Mad Men: Season 2, Episode 13

Meditations in an Emergency (26 Oct. 2008)

TV Episode  |  TV-14  |   |  Drama
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Ratings: 8.9/10 from 863 users  
Reviews: 1 user | 5 critic

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.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:


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 ... Written by Huggo

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Release Date:

26 October 2008 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Action takes place from October 22, 1962, the day John F. Kennedy gave a televised address on the Cuba Missile Crisis, and the 2 days after. See more »


When Betty takes a drink, we see from her profile that she's holding a cigarette in her right hand, but when the camera cuts to a frontal shot, her hand is empty and the cigarette is resting in the ashtray. See more »


Herman 'Duck' Phillips: [upon receiving presidency] I find myself a little unprepared here, but I know this: I'd like to bring this company into financial maturity. The last two years, we've been held back. Good Creative is important but it can't be running the show. Our business is about buying time and space, and right now that means television. The bigger we are, the cheaper we can get it.
Bertram Cooper: I don't think I heard the word "client" once.
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Featured in The 61st Primetime Emmy Awards (2009) See more »


Stranger On The Shore
Written by Acker Bilk
Performed by Acker Bilk
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User Reviews

Season 2: Emotionally engaging
21 April 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Shortly after finishing season 2 of this show, I went and reread my review of the first season just to get my head right for doing this one. It was as I recalled – I had liked the show to a point but not to the depth that I had listened to others boast of and it had been interesting but not as engaging as I would have liked. In my review I mentioned that I was watching season 2 of The Sopranos at the same time and it is telling that I have reached season 6 of that show before getting round to watching season 2 of Mad Men – but get round to it I did.

It took a couple of episodes but there does seem to have been some improvements made to the show because this season worked a lot better for me than the first. I'm sure part of it is that I'm already familiar and invested with the characters to some point, but this season does a much better job of engaging the viewer and producing stories and characters that engage emotionally. In terms of the appearance of the show, it is as it was in the first season. The atmosphere of the time is there, with the inbuilt bigotry and sexism of the time and place laid out but this time it is not a matter of these things being whacked down on the table as an obvious thing but rather something that is engrained in everything to a point. Likewise the "times they are a-changing" moments are part of season-long threads rather than specific "look at this" moments in the plot.

All the characters from the first season are here but this time I did seem to care about them a lot more. They all seemed to be used much better than they were and be much more human, which improved upon the situation in the first season where the writing kept the majority of them at the same level as the sets and costumes – important and well done, but still a little superficial in terms of providing more than a bit of colour. This widening of the show and improving of the emotional depth drew me in as it went along and produced some very strong episodes indeed – a nice surprise considering that I spent the first season "interested" more than "engaged".

In the first season I felt the cast were all good and that they were not the ones limiting my engagement in the show, and season two sort of confirms that as they all continue to be good again, just this time with improved material. Hamm continues to be a charismatic focal point and he does well with the complexity of his character and the fact that he is not particularly likable. Moss is my favourite character and her rise within the company is cheering to watch, just as it is contrasted with Hendricks' secret frustration and feelings of losing her worth (she is acting with more than her figure this season). Jones benefits from much better material thanks to the way the plot goes for her. The show is stronger for having better material for the supporting cast such as Staton, Gladis, Batt, Sommer and others, while Slattery and Kartheiser are both good again.

The second season of the show appears at first glance to be the same as the first – the place is the same, the characters are the same, the costumes etc but the writing makes for a much better season as it has more going on that engages emotionally across the whole season.

14 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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