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Mad Men Recap: Episode 12, "The Mountain King"

Mad Men Rundown: Episode 12, "The Mountain King"

A lot went down in this week's episode of Mad Men, which makes sense as next week will mark the conclusion of season two (boo!). However, despite some character story lines progressing along, this episode doesn't offer many clues as to how Betty and Don will resolve their marital issues.

We do learn a bunch of stuff about other characters, though, including the fact that Pete is violently opposed to adoption and poor Joan is caught up in a terrible relationship with a wretched man. And while Don's away in California indulging in a mother of an identity crisis, Peggy's slowly but surely proving herself to be the brightest star in the office. So much to talk about! Let's get started, just


Don Draper: Whoa. Talk about getting some answers. We finally learn the identity of the mysterious woman who showed up at Don's car dealership job in a flashback a few episodes back. She's the real Don Draper's wife! (And I so called it, as soon as I understood who she was, that she's the person to whom Don mailed the Meditations in an Emergency!) Turns out the two struck a deal that was financial as well as emotional. The "real" Mrs. Draper allowed Don to live as her legal husband until, of course, he met Betty. The flashback where he comes home to tell Mrs. Draper about the beautiful model he wants to marry is a nice glimpse into his early feelings for Betty, and I loved that dopey grin on his face as he described Betty to Anna. I can't decide if Anna (Mrs. Draper) is a force for good in Don's life or a kind of enabler. On the one hand, the little family they form together is sweet, but on the other hand she offers rationalizations like this one after he finally admits he's ruined everything by lying to Betty: "You love her. You don't have to tell her everything." I think I get what she's saying, but hopefully Don won't take this to mean that he doesn't have to be honest with Betty.

Peggy: Peggy continues to be the character I enjoy rooting for the most. Even though we know she's made some bizarre, confused decisions in the past, she still seems to be the most well-adjusted, rational person in the office. The way she lands the popsicle account is brilliant and I love watching how quickly she's become one of the guys (in their own way they seem to accept now that she's reaching their level, professionally) and they respect her. I also really enjoyed her exchange with Joan. It seems they've realized that they both struggle to stay afloat in a man's world. The cherry on top of last night? Peggy landing her own office. Hurray! When Pete is curious how she landed such a sweet situation she deadpans, "I’m sleeping with Don. It’s really working out.” Sassy, funny, upwardly mobile Peggy? Yes, please!

More thoughts:

  • OMG, Sally Draper smoking is so disturbing but I laughed out loud. It's heartbreaking to hear her tell her mom that daddy left because Betty is "mean and stupid." Ugh! That kid is going to be a handful as a teenager, especially if she (crossing fingers!) becomes some kind of '60s hippie activist. Probably won't be able to stick her in a closet then!
  • For some reason Ken's contribution to the popsicle campaign brainstorm made me laugh: "In Vermont we made our own ice cream. It was a pain in the ass."
  • OK, Pete's reaction to the adoption agency is crazy! After he screams "Hells bells Trudy! That's final!" and tosses dinner over the balcony, I loved how Trudy put him in his place: "You don't speak to me that way!"
  • Aaand. . . Daddy pulls the Clearasil campaign from Pete, who is too stubborn to back down and keep the business for Sterling-Cooper. I'm amazed that Pete's personal issues cause a client to withdraw, and Pete doesn't seem to care much about it.
  • Let's get the terrible scene with Joan and her fiance out of the way. Just, ugh. I could hardly stand to watch that go down in Don's office. I've never felt as sympathetic toward Joan as I do now. How soul-shattering was it that they went straight to dinner afterwards (though she left the flowers on the desk, which seems like even more heartbreaking symbolism)? She cannot marry that jerk.
  • One of the funniest lines to me was when Anna comments on Don's crush on Betty: "Look at you. You're in the lavender haze." Ha! People in the '60s used funny phrases.
  • Betty's call to Sarah Beth is also insane! Sarah Beth accuses Betty of encouraging her affair with Arthur and Betty shoots back that there's a difference between "wanting and having." It's an intense scene that makes Betty look like the puppet master over these people as a way of working out her own desires. Maybe?
  • Cooper's sister Alice is fabulously powerful as a character and I enjoyed her back-and-forth with Roger. She appears to convince Cooper of agreeing to the merger. And does it seem darkly foreshadow-y when she says something in the beginning about letting Roger Sterling die in the arms of a 20-year-old? Anyway, next week the staff is going to flip out! I can't wait.

What did you think of this episode? Are you sad we're nearly done with season two? Remember to chime in with your expectations for season three!

Photos courtesy of AMC

— Additional reporting by Kimra McPherson and Kate Emswiler

Join The Conversation
ildergreier ildergreier 8 years
Why can not the doc dissapear? And what will be Dons reaction to Peggy sitting on the office right next to him be?
amybdk amybdk 8 years
I think many of the scenes with Don were flashbacks to pre-Betty times? The ending in collaboration with the tarot card readings makes me believe that there is hope for Don Draper and family. We'll see!
kluster86 kluster86 8 years
Joan's pink and purple outfit was tooooooooooo hot man. That shit was hot lol The rape scene was hard to watch for me. WHo is this doctor? and how did she meet him. I think we deserve some background info. Don, "I'm looking for work." When the hell are you going home? He is forever running from his problems. He cant just leave his wife and kids behind. Betty is starting to become mean, in a good way. I'm glad that she's trying to find herself, but I dont think hurting people in the process is going to work for her. Misery loves company i guess.
bento-barista bento-barista 8 years
I totally thought the last scene was symbolism for baptism and starting over. Speaking of religion, I loved the line when Peggy shows the men from Popsicle her ad and one of them was all, "It looks so familiar". When Pete threw the dinner over the balcony I kept waiting for the sound of china crash or at least someone yelling "Hey!" Finally, what was up with Betty started bleeding after she spoke to Sally? -- I immediately thought miscarriage, is it possible that she knew she was pregnant, if indeed she was???
angelfromlsu angelfromlsu 8 years
Did ya'll notice that Betty was mad at Sally Draper only because she was going to "burn the house down"? The underage smoking was not the issue. hehe...Times have sure changed. I just love Betty's riding hair. What kind of hairstyle is it?
norrin norrin 8 years
I unfortunately think that Joan will marry Dr. McJerky. The reason I think so is because of the time that they all live in. You got married to someone successful. And then who would believe her for her reasons of not marrying him. After all he's a thoracic surgeon, and he helps poor "negro" children, and handsome. All that according to the secretary she spoke with when Joan first arrived at the office. The most hilarious part, in counterpoint, I thought was when the guy that they're trying to sell the Popsicle account too sees something familiar, but Peggy kind of waves it off. 'No, no nothing to see here.' Betty is coming off like a self-righteous so-and-so. The look on Betty's face when Sara Beth said that she did something wrong Betty's eyes just lit up. She hardly has come off as an innocent this season. Especially when her car got stuck that one time and she... I'll say enticed the tow truck driver.
Lysa1237 Lysa1237 8 years
I loved this episode. *Don starting clean, I guess since he went inside the ocean it kind of reminded me of a baptism. *Betty, I liked that she was sincere in the end with her daughter, betty looks like she is molding into something new. is she pregnant? *Ha Alice cooper, loved her, specially the; you have two children to worry about roger, awesome. *Roger, being Roger; whose eyes do I look at? *Poor joan, that scene was hard to watch, hope she looses that jerk, did any one get the feelin' that maybe this has happened to her before? *Pete, way to trow a turkey out the window, hahaha. good for the wife for standing up for her self, even though I like pete to end up with peggy, don't know why. * Peggy, yay she had the guts to ask for the office and she got it. *Anna 1st mrs. draper, I liked her, she seems like she could put some sense in Don, plus I like that someone know who he REALLY is. aww yes I liked that scene with Don gushing about betty. Cant wait till next episode. xoxo
jadenirvana jadenirvana 8 years
Most bone-chilling scene: Tie between Betty's psychotic cold-blooded machinations with her supposed friend Sarah Beth and of course Joan's heartbreaking grey rape scene. What a jerk! Chilling in a good way: Seeing Peggy quietly and courageously becoming the new Don Draper. Go girl!
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 8 years
"Don went from such a good hearted person to being completely self centered." I don't know if I think the business has anything to do with what's going on with Don. Like his other "wife" mentioned, he has the mentality that he's completely alone in this world and that obviously has to do with his upbringing.
ohjeeze ohjeeze 8 years
I hope Peggy's success doesn't alter who she is. Look at the men around her. Don went from such a good hearted person to being completely self centered. However, as the show goes on I think that's exactly what they will do to her character but I could be wrong. I also loved Roger's line about liking the young aggressive women. You see it's not that he's a pig he just likes the new "liberated" woman.
hooligan hooligan 8 years
Anna Draper reminded me of Tatiana from "The Sopranos!" I should probably read "Meditations in an Emergency" to get a bead on what could happen in next week's episode! As for "The Mountain King" reference, is Don supposed to be Peer Gynt or the Mountain King? Peer Gynt was running away from trolls after all! The Mountain King chased Peer out of his castle... I enjoyed Peggy's ascencion @ Sterling Cooper - her outfits/hairdos get smarter every time we see her! Yay! I can't imagine Joan marrying that douchebag! Hopefully, by Season 3 he'll be out of the picture!
PollyPrissyPants PollyPrissyPants 8 years
I think this was my favourite episode so far this season - so much happened and it's all coming fast and furious now that we're getting to the end. My favourite line of the night goes to Alice Cooper (awesome name) when she burned Roger with her talk of "children". Roger corrected her "I only have one"...pregnant pause...Alice "my mistake". OUCH. Pete's whole storyline bothered me this week. I mean I realise Pete is being a big emotional baby about the adoption (although given his family experiences, I'm not surprised) but I hated that his father-in-law tried to blackmail him into essentially just doing what his daughter wants. How is that going to help their relationship at all?
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 8 years
Every season is supposed to start 14 months after the end of the previous. And please don't let Joan marry that awful doctor. He's awful.
lylpookie lylpookie 8 years
I think the report that Buzz made that there was a 5 season plan ending in 1968 would hint that next season will be 1964, 4th season 1966 and 5th season is 1968....
lolagrape lolagrape 8 years
@hausfrau--Does it really skip ahead two years? Won't that skip 1963? I'd think they'd want that in the show?
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
I don't think we'll find out if Don and Betty get back together by the end of this season. And since next season skips 2 years ahead, I think we'll only find out via flashbacks (if at all) how it all goes down.
Entertainment Entertainment 8 years
Thanks lolagrape - fixed!
lylpookie lylpookie 8 years
I don't know if I think Joan ever actually thought that she could've had Roger. I don't think she, or anyone else, ever expected Roger to actually ever leave Mona That scene though was so tough to watch. I'm intrigued to see this dynamic with Anna Draper and Dick Whitman. It's interesting to see him "be himself." He finally seems relaxed and not so tense. Who knows, it could be the CA air or the fact that he's on "vacation." The whole Betty scene on the phone was pretty intense though. I got this weird feeling as though Betty enjoyed that sense of being "better" than someone else and needed that since she's been feeling so badly about her relationship with Don.
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
The bleeding thing I wondered about! My first thought was period but then I thought miscarriage??
lolagrape lolagrape 8 years
Sorry, buzz, but I think the "lavender haze" comment was something Anna Draper said to Don when he was asking her for a divorce? Also, I felt so bad for Cooper after that board meeting. They all up and let him sitting there, alone, like the antiquated cash cow he is. But I did love Cooper's sister and her line about kids to Roger. (Also, does that mean her name is Alice Cooper? :) ) Does anyone else think that Betty is pregnant? Is that what it would take for Don to come home?
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
That episode was just amazing all around. I loved the "theme" in the popsicle campaign! Looked like a stained glass window - love it! The scene with Joan and her fiance in Don's office.... wow. It was probably the most upsetting scene I've seen anywhere in a really long time. But its a testament to the greatness of this show (and Christina Hendricks) that they can make something so powerful out of just her face and the shot of the coffee table. However, I really wish they would do something to address why Joan is even getting married. She seemed to be so against the whole housewife/marriage scene and now she's going full steam ahead with that jerk, when really, she could have had Roger if she wanted.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
When Joans fiancee didnt like her in control on top, my hubby yelled "what the F is the matter with him!!" and then when the good doctor realizes that Joan and Sterling had "something" he had to mark his territory even if that meant violently. I want her to smother him with her bosoms next show...ooops it was an accident!
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