Once again, in the words of Lex Luthor, “Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.” But I really did think I had this past episode of Mad Men all figured out. (SPOILER ALERT) Betty and Don getting back together. The men in Peggy’s life. Duality. Then something else occurred to me on a repeat viewing: Bob Benson recommends a nurse for Pete Campbell’s mother—one who was able to help his own father get better. But early on in the season, Benson says his father died. So who is Bob Benson? Speculation is rampant. Some wonder if he is Don Draper’s son, an undercover agent, a corporate spy, or simply gay. Notice the alliteration of his name, just like Don Draper. Wasn’t Don nursed back to health when he was in the Army? After all, Dick Whitman technically died.
And yet that is not even the big story here. At the end of the episode, I was drawn to Megan Draper’s t-shirt—the white one with the red star. No, besides wanting to stick my head inside it. I mean, there was just something about it that seemed so striking. As it turns out, it may be a clue. That shirt is the same kind worn by Sharon Tate in a 1967 photo. Yes, that Sharon Tate—the one so viciously murdered by the Manson gang in 1969. BuzzFeed’s Louis Peitzman lays out this theory that began on Reddit. And it’s not just the shirt (which a Mad Men stylist confirmed was intentional). It’s the season poster (what’s with the cops in the background?), the break-in, the stabbing of Abe, the guy wearing the Members Only jacket (sorry, that last one is a Sopranos conspiracy theory). Slate also provides some insight.
So what’s next? Deeper meaning behind “Father Abraham”? Sure you can make the point that, well, there’s a point to everything on the show. Nothing is random. But this could also be a red herring. Remember how the “Pine Barrens” episode in the Sopranos was left unresolved?
Okay, here’s my observation that I guarantee no one has made—that the acting on the soap opera is less soapy and more like a porn. Now I know what you’re thinking: How would I know? It’s true, I’ve never watched a soap opera.
Photo credit: Michael Yarish / AMC