We’ll miss you, Mad Men.
Don’s Carousel pitch (Season 1, Episode 13 — “The Wheel”)
This episode was basically one long emotional punch in the gut for both the viewer and for Don. As he faces the prospect of pitching Kodak’s new slide projector, he must also contend with news of his brother’s suicide. When the pitch actually happens and we see images of Don, Betty, and the kids flood the screen, the pain of nostalgia becomes almost too much to bear. The Carousel may be a time machine, but some things are too irrevocably damaged for it to fix.
Peggy gives birth (Season 1, Episode 13 — “The Wheel”)
As if “The Wheel” didn’t already destroy your emotions, it’s also the episode where Peggy gives birth. The blank look on Peggy’s face as the nurse asks if she wants to hold the newborn, coupled with Peggy’s refusal to even look at the child, is devastating.
Don visits Peggy in the hospital (Season 2, Episode 5 — “The New Girl”)
As if Peggy’s scene with her newborn weren’t enough, Season 2 flashes back to the aftermath of the birth and Don’s visit to see her. When he delivers the unforgettable line, “This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened,” we see Don’s entire past reflected in that idea as well. The moment only gains in power as you see Peggy continue to struggle with the moment over the years, unable to completely renounce the painful decisions of the past.
Joan is raped (Season 2, Episode 12 — “The Mountain King”)
Seeing Joan’s distant stare as her fiancee rapes her is a stunningly tough moment to handle. And perhaps worse is the moment afterward, when Joan emerges from Don’s office and must act politely subservient to a fiancee who doesn’t realize the awfulness of what he has done and is simply concerned about making a dinner reservation. The pain in Joan’s tone of voice as she prepares to leave the office with Greg is palpable.