This is my favorite type of “Mad Men” episode, and it’s also the type I feel Weiner & Co. do best. “The Grown-Ups” is built around the Kennedy assassination. It doesn’t start there, though; like any national tragedy, this one seems to come out of nowhere, while people are going about their lives, minding their own business. Here the Sterlings are planning a wedding, Pete finds out he’s being passed over for Ken, and Don and Betty are trying to figure out what to do with a marriage that was shattered in the previous episode. All of these groups of people react to the tragedy in their own way, and Weiner allows us the time and contemplation to see all those perspectives. I’ve been told by people who would know that the Kennedy assassination was the first national tragedy in U.S. history to be played out on television; Weiner captures that essence perfectly. “The Grown-Ups” unfolds almost like a history lesson, taking us along with these characters through that horrible weekend in 1963.
Best Scene: The ironic thing about “The Grown-Ups” is there isn’t one particular scene that stands out among the rest; once the assassination happens, it’s basically all great from there. I’ll go with the phone conversation between Roger and Joan following Margaret’s wedding. Roger has been the pillar of positivity all day, pulling his guests through the nuptials by sheer force of will. But Joan, the woman who perhaps knows him best, sizes him up and also gives him some peace of mind in just a few short lines.
Best Line: Betty, after seeing Oswald shot to death live on television, stands up and yells (at no one in particular): “WHAT IS GOING ON?” The desperation and helplessness in her voice speaks volumes for how we all feel at times like this. Like, say, Sept. 11, 2001.