Last week we saw Mad Men produce one of those episodes which will stick in the memory long after this season's wound its way to a dramatic conclusion. Usually you'd expect this week's episode to move at a slower pace, but not this time.
No, rather than settle down this week the show provided us with a companion piece to last week's emasculation of Pete by exposing the deep flaws in other characters, and how close their own relationships are to disaster.
Firstly we saw Peggy's difficulty in separating work from life, her boyfriend upset that she could think of nothing else but baked beans even as they settled down to have sex. She was right to be bothered about baked beans however as she had to do the company's big pitch to Heinz all alone. This was because Don Draper and Megan took an impromptu trip upstate to check out a motel chain and prospective client.
Seething at Don, she let the clients' lack of enthusiasm get the better of her and snapped at Heinz's representative. The baked bean buffoon got what he deserved, but this being the 1960s, Peggy was off the team and off to the cinema to watch Born Free, smoke weed and give a spur of the moment hand job to a stranger.
The scene hinted at an important part of her character; originally her cinema companion had made a pass at her, yet she put his hand away and took on the role of the sexual advancer. This was less Peggy acting stupidly than asserting her very male persona in a way that was impossible in the light of the office. Like a wayward boyfriend, she later called her partner for emotional support at the end of a hard day.
Then there was Roger Sterling and his young wife Jane's appearance at a dinner party with her intellectual friends. Always the charmer Roger was bracing himself for an evening of boredom and lack of interest in conversations about the human condition before his host whipped out the LSD.
To start with, Roger seemed to revel in his image as being able to manage anything, before the tripping started and he saw symphonies coming out of liquor bottles and the 1919 world series. In a moment of drug driven honesty Roger and Jane admitted that they weren't right for each other, yet in perhaps the most touching scene of the episode we saw them amicably admit it rather than row.
Having seen Roger go through the doors of perception, it was back to Don and Megan's trip to the Howard Johnson hotel. Hotels like Howard Johnsons' are the reason Lenny Henry gets paid a lot of money to tell us that Holiday Inns are remotely habitable, yet it's easy to forget that before the chain hotel lost its lustre places like this were seen as playgrounds for the newly enriched middle class, and Don was genuinely excited to try the hotel's chief gimmick: 28 flavours of ice cream.
An argument with Megan over the fact that Don took her away from work without asking, as well as the merits of ice cream, saw the couple have a flaming row and Don drive off. Soon he realised his stupidity, yet Megan had gone.
Full of worry due to finding his wife's discarded glasses and a story that she'd been with a group of men, Don waited for hours, calling Peggy in a pathetic state and eventually making his way home only to find Megan there after a five hour bus journey, needless to say a bitter fight and emotive moment of desperate forgiveness ensued.
It's an example of Mad Men's mastery that it was difficult not to sympathise with either party: Don had acted badly towards Megan, yet her petulance hinted at incompatibility. You get the feeling that they are two people who look at each other and see exactly what they want, but aren't quite able to fully cater for each others' flaws.
A strange and captivating week then, with three very different relationships almost reaching nasty breaking points but in the end coming to an uneasy accommodation. Ironically it could be Roger and Jane's drug induced realisation that they just don't work together that could be the most stable and happy of them.