*With this season’s “Mad Men” set in 1968, you knew this was coming.
Turns out the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. hit viewers just as unexpectedly Sunday night as it did the characters in the episode.
In the early evening of April 4, most of the characters were together at an advertising-awards ceremony when an anonymous voice in the crowd shouted out that Martin Luther King had been shot.
The only African-American characters of note, Don’s secretary Dawn and Peggy’s secretary Phyllis, are in one scene apiece, and their presence is merely to demonstrate how far removed the main characters are to their black secretaries’ experience.
Don, thinking he’s being thoughtful, tries to send Dawn home the day after the assassination, when in reality, all Dawn wants is a bit of normalcy – so she insists on staying at the office. Office manager Joan awkwardly tries to give her a sympathetic hug.
As riots literally break out in the following hours and days around the New York City ad agency, tempers also flare inside the SCDP offices. One of the more memorable scenes takes place between Pete and Harry, who get into a shouting match over how the King assassination has disrupted their day-to-day lives.
Harry is upset that the special news bulletins have pre-empted so many of their clients’ commercials, while Pete slams him for his lack of sensitivity, calling him a racist.
Of course, Pete’s anger comes off as displaced frustration over Trudy kicking him out of the house, but that’s another plot line. Still, King’s murder made Pete realize his mortality and his love for his wife and daughter. His parting shot to Harry is reminding him that King was a man with “a wife and four children.”
Watch an inside look at last night’s episode below: