Mad Men 5.09 – Dark Shadows

“You have no loyalty.”
“Excuse me, were we married?!”

Betty doesn’t have cancer—but she’s still fat, and isn’t that just about as bad? And what better way to lose weight (other than the legal speed her dumb doctor refuses to give her) than to eat unbuttered burnt toast, half a grapefruit, and eight carefully weighed cubes of cheese?

Hey, guess what? The New York Times wants to do a piece on hip new ad agencies, via Pete. Mind you, I can’t think of a squarer office than SCDP so this should be mondo groovy, baby. Even Peggy and Ginsburg have some pretty sharp corners; there’s definitely a dearth of hepcats is this neck of Manhattan.

Don’s feeling a little rusty in the creativity department since it’s been a while since he’s come up with a campaign all by himself. Joan tries to make him feel better by pointing out the crack team he’s put together, not to mention his former success stories, but he’s not fully convinced he’s as wonderful as she says. Man, I wish Joan would get another story line of her own. It seems like the women in this show only exist to push along the men’s story lines. I want Peggy and Joan to go to a strip club and get drunk and feel depressed!

Bert wants to push some new business Roger’s way, a Jewish wine maker, and he’s hopeful Roger’s wife Jane the Jew can help smooth the way…except of course Roger and Jane are getting a divorce. Bert looks at his watch: “Already??”

Megan is teaching Sally some of her acting tricks, such as if you want to cry, just keep your eyes wide open until your eyeballs freak out. Ah, the subtle nuances of method acting. How very nice that Megan and Sally are such great buddies, don’t you think?

Don goes into the office on the weekend to catch up on some work, and notices a folder Ginsburg left with some funny ad ideas for Sno Ball, a potential client, in it. He’s intrigued enough to have a seat and take a look.

He’s so intrigued that he loses track of time and isn’t there when Betty comes to pick up the kids. She takes the opportunity to have a peek at Don’s new home (and life) without her. She also inadvertently gets an eyeful of skinny, young, child-free Megan getting dressed. That would intimidate anyone! Except maybe Sophia Vergara, who uses women like Megan to floss after meals.

Ginsburg’s talent is either inspiring or threatening enough that Don works into the wee hours trying to think of slogans for Sno Ball that are just as good and maybe even better than his.

Betty gets back from seeing Don’s new life and rushes to the fridge so she can fill her mouth with whipped cream directly from the can. Ha! She comes to her senses before she swallows (there’s got to be a dirty joke in there somewhere) and spits it out into the sink. Whew, that was a close one!

At the next meeting, Don tells the team his idea for the pitch, and Ginsburg is obnoxiously shocked that Don still has the right stuff. He wasn’t there in Don’s heyday, but Peggy is quick to reassure Don because she knows exactly what a titan of the industry he is. Ginsburg’s head is so big I have a feeling it’s going to turn into a target for someone to pop.

Betty’s suffering through a Weight Watcher’s meeting, which doesn’t seem to have changed much from the ’60s to today. Support and comfort abound, and Betty even shares with the group (under duress) that she’s had “a bad week.” She’s not about to tell strangers about Don and Megan and their fabulous lives, but she does show a few cracks. This is as close as Betty’s going to get to therapy, so good for her.

Megan is doing a reading with a friend who’s going to try out for a part in, as it turns out, the TV show Dark Shadows. Megan thinks the writing is awful and the plot is ridiculous, and her friend blows up at her for making fun of it. It’s easy for Megan to scoff, seeing as how she’s married to a rich handsome man who’ll make sure her every need is met even if Megan NEVER gets a part. Megan blows up right back, saying that she’d kill for the same part, dumb or not. Her friend is sorry, but it’s too true that Megan doesn’t need the get the part to make the rent.

Roger asks Ginsburg the Jew to do some under-the-table work for him on the wine account, just like he asked Peggy the Catholic the last time he needed some pitch ideas without actually having to, you know, do it himself. As long as Pete Campbell thinks Roger came up with the ideas, he’s more than willing to let Ginsburg get the glory of creating the actual campaign. Just like Peggy, Ginsburg insists on getting paid extra, and Roger ends up just giving him the contents of his pocket. “I’ve got to start carrying less cash.”

Henry is worried about his future job prospects, so fries himself a chop late at night to at least be able to worry on a full stomach. Betty catches him and instead of reaming him out, tells him that she’s there to support him, and it’s easy to blame other people for our problems but in the end we’re responsible for own lives. Weight Watchers! Like Deepak Chopra, but with weigh-ins. Henry is obviously pleased with Betty’s shiny new outlook. He even gives her a bite of pork chop—exactly at the stroke of midnight so she can put it towards her next day’s calories.

Roger sweet-talks Jane into going to dinner with the wine clients, and all he has to do in return is buy her a beautiful new apartment with no bad memories so she can start fresh. “I don’t know, I feel like one of us should say thank you,” he says. He means her. She does. Ha!

Pete’s hard at work in his office when Beth from last week’s torrid affair comes in wearing nothing but a fur coat and a smile. She says that she couldn’t keep away after seeing the article about the ad agency in the NYT. That’s right…it’s all just a fantasy his feverish little id concocted while lying on the couch in his office rather than working the tiniest bit. Fantasy Beth must have JLo’s fashion designer, because she manages to wear a coat with nothing under it without even a bit of a nip slip. Kudos, Fantasy Beth!

Betty is helping the kids with their homework when she finds a sweet note Don wrote to Megan on the back of a random drawing. She’s so full of self-loathing/bitterness over their happiness that when Sally asks for help with the family tree she’s doing for class, Betty tells Sally that Don was actually married once before, to Anna Draper! OMG, what a wench! As expected, Sally is outraged that Megan and Don didn’t tell her that themselves. Betty victoriously chews on her celery stick of dysfunction. It looks like she’s going to need a few more Weight Watchers classes before she reaches total spiritual enlightenment.

Next meeting, Stan has drawn up some sketches for the Sno Ball account, and it’s decided by Pete and Ken that they’ll use both Don and Ginsburg’s ideas for the pitch. Ginsburg is smugly thrilled that his work is on par with Don’s. “Look on my works, ye Mighty and despair,” he brags to Peggy and Stan, without realizing that the Shelley poem that line comes from is talking about once great leaders who inevitably fall from power into obscurity. I like it that Stan knew what the poem really meant—why doesn’t Stan get his own story line either, huh? Is it because he always wears bowling shirts??

It’s Don’s weekend to have the kids, and when he takes the boys out for an adventure that gives Sally the perfect opportunity to go all razed earth on Megan over the family tree debacle. Betty’s evil plan works like a charm as Sally makes Megan feel about two inches tall for “deceiving” her, although Megan of course is in an impossible position. When Megan walks out on her, Sally asks mockingly, “Are you going to make yourself cry?” Yup, she’s her parents’ kid all right.

Speaking of Betty, she’s back at Weight Watchers, getting advice that goes something like: Instead of eating to feel full, we should fill ourselves with our children, our homes, our husbands…oh, and our health and happiness. Dear lord, now I need some mother’s little helper. Betty’s rather grim as she digests (get it?) the fact that those things are never, ever, ever going to fill her. She’s broken, just like everybody else on this show. See, Betty should be the crazy new neighbour on New Girl. She’d be much happier with Schmidt and Jess in her life, guaranteed.

That night Megan breaks it to Don that Betty spilled the beans to Sally about Anna. He flips his lid, as expected, and despite Megan’s reassurances immediately picks up the phone to give Betty supreme shit. Except now Megan is there to be the voice of reason, telling him that if he phones her it’s going to give her exactly what she wanted—”The thrill of poisoning us from fifty miles away.” Right on the money, honey. Don realizes she’s absolutely right and calms the hell down. They both sincerely apologize to each other, and love prevails. Meanwhile, Sally has woken up and heard this whole exchange, and for the first time understands that maybe her mom didn’t just happen to let this information slip…it was a calculated move on her part to wreak havoc on the Draper household, and Sally was her willing pawn.

Ginsburg tells Peggy about Roger “hiring” him for the wine job, and she’s none too happy about it. What can Ginsburg do, though? It’s not his fault he’s so talented and all around fabulous.

Don’s woken up Sunday morning by a call from Pete, bawling that the firm didn’t even make it into the NYT piece. “Jesus,” says Don when he looks at a photo of the ad execs featured instead of them, “they look like Peter, Paul, and Mary.” And a gold star to Don for even knowing who that is. If Pete was expecting sympathy, he was sorely mistaken. When he tries to blame Don for not caring about this enough, Don barks at him not to call throwing his failures in Don’s face. Ouch! The kids are woken up by the yelling, and after Don hangs up on Pete he shoos the boys away so he can yell some more at Sally. But…BUT…instead of yelling Don decides to tell Sally the kid’s version of the truth, which at one time would have been physically impossible for him. He opens up and lets Sally see a new side of him—perhaps a bit of the person Anna used to call “Dick.” And that’s all Sally ever wanted.

Roger and Peggy run into each other in the elevator (are they working Thanksgiving weekend? How dreary yet telling). Peggy tears him a new one because he used Ginsburg over her for the wine account. But Ginsburg is, you know, Jewish. “I’m so sick of hearing that. I’m not an airplane, but I could write for Mohawk!” When Roger laments the lack of an executive-only elevator in their building, Peggy accuses him of not having any loyalty. “That’s the way it is—every man for himself.” It’s a lesson Peggy didn’t want to learn, but learn it she has.

Speaking of every man for himself, when push comes to shove Don leaves Ginsburg’s pitch in the cab and uses his alone. The Sno Ball clients love it and they sign on the dotted line.

Back at home, Betty oh-so-casually brings up Megan to Sally, wondering how the Anna talk went. Sally, finally wising up, tells her mom Don and Megan told her all about Anna and everything was so dory it was hunky. Sally doesn’t show her disappointment (much), but the second Sally leaves the room she punches out a bag of groceries. Her master plan of making everyone as miserable as she is isn’t gonna happen after all.

Roger and Jane charm the Jewish wine clients, but it’s their handsome son who really thinks Jane is something else. In the cab ride home Roger wants her assurances that if she decides to nail the son, he better think she’s a cheating wife, not a separated one. And because he wants everything for himself, even things he doesn’t really want, he wheedles Jane into showing him her new, empty apartment, where he promptly takes her up against a wall. She doesn’t really want to—but even Jane can’t deny the whole scenario is sizzling hot. Plus, she had all that wine over dinner.

When Ginsburg finds out Don didn’t even pitch his idea, he blows a gasket. As Harry so succinctly reminds him, “We made a sale. Anything else?

Pete also decides way too much honesty is the best policy after he loses his temper when his train-mate Howard divulges that he’s going to spend as much time as possible banging his mistress before having to go back to the old ball and chain—namely, Beth. Pete tells Howard that maybe Howard should stay with his mistress and Pete will spend the holiday screwing Howard’s wife. Howard doesn’t even care enough to be offended. “Good luck with that,” he scoffs. “I guess the grass is always greener, right?” Little does he know that Pete has mown that grass, and found it luscious.

Oops, here comes another elevator confrontation, this time between Ginsburg and Don. When he confronts Don about ditching Ginsburg’s pitch, Don reminds him that their goal is to make a sale, which they did, not to show off. When Ginsburg comforts himself with the fact he has a million MORE ideas just waiting to pour out of him like creative diarrhea, Don snaps, “Good. I guess I’m lucky you work for me.” “I feel sorry for you,” Ginsburg begins as the elevator doors open. “I don’t think about you at all,” Don says, and walks out. Good one, because you know Ginsburg probably spends many an hour alone in his room drinking and wringing his hands over the legendary Don Draper. Of course, by the look on Don’s face as he heads to his office, maybe he does think about Ginsburg a little wee bit, as he edges ever closer to an early grave.

Roger’s ever so self-satisfied the next morning when he wakes up in Jane’s new apartment, at least until he realizes he’s broken her heart by seducing her in the only place she wanted a fresh start. “You get everything you want, and you still had to do this,” she says sadly. Truly sorry, he leaves her, and this time you know it’s for good.

Finally, it’s time for Thanksgiving supper. Megan’s setting a small table since they don’t have the kids, but warns Don not to open the balcony door because there’s a smog alert. That’s right, Megan. As long as you and Don stay wrapped in your safe little cocoon, nothing toxic will ever touch you.

And we end with Betty and Henry and the kids around the supper table, each saying what they’re grateful for. “I’m thankful I have everything I want…and that nobody else has anything better,” says Betty. I don’t even know how to respond to that, it’s just that fucked up. And at long last, she gets to eat the one bite of stuffing she’s allowing herself, and it is honestly, unbearably, the best thing in her entire life at that moment.

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  • Clint Eastwood’s Rubber Ducky

    awesome review!!

    betty is a right bitch sometimes, isnt she?

    • Thank you very much!

      Betty is such a great villain that I can’t wait to see what happens to her! In other words: yup, a right bitch. :0D

  • Sue

    He even gives her a bite of pork chop – exactly at the stroke of midnight so she can put it towards her next day’s calories. Ahahaha, such a perfect observation.

    I was bemused by Betty’s burnt toast. Did Carla truly do ALL the cooking, or did she burn it to be tempted to eat less of it? Oh, Betty. It’s like she deliberately ruins the things she thinks she wants.

    Sally has been such an angel around Megan that the “Are you gonna make yourself cry” line was actually kind of nostalgic and welcome.

  • I think she burned the toast so it would be easier not to miss what it tastes like when it’s good.

    >>It’s like she deliberately ruins the things she thinks she wants.

    That is so true! Maybe she grows to hate the things she mistakenly hopes might make her happy. God, she’s a mess.

  • Did Peggy forget that the only reason she got to start writing copy was because she said something clever about lipstick and then was only given things like the relaxicisor and Playtex? Though I did love the Mohawk line.

    MOAR STAN. I love him AND his tight shirts. I hope they develop his character more. The cast of the show was on Inside the Actor’s Studio on Monday and I learned that Joan was only supposed to be a cameo, so I hold out some hope for Mr. Rizzo (also – yes, more Joan please! How is she dealing with divorce and raising a baby while working full-time?!).

    I loved the look on Peggy’s face when Ginsberg finds out that Don left his pitch in the car. She’s just like, “YUP, that’s how he rolls!” That’s a lesson she had to learn the hard way.

    And Betty. Her life is so dark and boring and drab, and Don’s is so bright and hip and young (even if he isn’t). I’m not sure she really thinks she has it better than everyone, but I know she wants to believe it.

    Great recap, AS ALWAYS!

    • Honestly, I just want the women of this show to rise up and smite the men. Forget history, I want JUSTICE. LOL!