This week on Mad Men Season 5, Episode 9: “Dark Shadows,” we finally see the return of Betty, Ginsberg gets his own storyline that doesn’t involve one-liners, and Roger actually apologizes for his actions. Happy Mother’s Day! Without further ado, let’s get to it.
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Betty’s back, Betty’s back, Betty’s baaacck! It’s simply a Mother’s Day miracle that our favorite Ice Queen is back and playing mind games with everyone around her. Want to get back at your ex-husband’s hot new wife? Manipulate your kid into hating her. Upset with seeing your ex-husband’s hot new wife in her bra? Shotgun some whipped cream! It’s the Betty way!
Let’s start at the beginning. Betty is back (did we mention that yet?) and she’s still, well, rotund. She’s no longer pleasantly plump, since the happy, nice fat Betty of a few episodes ago has melted away now that Betts is on a diet. (Weight Watchers, to be exact.)
After Megan doesn’t send the kids down when Betty and Henry go to pick them up, Betty ventures into Don and Megan’s new apartment, and catches a glimpse of Megan changing in another room. As you can imagine, looks-obsessed Betty isn’t entirely happy seeing a 26-year-old’s taut tummy right when she’s in the middle of a weight crisis. This leads to the aforementioned shot-gunned whipped cream incident once Betty makes it home to Westchester.
Poor Betty. Everything in her world is based around looks and having Megan around is messing with her warped worldview. Even though Betty was the one who ditched Don, she can’t help but realize that it was very easy for Draper to move on with another hot young thing once Betty was out of the picture. This is all weighing on Betty’s mind as she helps Sally with a family tree project. Still feeling the sting of Megan’s tummy-sighting, Betty tells Sally that Don was married before Betty, to a woman named Anna. When Sally asks questions about Anna, Betty manipulates Sally into thinking that Megan was hiding a secret from her. In other words, classic Betty Draper parenting.
Betty wants to embarrass Megan and Don into having to explain Anna, Don’s first wife, whom he married to take on the Don Draper identity. It isn’t clear if Betty wanted Don or Megan to explain the Dick Whitman story to Sally, but Betty definitely wanted to dangle in front of them that they are all hiding a secret from an increasingly curious young girl. Will Don be able to hide Dick Whitman from Sally forever? Or have we moved past Dick at this point?
Sally, naturally, confronts Megan, in the dramatic, bratty way that we’ve come to love Sally for. Sally accuses Megan of “not being her friend,” because, well, she’s a child. Unsurprisingly, childish Megan responds like a little tween getting outed from the popular girls’ table during lunch. She backpedals on why she didn’t tell Sally about Anna, and keeps insisting that she, like, totally is Sally’s friend! Sally, who has clearly learned a few things from her mama, threatens Megan into not telling Don, all while cooly lounging on the couch and reading a book. Sally will definitely grow up into the girl that you love to hate in high school, as if you had any doubts.
Eventually Megan and Don have a fight about the Anna-Sally situation and Sally slyly overhears the entire conversation. She figures out that Betty was just manipulating her, and slinks away having learned that her power of pre-teen brattiness were being used against her. However, Sally eventually has the last laugh when she tells Betty that Megan and Don both happily explained Anna to her with “pictures” and stories. Betty is hurt, thinking that her mind games didn’t work as well as she thought. Maybe she just didn’t count on Sally being better at manipulation than she previously thought. She was raised by the passive aggressive queen, after all!
So, Roger Is Kind Of Anti-Semitic?
Oh Roger. Where to begin. Roger jumps at a chance to wow some potential clients to get a win in over Campbell. Roger learns that the clients are for Monarch Wines, which specializes in Manischewitz vino. Bert Cooper thinks that this would be a perfect opportunity for Roger since he still thinks that he is married to a Jew (Jane). Roger takes the task on because, well, he really needs a win right now.
Since Roger isn’t exactly married to Jane at this point, he enlists Ginsberg to help him secretly write some campaigns. (Which Roger does while dropping at least a couple of anti-semitic jokes into the mix.) This pisses off Peggy when she finds out since she is slowly starting to realize that she is getting eclipsed in terms of creative talent. Ginsberg is wow-ing Don with his Sno Ball ideas (more on that later) while she can barely earn a chuckle from him. Finding out that Roger is secretly using Ginsberg to do campaigns for him sets Peggy off. Peggy confronts Roger in an elevator and he explains that he only picked Ginsberg because he’s a Jew. Peggy, rightly points out that creatives should be able to write for anyone. Her reaction is interesting because you can see that she doesn’t blame Ginsberg in this incident, she blames Roger for thinking that only Jews can write for Jews and only women can write for women.
Roger, perhaps still feeling like he doesn’t have enough Jewish clout, decides to enlist his soon-to-be-ex-wife Jane to help him. She agrees, but only if he’ll buy her a new apartment. Does anyone want to help Roger without asking him to stuff a few Benjamins in their pocket or buy them a new place to live?
After landing the account with Monarch Wines, Roger takes Jane home to her new apartment and proceeds to seduce her. She initially resists, but eventually gives in. After the sun rises and a new days begins, Jane acts cold to Roger and blames him for “ruining” another apartment for her. It turns out that when she said she wanted a new apartment to erase Roger’s memory, she actually meant it. Shock of shocks, Roger acknowledges his mistakes, admits that he was selfish to seduce Jane when he knew that she was still hurting. Were we the only ones who got nervous that he was going to jump out of one of those beautiful windows following his apology?
Ginsberg Gets His Own Storyline!
Ginsberg is officially a major character in Mad Men now that he’s been given a real story arc. First, Don realizes that all of the ads that he’s selecting to submit to an advertising award ceremony are from Ginsberg. After working during the weekend, Don sneaks into the creative room and snoops through Ginsberg’s idea file (titled: “Stuff I Gotta Do”) and gets sucked into Ginsberg’s raw, original ideas. Don wanders over to his office and attempts to bust out a few ideas, but fails after a convoluted idea for Sno Ball involving the Devil and the phrase “A snow ball’s chance in Hell.” It’s terrible and Don knows it.
However, just because Don knows it, that doesn’t mean he’ll admit it. During a pitch meeting with the creatives, he pitches his Devil idea and, although the creatives are wincing and clearly favor Ginsberg’s idea, they agree to write up Don’s idea as another option. Even Don can feel that they are just humoring him because he has Creative Director on his door. But maybe that motivates him more to push the Devil idea.
It’s important to note that Ginsberg’s own self-confidence also sealed his fate to fail. During a second approval meeting with the account managers, most people favor Ginsberg’s idea, and he quotes the first line of Shelley’s "Ozymandias" to the creatives, “Look on my works ye mighty and despair.” As Stan notes, he should read the rest of the poem before he goes around quoting it in victory.
Don is clearly threatened by Ginsberg. On the way to the Sno Ball meeting, he “accidentally” leaves Ginsberg’s ad mock-up in the cab, but wins the account with his idea. Ginsberg finds out and he becomes enraged, much like how Peggy was enraged with Roger. Ginsberg confronts Don in an elevator, and tells him that he knows that he left his idea in the cab. Don tries to pretend like he doesn’t care what Ginsberg thinks, but his face looks worried. Don is worse than an idea stealer, he suppresses good ideas in favor of his terrible ones.
This episode was full of adults acting childish. Betty acted like a bratty schoolgirl when she felt jealous over Megan’s beauty. Megan acted like a scorned child when Sally confronted her about Anna. Peggy and Don both acted like children when they felt threatened by Ginsberg’s talents, although Don’s reaction has the potential to be much more damaging to the agency and Ginsberg’s career. In an era that is so obsessed with the positive elements of youth culture (liveliness, happiness, etc.) it’s interesting that Mad Men decided to explore the negative side of adults who are having their own issues growing up.
Speaking of childness, Betty’s words of wisdom for Henry were the perfect example of the pro-self-esteem attitude that birthed the ideology behind many a Baby Boomer. Talking about knowing ourselves, and teaching others how to treat us … it was all very proto-Oprah.
Roger to Cooper: "How Jewish are they? You know, Fiddler on the Roof, audience or cast?"
Ginsberg to Roger, on seeing his office art: “I like the connect the dots, what does it end up being?"
Roger to Ginsberg, being very anti-Semitic: “"They used to make wine for Jews and now they want to make wine for normal people."
Jane to Roger: "Why don't you ask Joan? She's a professional something."
Ginsberg to the other creatives (quoting "Ozymandias") :"Look on my works ye mighty and despair."
Peggy to Roger: “I'm sick of hearing people think that way. I'm not an airplane. I can write for anything."
Jane to Roger: "You suddenly don't have a problem telling people I'm Jewish?"
Ginsberg to Don: "What do I care? I've got a million of them. A million of them."
- Don knows how to wear the hell out of a weekend sweater.
- Betty seeing a love note written by Don for Megan on the back of a drawing of whale getting harpooned was some heavy-handed symbolism. Seriously, Matthew Weiner? A whale?
- We now know where Don and Megan live! 73rd and Park, according to Megan’s acting friend who clearly resents her.
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Watch the next episode of Mad Men on Sunday, May 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.
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