John, I’m sorry to hear you found Joan’s vase-smack over-the-top. New York magazine has posted this amazing animated gif that allows you to watch the crucial moment over and over and over. Try looking at it for a minute straight and tell me it doesn’t grow on you.
Patrick, I think the question you pose—Where does the series go from here?—is critical. The stakes for Don will never again be as high as they were last night. But I’m looking forward to the change, because I think it will give us a chance to see both Don and Betty in new modes. We’ve talked a lot this season about how Don is a competent grownup and Betty a cosseted child. This week, the roles were reversed: Don was incapacitated, and Betty had to take care of him, directing him as he told his story, patting his back and pouring his drink. This take-chargeness does not come naturally for her, but she executes it brilliantly, and I wonder whether part of what keeps her present and tender at the end of the episode is a new sense of pride about what she’s pulled off. (Like you, John, I thought January Jones was incredible as usual in this sequence; I think Benjamin Schwarz’s critique of her acting is utterly wrong-headed.) Betty has liked being Don’s dependent because she’s never had the chance to be his equal. Now that she’s asserted herself, I’m eager to see how their marriage changes.
As for Dick Whitman, Betty’s not the only one who must decide whether she likes having him around: Don, too, must figure out how much of his old self to incorporate into his life. Will he continue to keep his secret from his friends and colleagues? Will he start making more references to eating dog food at meetings? I’m eager to see how easily Don slips back into his old Draperian persona now that he’s laid himself bare.
Finally, I think it’s time to revisit the terms of a wager I offered at the very beginning of our TV Club: I bet you both an old-fashioned that the season would close with the assassination of JFK. John, you let me wriggle out of the offer, citing an interview in which Weiner pledged not to dramatize the event. But come on. Weiner is notoriously cagey. He’s planted references to Dallas throughout this season, and last week—as astute Frayster MayanSwimsuitCalendar observed—the Aquanet pitch showed four people seated in a convertible as the guy in the rear right had trouble keeping his hairdo intact. I missed these echoes of the Kennedy motorcade, but they must have been deliberate. Given these cues and the way the season has unfurled, there’s no way the assassination doesn’t happen—off-screen, perhaps, but still happen—sometime in the next two episodes. Any takers? I’ll even raise the stakes to two old-fashioneds and bet you it happens this week.