"Mad Men" Meditations in an Emergency (TV Episode 2008) - Plot Summary Poster


Showing all 4 items
Jump to:


  • Under the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Don returns to New York just as Betty finds out that she is pregnant. Meanwhile, everybody at Sterling Cooper contemplates their futures as news of the merger slowly leaks out.

  • The Cuban Missile Crisis is preoccupying the minds of Americans. Nuclear war is a very real possibility and as such, many are thinking about where and with whom they would want to die. Trudy wants to be with her parents, whereas Pete wants to stay in Manhattan. Father John uses the crisis as a basis for one of his sermons and also ties in with it a private conversation with Peggy about her life. Betty learns that she's pregnant and because of the state of the world and her family, she's not sure she wants to keep the baby. Coinciding with this news is Don's return back to New York, he who wants to resume his life as it was, both personally and professionally. Don's return does not alter Betty's feelings, but a night alone on the town while Don has the children gives Betty the opportunity to figure out what she wants and needs to do. At Sterling Cooper, Don is surprised by the news of the merger, whereas the accounts and creatives executives are wondering about what's going on, most thinking that Don is opening a west coast branch office. For a price, Lois, who has been working at the switchboard since being fired as Don's secretary, uses her position to broker what she thinks is a deal for herself in the new Sterling Cooper. And Duck brings Pete into his confidence about being the new President of the company and wanting Pete to fill his old position. Pete uses this information to what he thinks his best advantage. Duck is anticipating that the new management structure will either bring Don in line under his thinking or will send Don packing into another line of work altogether. The restructuring meeting does not go according to Duck's plans. And Peggy and Pete have a heart to heart about their professional and personal lives.

  • Everyone is on edge wondering what tomorrow may bring when President Kennedy announces on national television that the Soviets are stationing ballistic missiles in Cuba. Don returns to New York but Betty still won't have anything to do with him. She also gets some interesting news from her doctor and decides to have a fling of her own. At the office, Roger Sterling tells him of the upcoming merger. The staff also learn through their own sources that they are about to be taken over and worry about their futures. Duck Phillips takes Pete Campbell into his confidence and tells him that he will be President of the new Sterling Cooper and that Pete will be the head of accounts. Pete decides to play both sides and tells Don what is really going on. With his marriage on the rocks, Pete opens his heart to Peggy Olson but she tells him of her pregnancy and what happened to their baby.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • "Mad Men" - "Meditations in An Emergency" - Oct. 26, 2008

    Previously On: Peggy got an office upgrade, had Pete's baby, freaked out, but didn't tell him, which upset her sister; Don hired Duck Phillips and they butted heads; Duck fell off the wagon; Duck negotiated a takeover of SC and his own installment as president; Betty accused Don of having an affair; Don had an affair; Don went to California and had a lost weekend; Arthur tried to kiss Betty; Betty was either having her period or was having some kind of spotting.

    Betty is staring at a deer print in the doctor's office as she waits on the examining table. The doctor comes in and tells her that she's going to have another baby. She is upset. The doctor calls it a blessing and tells her she'll have to take it easy, stop riding, etc. She asks if he's sure. She says she can't have a baby right now. He says if they're having the conversation he thinks they're having there are indeed alternatives, but considering she's a married woman of means he doesn't understand. Those "alternatives" are for poor, young, unmarried women. He holds her hand and says when she tells her husband and firends she'll stop worrying and get in the swing of things. Betty is not convinced of this. She gets off the table and leaves.

    In Harry's office Ken delivers a revenue projection folder as Peggy and Kinsey sit in. They worry about why these numbers are necessary so soon and Harry notes Clearasil is missing. They wonder if it has to do with Don being AWOL but Harry thinks Don's landing a big aerospace contract. Kinsey speculates he's breaking out on his own. Harry thinks "Sterling Cooper West." Cosgrove just wants to go to California sometime and drive a convertible. Whatever it is they're evaluating them says Harry, who's worried about President Kennedy's speech running over prime time and ruining his ad spots.

    Peggy enters Pete's office and alerts him about the accounting department needing early numbers and wonders why he hasn't told anyone about Clearasil yet. He freaks about what to do, tell Duck his father-in-law hates him? Peggy tells him to be honest and let the chips fall, that people respect that. He thanks her.

    Betty dismounts her horse and sees Don approaching. They meet up and she wonders where he's been. he said he needed time to think about things. Betty says it must be nice, needing time and just taking it with no concern for anyone else. He says he'd do anything he could do undo what happened. She asks what happened. He says he was "not respectful" to her. She's happy she's not crazy. He says he can't walk away and he wants to be together again. She says she doesn't know, since things haven't been that different without him. He wants to see the kids. She says she can't deal with it right now. She'll call and make arrangements.

    Pete enters Duck's office. Duck pours him a drink and they sit. Pete comes clean about Clearasil. Duck surmises "your father-in-law" and calls it a sticky wicket. Pete says he's working on replacing it. In confidence Duck tells him about the merger and Clearasil would've been in conflict with a British client anyway. He commends him on his loyalty and enthusiasm during the American Airlines thing and he says he'd like to replace him as head of accounts. He says he's trusting him with this information because he's going to be the new president of Sterling Cooper. They congratulate each other. Pete says he doesn't know what to say. Duck says to say thank you and nothing else since the news has to be handled delicately. Pete wonders worriedly if Don is on board with Pete's promotion. Duck points out as president he doesn't need Don's permission. He says Don will fall in line or find another profession because of the non-compete clause in his contract.

    Don sits on his hotel bed and watches Kennedy's speech about the Cuban missile crisis.

    The next morning Don enters SC to inquiring looks. Hildy welcomes him back as the news plays out on several TVs and radios in the office. He greets Joan at his door and she's happy to see him. Likewise.

    Peggy emerges from her new office and greets him asking after California. He wonders if he works for her now. She explains Sterling gave her permission to switch and she landed the Popsicle account. He smiles. He asks Joan if anything else is new besides Peggy's office and haircut. Joan leads him into his office and starts the rundown. He has a ton of mail and Duck, Sterling, and Cooper are all anxious to speak to him. It's pouring rain and storming outside. He wants to meet with Creative and Sal, he'll have lunch with Roger, and observes he might run into Duck in the men's room. Joan says since his paychecks went home she assumes he's talked to Mrs. Draper. He asks if she called. Not today. As Joan leaves she asks about telling people the safety protocol for civil defense. She doesn't want to start a panic but thinks people should know. He says if the worst happens taking the stairs or diving under a desk isn't going to help much.

    Pete enters and Joan departs. He's all, what's up dude, you bailed on me? Don asks if Pete ever wondered if Don left him there because he knew he could handle it. From the look on his face, Pete had not wondered about this. Don asks how it went. Pete says he's this close to landing North American Aviation. Don says he obviously made the right call and compliments Pete on his good work. He says he knows Pete wants everything the minute he wants it but sometimes it's better to wait until you're ready. Pete says so you think I'm ready? Don says he does. Pete gives him a hearty welcome back.

    Don enters Roger's office and they banter about his three week absence. Roger says he hopes Don was looking for a job since he's going to need one. Don says he'll stack his absences up against Roger's any day and the office walls appear to still be standing. True, says Roger, but they've sold those walls to Putnam, Powell, and Lowe. Don is freaked. They're coming in on Friday to talk about strategy, management structure and logistics. Don asks how much. Roger says he'll clear a little over a half million dollars. Don gulps. Roger explains Duck put it together in a bar. Don's all "Duck was in a bar?" Roger replies "he doesn't have a wife." Don asks if there are any conflicts. Roger says Mona hasn't been pleasant since his engagement. Don laughs and says he meant the deal but toast Roger's impending nuptials. He tells Don that Cooper and Alice jumped on it so now Don can go back to his office and figure out how much money Roger made. They shake hands. Roger says "Kennedy's daring them to bomb us, right when I get a second chance." Don says Roger knows nobody really knows what's going on.

    In the pulpit the young Father is sermonizing about Kruschev, Kennedy, and Castro and the threat of nuclear war. He urges his flock not to be angry and even on the cross Jesus forgave his transgressors. And even though they can't control these frightening times, they can take charge of their own souls. They all pray for their sins. Peggy and her sister pray as the Father talks about confessing sins as a means of repairing their damage and getting into the heavenly kingdom.

    At the hair salon, Betty has a smoke while she's getting her hair done. The women, including Francine, gossip about a woman who just left who they think is smug because they have a bomb shelter. A woman asks them to stop talking about it since it's upsetting her daughter. Francine says the Times says people should tell their children. She then shares her husband Carlton says he heard the market crashed because there are Russian troops off the coast of Key West. The other woman insists. Francine gets up and says she wishes she had a shelter so she could slam the door in the woman's face. (The one who left).

    She looks at Betty and notices she is wan. She offers her a tranquilizer. Betty declines and tells Francine she's pregnant. Francine tries "congratulations?" Francine says her daughter was an accident and look how happy she is now. Betty says she can't have the baby and wonders what she's going to do. Francine says what can you do. Betty says she doesn't think Francine understands and says it's not a good time. Francine says there's a doctor in Albany. Or she could go to Puerto Rico, but that might not be so good right now. She tells Betty sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing and wait. Betty goes to get her hair done.

    In Harry's office Kinsey, Cosgrove, and Sal are banging on his staticky TV. They are all freaking out about the Cuban issue and the accounting evaluation. They want to know what's going on. They go to get Lois from the switchboard to pump her for info. They think there's something happening with the opening of a west coast office. She says she's not supposed to say anything and then basically spills about the merger. They all freak out. She says from what the switchboard lady can gather PPL wanted a New York office and they want it filled with SC employees but there are definitely going to be some "redundancies." They thank her and she says if any of them get to stay one of them has to take her off the switchboard.

    Betty brings the kids come to visit Don's hotel room. He offers movies and Chinese food. He invites her. She says she has other plans and to drop them off in the morning since she's going riding. Sally wants to order room service.

    Betty walks by a department store display and looks at the well-dressed mannequins. She enters a bar after having done some shopping. She orders a glass of water. And a gimlet. She smokes. A man at the end of the bar pays for the drink. She says to thank him. The bartender says that means the man will come talk to her. She says "we'll see about that." He comes to talk to her. They banter about the Cuban issue and toast to trying not to think about it. He asks her name, she thanks him for the drink and sends him on his way.

    Don and the kids eat room service on his bed. Sally tells knock-knock jokes. Bobby wants to watch TV.

    Betty gets up and goes to the rest room. It's locked. She waits. Captain Awesome approaches again and asks what she's doing here. She says she's waiting and they start making out. He takes her hand and opens a door to a private room. She says she's married. They go in. They start to disrobe. They lie down on a divan and start to get it on. She enjoys herself.

    The kids watch "Leave it To Beaver" on the rollaway while Don looks at some papers.

    Betty and Captain Awesome redress, he asks her name just as the bartender tries the door and asks what they're doing in there.

    Peggy drops off some stuff at the church kitchen. She tells the Father that Anita wanted to come but she's with the children. She says they baked so there'd be something fresh if the congregants get stuck in there. (It must be a designated shelter). The Father asks how she is. She admits she's nervous saying with nuclear war they could all be gone tomorrow. He says that's true anyway. He says he believes she does believe in God and sometimes he feels like God called him to the parish to reach her. She says she didn't know that. He says hell is serious and very real and unless she unburdens herself she won't know peace. She says he's upsetting her. He says that's her guilt and she needs to reconcile herself with God or else she'll go to hell. She can't believe that's the way God is. She leaves.

    Back at home Betty stands in her darkened kitchen and eats a drumstick.

    Trudy is going into hiding at Rehoboth Beach, and she's bringing the silver just in case. She wants him to come but he points out where she's going is 90 minutes from D.C. and with these bombs her parents deck chairs will end up on 5th Ave. He says if he's going to die he wants to die in Manhattan. He understands she loves her parents. She says if he loved her he'd want to be with her. He says she's right. Apparently not getting the gist of those two words she kisses him goodbye. He offers to help pack the car.

    Sal, Kinsey, Cosgrove, and Harry listen to news of the Cuban missile crisis and Harry brings doomsaying news about good canapes in the fridge and the conference room being signed out for the day. Kinsey also notes they shampooed the carpets. Cosgrove calls Pete over and asks about the scuttlebutt. Pete says he's just waiting to see what happens. Harry's dad apparently told him that "regime change" is always sticky and that loyalists get hung so to remain neutral. Kinsey asks what's wrong with Harry, and if he's loyal to anyone. Harry points out that to PPL they're all just a bunch of numbers on a ledger and they don't want to get caught on the wrong side of the bottom line. Kinsey says he likes the company just the way it is. Pete eyes them and walks away.

    He goes into Don's office and asks if he has a minute. Don, reading the New York Times, says "from the look of this, that may be all I have." Pete says he's coming to Don anonymously with info. Pete spills about Duck being president. Don asks why he would tell Pete. Pete says Duck must be picking sides. Don asks why Pete is telling him. Pete says if he was Don he'd want to know. Don thanks him. On his way out Pete notes that the U.S. stopped a ship this morning and the Russians may be reconsidering now that the U.S. is making a stand.

    At the Draper house Betty enters and finds an apologetic note from Don.

    He reads and we hear Don's voice. He was writing the letter while the kids watched the Beav. He expresses his regret, says he understands why she wants to go on without him, and that he knows she won't be alone for long but without her, he will be alone forever. She furrows her brow.

    Don sits in the meeting with Saint John Powell and his peeps, Duck, Bert, and Roger. The Brits says SC will have some autonomy. Bert says since PPL bought them they're not expecting autonomy but asks who's going to be minding the store. They answer Duck, who feigns surprise badly and accepts quickly. Roger says that makes sense, Bert congratulates him. Duck says despite his title he will treat the founding members of SC with the respect they deserve. SJP turns the meeting over to the new prez to hear his vision. Duck stands and says he's a little unprepared but that he wants to bring the company to financial maturity which means Creative can't be running the show. He wants to go whole-hog into TV. Bert points out that he didn't hear the word client once. Duck says when the economy's good people buy things and when it's not they don't so there's no reason to give in to Creative's fantasies about persuasion. SJP calls it ambitious. Bert asks Don his opinion. Don says he thinks it sounds like a great agency, and Duck is the man for the job, but if so he's probably outta here. SJP is surprised. Duck enjoys this and calls it an outburst of Don's artistic temperament and about how Don loves his own voice and to save the day but now he needs to get with a team. Duck says he can either honor his contract or walk out the door and start selling insurance. Don drops the bomb: "I don't have a contract." Roger blithely says since they're close he didn't think they needed one. Don rises, buttons his coat and says he sells products not advertising. And he says he can't see as far into the future as Duck but if the world is still here Monday, they can talk and leaves.

    Duck seethes and says to let him go and that he can hire a young gun to replace. He raises his voice about Don leaving for three weeks while he put the deal together. He pounds the table and asks what more anyone needs to know. Roger tells him to simmer down now. The Brits are ruffled in their unruffled way. SJP asks Duck to leave for a minute. He does.

    Roger asks if it affects the merger. SJP says no, Duck could never hold his liquor.

    Joan lets Don know Betty called and wants him to come home. He sends her home also. People are nervous about the Missle Crisis. Duck has a drink as people scurry out of the office. Pete stops Peggy and asks her to have a drink with him.

    They go into his office and she asks why he's still here since Trudy must be worried. He asks why she never lets him talk about what he wants to talk about. She lets him. He says it's about what she said about telling the truth and he wants to tell her the truth. He says he wonders, with everything going on, who would care if he was gone and he realizes that Peggy would. Trudy is his wife but he feels like Peggy knows him. And he says he knows her and he thinks she's perfect. She says she's not. He says she is and that he wishes he'd picked her then. She just says "Pete." He says he loves her and wants to be with her. She smiles a funny little pained smile as he grabs her hand. She tells him she could've had him in her life forever if she wanted to. She could've shamed him into being with her but she didn't. He's confused. She closes her eyes and confesses about the baby. He can't believe it. She repeats, "I had your baby and I gave it away." She says she wanted other things. He is thrown for a loop. He says he doesn't understand. She says "Well, one day you're there and then all of sudden there's less of you and you wonder where that part went, if it's living somewhere outside of you and you keep thinking maybe you'll get it back and then you realize it's just gone." They are both crying now. He asks why she would tell him that. She apologizes and as she leaves, puts her hand on his shoulder.

    Don comes home to cheers from the kids. He sits next to Betty on the love seat.

    It's night at SC and Pete sits with a rifle in his office.

    Peggy lies in bed, prays, and crosses herself.

    Don enters the kitchen after having tucked the kids in. The news is on in the background, Don shuts it off as Betty says she has to talk. She tells him she's pregnant. Don looks grave. Betty looks nervous. Don grabs her hand across the kitchen table. They sit in silence.

    Fade to black.

See also

Taglines | Synopsis | Plot Keywords | Parents Guide

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed