camp understood better than they did the amazing potential of television to market the first particularly telegenic, well-spoken candidate who appealed to a younger audience, as well as a female audience)
    ANY challenger (as JFK was) is going to be viewed skeptically until he earns his stripes, first by winning, second by governing effectively (I see parallels to the present USA)
    When Don was asked who he voted for, he answered "I don't".
    Which may be taken as the right attitude of any King-maker or Adman:
    If I spend my time going to stand in line to vote,
    that is wasted time that should be spent swaying 10 million undecideds in swing states over to my client's candidate, whoever they pay me to promote...
    Don is now a JFK man, because JFK won. JFK was the new boss and role model for his time, for better or worse. JFK has a beautiful wife and 2 kids and has tremendous purchasing and style influence over the American Consumer Public, which Don is paid heavily by Corporations to influence.
    In the aftermath of the assassination, Don is wondering (anguishing?) whether the bridge "back to LBJ" is a bridge too far...

  • Kissinger says:

    Why did Don hate JFK? Because JFK was a skirt-chaser? Couldn't keep it in his pants? Cheated on his beautiful wife with Marilyn Monroe and legions of others?
    Sure, not much of this was public at the time, but much of inside Washington knew (especially Nixonites and J Edgar Hoover).
    Based on what we know about 1960 NYC, who really cared, as long as public appearances were kept up? No such thing as TMZ, National Enquirer, YouTube, etc.

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