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Recap: Mad Men, 5.09, “Dark Shadows”

Previouslies: Jane and Roger are leaving each other thanks to LSD-induced honesty about their relationship, Betty and Don had a serious conversation about Don’s previous wife in a previous season, Roger bribed Peggy to work up a whole campaign over a weekend, Betty’s gaining weight, and Pete screwed his buddy’s totally crazy wife.

Tonight’s episode is titled “Dark Shadows,” which seems to be (1) a really awesome coincidence that the “Dark Shadows” movie came out this weekend, (2) a reference to the show Megan’s friend is auditioning for, and (3) an indication of the ominous tone that has settled over some of the characters or the show overall.

In the first scene, Betty’s carefully preparing her breakfast with a food scale. Later, as she goes to pick up the kids at Don and Megan’s, she has to go up to the apartment because Henry can’t find parking and the kids are slow coming down. She catches sight of Megan changing through the”¦window to the bedroom? It’s a very confusingly blocked scene. Anyway, the sight of Megan’s slender frame seems to stun Betty, and not in a good way. At home, she goes to the ‘fridge and sprays whipped cream in her mouth, only to run to the sink to spit it back out. At her Weight Watchers meeting, she shares that she had a “bad week” out in the world, even though she had a “good week” in there, and it’s clear she’s referring to her encounter with Megan, which she refers to as a “trying experience.” She catches Henry grilling a steak late at night and he apologizes to her and says, “I can’t eat fish five times a week,” but he says it’s nice for them to sit together with everyone asleep. Turns out that Henry’s stressed about his job, and he and Betty seem to have a nice little conversation and Betty gives him some advice that seems to be more about her when she says that “it’s so easy to blame our problems on others but we’re in charge of ourselves.” Despite that, they seem to have a sweet little moment together and he shares his steak with her after she finds out that it’s after midnight so she can “count it as tomorrow.”

Sally’s working on a family tree as Betty sorts through some of Bobby’s work and finds a drawing he did on the back of a sweet note Don left for Megan. She thinks for a bit and then asks Sally where Don’s first wife, Anna Draper, is. Sally has never heard of Anna Draper and seems disturbed that Megan didn’t tell her about Anna. Sally asks her mom about Anna, but Betty just tells her to ask Megan. Sally ends up yelling at Megan that she’s a phony, that she thought Megan was her friend, and that Megan can’t tell Don that Sally asked about Anna OR that she yelled at Megan. Trying to fix the situation, Megan gives her a brief overview of the Anna marriage without betraying any serious details. When Megan tells Don, he jumps up to call Betty and yells at Megan for saying anything. Megan yells back that Betty’s intention was obviously to cause a problem between them, and Don hangs up the phone and calms down. Sally’s in the hall, listening to the fight. Megan apologizes for saying anything, and Don apologizes to her for either yelling at her or putting her in that situation; it’s a little unclear. Don talks to Sally about Anna, and Sally figures out that Anna is the woman from California whose house they went to and who called Don “Dick.” Don admits to it and says he wishes that Sally had gotten to meet her and that Betty telling her about Anna was just to try and stir up a fight. When Betty tries to ask Sally about Anna Draper later, and when she finds out that there wasn’t a fight or an attempt at concealment, she throws a cereal box in frustration. First, she can’t turn to food for comfort and now she can’t even poison her husband’s new marriage. Quelle horreur.

Bert and Roger conspire a bit to keep some new business from the rest of the partners so that Pete can’t steal it from them. It’s for Manischewitz wine, so Bert encourages Roger to take his wife with him. When Roger points out he’s getting divorced, Bert kind of goes “No, I meant Jane!” and Roger’s like “Yeah, duh, so did I.” Once Roger ascertains how Jewish the company is (“Fiddler on the Roof: audience or cast?”), he agrees that Jane’s presence would be appreciated. Roger brings in Ginsberg to come up with a pitch on the sly. (When told the brand is Manischewitz, Ginsberg starts, “You assume that I’m Jewish” and Roger immediately snaps back, “Stop talking,” which is fantastic.) Even though Ginsberg admits he can’t keep a secret, Roger bribes him the way he had bribed Peggy and even reflects, “I gotta stop carrying less cash.” Roger convinces Jane to come to the dinner by promising to buy her a new apartment, which Jane wants because the one she’s in features Roger’s mom as landlord and is too full of memories. At dinner with the Rosenbergs of Manischewitz, Roger and Jane are going over very well, Jane, in particular, with the handsome Rosenberg son, who comes to the dinner. Roger’s concept (by way of Ginsberg) of a bus-side ad showing a cartoon of the bus seats with cases of Manischewitz underneath goes over very well. Leaving the dinner, Roger asks to see Jane’s new apartment and, once there, he seduces her, even though she seems apprehensive about what they’re doing. In the morning, Roger goes to leave and finds Jane staring forlornly out the window, saying that this new place is ruined now too. Then she told him why she had to leave their old apartment and now he’s gone and created memories in her new one, too. Roger says he feels terrible, but doesn’t apologize really.

In Don at SCDP land, the man himself looks over some recent work and notices that Peggy’s name is conspicuously absent from the majority of the ads. He comments on this, and I was a little worried about Peggy’s future because of it. Later, as he’s getting ready to leave, he peaks in his team’s office and ends up going through some sketches that Ginsberg has lying around about an upcoming Sno-Ball campaign. He seems amused by them, and Don ends up staying late at work brainstorming some of his own ideas. At the meeting for the campaign the next day, Peggy’s concept gets shot down, but Ginsberg’s and Don’s concepts go to production. Overall, it seems that people prefer Ginsberg’s concept, though they like Don’s, as well. The decision is made to take both, and Ginsberg taunts Peggy and Stan by quoting, “Look on my works, ye might, and despair” from Shelley’s Ozymandias, and Stan gives him a wicked side eye and says “You should really read the rest of that poem, you boob.” Because Stan is awesome. Later, Ginsberg comes in to work on Roger’s campaign and finds Peggy working and totally tells her what’s up (guess he really CAN’T keep a secret) and Peggy seems thrown that he’s got a special secret-Roger project now. Especially when Ginsberg magnanimously offers to toss some work her way. Peggy confronts Roger about it, and he basically tells her that it’s every man for himself and she can’t guilt him into giving her work. On the way to the pitch to Sno-Ball, Don leaves Ginsberg’s ad in the cab, telling Harry, “I’m not taking two.” When Ginsberg finds out that his idea wasn’t pitched, he gets angry and storms off. He catches Don in the elevator the next day and tries to shame him, but Don’s not having any of it. Ginsberg says “I’ve got a million of “˜em,” and Don tosses back, “Then it’s good you work for me.” Ginsberg then tries the “I feel sorry for you” trick, to which Don simply says, “I don’t think about you at all.” I’m less concerned for Peggy now. Ginsberg is awkward and arrogant and while it seems that everyone is willing to work around the awkward, the arrogant will definitely bite him in the ass if he’s not careful. Everyone has to work their way up. Don and Peggy already have and his lack of respect for their experience is pretty galling. He might have great ideas, but he wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for them.

At the start of the episode, Pete manages to catch the elevator with Roger, Bert, and Don and announces that a reporter from the New York Times called him about a feature they were doing on “hip” ad agencies (Bert corrects him with “Hep,” which is great) and he brags a bit about how long they talked and that while the guy might come by the agency, he totally won’t want to talk to any of the other guys. He later fantasizes about Beth coming to visit him in the office wearing only a fur coat and lacy underwear after she reads the piece on him. She’s just crazy enough that I thought this was real for the first couple of minutes, but no. Thank god. Sunday morning Pete calls Don early in the morning to reveal that Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (and more specifically, Pete Campbell) aren’t mentioned in the Times anywhere. Pete tries to draw Don into a nice cathartic session of bashing the article and the writer, but Don cuts him off with, “Don’t wake me up and throw your failures in my face.” Ouch. On the train later, Howard tells him about how he’s going to spend as much time as possible with his mistress and Pete says, “How about you spend Thanksgiving with your girl and I’ll go home and screw your wife.” Howard laughs at bit while Pete just scowls.

Megan and Sally are bonding a bit as Megan works on teaching Sally some acting techniques, like how to make herself cry. Later, Megan is working with a friend of hers, Juliette, as the friend reads some sides for a part on “Dark Shadows” and laughs at the melodrama of all of it. Juliette gets snippy because Megan’s got a comfortable life without having to get parts and Megan snaps back that she’d kill for an audition on the show. Juliette ends up getting the part, which Megan tells Don as they get Thanksgiving dinner together. It’s apparently a really hot Thanksgiving and Don goes to open the balcony doors, but Megan tells him not to because the air is toxic. So for suicide anvils this week, we get a nice long shot of Don silhouetted against his balcony doors staring out into the sky.

Then we cut to Betty and Henry at Thanksgiving.  Betty says she’s thankful that she has everything she wants right before digging into her plate full of tablespoon sized servings of Thanksgiving favorites and a sad, lonely Brussels sprout right in the middle of the plate. Popping her lump of stuffing into her mouth in one bite, Betty chews slowly, savoring the flavor and closing her eyes in bliss.

2 replies on “Recap: Mad Men, 5.09, “Dark Shadows””

All I know is that I want a .gif of Betty saying that she’s thankful she has everything she wants and nobody else has anything better. I loved that so much I nearly spit out my cake. Sad she’s just telling herself that. I really want to see her come through.

I read a few recaps where people felt that Don was an over the top jerk to Ginsberg and that they didn’t respect him anymore. I didn’t think it was so bad compared to all of the other horrible things Don has done. Ginsberg is talented but he just insists upon himself.  I also read that 400 people died from the toxic smog in NYC to add to the drear of the season. I was equally thrilled and mortified when Sally played Betty with her version of how things went down. She knew Betty was in the wrong but the ease she displayed in manipulating her feelings was pretty amazing. Pete Campbell is still a punk and his immodesty is barfy. I think buying the apartment was another example of Roger’s neverending cash flow and everyone wondering where it’s coming from. I was waiting for Jane to ask for a new apartment after her roll with Roger. I can’t imagine how much more miserable Betty is going to be on this diet. The fat miserable first wife pitted against the young slender one story  seems a bit tired. Stan has definitely grown on me this season.

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