Ranking the 11 Most Surprising, Out-of-Left-Field Moments on 'Mad Men'
(AMC)For as serious and meticulous as Mad Men is, the show has always had a reputation for sprinkling in a few "holy crap, I did not see that coming" scenes. These are not the slow burn reveals like Don's hidden identity or Peggy's pregnancy — these are the sudden, unexpected, and often darkly comical moments that range from death and dismemberment to poorly timed bodily functions.
Last night's episode ("The Runaways") delivered the first of this season's bizarre surprises when Ginsberg's paranoia crossed beyond run-of-the-mill neuroses and social anxiety. But before we delve into that one, we have to look back and see where it falls on the WTF scale when compared to Mad Men's other shockers. Let's rank 'em. [Spoilers ahead, obviously.]
T-11. Don Sends His Condolences / Roger Redecorates the Office
Projectile vomiting always comes with a surprise factor, one that is amplified when contrasted by the classy and sophisticated world Mad Men exists in. Perhaps more surprisingly, chunks seem to fly with regularity on the show. It's hard to say which caught us off guard more: Don showing up hammered to Roger's mother's "dry" funeral, only to show his intense grief by emptying the contents of his stomach into a umbrella container mid-eulogy:
Or Roger going full chowder stream on the office carpet in season 1: (That's why you wear shoes, Bert.)
10. Betty's Avian Bloodlust
In the first season of the show, Betty Draper is painted as a prissy trophy wife who never gets her hands dirty, but that starts to shift when she goes all Clint Eastwood on the neighbor's pet pigeons. Who new in a world of Don Drapers and Roger Sterlings it would be Betty who had the most badass moment of the inaugural season?
9. Boy Fights
It's hard to think of two less intimidating physical specimens than Lane Pryce and Pete Campbell, and yet these were the two who turned a partner's meeting into an old school boxing match. There aren't many scenes more satisfying than the one where Pete's smug mug gets up close and personal with the Englishman's knuckles.
8. Blankenship Down
Not all the secretaries at SCDP are mini-skirt-wearing pinup girls, at least they weren't when Miss Blankenship was still around. Unfortunately, the old lady didn't make it past season four. Though she did die doing what she loved: being terrible at her job.
7. Sally Doesn't Know How to Knock
In the horny world of Mad Men, you should always knock before entering a room. You never know what kind of scandalous behavior will burn itself into your memory when you swing a door open without warning. Sally Draper should know this better than anyone after finding Roger in an uncompromising position at the Clios:
But no, she repeated her faux pax a few years later, this time with more therapy-necessitating results. Get a clue, Sally.
6. Freddy Needs Depends
Poor Freddy Rumsen. You can be something of a joke within the office and still succeed, but pissing your pants in front of your colleagues? You can't come back from that. (Unless, of course, you've got Billy Madison in your corner.)
5. Death by Don
We know Don's dark, but a murderer? That's pretty extreme. And yet, there he was in the "Mystery Date" episode violently strangling the woman he just slept with and then pushing her lifeless body under the bed. It was quickly revealed that this post-coital outburst was really just the visions of Don's fever dream, but in the moment it was certainly startling.
4. The William Tell Trip
Drugs will make you do strange things. While most of Mad Men's drug episode ("The Crash") — in which a doctor basically injects the employees of SCDP with speed to increase focus and productivity — was full of weirdness, the William Tell X-acto knife showdown between Ginsberg and Stan was its pinnacle. It was like a prequel to Jackass.
3. Ken Cosgrove Gets Dick Cheney'd
Rule No. 1 in client schmoozing: Never, under any circumstances, agree to take company reps out for a day of quail hunting. Ken Cosgrove learned this the hard way, and now he has no depth perception and looks like a pirate.
2. Ginsberg Removes His Valve
And now we come to the most recent shocker, which was such a weird one it nearly jumped right to the top of the list. As season 7 has progressed Michael Ginsberg's become more and more odd, especially with the introduction of the office's new computer. But things hit a new level in last night's episode, beyond a '60s conspiratorial spirit or simple pot-induced paranoia. Ginsberg's clinically unstable, which we learned when he had his own "what's in the box" moment in Peggy's office. In his mind, the computer was poisoning him through his nipple valve, so he took a page out of Van Gogh's book and gave the remnants to Peggy.
You will be missed, Ginsberg, but it's better you get the help you need.
1. The Lawnmower Incident
Nothing sums up the random and horrifying yet strangely hilarious swings Mad Men takes like the John Deere tragedy. It's perfect: A party vibe takes a turn for the morbid when an unsuspecting Brit gets his foot sliced apart by an out of control riding mower, only to set Roger up for one of his trademark one-liners. The lawnmower incident, as it's come to be known, was a game-changer and trendsetter.
Never change, Mad Men. Your weirdness is the wildcard that will always keep us guessing.