We’ll have the full Mad Men recap up soon, but before we get there, we really must address the bizarre, inexplicably reveal at the end of last night’s episode of Mad Men, which saw Michael Ginsberg give Peggy a small jewelry box. Inside the box (WHAT’S IN THE BOX) was Ginsberg’s nipple, which he had sliced off, noting that it was the valve that released the pressure caused by the waves of theta emanating from the giant computer that had moved into Sterling Cooper’s offices. Without his nipple, the theta could flow through him freely because he finally had an outlet.
It had been a long episode for Ginsberg, whose paranoid schizophrenia completely made itself visible by the end. Prior to that, the humming of the computer had driven him so mad that he fell into a delusional state in which he thought the computer was turning people into “homos” and at one point tried to “reproduce” with Peggy in order to essentially fuck the gay away.
To some, that may have felt like a revelation out of left field for Ginsberg — a lot to swallow in one episode — but Matthew Weiner has clearly been laying the foundation for the meltdown for the last two seasons.
Here’s a few instances which suggested that Ginsberg’s psychotic break was inevitable.
— In his interview with Peggy in season five, Ginsberg alluded to his mental illness.
— Peggy’s words to Ginsberg after he was hired in that episode were telling, too:
“You know, I thought you were crazy when I met you, and you have confirmed it by not acting the way that you acted with me.”
— A key exchange with Peggy from season five that clearly showed delusion:
Michael Ginsberg: Actually, I’m from Mars. It’s fine if you don’t believe me, but that’s where I’m from. I’m a full-blooded Martian. Don’t worry, there’s no plot to take over Earth. I’m just displaced.
Peggy Olson: [laughing] Okay.
Michael Ginsberg: I can tell you don’t believe me. That’s okay. We’re a big secret. They even tried to hide it from me. That man, my “father”, told me a story I was born in a concentration camp, but you know that’s impossible. And I never met my mother because she supposedly died there. That’s convenient. Next thing I know, Morris there finds me in a Swedish orphanage. I was five; I remember it.
Peggy Olson: That’s incredible.
Michael Ginsberg: And then I got this one communication. A simple order. “Stay where you are.”
Peggy Olson: Are there others like you?
Michael Ginsberg: I don’t know. I haven’t been able to find any.
— In last season’s “Tale of Two Cities,” Ginsberg had his first episode of paranoid schizophrenia when he freaked out on Jim Cutler, ranting against him for being a fascist, and ultimately quoted Oppenheimer in reference to himself.
It was only Bob Benson who could ultimately calm him down, although Ginsberg’s obsession with homosexuality creeped up then for the first time, too (he was not wrong about Benson).
In “The Flood,” Ginsberg — who is probably in his late 20s — reveals on a blind date that he still lives with his Dad, is a virgin, and overshared entirely too many inappropriate things for a first date with a woman he has never met.
— Finally, here’s two ironic quotes from Ginsberg: