Mad Men 5.7 – At the Codfish Ball

“Who knows why people in history did good things. For all we know Jesus was trying get the loaves and fishes account.”

Good lord, Megan’s parents have come for a visit. It’s part Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and part Meet the Fockers as they drink, smoke, and launch sniper attacks in French through supper. Her dad doesn’t like Don, and her mom likes him a little bit too much. It’s a moot point when she stumbles off to bed to pass out drunk, though. It doesn’t help matters that Henry’s battle-axe of a mother trips over the phone cord when Sally is on the phone (with her childhood friend Glen—who is Mad Men-creator Matthew Weiner’s son in real life) and breaks her ankle. The kids have to stay over at Don and Megan’s because Betty and Henry are out of town AGAIN. Megan’s mom calls Don’s kid animals, but in French, so it’s much prettier.

Peggy and her boyfriend Abe, Ginsburg, and Stan are having some late-night Chinese food together in the office. Abe is less than thrilled that they treat Peggy like one of the guys, talking about her boobs in regard to their Playtex pitch and joking around like she’s an equal or something! Abe may not be full on the Chinese food, but he’s had his fill and leaves her to it. After which Stan is quick to tell Peggy Abe’s out of her league.

Roger goes for drinks with his ex-wife Mona, who is looking fabulous if I do say so myself—and isn’t that the best revenge? He’s not there to reminisce (much), but to ask for her help lining up some titans of industry to meet with him at the awards night of the American Cancer Society, where they’re going to honour Don for kicking Lucky Strike in the balls with that scathing letter in the newspaper from last season. She agrees, but not before telling him that she used to think he married Jane because Mona had gotten old, but then she figured out that it was because Roger had gotten old. Very insightful—and without the aid of LSD, too!

All seems to be forgiven between Megan and Don after last week’s bizarre trip to Unhappylandia, and that night in bed he’s excited to report that her parents have agreed to babysit his kids while they try to smooth things over with Heinz the next night, and again when Don receives his award from the American Cancer Society. But Megan wants her parents to see him get the award—that’s why they came all this way. She points out how very, very much her mom likes Don, who’s missed the flirting entirely even though he’s closer in age to Megan’s mom than Megan. There’s no way Megan is having sex with Don while her parents are under the same roof, so they shake hands good night (which is adorable, and makes me wonder if I’d be able to keep my hands and other body parts off him if I were her).

The next day Megan gets an admittedly good idea for the Heinz campaign (“Heinz Beans…some things never change”), the only problem being they’re pitching THE NEXT DAY and the entire campaign is already done. Not that that stops Don from ordering the team to start from scratch. Meanwhile, Peggy gets a call from Abe telling her that he needs to speak to her that night even if she’s working. Peggy’s so distracted by that mysterious request that she doesn’t even care about the campaign switcharoo, and in fact is happy for Megan that she had a great idea. Peggy goes to tell Joan that she has to rearrange her meetings so she can see Abe, and ends up admitting that she thinks Abe is going to dump her. Joan thinks he’s going to propose, because men don’t go to dinner to break up—they just ignore you until you hate them. Peggy gets all worked up and tries to figure out what she’s going to wear for the proposal/breakup.

Roger lets Don know that he’s back in the saddle, baby, and he’s studying the names and faces of all the men he’s going to try to woo at the awards banquet. Don is skeptical, but not necessarily against him trying. All he knows is his in-laws are going to be there to disapprove of him, especially seeing as how Megan’s dad is a communist or socialist or some other disapproving ist.

Peggy looks wonderful in pink for her date with Abe. Her heart beats faster as he finally works up the courage to ask her if she’d do him the honour of…moving in together. Welcome to the sixties! Poor Peggy’s smile freezes on her face so hard you’d need an ice pick to chip it off, but she still says yes because getting a slice of something pretty good is still better than getting no part of something great. “Do you still want to eat?” he asks her. “I do,” she replies, her smile slipping a little wee bit as he searches for a waiter. Aw, Peggy.

Don, Megan, and Ken take the Heinz’s out for supper the night before they’re going to pitch to them. Megan finds out in the ladies’ bathroom (where all the business deals happen, am I right, ladies?) that Mr. Heinz is going to fire their asses the next day. She tells Don back at the table, and they immediately go into emergency mode like they’ve been doing it for years. Don pitches them the campaign right then and there, and after a moment’s confusion, Ken is right there to ease the client into signing on the dotted line before he even knows what hit him. I bow in the general direction of their magnificent save. Don and Megan are like giddy teens in the cab ride home, because there’s nothing like a great business meeting to kick the old sex drive into gear. There’s no way they’re going to wait until her parents are gone to hit that, so they go back to the office to make good use of his sofa, and maybe his desk if they have time for seconds.

Peggy goes to the office the next day expecting Joan to be disappointed for her, but instead Joan boosts her spirits and congratulates her. Peggy turns right around and does the same to Megan, who was possibly worried Peggy would be mad at her for stealing her thunder. No, Peggy is thrilled for her, and makes sure she knows what an amazing job she did. Is there anything better than some 6os grrrl power? I think not.

Megan’s parents have a knock down drag out fight when her mom finds evidence of her dad having a sexual and—even worse—emotional affair with a student of his. Don doesn’t know what to make of it; this is the first time he’s met anyone with a more complicated inner life than him.

It’s time to go to the awards banquet, and Sally is all dressed up for the occasion. Don is stunned at how mature she looks, but as Megan’s dad says wistfully, “No matter what you do, one day your little girl will spread her legs and fly away.” Ha!

At the banquet, Roger and Sally team up to take over the world, which was probably only a matter of time when you think about it. They do recon together, with Sally promising to hold on to all the business cards Roger plans to snag that night. Roger seems happier than he’s been in a long time now that he’s set a goal for himself. It’s just like the old days! Pete isn’t doing so bad himself as he schmoozes Megan’s dad like the pro he is, the better to explain what it is he does for a living. Answer: suck up to people.

Following tonight’s theme (“everything important happens over dinner”), Peggy and Abe invite Peggy’s thoroughly Catholic mother to dinner to break the good news to her. It goes about as well as you might expect, with yelling and accusations of sin. As with all the mothers on this show, Peggy’s mom is both right and wrong when she says Abe will use her for practice until he’s ready to get married…to someone else. Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen, but her mom isn’t going to wait until then to make Peggy feel really bad about the possibility.

Back at the banquet, everything goes to hell because that’s what happens on this show. Sally finds out being with the adults is boring, and Megan’s dad chews her out for being a sell-out which he promises will only make her miserable, conveniently ignoring the fact that he’s not a sell-out and he’s completely miserable. Megan’s mom meanwhile…well. She and Roger really hit it off. So much so that when Sally goes looking for the bathroom, she spies Megan’s mom orally servicing Roger against a piano. She finds out in an instant that nothing is as it seems, and just because Roger is charming and handsome, that doesn’t make him a good man on the inside (which is why I love him so, BTW). She’s instantly traumatized for life, of course.


So is Don when he finds out from an insider that none of the big guns at the banquet will ever hire him because, award or no award, he screwed a client when he turned on Lucky Strike, and they’re never going to trust that he won’t do the same to them. Ouch, that’s gotta sting. I’m sure Roger would be just as devastated if he was there instead of getting a blowjob from the mother of his business partner’s wife.

Misery loves company.