Recap: Tea Leaves

 Posted by on April 2, 2012 at 8:44 am  Season 5
Apr 022012
Mad Men Tea Leaves Betty at Lunch


“When is everything going to get back to normal?”

Matt Weiner has been sharing this quote, uttered by Roger at the end of Tea Leaves, as a kind of capsule of the entire season. There is no normal to get back to, and as Don said in episode 105, 5G, “I have a life, and it only goes in one direction. Forward.” At the moment (late June and early July 1966), forward is a very strange direction indeed, for Don, for Betty, for Roger, for SCDP, and for the United States as a whole.

When forward gets strange, backward looks pretty good. Betty reached out to Don because she knew what she would get: “Say what you always say,” she begs, and Don knows exactly what she means. There was a time she hated him saying that; “You don’t know that,” she answered, but now she reaches out to Don, not because she’s in love with him, or threatening his marriage or her own, but because he is familiar, and she knows what he’ll say, and she can use that to calm herself. Betty’s parents are both dead, the past that Betty can touch is Don, and it works, she calms down enough to breathe.

The title Tea Leaves suggests the future, and a fortune teller arrives a little before the halfway point to remind us that attempts to predict the future are a fool’s game. Mad Men has treated tarot reading quite respectfully in the past, and even uses a tarot card as a production logo. The tea leaf lady doesn’t represent a condemnation of the whole idea of divination so much as a demonstration that the belief in a controllable and containable future just doesn’t withstand scrutiny.

“Time is on My Side” is the Rolling Stones song everyone’s talking about, and not because it was a big hit in 1966. In fact, the Stones recorded it in ’64; if Mad Men simply wanted to reference a current song, why not “Paint It Black,”  which was released in May of 1966 and was huge. No, the song was selected for its title. Is time on Betty’s side? On Roger’s? On Megan’s? Betty might not have cancer, but there’s a kind of awakening to the future, to tea leaves, to the choice to reach forward or back.

It’s also not a coincidence that the doctor refers to Betty as “middle-aged.” Man, that’s got to hurt. Betty is now all of 34, which we wouldn’t call middle-aged now, but was not an unreasonable label in 1966. Still, I can’t imagine she likes it. She’s seething that Megan is 20 (she’s 26 but hey, what’s six years between enemies?). Youth culture has arrived. Our closing song, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” (from The Sound of Music), Harry lusting clumsily after young girls, even Megan calling Don “square”: it’s all about the passage of time. Don’s inability to communicate with his mother-in-law (he doesn’t speak much French) seems symbolic of the gulf between Megan’s youth and Don’s age. These old squares can’t even tell whether or not they’ve met the Rolling Stones! (I don’t know how much scrutiny a closing song gets, but Hammerstein died of cancer shortly after The Sound of Music opened on Broadway, before it was made an Academy Award-winning film in 1965; that bit of musical trivia sure fits with the contrast of youth and death, which is one theme of this episode.)

Naturally everyone will want to talk about Betty’s weight gain, and naturally, the storyline was written to accommodate January Jones’s pregnancy. It’s strange that in Season 1, Peggy’s story was that she looked fat but was actually pregnant, and now January Jones is pregnant, and Betty looks pregnant but is actually fat. The fourth wall kind of melted for me when I saw Betty, and I had a hard time understanding, for a few minutes, that this was a tale about Betty Francis becoming fat, because instead I was thinking, “Oh, that’s how they are dealing with January’s pregnancy.” I was wondering if Betty was pregnant, instead of seeing the evidence on-screen: From the moment we saw Betty struggling to get into her dress, we saw a story about a woman who had gained unwanted weight. Thinking otherwise comes entirely from reading gossip columns and knowing what’s going on behind the scenes. We really undermine ourselves when we suck up all that backstage stuff, because it prevents us from seeing the drama on its own terms.

Anyway. Betty got fat. Again, in interviews following Season 1, Matt Weiner expressed a lot of interest in the way that fat women are treated in our world, and he got to tell some of that story by having Peggy gain weight. In Season 2, we met Betty’s friend Sarah Beth, who couldn’t string three sentences together without including one about how awful it was that her daughter was fat. The oppressiveness of that ongoing monologue was palpable.

As is Betty’s self-hatred. It’s one thing to get fat, it’s another to decide that your husband can no longer see you naked, and you can no longer go to fancy events unless you fit into your old, glamorous clothes, and you can no longer have an active sex life. One thing I’ve always loved about Betty is her libido: she may be prim and judgmental, but in the sack she is desirous, playful, and rarin’ to go. Betty is denying herself things she loves: going out, showing off her beautiful clothes, making love, being admired. She’s doing this because fatness is hateful to her.

I am not a doctor, but it seems to me that even a benign tumor sitting on the thyroid could cause weight gain, so it surprised me that the show played, at the end, with the notion that Betty is fat because she’s eating extra ice cream. Maybe that’s true, or maybe she’s giving herself permission to indulge because she’s unable to lose weight even when she starves herself (which is exactly what happens with a thyroid problem). Betty watches every bite she eats, even during pregnancy (“Jesus, Bets, have some oatmeal. That baby’s gonna weigh a pound,” Don said in episode 3.09). This is why her silent, private indulgence in a chicken leg (episode 2.13) was so moving and so sensual. If there’s a loss of control it’s more than just “letting herself go;” Bettyis control.

The other major theme of Tea Leaves is appearances. Betty is not just fat, she is deeply concerned with being seen as fat, and she is sure that Henry is incapable of seeing her accurately. Megan is concerned with how she appears to the Heinz people, and awkwardly makes sure they know she didn’t sleep with a married man. Harry wants to look cool in front of, well, he’s not sure…the girls backstage? Don? The security guard? If only someone would think he’s cool, he’d feel better. Meanwhile, he’s hiding his eating, which seems like a nod at Betty. Michael Ginsberg is a talented nebbish who wants to appear so obnoxious that he’ll be mistaken for bold and exciting. And Peter, as ever, wants everyone to know how important he is. (Note Peter in a black suit, when he usually wears blue or green; he’s dressed as the Head of Accounts and he doesn’t want anyone to miss it.) Part of what Tea Leaves is about is the show we’re all putting on for each other so much of the time.

Some additional thoughts:

  • In Season 1, Harry advised Pete that looking and flirting were the kinds of pleasures a married man can have. His one infidelity left him remorseful and quick to confess. I don’t know if Harry is cheating, but what he’s doing is worse, in a way. He’s longing. Jennifer can’t know what’s hit her.
  • Henry is working for John Lindsay, who was Mayor of New York from 1966 through 1973. He doesn’t want the mayor seen with (George) Romney because “Romney’s a clown.” Ha! I’m allowed to enjoy the cheap shots, aren’t I? Mitt’s father, George, was governor of Michigan at the time, but I’m sure the writer’s room had a nice laugh sticking that in the script.
  • “Romney’s a clown” would be the quote of the week if it weren’t for “Someone with a penis.”/”I’ll work on that.” My son came home from work just as Peggy said that, and I was laughing so hard he thought something was wrong.

I think we can give Jon Hamm’s directorial debut a thumbs up, don’t you?


Continue reading at Indiewire Press Play.


  335 Responses to “Recap: Tea Leaves”

  1. The link’s not working. Looking forward to reading the rest of the review when you get it to work.

  2. It’s working now. I can’t fully digest an ep. without reading your recaps, thank you.

  3. Great recap. Thanks. I’m partial to Harry’s, “Eat first.”

  4. Harry had been smoking tea… I think that was behind his uncontrollable noshing.

    Megan telling Don he’s square speaks to an uptick in the language and also to the fact that Don is wearing a SUIT to a rock concert. ha! And the next day she wants him to go to Fire Island to be with her friends…. none of whom he has the least bit in common with. I wouldn’t want to do that, either. They are painting the generation gap well and with a colorful brush.

    • G.S. I agree they are capturing the generation gap well, but in all fairness, Don went to the rock concert to conduct business, so he wore a SUIT.

      I’m guessing (although we will never know) that when Don took Sally to the Beatles concert at Shea Stadium, he wasn’t wearing a suit.

      I am hoping that between Megan’s influence and Don’s curiosity and powers of observation, he will find a way to adapt to the changing times, but it won’t be easy and he will remain looking more like “the man” than not — he would never look like Harry who will probably be the first at SCDP to become a “member of the Pepsi Generation” and wear bell bottoms and love beads to work..

      • Yes, he wore a suit to conduct business, BUT this ended up making him look ridiculous, and impressing no one. Don simply doesn’t know how to “cut a figure” anymore — and Megan’s youthful comment emphasized that. By shifting 1960’s standards, he doesn’t look dapper and composed — just square.

        • Men of that age literally did not own clothes that could make them look cool. My first father-in-law grew up on a Depression-era farm; he would rather die than wear blue jeans–blue jeans were what you wore to do farm chores; they represented the life he escaped by becoming an engineer. I don’t imagine Don will ever own a pair.

          • My father grew up poor in a bad Brooklyn neighborhood. He too was very attached to his hard-won Brooks Brothers wardrobe. However, he enjoyed changing his style slightly as colored shirts, wide “hip” ties and so forth came into style. He also wore turtlenecks for dressy casual when that came into style. With a sport coat.

        • Don doesn’t own anything that would have made him fit in most likely. If he had worn his leisure clothes, he would’ve looked even more out of place. Remember, this is only a couple years since the Stones had ditched the suits themselves, and right around the time the Beatles were transitioning away from that look themselves. Suits were more ubiquitous back then.

  5. Great recap. 🙂

    Betty’s mother-in-law refers to her as something like “one of those girls.” The type of girl who has it easy. I think there was a time when Betty would have smiled at that — not because it was ever easy, but because she’d successfully fooled people into thinking it all just flows for her. I think after a while, people want credit for hard work and struggle, and that doesn’t happen proportionally when people think it all comes naturally.

    And it IS harder for her. At least the weight thing, if the benign growth did slow her down. I think that finding the energy to try — anything — is probably more difficult. Every formula for happiness she’d ever learned is flawed. That she is on her second marriage proves that. Now she can’t even tell herself that if she had a faithful husband it would all be fine, or someone who loves her for herself, because she still has an emptiness in her.

    And she’s a middle-aged housewife who doesn’t look like Barbie anymore. Well… There is a quote I remember about Liz Taylor, and I can’t remember who said it — a politician’s wife? It was when she’d gained weight while married to John Warner. Something like, “we all grew up wishing we looked like Liz Taylor, and now — God help us — we do.”

    Betty is used to going to parties and being one of the most beautiful women there, and now she has to know that no matter how well she is put together, that is not how people would describe her. She is becoming the woman Jimmy Barrett would shame for laughs before turning to focus on the lovely little thing on the other side of him.

    All praise to cutting from Betty being unable to zip the dress and bowing out of the party to Megan having no problem fitting into her dress with the casual help of Betty’s former zipper-upper.

  6. A possible clue on Michael Ginsberg’s father that was being discussed in the earlier thread:

    Pete Fox, the baseball player whose obituary he was reading to Michael when he came home played from 1931-45. If Ginsberg’s father was enough of a baseball fan to know who Fox was (a good player, but not a superstar – whose best seasons were in the 30s) – he was probably in America during WWII, and not a Holocaust survivor.

    Then again, he mentions Fox as being a Red Sox outfielder, when Fox was more well known for his seasons with the Tigers – so he could be reading the obituary out loud only as a means of making conversation with his son.

    • Are we sure that’s his father? I mean it seemed likely that it was a father or other close male relative, but remember he says, TWICE I think, “I have no family, no life.” Obviously that isn’t quite true but we still don’t know his relationship to the older man. He had a very heavy accent. My grandparents were from over there too, came as teenagers, and their accents weren’t quite so heavy. He sounded like someone who came to the US as an adult.

      • Yes, we don’t know for sure, although I take Michael’s comment of having no family with a grain of salt.

        The man in the apartment definitely seemed much older than Michael, so it could be an uncle or grandfather, I suppose.

    • I think in this context “no family” means “no wife and kids”.

      • I can’t remember the last time that MM went to such lengths to show the background on a new character, as they have with Michael. I don’t know about any of you, but to me it seems that this character is going to ultimately be a major player in the series.

        • I never make predictions about what MW and MM are going to do. This new guy could come and go like Jane’s cousin. We all kept hoping and assuming “someday” we would find out a lot more about Carla. But we never did.

  7. Great recap, Deborah. You made me look at Betty’s weight gain a different way.

    One thing that I haven’t seen anyone mention was the interaction between Megan and the Heinz people, specifically, the client’s wife. Megan was there as a SCDP employee, but also as Don’s wife, and as Don and the client were discussing business, the client’s wife said to Megan, “This is boring, I’m bored, aren’t you, Megan?” And Megan, who as a junior copy writer was definitely interested in the conversation, demurred and said, “Yes.” I thought that was really telling; she’s a modern woman, but she’s also Don’s wife, and with that comes a lot of assumptions. It’s going to take some time to break out of that mold, I think.

    • Yes! I noticed that too. A junior copywriter should not be saying shop-talk is boring, but it’s apparently expected that a wife would think it’s boring. It was interesting to see how Megan navigated that.

      • What choice did she have? She was there as Mrs Draper, not as a SCDP employee. You don’t bite that hand that feeds unless you’re really stupid or you’re poised to blow that scene.

        • Absolutely. She was definitely backed into a corner there.

        • Oh absolutely, she had no choice, and she knew it. Don appreciated how she responded, too. She gets it, but she’s not necessarily happy about it.

          • I agree — she responded as a wife, not as an employee, and Don wanted her to respond that way. It put him in the position of authority. We saw what happened a week ago when Megan overshadowed him.

          • I felt bad that she had to fake being bored, but I understand. She wanted to impress the client, and acted as expected. I bet she really wanted to talk about it more.
            And speaking of Heinz, I had to laugh when they mention getting The Rolling Stones to do a commercial for it. If they just wait a year, the Who will release an album called “The Who Sell Out” with a picture of Roger Daltry bathing in a tub of Heinz Beans!

    • What about the line where Megan says Don is divorced to Heinz. Don did not look happy about that? Is that because divorce was not common then and he thought his client would disapprove? It was strange that Megan would not admit she enjoyed the conversation and was not bored but she would state that Don was divorced.

      • She mentioned his being divorced so the client would not think she had gotten involved with a still-married man…

        • I still think she should have answered in a better way. I dont think the Heinz ppl were suspecting her even though I think they all know what goes on between married men and secretaries, at least a little. I just dont see clients asking about it. Megan knew what she said was TMI (by the look of her face after she had said that). She definitely didnt think before she spoke.

    • Yes, there was a long pause. Megan wanted to react as a copywriter, but realized she was expected to react as an ornamental wife, and being “bored” is what’s needed right there. Betty knew that instinctively. I or another writer will surely get an entire post out of it.

      There was SO MUCH going on in this episode. I wrote 1400 words and didn’t even talk about Peggy!

      • In fairness, Betty would have reacted instinctively because she is a housewife and not a copywriter. The scene is a nice measurement of Megan — smart enough to realize she should agree the talk is boring, but of the younger generation that gives out TMI for the older generation. And a similar dynamic underlies her later argument with Don about whether 26-year-olds really understand death.

        • She absolutely knew as soon as it was out there that she’d blown it on the “divorced” remark. I think it’s what made her extra-cautious about representing as wife, and not copywriter, with “it’s boring”.

      • Deborah, I look forward to your take on Peggy and Mr. Ginsberg!

      • I think this is as an interesting thread for future development. Megan is now a secret weapon of sorts for Don in those kinds of situations. She can play the wife while also understanding the creative discussion and thus possibly nudging the conversation in ways Don needs it to go. As clever as both Don and Megan are, I doubt they’ll let her usefulness go to waste on this.

      • DEBORAH on “…I wrote 1400 words…and didn’t even talk about Peggy.” Yes, yes, yes. Most episodes are so richly detailed that it’s like being down in a gold-mine. You pocket all you can carry out, knowing you can’t get it all but hating to leave any of it behind!

        I have a stie-related question –(I’m new): Is there a way to get-back to comments left on an earlier post about Episode 5.2 — or any earlier episode? My navigations skills are poor.

        • Faylyn, welcome. You can subscribe to comments, which I think will then give you a little WordPress page where all your comments are hiding. It’s the “notify me of new comments” checkbox.

  8. As I was watching last night, I thought “not one of the better episodes,” but, like so much about Mad Men, it’s growing on me in retrospect. Like Deborah, I was taken aback by the Betty story line because of the real-life knowledge of January Jones’ pregnancy, and because she had appeared in the promotional tour just recently looking as thin and glamorous as ever. OTOH, I like that Betty is back (I’m apparently her one fan) and I think Weiner and his writers have found an interesting way to deal with Jones’ real-life situation. Plus, treatment for even a benign thyroid tumor should explain that likely rapid weight loss we’re going to see over the season.

    Meanwhile we saw, probably for the first time since she took the pigeons out in “Shoot,” Betty as a caring parent. The cancer scare seemed to make her aware of what she does have in her life and to realize, if only a little bit, that were she to die, she would likely be remembered as a spoiled child more than anything else. Ever since the first season, I have been wondering how they were going to deal with Betty’s real problem – she is simply unfulfilled in her role as perfect wife/mother – and presumably this gives the writers a way to get this now mid-30s woman to actually grow up. I was really struck by the choice of “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” as the closing song because it does describe that process of going from girl to woman, but also because it’s sung by and about a girl who is going to learn very quickly that being in love does not guarantee anything – and even a man you idolize can completely disappoint you. It’s a lesson that Betty has clearly learned, and the relative maturity of her relationship with Don (even though it still provokes Henry’s understandable jealousy) shows that, although she is still upset about being replaced with a younger (thought no that much younger) woman. It’s also clear that Betty has passed on her food issues to Sally, and I am really intrigued to see how Weiner and company will handle her growing understanding of the world and the effects of being her mother’s (and father’s) daughter. It seemed to me that the two groupies could be seen as the “Tea Leaves” of Sally’s own life in a few years.

    Speaking of the future, I think we got a really interesting glimpse with Harry. One of the main themes of the show is how the changing times of the 60s impacts these characters. We saw a lot of that in the premiere, especially at the party, but there were clear indications of those effects in this episode. Betty sounds positively old-fashioned (“I haven’t had much success reducing on my own”) as she tries to manipulate the doctor into giving her diet pills, and Don, of course, according to Meghan is “so square you have corners.” Meanwhile Harry seems to be more than ready to explore anything/everything this new world has in store, and is clearly unhappy in his own marriage. If Betty is the stereotypically unhappy housewife, Harry, I predict, is the stereotypical 70s guy who leaves his wife to “find himself” and live the life Hugh Hefner was promoting. Can’t you see him in LA in five years dating women far too young (probably the same girls who were waiting for the Stones) and desperately trying to pretend to be hip?

    • He’s already desperately trying to be hip! Next up: Acid green Nehru jackets? Ackkkkk!

      • I thought all the dialog between Harry and Don this week was hilarious. Do we think Megan shared with Don what she overheard Harry saying about her? I was laughing out loud over the Don’s reaction to Harry’s wolfing down 20 White Castle burgers.

        I was unaware of JJ’s pregnancy! I thought she was in a fat suit with a prosthetic chin, and that they used a body double getting out of the tub (I still think it that part is true). It all resonated with such sadness to me.

        Deborah, you forgot to touch on Dawn! That was a lovely surprise.

        I thought Megan saw through Don very clearly and called him on his stuff nicely.

        • It had to be a body double– looked like an East German swimmer before the Wall came down. Way too broad in the shoulders.

          • I agree. That was a different person with a broad build. I don’t follow celebrity gossip so i didn’t watch JJ during her pregnancy, but she would have had to gain huge amounts of weight and undergo a massive body-type transformation to have that East German swimmer back, as ruthiej said.

          • LOL..The Nordic-East German connection!

          • There was a website earlier this week that had pics of JJ half in/half out of her fat make-up. I’m pretty sure it was all her.

        • Diva, I didn’t “forget,” I ran out of steam. I wrote 1400 words at 1:30 in the morning. We’re here all week — I don’t have to shoot my whole wad in the first post.

        • Deborah, you forgot to touch on Dawn! That was a lovely surprise.

          Yes, and how do we parse the significance of her being Don’s secretary? At the end of last week’s episode, Don said “Why can’t we just hire one of them,” so maybe he was the only one of the execs who clearly had no objection to having a black secretary. Perhaps Pete wouldn’t either, but OTOH his growing self-importance might make him think it was a slight. Or maybe they just thought “Draper grinds up secretaries anyway, maybe working his desk will dive her off before long.” Luckily for Dawn, she seems to have new 1966-style mellow-Don to work for.

          • I wonder if Megan had any input.

          • Ack! That should be “drive her off before long”

            Typos make me crazy! 🙂

          • Last week, Don and Roger were sharing Caroline as secretary. Caroline was originally just Roger’s secretary. Roger for some reason does not strike me as the guy who was itching to have Dawn at his desk. Don, otoh, does have a sense of fairness about him, and was the one who suggested hiring one of the black applicants last week. I think it all adds up nicely.

          • And those who predicted it would be the tall lady dressed in brown, were right.

          • Based on things Pete’s said, I wouldn’t put it past him to actively want a black secretary, he’s the one member of the firm that seems most open minded on racial issues after all. However, Pete already has a secretary of some longstanding (and seemed to bond with her over pranking Roger last week.) Don and Roger are the two who’ve been sharing, and there’s no way Roger would accept a secretary of ANY minority (especially now that he’s already feeling slighted.)

          • I’m not understanding why they felt they had to hire an African-American secretary. I know they ran the ad, but it’s not like reporters were going to follow up to make sure they hired one. Even for the applicants, if they never heard back they would probably just assume someone else got it. I’m not even sure if they went to a reporter to check on what happened, the reporter would even bother.

            This isn’t to say they shouldn’t have but I just didn’t understand the urgency to do so. I would have thought they would have just taken resumes and left it at that. I guess Pete could have pushed it, but then it seems like they would have said he had to be the one, regardless of whether he likes his current secretary.

          • Maybe Roger needed a dedicated secretary now that he actually has an account. So the secretary he and Roger were sharing is now just for Roger, leaving a vacancy for Don

    • You’re not Betty’s only fan. I really like Betty. I understand her even though we’re from far different backgrounds. Betty struggles and tries very hard to struggle without bothering anyone. I feel for her and while I do think she has some serious faults when it comes to her parenting style, I still like her. Now that she’s overweight I really feel for her.

  9. One thing that has stayed in my head from last night is Betty’s mother. When Betty comes home from the doctor’s office in a panic looking for Henry, the portrait of Betty’s mother is hanging in the foreground. Betty’s issues around weight and appearance all stem from her mother, and even in death she’s there. I’m obviously still trying to form a coherent thought around this, but I thought the appearance of that portrait was significant.

    • Totally. It was right outta “Rebecca”. The woman in the huge, gothic house haunted by the mysterious dead woman in the painting.

      • Great reference!!!

      • Indeed. Matt Weiner is a Rebecca fan, having noted its influence on “The Inheritance,” which was set in the house where Betty grew up.

        • i kept thinking of that gothic house as the one described in william faulkner’s “a rose for emily,” complete with the parental portrait domineering the room…in emily’s case, it was her dad, but betty’s overbearing parent was obviously her mom.

        • I missed that!
          I’ll watch it again!

    • Abby –
      The parental voice is internalized and is loud and clear even after the parents have died. It’s almost as though her mother’s portrait is there to chastise Betty even as Betty is panicking about her own life. It could also be to reinforce Betty’s concern, as her mother died relatively young, although I can’t recall how she died other than that she was sick. If it was cancer, I could see where Betty’s anxiety would be through the roof.

      • The whole episode I kept thinking all about Betty’s mothers preoccupation with Betty’s weight. I think the portrait was also saying, “You’re just fat”.

  10. When Sally asked, “Can I go watch TV?” I thought of the song Cat’s in the Cradle . . . let’s face it, how many times in past seasons would Sally have loved to enjoy an ice cream sundae with her mom, only to have Betty snap “Go watch TV.” And now, finally, Betty takes the time to give her daughter some undivided attention, but Sally’s uncomfortable and wants to watch TV. Sad.

  11. I was half-expecting Don and Roger to admit that part of them missed their lives when Mona and Betty were in them–because it reminded them of a time when they were the ones soaking up the applause and were on top of what was now.

    That last scene with the music and Betty enjoying Sally’s sundae was just really brilliant and I have to give Jones credit for continually going there with this character. Someone mentioned on another website that it was suggested to Julia Louis-Dreyfuss once on Seinfeld to “go fat” when she was pregnant and she burst into tears at the suggestion by Larry David. I can’t imagine January doing that, she really seems game for anything.

    • I’ve seen pictures of Julia Louis-Dreyfus from when she was very young on SNL. She was heavier then than she was in later years. Weight was probably an issue that she struggled with and had to get under control (she’s also very petite), and for some people, it can be a sensitive issue. January strikes me as someone who’s probably never had a weight problem.

    • I’m sure the fact that Mad Men has garnered a reputation for being supportive of it’s perfomers (much more so than Seinfeld) helps when the cast is asked to do something like that. Elizabeth Moss has made some really touching comments over the years about the level of support she was given by people in the production when she was playing “fat Peggy”. From hearing the actors talk, it seems to me like they really feel their in an environment where they can take risks and not be hung out in the wind.

      • That’s beautiful and makes so much sense. Perhaps that’s the energy our lovely Mods harness for these boards as well? One of my favorite things about our discussions here is how seamlessly these Kissed minds weave thoughtful instances of personal experiences into in-depth analysis and artistic observation. Matt Weiner definitely seems like a writer with a fathomless foundational gratitude for the Mad Men community — cast/crew and fans alike — and that kind of respect makes everything feel possible and worth exploring.

  12. Terrific summary, Deborah. I’m such a Betty-supporter–in fact, I’d go as far as to say that Betty, Joan, and Peggy are the primary “voices” and points of view driving this drama, more so, certainly, than those of Don, Pete, or Roger.

    People reflexively hate on Betty: She is beautiful and comes from a monied family, so she’s always had it easy, right? At the end of Season 3, Don’s comment to Betty–that she had everything she wanted and dreamed about–would seem to reflects unsettling (but not unexpected) reactions to Tea Leaves I’m seeing elsewhere today (not here, thankfully). I mean, a few people are saying they’d hoped she really did have terminal cancer so the writers could get rid of her! Others are just savoring the schadenfreude at seeing a beautiful woman–one whose looks once conformed to their culturally-engrained notion of “hot”–get taken down a peg or two (or ten). “Betty is fat–hahahahaha!”

    Ironically, spiteful and superficial viewer reactions to Betty’s weight gain and attendant unhappiness underscore how women are so relentlessly judged on our appearance, to this day, to the detriment of any real understanding of Who We Are and where We’ve Been, an understanding that can’t even be approached without looking below the surface, be that surface beautiful, plain, fat, or thin.

    Because a fairer assessment of the delightfully complicated Betty would take into consideration such things as her upbringing, wherein she was groomed to be a pretty house cat, even as she was sent to an excellent college to pursue a degree in a not-exactly-a-cakewalk subject: anthropology (and how interesting is that?!). A fairer assessment of Betty would remember her career pre-Don, when she lived in Italy; her mastery of Italian; her crushed disappointment at not getting the Coke commercial–she’d been so thrilled at the prospect of re-entering the workplace–and coming home, making dinner as promised, and ultimately, taking out her frustration by shooting at the neighbor’s birds. And consider: Betty’s choices in feminist reading material; her Yankee thrift (she’s quite adept with a sewing machine, despite being well-off enough to send things to a seamstress, and as someone who pays extraordinarily close attention to the costumes, I noticed that the cream cotton eyelet shirtwaist dress–with crinoline!–that she wore in Season I, when Glenn walks in on her in the bathroom, had been rendered sleeveless and crinoline-free in a later episode, because that’s what you did with nice clothes–you hung onto them and updated them rather than throw them out); her kindness (remember her babysitting for Glenn’s Kennedy-supporting single mom? The mom everyone else in the neighborhood could only criticize and gossip about?); her faithfulness to Don, even as he screwed around on her again and again? Those are things that get lost in the rush to demonize her for her brittle, Nordic personality, her mean-spiritedness and lashing out at the kids and Carla, and, let’s face it, her extraordinary beauty.

    We are a culture that loves to worship beauty and youth and perfect thinness in our women, and God forbid you get older or gain weight, even today. Men continue to react as though you’ve STOLEN something from them–“What happened to that hot little thing in the tennis shorts?” I was once asked, having already gained 20 lbs in the early months of my first pregnancy. “I used to love checking you out!” This was in the 1990’s. I wish I could say I’d observed an improvement in this body-policing, in this ownership of women’s bodies by everyone but the women themselves. I haven’t.

    I can see potential for Mad Men developing a potent narrative with regard to this matter, by the way. We’ve got an intelligent, well-educated, world-traveled woman who was raised in a very schizophrenic era, when we were being told on the one hand that we must be beautiful as possible and that having a home, children, and a MAN, are what will make us happy; and on the other hand, that we must go to college and get a degree–and/or pursue a career (at least until we meet said MAN)–because that’s what people do. Peggy has rejected all of that, because “nothing interests (her) more than what goes on in that office.” Joan is torn, and she goes back and forth: She wanted the wife-of-a-successful-doctor life very badly, but she also clearly misses the satisfaction, camaraderie, and day-to-day accomplishments she enjoyed at SCDP (and who among us cannot relate to the exhaustion and crushing loneliness–not to mention the shock at how very much work newborn babies are–that Joan feels now?)

    Two last points, tangentially: One, I found the closing-credits song to be a perfect choice–most saliently, that line about being a blank page for men to write on. Which was what the men were doing throughout this episode, wasn’t it? And two, did you LOVE Pete’s Big Moment, when he stood before the entire staff and whipped off the veil covering the Mohawk Airlines model? With the revelation of that very phallic symbol, everyone applauds Pete, even though it was Peggy’s brilliance–her forward-thinking, consensus-budiling-as-opposed-to-competitive-and-threatened approach–that brought the talented copywriter on board, that sealed the deal? And Hamm’s cutting to Peggy’s stone-faced observing of all this, while Roger does a bitter golf clap?

    Because I did! What a fabulous and fabulously feminist show Mad Men is. I can’t wait for next week.

    • Beautifully put. But, unfortunately these days body snark is no longer limited to women. How many times have you seen in print, on the tube or internets pictures of someone like Mickey Rorke, his present self next to one shot when he was 25 and a caption like “bad plastic surgery!”. As though it was only vanity that affected his looks and a boxing career and a few decades of , you know, living, had nothing to do with the change in appearance.

      • Good points, but I think one of the themes running through Mad Men is that it’s been going on a lot longer than we might acknowledge. The one moment in “A Little Kiss” when Roger and Jane seemed happy together was when he laughed at her crack about Pete going bald. And recall Rachel’s sister asking “Has he got all his hair?” when Rachel was telling her about Don. I imagine Don would begin to look to others like a man past his prime if he started losing it. Harry is shaping up (pardon the expression) as a more of an annoying buffoon than ever, stuffing himself with White Castle burgers. And as so much commentary reflects, clothes very definitely make the man on Mad Men.

        • True. But what I didn’t make clear is the extra dose of hate directed toward the aging/weight gain of the genetically gifted beautiful people is what is irksome to me.Pete and Harry are nice looking men, but not likely to inspire a lot of mean laughter and finger pointing simply for getting older and wider. Not more than most, anyway, and certainly not as much as Betty.

      • It’s being applied to younger people too. Look at the sizable amount of critisism that Jennifer Lawrence was “too fat” for her role in The Hunger Games. It’s all getting to be beyond ridiculous.

    • I’m glad you posted this. I also love Betty. I think that with tv and in real life people have a hard time accepting that people are fallible. To me Betty is a well-bred and likely terribly intelligent woman who has been forced to repress all her natural qualities to fit this image of an obedient and lifeless housewife. If Betty actually used her potential she would be a force to be reckoned with.

      • I don’t think I’m downplaying the sexism of the period when I say I’m disinclined to hold society entirely to blame for the fact that the terribly intelligent Betty is watching The Andy Griffith Show and stuffing herself with Bugles. Contrast with season two, when we saw her sitting at home during the day reading Katherine Ann Porter’s Ship of Fools. Betty looks very depressed.

        • Sure, Betty’s depressed, but the society she lives in is definitely playing into that. This isn’t a new thing either. In season one she had the problems with numb hands. The sitting around watching tv and overeating is new, but that’s probably because she’s in a situation now where it’s safe for her to ‘let herself go’. Henry, who played the role of the perfect husband this episode, supports her no matter what, so it’s safe for Betty to let allthose years of issues catch up with her. Contrast that with Don, who treated her badly, even when she played the perfect wife.

          I loved the scene with betty trying to squeeze into her dress. Having depression, I’m prone to rapid weight gain and loss, so the idea of trying to squeeze into your clothes is a very familiar oneto me.

    • Deborah,

      I think your insights offer the most essential and central take-away from this episode. We can see how much the weight of the past, the culture, and her mother all fall (and have fallen) on Betty. She’s not taking anything out on Sally, but is instead internalizing these pressures and taking things out on herself. The ugly sides of Betty in past seasons never did merit such visceral or frontal forms of hatred; her talks with Dr. Edna in season four illustrated the extent to which she was made to think of herself as a pretty little girl/doll by her maternal influences (who were themselves constrained by a masculine-centric culture). It’s not as though Betty ever deserved a free pass for the ways in which she treated Sally, but the show made clear all along that Betty was more a victim of outside pressures and cruel mixed messages from society than she was an initiator/creator of ugliness. It was never fair to view her in supremely negative terms – she was and is a sympathetic figure, caught between the competing tensions you mention, tensions that her mother and the whole of society never gave her the ability to cope with in an effective holistic manner.

      The genius of this episode is that it did not show Betty lashing out in the face of her understandable fears, frustrations and limitations. She’s now internalizing everything, and so the “Betty is just a big raging meanie!” meme of past seasons can be safely tossed away. This episode was the vehicle through which Betty’s most vehement critics and detractors were made to see that, oh – that’s right! – this woman never did receive the support she needed from her parents, her former spouse, or the larger culture to become a person in full. Henry offers the kind of support she always did need, but Betty’s so far along life’s road that it will take a great deal of time for her to shed her mental weight (more than her physical weight) and put on a new and healthy mindset, the one Harry wants her to gain. This only adds to the out-of-place quality so ably described by Deborah Lipp in her review of this episode.

      • Well said. Thank you for pointing out Betty’s internalization of her anger/depression/disappointment.

      • Another thing about the Betty story line, which I neglected to mention in my rather long comment above: I’ve noticed a lot of criticism for the way she did not immediately go “Omigod, the CHILDREN” when told she might have cancer, and how it was Don’s mention of them that “reminded her”, and finally, that all this is Typical Selfish Betty.

        Well, sad to say, more than one of my friends has had a similar scare–that awful news that you might die sooner than you thought. And guess what? The first thing they thought about was NOT, “What will my children do without me?” but rather, “Is it really going to be over? Will it hurt? There is so much left that I want to do! I want to see my children grow!”

        The reaction to Betty’s so-called self-involvement seems, to me, yet another denial that Betty, and by extension women, are not individuals. That once you’re a mother, you must necessarily subjugate all your own personhood and identity. Now, I would happily take the proverbial bullet for any or all of my sons–and I have indeed sacrificed a lot of my identity, including going to law school, so as to be a wife and mother–but if I’m honest, I will say that if I got news like that, the first things I’d be thinking about is, Will I hurt? Will I be incapacitated? THEN I would segue into thoughts about who would be left behind. Is that so terribly wrong? If so, then a lot of women are terribly wrong right along with me.

        And furthermore, I think this was very neatly mirrored back at us when Don said, “I worry about the children…growing up without a mother….” etc. All I could think was, What about poor BETTY, Don? Is that all she is to you, to anyone, really–the vessel that delivered your kids? Ugh.

        And let’s not forget: It’s not as though Betty wasn’t thinking and worrying about what life after her death would be like for the kids. That worry showed up in the form of a very somber dream, with her kids dressed in black, so sad and quiet; the upturned chair.

        In more modern times, with different role models influencing her, Betty might not have chosen to have children. I’m convinced, in fact, that she wouldn’t be a mother. That said, I don’t doubt that she love the ones she does have.

        • I agree 100% and posted as much on Indiewire. OTOH, I’m willing to give Don a pass. Having feelings for an ex is not something people understand (as we saw with both Henry and Megan’s reactions). People do, however, understand and accept “the mother/father of my children” as an acceptable reason to have feelings. Don may not understand his own feelings for Betty and may be processing them that way, or he may simply be good at creating a socially acceptable package for others.

        • I agree with Deborah that part of Don’s discussion of the children may be a way of making it okay to talk about his worry with Roger. Feelings for the ex is not easily understood. Roger’s initial impulse was to say something like “that would make it easier” if Betty died. Roger didn’t get that Don might be upset that Betty was sick. Roger really isn’t the kind of guy you make yourself extremely vulnerable to–especially if it is a sentimental feeling about the wife that left you for another man.

          In fact–I was rather surprised that Don just threw it out there that he grew up without his mother. I wasn’t aware that Don had discussed that aspect of his personal life at work before. “He could be Batman for all we know.” But my memory of all the previous shows is splotchy, so I may be forgetting something.

          If we set aside what Don MAY have been thinking (and masking) and focus on what he actually SAID—I got the sense that he loves his kids but he was really frightened by the idea of raising them all the time with Megan. What did he say? Megan would “try”? For all the commotion made about how wonderful Megan was with the kids last year, Don wasn’t giving her a particularly ringing endorsement.

          Nor did Don seem particularly welcome to the idea of having all three of them all the time. He seemed quite worried about it. Whatever stress he may have observed between Betty and the kids, he seemed very convinced it would be terrible for the kids to lose Betty.

          Is there something Don senses about Megan and the kids? Or does it have nothing to do with Megan personally and everything to do with step moms generally? Did Don’s own stepmother actually “try” a little bit more than we have often given her credit for?

          Or does it really have nothing to do with Megan or stepmoms–Don just knows he’d lose a lot of his freedom if the kids moved in? It’s harder to play angry upset housewife cleaning in her underwear when there are young children around.

          Or it could have been upset feelings about Betty.

    • Wow! Deborah, you nailed this episode for me, I was shocked at the response on the comments at both the weight gain of Betty and the relation to January. Why oh why are folks so obsessed and mean about weight gain? For Mad Men to have Betty gain weight to me was NOT a way to work with JJs pregnancy. As someone already mentioned, JJ is clearly wearing a fat suit and face prothesitics, as Elizabeth did in the first season.

      For Mad Men to show Betty as a stereotypical housewife, “letting herself go” was absolutely heartbreaking to me last night. How could Mad Men play into such a hackneyed storyline?

      However, now, in reading your post and this comment in particular, I feel a bit differently. Although I honestly feel the character of Betty would never lose her self-esteem over being “content” as Henry’s Mom suggests and gain weight this way, perhaps the storyline serves a purpose if only for the discussion that is taking place. Could Betty have gained weight because she feels trapped, unstimulated, bored, unfulfilled, ala, Betty Freidan? Has the over eating replaced Betty’s shaky hands?

      As well, I think Betty still has feelings for Don and vice versatile. I know plenty of divorced folks with kids and they NEVER call each other about personal stuff, EVER!

  13. Part of the problem with everyone constantly commenting on Megan’s youth (Don mentioned it, the Heinz executive mentioned it, Betty thinks Megan is a 20-year old) is that she doesn’t appear so incredibly young to me. This is not a criticism of Jessica Pare; she’s obviously a very beautiful woman, and I’m not saying she looks “old.” But she has a a sophisticated, glamour-girl look to her features that makes her appear very womanly, IMO. I see her as a thirty-year old. So again, not old, but not a kid either. I know people age differently, but when I was 26, I had many people mistaking me for a teenager. Megan/JP has a more grown-up look to her features, IMO.

    • I think the youth comments is more to do with her generation than her actual age. There are only a handful of years between Betty and Megan, but they are not the same generation, they are not contemporaries. They’ve both been married to the same guy, but they’re living different lives. As childlike as Betty can be, she was always grouped with the adults, and Megan is tied into youth culture. She is not a mother, yet, but rather a step-mother, and so it’s easier to see her as Don’s new Barbie, and tempting for Betty to see her as even younger than she is, or younger than she even appears.

      Today, it’s not uncommon to see men Don’s age dressing like they did in college, spending their time playing video games, and — as with Betty and Megan — it changes the perception of someone’s age, certainly their maturity, no matter how responsible they might actually be. That divide started in the sixties.

      So, Jessica Pare does seem like a woman in her later twenties, but that’s looking at her by today’s standards when we expect perhaps not childishness, but youthfulness.

      • Good points about the generational divide, Glass Darkly. Thanks.

        • The generational divide is part of it. However, there is also a difference in perception between then and now. Today, we see the cast — particularly the actresses — in their period wardrobe, hair and makeup and see people who look older than they are. In 1966, when this was just how everyone made themselves look, people would likely still have seen Megan as the 26-year-old she is.

      • No not uncommon at all. I happen to have friends who are living together who are 28 and 40. But I had no idea that this guy was 40 until his birthday – whenever I see him he’s wearing jeans and converse, is into Sci-fi and comics and indie music. He could easily pass for anywhere between 25 and 30. Apparently he also has a secret double life as a real-estate agent.

        • I worked with a guy like that. He was in his late 30’s, but I would’ve sworn he was in his mid 20’s until I found out his age.

      • GD, a bit off-topic, but your reference to “…men’s Don’s age”…etc. triggered my thinking about how Don was dressed in business attire in the “Midge-beatnik-pot-smoking party” scene, just as he is in the “backstage Stones” scene; yet there is a stark contrast in how well he navigates in those scenes. In the “Midge scene” he gets a free-pass from the cops because of his attire — a good thing!–but in the latter scene he just looks “square,” out-of-place and (dare-I say?) a bit old. That was, I think, an intended consequence of that scene–emphasizing that what worked and was respected a couple of years ago (63-64) has turned around on him by mid-1966. BTW, your comments and all the others I’ve seen on this site are awesome. I’m a newcomer to the Basket, but I really like it, and I apologize if I’ve boorishly tread on observations already made–so often the case when a newcomer like me starts commenting..

        • Thanks, Faylyn. I think there is nothing more at the heart of this show than “time and change.” It seems such a natural topic, so interwoven with what it means to be human, and yet so many shows mark the passage of time reluctantly, if at all.

          I think about 10 minutes after a show set in high school gets picked up for a second season, there is a meeting about how to keep the kids from graduating in a way that the viewer won’t notice. (Okay, we said Billy was a junior … but no one probably noticed… let’s make him a year younger.)

          Other shoes hit the reset button, where no lessons stick and events are never referenced again. To reference Don — last weeks plot never happened. It will amaze you how much it never happened.

          Mad Men doesn’t do that. The show acknowledges the difference even a small amount of time can make, and no one on this show is eternally successful or young. Don has been steadily losing catbird seat since season 1, and he will never be that universally successful and esteemed again — even if he becomes technically wealthier.

          The same is true of all the characters.

          Jane started out as the new model, and Joan was the old model. Now, Jane is the old model, and Megan is the new model. And if Megan were real she would now be a senior telling her grandkids about when she used to be modern and sassy. 🙂 If Don beat the actuarial tables, he’d be treated like every other shuffling old man, surrounded by young people sure that they invented the world and every interesting part of it.

          • Great points, GD. With the changes that time brings, the characters are either growning, stagnating or regressing. In the ‘Harry-Don-car scene’ Harry all ‘don’t let this evening end,’ and Don is ‘I’m so bummed out,’ –such different reactions. Which goes to confirm my suspicion that there’s no hope for growth for Harry, but for Don the suspense remains. I think I root for a happy ending for Don because to me, rhrougfh it all so far, he’s shown flashes of character, introspection, occasional bouts of humanity and feeling, and certainly intelligence.

            To your point of Don in 2012 being just another shuffling 80-something old man–it’s well taken. There is no cultural divide on earth as great as that between The Old and The Young –Oldness being the one attribute that absolutly and universially confers irrelevance in our culture. (Should I be so fortunate (or unfortunat) to live into my 80’s and still be of sound mind, I expect I would have more ro ralk about with a stranger who is my age–(regardless of ethnicity, nationality, “class” and all the rest–than I would with a stranger who is not of my generation — or at least within 20 years of it).

            I read once the response of a very wise, renowned (and obviously “succesful”) person to the question:

            “What, to you, is ‘sucess’? The response was: “The only definition of sucess I know is to accept unconditionally what life brings.”

            That may be a bit overly-humble sounding in our world, but I think it’s another take on the theme of being a character who manages to live life
            gracefully. IMO that so far would be — in no particular order: Henry Francis, Ken Cosgrove, Dawn, Bert Cooper, Carla, maybe one or two of Don’s extra-marital girl friends; often Peggy and Joan, and sometimes Don. Harry, Pete, Roger and Wife not so much. Others are maybes, or I don’t remember their names.

            Am I off the beam in my assessments?

    • I agree, Megan (Jessica Pare) is no ingenue. She’s a youngISH woman.

  14. As usual, a marvelous recap.

    However, during protracted on-line discussions since the end of Season 1 when Betty was talking to Glenn in the bank parking lot and claimed to be just 28 in 1960, the consensus has been that Betty was not telling the truth. A few lines before Glenn had implied his mother Helen was 30 or so.

    The consensus is that Betty was born as early as 1929 and no later than 1930 so as to have had time to graduate from Bryn Mawr, model in Italy for a year, then meet Don before Christmas of 1952 and marry him in May 1953.

    By Consensus Estimates, when talking to her doctor trying to score speed, she was at least 36 and possibly 37. In 1966 many physicians would consider that middle age for a Rye, NY housewife.

    • She told Glenn she was 28 in S1. Either she was lying then (possible) or she’s either 33 or 34 now depending when her birthday falls.

      • I replied too soon. I didn’t see you had already covered that.

        I’m not sure why she would be lying though. In those days models were “washed up” at an even younger age than they are now. As recently as the late 1980’s it was quite rare for anyone to model beyond their early 20’s (I’ve actually heard 23 mentioned as a hard cap). I think Betty could’ve squeezed it all in.

    • Is it possible that Betty did not attend for a full four years or alternatively may have exaggerated the amount of time she spent in Italy?

      • Did she actually spend time in Italy? I thought she learned Italian in college and modeled for an Italian Designer (which could have taken place in the U.S.)

        • This is Mad men, where Matt Weiner refuses to use a show bible.

          With all the other timeline logic conflicts it is possible when the script was written about Betty’s career as a model, the writers believed Betty had spent a year in Italy.

          When Betty was talking to Glenn Bishop if you view the entire scene it is obvious the writers wanted viewers in on the fact Betty was lying about her age so as to be younger than Helen Bishop.

          During the Korea flashback I concluded the only way I could enjoy Mad Men was to suspend my disbelief while the show was on my monitor. After it is fascinating to read comments finding convoluted explanations for errors in the writing.

          The thing is that on the show Betty stated that she modeled in Italy.

          A principle of law is that if the jury or a juror disbelieves one statement from a witness it is proper to disbelieve the entire testimony of that witness. On this basis I have trouble accepting as true statements from Roger, Don and Betty. I enjoy watching those characters, without believing they are telling the truth.

          • We’ll have to agree to disagree on how obvious it was Betty was lying to Glenn. 28 would not have been out of line for how old Betty was at the time, especially since we don’t know how long she actually did any of her post college/pre Don stuff. (or for that matter how truthful she was about any of that) IF she was lying, I still think she couldn’t have been more than around 30, which would make her around 36 in ’66 tops.

          • It didn’t necessarily appear to me that she was lying in that scene, although I can accept that possibility. She did state at one time that she was 19 (?) when she met Don, which if she were 19 in say 1951, 20 in ’52 when she were married, then she would have been 28 in 1960 around the time she was speaking w Glenn

          • Is your statement that Matt won’t use a show bible something you literally know to be true, or something you assume from the many small errors?

        • Yes, she did. The conversation (if you want to replay it) is in Shoot.

  15. The real Rebecca in Betts’ life is Pauline, Henry’s mom. Her ominous presence, her baleful stare. The Judith Anderson character was the ‘surrogate’ for the dashing Maximillian, who needs to be pried away from that undeserving, silly bride. So much so, that she burnt that big spooky house Manderley to the ground in order to ‘save’ the man from himself. Mama Francis wants nothing more than to pyro this marriage. Betty is now at her most vulnerable, Pauline will be at her merciless best trying for the coup de grace. Iago on the Hudson valley? Henry will be ready for therapy after this confrontation.

    • Thank you! It’s Betty vs The World – her mother, her MIL, her ex’s new squeeze, other ‘ordinary’ women, etc etc etc. Sorry – got carried away there. Anywaay, Pauline knows full-well what she’s doing. Betty does too, but since Pauline touched her sorest nerve, she fell for it.

    • Oh – and I wonder how Pauline felt when/if Henry confided in her that Betts might have cancer? ‘Damn you, God, why couldn’t she have been FAT? Now I have to show sympathy!’ 😀

    • I think you’re mixing up characters.

      Rebecca was the 1st Mrs. DeWinter. Her portrait, her hair brushes, her lingerie and linens are seen, but she never is. She has died when the movie begins.

      Mrs. Danvers, played by Dame Judith Anderson, is the housekeeper/ladies’ maid who despises the second Mrs. DeWinter, who we see but whose first name is never spoken.

      It’s Betty’s mother’s portrait who hovers over the Francis residence. Henry’s mother is right there on the spot, just as Mrs. Danvers was.

    • Oh my, yes. Henry’s mother is a bit ominous and repressive. I need to rewatch, but doesn’t she say something like, “Don’t you want to go back into that wonderful closet of yours?” (Sorry, I know that’s not exact.) On the surface she means, “fit into your beautiful clothes again”, but it can mean, “closeted”, repressed- as if that house wasn’t stultifying enough! And of course, Betty locked Sally in the closet for smoking once. (Please forgive me if I am terribly misremembering the line.)

  16. “What a drag it is getting old”

    This show is fabulous. The Rolling Stone’s “Mother’s Little Helper” came out in 1966. What song could fit Betty’s situation more perfectly? Only “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” — which also can work for Sally. Well done.

    • I loved the choice of “16” – and I got a big throwback to Don’s scene with the Stones groupie… telling this young girl that he’s afraid for her.

      • i had a problem with the girl and don at the stones’ show…no matter how good looking don is to the world around him, that young girl would see only one thing…an old man. i just didn’t think it rang true…backstage at a stones show and talking to him? the minute he couldn’t cinch help in meeting brian,i think any girl would have walked.

        • I don’t think they were flirting, Claudia, and the girl was killing time, waiting for the Stones to show, so she could afford to be friendly.

          • i don’t know what she was doing talking to him, but the whole moment when she undid and removed his tie just didn’t work for me…any girl who liked brian jones certainly would not be interested in talking to don draper.

        • I didn’t see her interaction as Interest, but as power. She doesn’t really KNOW that Brian Jones’ is gonna simply Notice and whisk her away — and watching a rock star “choose” another girl (or girls) is CRUSHING when you’re a devoted groupie. This young girl is showing herself that she’s a womanly force to be reckoned with, no matter what happens. Don is there, and, as a guy so conspicuously out of his element, he’s vulnerable. He also establishes that he needs something from her. She came back with “You sound like a psychiatrist,” but I thought it was clear she was getting more than a little enjoyment out of the fact that this executive-type was so desperate for her insight. Being around your idols can make you feel small. And she was satisfyingly towering over Don while she waited for the REAL show to start.

          • I didn’t see flirting between Don and the groupie at all. The tie business was odd, but when she said “You’ve got to relax” it made sense. The younger generation found the over 30’s way too uptight. I don’t think she was making an overture to him, but rather that she found this old man totally square with his tie and gray suit. And she ran off as soon as the Stones came. Did she take his tie? I can’t remember.

  17. Ponds Cold Cream
    Vick Chemical
    Secor Laxatives
    Sugarberry Ham
    Life Cereal
    Fillmore Auto Parts
    Birds Eye
    Mountain Dew

    Peggy has been handling ALL the copywriting for these accounts – alone?

    It doesn’t seem plausible.

    • I think there’ve been other staff, all sharing accounts. I guess Peggy’s important enough to merit an office.
      But Mohawk wanted a DEDICATED writer – no sharing!

      • Correct.

        • Yeah, OK, I’ll accept that there are freelance copywriters (that we never see) working on SCDP accounts. But in the real world Peggy would have plucked one of the freelancers – that she had working relationships with – to be the dedicated Mohawk writer. Just sayin’.

      • I suppose this means Ginsburg would have to bill 40 hours/week minimum?

      • Peggy’s been refrenced a few times as “head copywriter” at SCDP which certainly fits with what we see her doing in the office. (she clearly manages Megan, Freddy Rumson refrenced working under her, and she seems to give Stan his day to day marching orders.) Surely there are freelancers in SCDP’s creative, but there’s only so much a freelancer worth their salt will take on before they demand something more permanant than freelance work, especially if they were once full timers who had been cut back to freelance (which is what was implied as having happened to a lot of creative at the end of s4).

    • Ponds Cold Cream was originally Freddy’s account, so he brought it in to SCDP and then he worked with Peggy on it. Technically, Peggy is now senior to Freddy (he was there originally just for Ponds, so tantamount to a freelancer), but he took the reins on Ponds (telling her what he thought they should do), partly because it was his acct and also….he was used to her being a secretary-turned-junior copywriter, because that’s what she was when he knew her. 😉

      I’m guessing that Freddy also ended up working on other accounts too but it’s a little vague.

      I’m also not sure if he’s still working at SCDP. They mentioned him in the first episode of this season (Peggy told Megan, “Freddy. Rumsen doesn’t attend parties”), but does he still work at SCDP? (I hope so)

      • I think rodger was refering to Freddie when he said that some writers smell like pee. I don’t remember which season Freddie had his “accidents”.

      • Wasnt it mentioned in the s5 premiere that Y&R stole ponds? So either roger failed to properly manage that account as well, or Freddy has moved on.

      • I’m guessing that on a practical level, it may be hard to get Joel Murray in for just a day or two at a time (he’s been pretty prolific lately, and his profile probably makes him somewhat expensive if he’s going to just be used as a glorified day player), probably they need some kind of involved bit with Freddy to make it worth bringing him in at this point.

    • Didn’t someone say last episode that Y & R stole Pond’s?

  18. First time poster, long-time reader with some observations:
    1. I would love to see Roger get motivated to best Pete in the game. I just think Roger has never really had to scrap in the first place and may not have the skills to do so. I’d also like to see him rekindle his marriage with Jane (but I’m just sentimental about these things in general).
    2. It seems like there is a general consensus that Don’s happiness/laxness is setting him up to take a fall. I think this is accurate (especially since it’s always thrilling to see someone rally) but maybe the idea is that Don could fall by the wayside for the younger generation. I would not want to see Mad Men become the Pete and Peggy show. They need Don for the gravitas in the center.
    3. While Don may be losing his feel for what’s in the air, I like the fact that he recognized the new copywriter had something. And this is what good execs do — they recognize and hire the right people to do the things they suspect they themselves may not be able to do.
    4. The Betty/fat plotline is an interesting one, though tricky to pull off. I guess what I disliked is they wrapped up her cancer scare in one episode. It seemed forced/unnecessary. And was I the only one who somewhat liked that her MIL tried to open up a bit about herself? If Betty hadn’t been so down about it, she may have seen that as an opportunity for better relations with her.
    5. Henry was a loving husband in this, but his flaws still show through: he fell in love with Betty unrealistically deeply from the outset, and just seems a cipher. A good ensemble show allows people in the background to emerge and show a side you didn’t expect. I know not every character has to be likable but you do need to give them some reason for viewers to care about them. I think Henry was a character they brought in to fulfill a certain role but they just don’t know what to do with him.

    • BKNY,

      About Henry — I think his place/role/identity as Betty’s second husband is and has been serving an important function. Henry offers a form of support that Betty did not receive from Don or other important figures in her life. It’s interesting that Betty – in her phone conversation with Don – asks Don to tell her what Don always tells her – “everything’s going to be okay.” Betty was so accustomed to getting the automatic answer from Don, the answer Don wanted her to hear. Henry, in marked contrast, is the person who tells Betty what she NEEDS to hear, but while being supportive and optimistic, loving her for more than her body or appearance. Henry values Betty’s happiness first and foremost within the context of relationality, not the way Don and others do on the show (by wanting partners/significant others to have the material possessions they want; we saw this with Don and Megan last week).

      Moreover, Henry’s presence as a political man will very likely figure into the political dramas of 1968, which should definitely include the remaining arc of the show as it moves through seasons six and seven. I see a lot of useful and healthy elements in Henry’s character and its presence on the show.

      • I see what you’re saying and you make good points. I guess what I was trying to get at is that he seems very ‘functional’ to me, but not flesh and blood like others on the show. I keep hoping they make him more compelling because Betty’s somewhat adrift without a good counterpoint in her marriage. Her current interactions with Don are necessarily limited so that doesn’t provide any. (I’m also wondering if Don has seen her recently and how he would react to her weight).

    • Despite all his flaws, I really like Roger and would welcome seeing him get his mojo back (and I know there’s doubt he ever had it).

      I was disturbed by the laxness all the partners displayed in Ep 501 – even Lane!

      The new copywriter will be a kick – a real shot in the arm.

      Weiner and team neatly incorporated Jones’ pregnancy limitations into this episode. Pregnant and fat are different – and that would have been jarring to see her in an evening gown.

      Based on late term paparazzi shots it seems they gave Betty’s face the Pregnant Peggy treatment as well.

    • From personal experience (and I recognize that not everyone’s experience is like this): In-laws do not open up; there is a certain distance that remains. Vulnerability and rivalry do not mix. This may be surprising, but for some women, in some marriages, and in some families, this holds true.

  19. Great episode- I, like so many woman, can certainly relate to not wanting to go out to big social events due to weight gain. January Jones portrayed that horrible, embarrassing feeling perfectly. A few things that stuck out to me:

    -Do we think it will get back to Betty that Don called to find out about her test results? When Henry told her it was “Nobody” on the phone, I got a flashback to “The Fog” when Suzanne called the Draper house when Betty was going into labor and Don told her it was “Nobody” on the phone.

    -Loved the scene with Roger and Don- they both seemed so defeated and you can tell the whole younger generation “taking over” is truly getting to them. Interesting to see if they bond more this season.

    -Did anyone else find Megan’s comment, “She (Betty) just needs a reason to call” beyond insensitive?? I know relationships between ex and current wives are difficult, but this was a legitimate health scare. We know Betty is hardly a peach to deal with, but she is the mother of Don’s children. For someone who seems so caring and nurturing (big part of what drew Don to Megan in the first place), that comment really rubbed me the wrong way!

    -I know this is a small detail and there’s no spoilers here (Yay!), but during the coming attractions for next week, what is the name of the woman Don introduces Megan to? I’ve replayed it a few times and can’t tell what her name is. Like I said, pretty insignificant now since we’ve never seen this woman before (I’m sure we’re all guessing it’s one of Don’s ex-lovers lol!) It’s just driving me nuts what her name is!

    Do we really have to wait another 6 days til the next episode?!

    • My 15-year son (and his friends) are all mad for Mad Men. Last night, we both lapsed into the MM world so readily that the end came much too soon.

      Alex is not used to waiting 7 days between episodes. Because of this excellent forum for close examination, I actually like it better.

      • Having just gotten into the show during the s4-s5 hiatus, this is the first season, I’ve watched on TV during it’s initial run. I’m having a ton of trouble getting used to both the commercials and not being able to burn through a whole season in a couple days.

    • “Did anyone else find Megan’s comment, “She (Betty) just needs a reason to call” beyond insensitive??”

      I thought it was a bitchy, but I also found it interesting that Megan and Henry expressed these twinges of jealously for their spouses exes. I mean, Megan must know Betty is not what she once was and Henry must assume that Don has no complaints with his 2.0 wife. So, why be threatened?

      • Megan might not even know about the weight gain. It looks as if Don ferries the kids back and forth, and she does not go along. Even when he dropped the kids off, he didn’t go into their house.

        She’s a human being, and I’m glad they show her little flaws as well as her intelligence and sexiness. I’m starting to like her more after rewatching A Little Kiss and Tea Leaves.

    • When Henry told her it was “Nobody” on the phone, I got a flashback to “The Fog” when Suzanne called the Draper house when Betty was going into labor and Don told her it was “Nobody” on the phone.

      I got exactly the same flashback. Not that Don’s call to Henry was a secret (he was trying to reach his ex-wife, after all), but the sense that Henry decided on Betty’s behalf that the call should not matter. I believe that Don felt a call from Sally’s teacher should not matter to his wife — who was, after all, about to give birth.

      That kind of thinking didn’t get Don very far. It won’t end well for Henry, either.

  20. I’d be interested in what those who were there (CCA?) thought about the Romney Clown toss off.

    Would journalists of the day repeat such a remark in print (before my time, but I doubt it)?

    Is the term “clown” in that context anachronistic?

    Was it Weiner taking a 46-year shot at Romney the younger, or was it an organic shot at a political rival?

    • Jahn,

      Back in the early 1960s, it came as a surprise to many mainstream Republicans that George Romney ever was elected Governor of Michigan.

      He ran against Goldwater for the 1964 nomination, lost badly and ever after was considered far worse than a clown by the Republican National Committee.

      Yes, frequently in news articles George Romney was termed a “clown” a term not actionable.

      By 1966 George Romney was far out of the eye of most people not living in Michigan.

      John Lindsay had been considered a bit of a loose canon on the Republican deck while a member of congress prior to being elected Mayor of NYC. He was sworn in in January 1966. I remember one Republican press release referring to Rep Lindsay as “a Democrat in a good Republican cloth coat”

      Perhaps MW was taking a shot at Mitt Romney, because the concept of John Lindsay appearing on the same stage as George Romney in the summer of 1966 is preposterous.

      • Lindsay actually ran a favorite son campaign in ’68, and NYC mayor used to be a bigger deal nationally. Matt Weiner had to know the comment would get attention and suspect he did not pull the situation out of thin air. On DVD commentary, he makes a point of addressing — and debunking — the rumor that Grandpa Gene was cast due to a resemblance to John McCain.

        Do I think it was partially a gratuitous shot at Romney? Yep. Do I think MW will have some history to back it? Yep.

        • I think it works well with the Tea Leaves title. Henry would have no way to know that this line would resonate for a different reason in 2012, and he is a valid character to utter this sentiment. It wasn’t a jab for a jab’s sake.

        • MW most definitely took a shot at Mitt by dissing his dad George (or rather, repeating what others said at the time), much the same way as the casting of Ryan Cutrona, as Grandpa Gene, suffering from progressive dementia– who was a dead ringer for John McCain.

          • I just don’t buy the whole Grandpa Gene/McCain thing. That’s a fairly common look for men of that age range. IMHO people are reading WAY too much into that one.

            The Romney thing, I could go either way on. Yeah, it may well have been a sly poke at Romney the younger, but Romney the elder was a legitimate political figure back then, and bt all accounts, his reputation in the sort of circles Henry Francis ran is would have been as something of a clown. My guess is MW selected a name that was both appropriate to the era and would carry some recognition with modern viewers to help get over the gist of Henry’s conversation (ie that he was talking shop)

            • It was a joke on the level of “it’s not like they have a machine that makes copies of things” in Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. It’s funny to see the landscape then and compare it to today. It’s sophomoric, but rarely done on this show, and I laughed.

          • Even though they were political rivals, Romney and Lindsay were both pro-civil rights Rockefeller Republicans; Romney actually opposed Goldwater, and walked out of the 1964 convention in San Francisco after Goldwater’s speech (“extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, etc.”) Romney was a popular and respected governor of Michigan. His only major gaffe was saying that he was “brainwashed” by generals while on a tour of Vietnam in 1965–it ruined his chances among the Republican establishment. I don’t think MW had to be so obvious in trying to make his political points “relevant” to the current election or even to the audience–it only has to be relevant to the story.

            And I’m sticking to my Grandpa Gene/John comparison…MW has an oblique and wicked sense of humor that pops up when you least expect it.

          • My point was that if they used a more obscure political name, a large portion of the audience wouldn’t have understood it as readily. Based on what I know of MW I do believe there’s a good chance it was intended as a tweak, but I think there were also good story reasons for choosing the name he did.

          • lisakaz, Ryan Cutrona was cast in Season 1, before McCain was a presidential candidate.

          • I do remember Grandpa Gene and his gal Gloria visiting in “Long Weekend”. I stand corrected about Gene/John, but what a great coincidence!

      • The first presidential election I recall was Nixon/Humphrey/Wallace. I was in the fourth grade and we had a mock election. With my help Nixon won in our classroom about 2:1. When my parents (both Depression children from modest circumstances) asked me why I voted for Nixon – I said “I didn’t want to vote for a loser” (as an adult I always vote for the losers and glad to do it).

        When I first heard Mitt Romney’s name, I initially confused him for his father – probably because he ran in 1968.

        • when i was a pre-schooler, my mother had my siblings and me walking outside with a big group, picketing guess is that we were at gracie mansion, but i’m not sure. every time i hear lindsay’s name, i think “down with lindsay” and think of the picket sign i was wearing.

    • The Romney joke fell flat on me. I dunno. Bit of a cheap shot. Mad Men is still a good show but personally, I’m losing interest.

      • Because of that one joke or other things?

      • That seems really thin-skinned. I don’t think you’re alone in this, but it seems like in the last couple years that any sign that someone might make a different choice in the voting booth is cause to consider them your sworn enemy. I know politics has always been contentious, but we all just seem so delicate these days.

        The line was valid in the context of the show, and the context of the character, that it had current day meaning is intentional, I’m sure, but the show does that all the time. One of the themes of the episode is how we don’t know the future, and the over-arching theme of the series is that times passes and nothing stays the same. This line is perfect for that — Henry doesn’t know George’s son will be on the national stage, but this is what time does — it makes dated what were once pressing concerns, while still repeating in unexpected ways. In 1966 or 2012, we still call politicians clowns — and often they are.

        Stephen King wrote an afterword for his last anthology that mentioned Palin in passing. I read another book where a character’s inner “strong woman” voice was Michelle Obama. And the one star reviews rolled in for both… Really? Are we that fragile? We can’t talk? Share? Express? Joke? We can’t have a character in politics say political things?

        For what it’s worth, I grew up in Michigan, and the Romney name means (meant?) something there. It isn’t like I’d thought of George Romney as a clown — although my age might be part of that — born in ’68. I think his eventual stance on Vietnam was a principled one. He also would give back a portion of his salary and/or bonuses when he felt he was overcompensated at American Motors. And yet the “clown” line doesn’t bother me — no more than when I was watching Game Change and had to hear the right’s opinion of Obama. Because, you know, it is in fact the right’s opinion of Obama. Henry would consider George Romney a clown, and a lot of people consider Mitt to be a clown, and we didn’t start the fire.

        • Hindsight is 20/20. The “thin-skinned” nature of political discourse has always been with us, since the founding of the Republic (and before that, in the colonies)–in fact, it has often been much worse (violent), ie. the Hamilton-Burr duel and Rep. Preston Brooks “caning” Sen. Charles Sumner in the Senate chamber in 1856. Nasty and offensive political cartoons on all sides have been a mainstay. Google how Abraham Lincoln was depicted, or how the Populist Party depicted Jews. Thank goodness for the three branches of government and separation of powers–the Founders wisely didn’t trust power in one body or institution. Checks and balances. Fast forward to the present. Now add to that the internet, social media and cable TV, and suddenly, everything is debatable 24/7. It just seems that everything is more politicized now. The problem today– as it probably has been all along –is that one side thinks the other isn’t just wrong, it’s evil. Thus, left-wingers don’t think those on the Right have wrong-headed policies, they are evil; same is true for how right wingers feel about those on the Left. Either issues can be discussed cogently, with reason and facts, as opposed to emotion and ad hominem attacks, or they can’t. I was born in ’62 and when I was in college in the 80’s Reagan was constantly villified by the so-called mainstream media. Clinton was villified, even before the sex scandal, which of course just intensified the hate on the Right for him. Bush (the son) was constantly demonized by the Left, as is Pres. Obama now, by the Right. Being the incumbent makes you a target–the other party wants power and will do anything to regain it. Nothing new here, except that now, all sides have many more forums to voice their opinions. And those who can’t stand the heat should get out of the kitchen.

        • Well said, Glass Darkly.

        • I appreciate the response. I think it is fair for me to think that the line was less about a political character making a political comment and more of a wink wink.

          The context for me is that I absolutely love Mad Men. And understand that I’m not angry, I’m just a bit bored with that sort of stuff. And my honest response is that I love the show a little less. It still has my respect.

          Think of it this way, you have a group of friends that you love to hang out with them. But they have an inside joke that is at the expense of someone you like. Add to the fact that you don’t really think that type of joke is funny, no matter who it is about… and you end up being a little less enthusiastic about hanging out with them. Everyone is laughing and you just politiely smile.

          Maybe I’m Pete watching black face.

          • As mentioned, I think it was both a political character making a political comment and a knowing wink at the audience who watched it while another Romney was prominent on the national stage.

            I think there is a real possibility that the writers and Weiner are not Romney fans. Still, it is valid for this fictional character to mouth that line, and never a good idea to think writers believe every word their characters utter. Lastly, people are always political animals, even when they don’t know it or seek to suppress it.

            We are all made up of the things that we believe — and stardust. We cannot help but see and filter the world through our beliefs about how the world works and how it should work. We choose our political affiliations based on these beliefs, and the word we choose, and the stories we tell, give us away.

            It’s true that a writer can choose not to write directly of politics or political races, and that it’s wise to at least keep that to a minimum, but there is no hiding these thoughts from someone looking to figure it out. In light of that, I can’t get angry when a writer tips his or her hand, especially if the integrity of the story is maintained.

            I think I’m debating this just to debate it, because I know that you cannot really help how this line hit you. My frustration is more with the general divisive vibe in the country, combined with the sense that people don’t want to leave their comfort zones to respectfully allow others to exist and express. So, it’s not you so much as it is my own weariness.

          • @ Michael C. – I feel Mad Men from the beginning has been more or less a Rohrschach in regard to specific political tribalism and the criticism of such. We pretty much see what we’re inclined to want to see in the show.

            You interpreted that snippet of dialogue as an inside joke by a presumed left-leaning writing team about the qualifications of today’s Romney.

            Personally however I interpreted it as a wry meta joke about Time, by which I mean 45 years have passed and yet we still have political operatives making disparaging remarks about rivals named Romney; an arguably consistent theme of the show – how far we really haven’t come – being applied to politics in a ironic way. On further reflection I can see it as a mostly benign critique of the continued aristocracy of American politics.

            However I have difficulty interpreting the clown line as the gratuitous modern tribal insult it appears you have.

            Yet that’s all generally okay in that you know art invites these different impressions and interpretations.

            But I find that your comparison of the diminishment of your professed Mad Men love to Pete’s disdain for public displays of racial bigotry is grossly inapt. Further it could be seen as a self-serving distortion of the underlying principles involved in each of the two instances.

            Calling someone a clown is not equivalent to singing about the darkies while in blackface. Your own and Pete’s reaction would necessarily not be reasonably comparable either.

            Take offense if you choose but truly appreciate the slightness of it in this context. And maybe a more charitable reading of Mad Men would help reignite the love.

          • I will add that the community here is very gracious and intelligent, especially when compared to comments on other sites on this subject.

            I’m going to try and look at it as a wry meta joke and/or just focus on what I like so much about the show.

      • Is it really any different than “Back to the Future” when Doc thinks it’s ridiculous that Ronald Regan is president of the US in the 1980s? We laugh because of the disconnect–because if we lived in the 1950s, we would have been just as surprised as Don–whatever our political leanings.

  21. The reason I instantly knew they were portraying Betty as fat rather than pregnant was that, from a practical cast:story-time-management standpoint, it just can’t be done anymore. Whatever morsels of story-time they have to spare for the Draper kids, they’re going to give to Sally; Bobby has been reduced to a background presence that occasionally exclaims “Cool!” “Wow!” “Awesome!”, and Gene will never have anything beyond the most basic line, regardless of what “year” the show ends in, which is why many people were always assuming that Betty would either lose the baby during pregnancy. To then add a fourth child to the mix, and one that isn’t Don’s, would be absurd…not from a realism standpoint, but just from a “the logistics of making a tv show” one.

    • Of course Betty could have another child, but she already has three young children and that’s a lot of kids to raise, even with help (I assume she’s replaced Carla).

      It’s possible Henry would want another child but he already has a grown daughter (we saw her at Roger’s daughter’s wedding). So that combined with his busy schedule makes me think that he’s probably not clamoring that hard for another kid.

      • Besides, with baby Gene she was slim and beautiful even though pregnant. I wasn’t too surprised to see her over weight after viewing the preseason photos of her in a “breakfast coat” and slippers outside her trailer. It looked as if she had a fat face prosthesis in those shots.

        Betty still looks like the person about whom you would say– “but she has such a pretty face,” even though overweight.

        • This is an interesting comment that flows right into the waters that Betty’s story is in right now. As a woman who has always been somewhat overweight, I have heard every version of “but you have such a pretty face…you could really be beautiful if….” and it never ceases to show the speaker to be very obvious in their very narrow definition of beautiful. I thought Betty looked beautiful with the extra flesh on her, and she really could have done something with it – nothing out of the ordinary for someone who always paid attention to her appearance – the right cut/colors of clothes, the right use of makeup and hairstyle – all tweaked and adapted for her new figure, and she could be just as much a bombshell as Joan, if she had the self-love to pull it off. Clearly the story that is being told here is one where she looks in the mirror and says “well, I guess I used to have a pretty face, but now that I have put on some weight, I’m completey useless.” As much as it made me laugh out loud, Henry’s peace offering, when he says “I don’t see you that way,” her IMMEDIATE, SKINNY-GIRL FAT-HATER response is “of course you don’t, you have an obese mother.” This could only come from someone who hates herself as much as she does. There are so many one-liners over the years that show Betty for exactly what she is, that the script practially designed this element from way back. She tells Sally “Only boring people get bored.” She claims that “as long as men react to her that way, she feels like she’s earning her keep.” Her mother would have cut off her hair if she’d messed it up like Sally.

          • Agree with all of this, so much.

            I recognize that Betty’s self-hatred is heightened now. It’s clear from the way she hides herself, and as we live now in a fat-phobic time, the majority of viewers are also likely to (1) note her weight gain and (2) consider it grounds for Betty’s obvious shame.

            The fact is, Betty often looks lovely in this episode. In the scene where she gets the phone call, she is wearing a beautiful dress, and her face is all but glowing with rosy light.

            I can’t be the only person who noticed this.

  22. By the way, can anyone find any real-life account of John Lindsay running for President in 1968? The only time I’m aware that he ran was in 1972.

    • Given that George Romney and John Lindsay were two leading Republican candidates for the 1968 nomination up to the convention, any cursory research should yield you thousands of clippings.

      John Lindsay changed his registration to Democrat in 1971, so for the 1972 election he attempted to gain traction in Democrat primaries.

  23. Was I the only one who thought one of the themes of the episode was ‘Grow Up!’? Pete, Roger, Don, Betty, and even Peggy to some extent, need to mature.

    • Actually, it was either Don or Roger who said about the move Pete pulled, “They grow up”. Not to say you’re wrong about the theme, just pointing out there are probably some different views throughout the episode.

  24. Sluggish episode, as all Betty episodes are, because January Jones can’t act.

    It was fine in the early 60s years when all the women on the show had a Stepford quality, but now everyone’s got dimension and JJ can’t pull that off at all. Torpedoed the whole hour.

    • I don’t think that January Jones is the she-can-play-any-part type of actress, but I think she plays Betty extremely well. Betty is still the same person she was at a fundamental level — just because many of the characters are free-er, there’s no reason why Betty would have automatically loosened up or dealt with the complexity of her feelings. The portrayal still makes sense to me.

      • I’m tired of hearing that January can’t act. Rewatching earlier seasons, it’s quite interesting what she does with her eyes and body movement. You don’t have to chew the scenery to be a good actress.

        • Betty is a repressed character. She has what is called a blunted affect — she doesn’t usually react with great emotion or express what she’s feeling. Betty often responds with “aren’t you sweet?” — as she did again last night — when she doesn’t want to emote or deal with her underlying pain or anger.

          January Jones plays this well, and consequently gets blamed for a lack of expression. As if another actress would play her as this very vibrant personality.

          • Glass, that’s a straw man argument. Nobody is saying she needs to be vibrant. Just that she shouldn’t sound like she’s reading off cue cards.

          • **Glass, that’s a straw man argument. Nobody is saying she needs to be vibrant. Just that she shouldn’t sound like she’s reading off cue cards.**

            Yes, and again I take what you call reading off cue cards to be part of her blunted affect. I have no reason to believe that a different actress would play this character in a different way.

            Why do you think that the Betty role became such a big part if they felt that the actress was not delivering what they wanted?

      • I agree.

    • Gary,

      Maybe that’s the point – Betty is this repressed, self-loathing, fear-plagued person who is and has been unwilling to show new dimensions, unable to trust herself in the attempt to adjust with the times. I have not spent time analyzing the attitudes/reactions of Mad Men fans over time, so I will simply ask this question for everyone here on this thread: How many people who hate Betty’s character also think January Jones does a poor job as an actress? It’s one of the most fascinating questions to persist throughout this show’s existence.

      • mz, you could be right, but I see all these arguments as dancing around the truth: she can’t act. I watched her host SNL and she couldn’t string 2 sentences together. She disappeared from much of last season and I imagine she’ll be gone from much of this season because she’s an acting liability.

        I read these threads and get the distinct impression that there is not a lot of excitement about last night’s episode (obviously that’s just my sense and far from unanimous). I think that will be the case whenever Betty is a focus because the actress cannot portray a 3 dimensional character. Even a repressed character is 3 dimensional.

        • Live comedy is a very specialized sub-set of acting that many talented actors fail at.

        • I disagree. I think Jones is doing a phenomenal job playing a very difficult character. Betty has always been both repressed and depressed and that’s how Jones plays her. I watch the scenes she’s in more intensely than I watch the scenes with most other characters because I find her very nuanced facial expressions fascinating as they give subtle hints to what Betty is really feeling. I have seen Jones in just a few films yet she has played a very different character in them absolutely nothing like Betty. In fact, I barely recognized her in those other films because her expressions and even her voice were so very un-Betty. I don’t know how much range she has as an actress and it’s entirely possible that her range is limited. However, I think she’s doing a fantastic job of portraying Betty.

      JJ’s performance of Betty rings true, once you take into account the character’s upbringing and her cultural programming, and her views of herself.
      In my social background, girls were raised to walk and talk a certain way, and subtly encouraged to think and express feelings a certain way. I’ve seen the results in my grandmother, aunts, and my mother. Also, socializing was restricted to certain people from the same social background, so female friends of the family behaved the same way.
      January Jones reminds me of all of those women, who said little and meant much more in what they *didn’t* say.

    • Gary – I actually think January Jones is amazing as Betty. I think she’s talented. She has a very interesting rhythm to her voice. I think she acts well in silences, she listens intently and doesn’t deliver “stock” character responses. Thousands of pretty actresses could’ve played Betty and they all would’ve delivered their lines in the same way – standard. She has a twist. She’s honest. She makes you wonder what the character is THINKING about. Personally, I have not gotten that from the actress who plays Megan at all.

      For me the real test is the old “do you see them acting” test. When I watch this show (in spite of all the actor interviews I’ve watched!) I don’t see Jon or January or John or Christina. I really see Betty and Don and Roger and Joan. January has really crafted a character and she lives inside her.

  25. Great recap. Unlike a lot of folks, I thought the Betty stuff was pretty strong. The weight gain really fit her character arc in an interesting way. It nicely underscores her general unhappiness with her new marriage.

    1. The contrast between Don & Meagan’s apartment and Betty & Henry’s house could not be more stark. It almost like they are from different centuries with Meagan’s groovy decor a bit too modern for Don. Meanwhile, Henry has moved Betty onto the set of THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS. No wonder Sally looks so confused.
    2. I love that Don has actually been allowed to have resolved some things last season. It was refreshing to see him not hit on the teenager at the Stones concert. It was also nice to see him not get angry about his lack of power in Betty’s health scare. Both were a marked contrast with where he was headed prior to “The Suitcase” It is always nice to have your investment rewarded.
    3. With Don happier, the show has become a lot funnier. Despite the central plot being about the fear of death, there were dozens of genuinely funny bits.
    4. The Don-Harry and Roger-Peggy scenes were great. I love that the show can find rich, new relationships between existing characters at the start of its fifth season.
    5. The desk in front of Don’s office is officially where Matt Weiner stashes future plot lines. We started with Peggy, then Jane to dissolve the Sterling marriage, then Allison to reinforce Don’s decline and Meagan. My guess is the Dawn pays off later this season.

    • Not only did Don not hit on that young lady, he was a bit of a parent-in-absentia – “we worry about you”.

      Good guess about Dawn. Other secretaries have been only bit players but unlike them, the circumstances of Dawn’s hiring were part of the plot.

      While Peggy has power, Roger’s blabbing to Mohawk also spotlighted her powerlessness – a nice bit of irony. She was also a bit non-plussed by Don’s reception of our new SCDP ad man. He’s going to be fun this season.

    • Good observation about Don’s desk! You’re also right about the Francis residence – yikes!

      And was I the only one who thought Betty’s dream was funny?

  26. Megan is becoming more of a bitch than Betty ever was.

    • It’s tough dealing with someone with an ex that is still around. Beyond the issues of jealousy, or the sense that that other person is intruding, there is also the pressure to come across as more understanding than you’re feeling. I definitely got the impression that Megan initially felt like she had to go out of her way to show Don that she wasn’t some evil second wife who didn’t care about Betty’s health concerns. At the end, she got to let out the snark, which was unfair, but also human.

      • Come on, she showed her self a bit to0 catty and immature with the remark about “she just needs something to call you about.”.

        And Henry was just as jealous, like someon you have children with is going out of your life forever just because the relationships is over….

        • I called it snark and unfair — not sure how that differs from cattiness, other than less gender specific.

          I get that these people will always be in each other’s lives. and we know that Betty was legitimately scared, but she seemed to think it was a ploy. I’m a Betty supporter, but I get why someone would think her capable of playing games.

      • I think Megan was showing her youth in her reactions to Betty’s illness.

        When Don first tells her about it, Megan is already concerned about what he might be telling her instead (“What did you do?”): remember, he was out late the night before. Then he tells her what’s really going on, and she reacts with the reflexive self-concern of a young woman who didn’t plan to be a full time stepmother. (“It affects me.”)

        Later, well … that might just be Megan reporting what she sees. (“She just needs something to call you about.”) In truth, both Betty and Megan seem to lean on Don as the steady-older-male type. Which he encourages, honestly.

        Not to put too fine a point on it: Don’s a father figure.

        • Don. A father figure. Give me a few hours to chew that one over.

          • Why not? Peggy seems to see him as something of a father figure (or at least a very deeply rooted mentor) as well. For that matter, so did the younger creative guys (especially Kinsey) in the early seasons.

          • Ok, chewed it over. I see Peggy relating to Don as a mentor and a friend. Not as a father figure. Not at all.

            As for Megan, I don’t get why she married Don, unless she’s closer to 30 than 25 and was feeling desperate, which would be reasonable for that time and place. Does she want him to take care of her? Don’t know. She doesn’t seem childlike and dependent like Betty, that’s for sure.

      • Second spouses never get to meet the ex on neutral territory. It is natural for there to be some insecurity–even if the person isn’t inherently an insecure person. I don’t think we should judge either Megan’s or Henry’s entire character based on their discomfort with the ex. Just because they enter a marriage knowing they are the second spouse–that doesn’t make it easy to occasionally give up their desired status as “one and only”.

        I didn’t think that Megan was actually intending to slam Betty as much as she was doing everything possible to minimize the situation so she could remain in her preferred state: light, breezy and optimistic. She wants to have the power to cheer Don up. That is the way she feels her power–her ability to influence Don.

        I think it could be youth–but it could be more than youth. Roger reacted to Betty’s possible illness with a wisecrack. Roger isn’t young.

        Peggy, Don, Lane, Faye—these characters seem far more familiar and comfortable with staring very hard situations in the face. They don’t like sugar coating, they want to KNOW. They think about the implications of current decisions–and perhaps they “plan for” or perhaps they “worry” about things that may or may not ever happen.

        Roger, Megan, and Ken — these characters have personality types that don’t like to get caught or hung up on negative or “heavy” things. They don’t go looking for problems–they will assume there is no paricularly serious problem until it slaps them in the face. (Okay that may be an exaggeration for some of these folks). They seem to have a strong bent to maintain a certain level of good-humor.

        I think there is some value to both perspectives. When there REALLY is a big problem–sometimes the worst thing is to have a smiley optimist insist “everything is going to be all right” to the point where they are denying there is any sort of problem. Or to crack a bad joke. But people who see all the potential problems and allow the weight to drag them down–that carries a price, too. Sometimes a calm person or a well-timed one liner is what people need.

        Megan didn’t want to dwell on possible cancer, Betty, life-or-death, the true burden of caring for bereaved children, or the fact that her husband was so emotionally upset by the cancer scare. That kind of thinking is heavy, serious, stressful, and totally “unnecessary” since it turned out “to be nothing.” She’ll take the problem seriously when it slaps her in the face, and all the worry this time turned out to be — nothing.

        She seemed to have a similarly light take on the whole Dick Whitman/Don Draper thing. Furthermore, she wasn’t going to worry that Don might not like surprises or parties. And even when Don told her there were some things she didn’t know about him–she said something about knowing what she needed to know.

        Why worry about the past or the distant unknowable future when you don’t have to?

        In a way, Megan was telling HERSELF why Betty called so she could brush it off lightly and not worry that Don and Betty may still share some intimacy. She was pressuring Don (in a light, indirect way) to accept her explanation so that he would shrug it off, too. She likes being able to “cheer Don up” and if she can’t shake Don out of his brooding, she feels weak. Betty is supposed to be “nobody” now. If Betty’s problem has the power to “bring Don down” it could be a sign Betty isn’t “nobody” and that Megan’s power over Don isn’t as strong as she’d like it to be. Don has Megan now–Betty isn’t “supposed” to be able to bring him down anymore.

        Similarly, Henry was telling himself that “nobody” called–because he needed to believe that Don was nobody to Betty–so he wouldn’t worry or get too jealous. Because in his head, Henry really wants Don to be nobody–that’s what divorce is “supposed” to make Don. Henry wants to be “the person” who comforts Betty, and he doesn’t want to share that role with Don. Betty is with Henry now–Don isn’t “supposed” to be able to comfort her anymore.

    • Megan’s remark is certainly dismissive of Don’s/Betty’s situation in an evident way, but it’s also very much a response to Don’s unwillingness to want to do anything with her and her social set. Keep in mind that Megan accompanied Don to one of Don’s business dinners, and now Don (much like Betty with Henry in this same episode) is unwilling to go out with a spouse on that spouse’s terms and in that spouse’s circles because of his own psychological blocks. Megan’s being unfair, yes, but she’s also demanding emotional availability from Don, which she not only has a right to do, but must also do out of necessity. It bears reminding that Don chose to marry Megan, creating the larger situation in which Megan must navigate many tricky situations.

      In other words, Megan said something unfair and tinged with hostility in a pressure-packed situation that is forcing her to be necessarily bold and display a lot of survival/social self-preservation-based instincts.

      Yes, sometimes people are just plain mean because they want to be or because they feel they can do so with impunity. That’s the exception rather than the rule on this show, however… especially for the female characters, because they know they can’t get away with the things Don or other male characters can.

      • Let’s not judge Megan by one snarky remark . We’ve all made a comment like that once in a while, and not too surprising when it is about your partner’s ex.

        She’d better not expect Don to fit right in with her young friends. When a woman marries an older man, she usually winds up socializing with people of his age and she’d better grow up fast. Lauren Bacall comes to mind– she was only 19 when she first met Bogart, and after they became a couple, his friends became her friends. This made us think of her as much older than her real age; she was only 32 when he died in 1957.

        • Ruthie,

          I agree. Just to clarify – because I was insufficiently clear and apologize for not being as precise as I should have been – Megan’s remark does not make me lower my estimation of her. It was an imperfect moment for her – I think her tone of voice was dismissive rather than value-neutral or empathic – but it was a real moment and, moreover, a moment borne of necessity. She should be expecting her spouse, the person who asked her to marry him, to make just as much of an effort to relate to her friends as she works to relate to Don’s business contacts.

          You are right that Megan shouldn’t expect Don to fit in. Absolutely correct. She SHOULD expect Don to try to make an effort. Don was not making much of an effort, and she felt Betty’s occupation of so much of Don’s headspace was part of that. Building on the theme reaffirmed in Episodes 1 and 2 of Season 5, I think it’s okay to label certain actions of Megan as “manipulative” or certain remarks as “unfair” or “cutting,” just as long as one then immediately acknowledges that it’s okay to be manipulative and reasonable to make cutting remarks in the attempt to challenge people we care about to be better. Megan is never manipulative “just because”; she’s manipulative in the way all human beings are — playing politics in the situations of everyday life to improve our environment and the prospects within it.

    • Wow, let’s go straight to the gendered language.

    • I didn’t see that at all. Her one negative comment about Betty/Don is fairly common in regards to how many people feel about their partners/partner’s exs being too close to one another. On the other hand, I found the way Megan soothed Don at the end of that scene to be quite touching. Just my two cents.

  27. I think it is curious that even though Roger knew the Mohawk people well and for many years, he did not go after the account. Pete signed them instead. Is this just another example of Roger either being ineffective or never being effective in his role? The only account he seems to have serviced, he inherited. And Pete came out looking like he was in charge of everything – Roger, the new copywriter and the account. Although he signed the account, he had nothing to do with the interview process and Roger is not going to check in with Pete as if Pete is his boss. It was more than disprespectul as Don said; it gave the false impression that Pete would be overseeing everyone. How was Pete not called out on this?

    • Roger played it cool for at least two reasons (the execs in THIS crowd could come up with others):

      The calling out can still happen – but not in front of “the kids”. Better to spank Pete without undermining him within the company – he IS working hard and on a roll. I’d say Pete deserves it with that high-handed self-congratulation.

      Further, Roger believes he would hurt his own standing to publicly upbraid Pete.

      Would it be out of the question to see those two rolling around on the ground getting those suits and hair mussed up?

  28. This was something of a strange episode to me, I’m still trying to process it. It was like a 3rd hour to last week’s show, focusing on the charcter’s who got short shrift last week (mostly the Francis’ and to a lesser extent Peggy), and while I think it had a lot of nice moments for those three characters, it felt a lot more expositional than MM usually feels to me. It’s clear that they’re setting up for something with these first two weeks of S5, and I have the feeling that whatever it is, it’s going to be cataclysmic when it finally hits.

    • This was definitely a “set up” episode as opposed to a “pay off” episode. Later on this season, we’ll look back to seeds that were planted and say, “ah, okay.” We just don’t know what MW’s point is yet.

      • The saving grace for me is that I respect and trust MW enough by this point to be sure he’s going somewhere. I’m just getting a really ominous vibe from the set up part (and I don’t mean that in a negative way)

    • I got that feeling too. It was in moments like that scene of Betty, back to the camera, taking that phone call in her echoing cavern of a house. Definite foreboding.

      Jon did a nice job with all of that. 🙂

  29. A couple of thoughts on Betty’s weight situation: my mom was overweight in the 1960s, and here is a list of things that ladies at the time tried (according to her):
    1) Metracal. It was the Slimfast of its day. You either got it in powdered form, or as a canned shake.
    2) Diet pills. Unlike Betty’s doctor, many doctors not only handed them out, they suggested them. There were also over the counter versions, that were basically caffeine.
    3) Jack LaLanne. Everybody watched his show and did the exercises in their living rooms.
    4) Cigarettes and coffee. No kidding when Megan said she was just having black coffee for breakfast.
    5) Yoga. Although it wasn’t as wildly popular as it is now, people did yoga at recreation centers. It was mostly the same ladies who baked their own bread and drove VW vans.

    • It looks as if Betty has stopped smoking. Don’t people often overeat when they quit smoking? We’ve talked about Betty being depressed or lonely or having a thyroid condition, but maybe some of this overeating is tied to not always having a cigarette at the ready to put in her mouth.

      • I’m not sure if she quit smoking or if January Jones didn’t even want to smoke the herbal kind at that moment.

      • And she did mention how good things taste.

        Yup, I think Betty’s quit. I never saw that coming.

      • Wow, I should have noticed this. Good catch, GoodSally. Is it weird to be proud of a fictional character? Probably. I feel proud of Betty for quitting 🙂

      • Sorry to burst a good bubble, but I just re-watched this episode and you can see Betty’s cigarette case behind her when she is in the bathtub. Later when she is having tea with Joyce Betty puts out a cigarette in the ashtray before picking up her tea cup. Betty has not quit smoking, but maybe she is cutting down.

        • Yep. I saw the red cigarette case behind the tub and the probable stubbing out of a cigarette at tea, too, on a second viewing. Hmmm……

      • Good eye!
        And a good set-up: Will Betty go back onto cigs? Or go into something more serious?

    • “2) Diet pills. Unlike Betty’s doctor, many doctors not only handed them out, they suggested them. There were also over the counter versions, that were basically caffeine.”

      My mom used to get them in the 80s. She and her friends would all go to the doctor on the same day and come back with plastic baggies full of “diet pills,” which we now know were a form of speed.

    • Royal Canadian Air Force exercises. We had a paperback book — my mother and I used to do them together. It was a trendy workout regimen, pre-video.

      • Oh yeah! I think I have that at home 😀

      • Yes! I remember my mom and dad doing those…once or twice. Now my mom’s 78 and has a former Marine DI as personal trainer. The times they have a-changed…

    • “Betty falls to pieces when a charlatan reads her tea leaves and calls her a strong woman because she knows she is not.” Yes.

      Nice work, tk!

  30. We do not really know the message Betty received in that telephone call from the doctor toward the end of the episode. She appeared very tense, though after hanging up told Henry that the tumor was benign. Was that really the prognosis? Or was she lying to her husband to avoid more grief? In most other phone call scenes in this show we hear both sides of the conversation. Was the other side of this call left out to raise doubt about Betty’s condition among viewers?

    • George, we often don’t hear both sides, as a matter of fact, we didn’t hear both sides of the Lindsay/Romney conversation.

      From a purely practical viewpoint, hearing both sides of a conversation on a television show costs money. There needs to be a second set, another actor, more camera angles, and so on. If the information can be conveyed economically (in both the financial and creative sense of the word) then it’s best to do it that way.

      • Deborah, we can hear a voice on the other side of a dramatized telephone conversation without seeing the other actor/actress in a staged setting. As I recall from the last season, that is how the conversation in which Don learned about Anna’s death from her niece was presented.

        It is suspicious, or intriguing, that we did not hear the doctor’s voice when Betty was learning about the outcome of the medical tests.

        • No, we saw Stephanie, in the house in San Pedro. In fact, I can’t think of a “heard the voice” phone call off the top of my head. Mostly we’ve either heard only one side or seen both sides.

          • OK, maybe I was thinking of Connie getting a call from Carlo’s “girlfriend” in The Godfather. Or Micheal’s chat with Kay in on the kitchen phone.

            But I think there could be something about that call between Betty and her doctor that has not been revealed.

          • Actually we did have a “heard voice” convo between lane and Delores, but that was a specific choice given the nature of their discussion.

          • We heard the voice of the Glo Coat president when he was firing the agency after they lost Lucky Strike.

    • I think Betty told us the truth about the call. She seemed disappointed a bit by it. She wanted some other reason for her weight gain other than age creeping up on her. As we all know, she doesn’t have any other excuse. She was accustomed to being the most beautiful woman in the room. Now, she thinks that she is middle aged and fat.

  31. Not a Betty supporter. I’ve grown accustomed to JJ in the role. She plays the character nicely Imho. She’s not Kathy Bates or Streep or Winslet, and really, who cares? Betts is an extremely limited personality and the character will never steal the scene. You want histrionics, watch the soap network.

    For thecfirst time in the 5 seasons I am without a clue yo even guess to where the story is headed. Faye’s off-putting, ” You’ll be married in a year” had me thinking last year. I just couldn’t believe Don would do it. His antithetical nature had me sure he would not. Now?

  32. No one has really commented on Mr. Ginsberg so I will.

    I don’t think he was the first Jew hired by SCDP. What about the cousin of Jane Siegel Stirling who was hired in S4 ? I recall him being the butt of more than a few jokes regarding his religion. But we are also talking about 2 different types of “Jews”, the educated professional who may have knocked at the door of the club and the working class ethnic who is just a generation or 2 from Ellis Island. The later was becoming trendy in the 60’s, though the work of Lenny Bruce and then Woody Allen. They were hip and in touch with what was going on in the country. They were also satirical anti-heroes engaged in fighting prejudice. It’s this outsiders perspective that drives their creative output. Mr. Ginsberg is brought in because Peggy is impressed with his ad copy- finding it to different and inventive. Stan on the other hand prophetically wonders if the new man will eventually usurp Peggy’s status at the firm. When she meets him, she considers him to be a jerk and is ready to dismiss him but reconsiders. He shows a different side to his personality when he meets Don, which causes Peggy to essentially call him out on his ability to switch personalities. Don on the other hand likes him and considers some of his work to be provocative. Could Michael Ginsberg be the new Don Draper ? Consider that much of Don’s perspective and drive to succeed came from the inner conflict between whore child Dick Whitman and urbane wordsmith Don Draper. Don’s will is so strong that he is (was) able to mask the conflict with a hard veneer of cool. With Micheal are we seeing someone with the same inner conflicts, but without the polished veneer to hide it ? His earnestness in meeting with Peggy and then with Don is slightly reminicsent of Don’s initial meetings with Roger in “Waldorf Stories”. The glimpse we see of Michael at the end, going home to his urban hovel and then about to have dinner with his father (Hi Pops !), could be the other side of his personality. The desire to get away from his background and succeed in the glamorous world of advertising. He see’s advertising as his calling, he may also see it as a way out. Much like Don aspired to become an Ad Man 11 years previously as his way out. I predict that Stan will like the new guy and both will prove to be a handful for Peggy to manage. But I also feel that Michael Ginsberg’s presence could be inspiring to the firm. This kid is going places.

    • Pin that prediction on your bulletin board and revisit it in 9 weeks. You just never know with MM and MW. Many have tried, few are chosen when it comes to predicting what will happen.

      The website Zap2It said this about this new character:
      “He’s young and from an outer borough (we’re guessing Brooklyn) and — like Peggy did when she started at Sterling Cooper, he still lives at home; or, in a postage stamp-sized apartment with his father (who suggests they order up two prostitutes — one young and one old — by way of celebrating his new job).

      I don’t mean to waste BoK time criticizing another website, but did anyone else hear this comment about prostitutes? I thought the old guy was saying something to the effect of, “Work?….better you should be getting married and having children than putting so much into a job.”

      And we don’t, actually, know this is his father yet.

      • The line was something along the lines of “we should get two women, one young one old” That says prostitutes (or at least random non prostitute hook up) to me.

        • OK, thanks. I often use the subtitle option with shows and movies from the UK. Maybe I need them all the time now. I totally didn’t hear that. What a thing for a father to say. Shades of Robert Loggia as Richard Gere’s father in An Officer and a Gentleman. Icky. Poor Michael Ginsberg.

    • It is entirely possible that Stan is wrong about Michael Ginsberg’s ambition and future with SCDP.

      From everything we have been shown about Bert, Roger, Lane and Pete they are not ready to sponsor a Jewish Creative Director. However, Don Draper might well be more open to working closely with a talented Jewish man. Remember, he learned the ad game from a fur dealer in the early 1950s Manhattan. Trust me, my nit pick during “Waldorf Stories” was that back then no fur dealer would leave a non-relative, especial a Gentile, alone in the store.

      The history of Creative Directors is full of early burn-out. Think about Emerson Foote. He got his start at Lord & Thomas as a creative copy writer and slowly took over as account executive the Lucky Strike business, yet the firm’s owner always thought of him as a Creative. In 1941 Lasker sold L&T to his three key managers, Foote of the NYC branch, Fairfield Cone of Chicago and Don Belding on San Francisco. In 1946 Foote had a meltdown, burned out as both an accounts person and creative. He wrote the open letter quitting tobacco. He did not return to the ad agency business for several years. From then on he would be an ad executive for a couple of years, get burned out and return a few years later.

      Robert Rubicam was the first Creative to form what became a major ad agency Young & Rubicam in 1923. Young burned out as an accounts exec in the early 1930s and Rubicam in the early 1940s.

      So, if Don Draper does ever burn-out, he will be in good company.

      • I agree that showing this background on Michael’s character gives a clue as to his importance. And I confess that I didn’t really want to know about this much about his background so soon. The other thing that struck me about Michael was how much, in his vocal delivery, he sounded like Jimmy Barrett! Is there a possibility that they’re related? We know that Jimmy and Bobbie had two kids, at least one a son who was…17(?) a couple of years ago. I have a strange suspicion that Michael might be Jimmy Barrett’s son (!) I know that Michael referred to the old man as “Pops” but that could be shorthand for “Grandpa” or maybe his uncle. Peggy did mention “Ginsburg” and Michael mention how he was the most famous Ginsburg, so perhaps this isn’t really his last name, and he wouldn’t want to be known as Barrett if he knew that SCDP dealt with Jimmy in the past. Let’s pretend that Michael is Jimmy’s son and that he’s rooming with the old man after running away from his father and mother’s home. He mentioned that he wanted to make people laugh. Hmm. Anyone else get a ‘Jimmy’ vibe from Michael?

        • Therese, the “Jimmy” vibe you’re getting is called “New York Jew.” Probably from Brooklyn.

          • Ha ha, Deborah. Made me laugh. So no, I did not get a Jimmy vibe.

          • Actually Therese, I take that back on reflection. I did wonder, while he was talking (a mile a minute about lots of things) if he meant that he actually wanted to be a comedian but writing ads paid the rent. So the “Jimmy” vibe was a maybe-comedian thing, not accent-related.

          • Deb, I have yet to see Brooklyn, but my Dad was born there! He lost the accent young when he lived in The Virgin Islands and Massachussetts though! Michaek is probably not related to Jimmy, but he had that delivery in his voice. I wonder if his real name is Ginsburg or if he just changed it to sound like the poet? I’ve seen comments already comparing him to Lenny Bruce, and in that vein, I think he may be ‘shocking’ to SCDP the way Bruce was shocking to thecomedy world.

    • I did feel that some of his scenes were meant to parallel Peggy’s life. I got the distinct sense that he is going to become a romantic interest for Peggy, although not many have mentioned that so maybe I’m alone. It would be interesting to see Peggy romantically involved with a rival of sorts.

      • I hope Peggy has the sense not to fish off the company pier ever again. Twice burned ought to be enough.

        • Please no romantic involvement for Mike and Peggy — that would be too chiche. Besides, she and Abe make a great couple.

  33. Did Betty quit smoking? I didn’t see her light up once. It makes sense that January Jones would not want to smoke (even dried herbs) during her pregnancy. Any thoughts

    • It appears she may have quit. See the comments by GoodSally and a few other people, directly under #29.

  34. Does Ginsberg mean Megan is out? His salary will be drawn from the Mohawk fund and not the agency’s pool, but is there room for him and her? Or will Megan also write coupons for the airline?

    • Right, last episode everybody was positive they weren’t hiring anybody, they couldn’t afford to, and now we have a new secretary (Dawn) and a new creative? Ok…

      • The new creative is billable to the new client.

      • Also–they talked about potentially letting a secretary go to provide enough funds for the new one. Not sure if they did that or not, but if money was tight they may have.

    • I don’t think it necessarily means she’s out. Peggy and Stan still have all of the other work to do.

      They foreshadowed that the new guy could be Peggy’s boss someday, so there may be more tension between those two.

      They have portrayed Ginsberg as a loose cannon who talks a lot without thinking through everything. He likes to be provocative. Peggy’s obviously worried that Don will hate working with that kind of personality.

      We still don’t know if Megan is particularly good at her job. If she is–she and Ginsberg could be a double threat to Peggy. If Megan really isn’t particularly good, Ginsberg doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to watch his tounge and be extra protective of her just because she’s Don’s wife. He might realize he’s made a mistake in retrospect, but he might just say things that the others wouldn’t.

      Ginsberg’s personality reminds me a little bit of Abe.

      • Abe? I don’t see that. Abe is socially far more adept, seems more psychologically together, far less tormented, and we don’t know his backstory at all (do we?). They’re both intense, highly intelligent 20-something NY Jewish guys, but does that make them alike?

        • I didn’t say “they are exactly alike.” I said “Ginsberg’s personality reminds me a little bit of Abe.”

          The are both portrayed as highly-strung, intelligent, passionate, youngish, talented, talkative, slightly eccentric guys with a tendency to say things that come out wrong–especially in their initial encounters with Peggy. Peggy sees a spark in each of them, even though she may be turned off by some things they say and do.

          I don’t think Abe is portrayed at being adept at all.

          At Megan’s party when Peggy turned to Abe to ask if she’d said something awful in front of Megan and Don, Abe’s response was “You are asking ME?” We’ve seen Abe put his foot in his mouth. He bombed with Peggy at the bar when Joyce arranged for him to see her again. He was talking about boys being shipped back in body bags right in front of Stan’s cousin in uniform. And he thought Peggy would love his article about corporations–while her natural reaction was to freak out that he would get her fired from her job.

          And now–once again–Peggy is a little worried that a talented, talkative, bright guy without a filter might say something that will damage her standing at SCDP–even while she recognized his abilities.

          In that sense they remind me of one another.

          You are exactly right that we know nothing of Abe’s backstory–including his Jewishness. In that sense, I don’t compare the two at all. We have already been shown much more of Ginsberg’s background than we were ever shown of Abe’s. It makes me think that Ginsberg’s character will be more significant.

          • When I discuss Abe with other people, I tend to refer to him as “Peggy’s deadbeat first husband”. She has ambition and a work ethic, whereas he has never demonstrated either. He likes heated discussions about politics; she is both more practical and more insightful. I see that man mooching off our girl for as long as she will let him.

            In contrast, I liked Michael’s description of his life: “no girlfriend, no hobbies … I will live here.” In that one little rant, he showed greater affinity with Peggy than her boyfriend ever has.

            Not that she’d see this as a good thing.

          • That’s funny about the “deadbeat first husband.” I don’t think Peggy needs to marry —but if she wants to, I am not holding my breath that Abe is the proposing sort.

            Do you think he mooches off of her? Are you just guessing, or did I miss something?

            Both Michael and Abe seem unsettled to me. The line about Michael doing one long stint, and then lots of short stints many places–that made him seem a little dodgy/difficult. He obviously isn’t rolling in money.

            I’ve always imagined Abe as being passionately involved in one project or another–without it leading to a solid future or paying very much. I imagine him being the same way about romance. He will stay as long as there is a lot of passion, but I’m not sure if his passions will be constant.

            You are right that the “no girlfriend, no hobbies, … I will live here” part makes Michael seem more like Peggy. We just don’t know if Abe is an equally hard worker when it comes to his political or artistic passions.

            Changing subjects just a little–which of our young men are the right age to be drafted?

            I don’t see any of the older, long-term members of SCDP being impacted at all. They are either too old, or they are married fathers.

            Stan, Stan’s cousin, Michael, and Abe seem like they are single and possibly the right age. Megan could have some friends.

          • Allow me to defend Abe here against Anne B’s fictional character assassination; she’s all over him like Jack Ruby.

            First off, we haven’t been shown very much of him yet to definitively nail him up with the “never”s and the “ever”s, have we?

            Secondly, let us review what we have seen: Abe heads to the street looking for the story as soon as Joyce outs him and Pegs after the party raid. He works all night writing that Nuremburg essay and then he makes the deadline (!!. ..!), practically beating Peggy into the office. I understand it’s not the officially sanctioned US Capitalist-approved Ambition and Work Ethic but it ain’t exactly nothing either.

            Third, given time, Abe reconsiders a passionately-held personal political position, accommodates the legitimacy of someone else’s point of view and apologizes for his rudeness and incorrect assumptions. What’s not to like about this guy?

            Lastly, “I see that man mooching off our girl . . .” ? What is this? You’ve resorted to reading tea leaves now? Strictly, speculative assertion. Facts not in evidence, madam.

            I petition that this “case” against Abe be dismissed. Thank you.

          • Ron Kuby mounts a spirited defense. Impressive, especially for a public defender (no way can Abe afford private counsel!).

            But there I go, guessing again.

            What I do know of Abe: (1) he shows up uninvited at a corporate office, and has time to wait around all day until the copywriter of his dreams can see him; (2) he doesn’t have to get out of bed to go to work; and (3) he argues about the casualties of war right in front of a guy who is personally involved in fighting one.

            Go ahead, acquit him. But if he’s drafted he’ll dodge, and if he marries Our Peggy he won’t be much of a partner.

            The prosecution rests. 🙂

          • My sense is that Abe’s political passion and overall outlook will be ever-present embodiments of a life perspective that Peggy wrestles with — Peggy is not her mother’s daughter as a politico-cultural or religious person. She’s definitely liberal in ways that her mom and sister aren’t. However, Peggy doesn’t allow herself to embrace the fullness of Abe’s views because she places such emphasis on her work and her workplace identity.

            Mr. Ginsberg is shaping up to be – and represent – a workplace challenge. Abe is, has been, and will continue to be the opposite of Pete – the strong-minded male peer who seeks purity of viewpoint on the outside of SCDP, whereas Pete uses his force of will to serve SCDP’s interests and his own climb to power.

            Abe’s relationship with Peggy has yet to be explored in even greater detail, but I imagine that the intensification of the Vietnam conflict and other turmoils of the times will bring Abe and Peggy into a brighter episodal spotlight.

          • Michael came across as “kooky.” Abe is does not seem kooky to me. Actually I find him boring. Grew up with a million guys like him. So, doubtless, did MW.

          • Anne B. – your assessment of Abe is interesting, but I think he seems ambitious. I say this based on a couple of things. One was that he stayed after the party broke up in “The Rejected” because he saw people were getting arrested & he thought there might be a story there. Clearly he would have liked to have stayed and spent more time talking to Peggy, but after Joyce established that she knew how to get in touch with Peggy, Abe went to cover the possible story.

            Also—he very passionately wrote that piece about “Nuremberg on Madison Avenue,” which makes me think that he is very dedicated to his writing, even if it offends people sometimes.

            JMO. I know we haven’t seen tons of him yet, so time will tell more.

  35. no one mentioned that ginsberg and rodger were looking out the window and wanting to throw something out. Did’nt episode 1 in the first season show someone jumping out the window? I did not start watching until episode 3 of season 1

    • No one has jumped out a window on the show, although it’s been rumored many times.

  36. Alright, I finally saw the episode and I liked it. 🙂

    One thing of note for me (since one of my favorite characters is Betty). She calls Don in a panic and he tells her that everything will be okay – he even calls her by his little nickname for her. But all he does is call and wait for her to call him. Megan goes ballistic at work because her feelings are hurt and he literally leaves the office to be by her side. The mother of his children could have deadly cancer and he just goes on business as usual???

    I’m hoping the whole cancer story line isn’t dropped for Betty. There’s a chance she could have lied to Henry, or the doctors could have misread the tests, or something new could develop. I don’t want her to die, but it would have been a better story line for her than just being bitter like last season. lol

    • But I don’t know what else he could do: they’re not married anymore and he must know that Henry doesn’t like him much, so showing up at their house would have been inappropriate. Also, he does call her back asking for news.

    • I’m not so sure Don was going about business as usual when he heard about Betty’s possible cancer. He seemed pained to me and uncertain what to do because Betty has replaced him with Henry. I think the affection was still there on his side – calling her by her nickname – and even for her, self-centered as she is, to ask him to say the words he used to say to her – that’s all pretty intimate for two divorced people who were clawing at each other a year before.

      I agree with Chiara that Don couldn’t call back easily, or go to Bette even if he wanted to – there’s no love lost between him and Henry – but I also thought it interesting that he shared all of this with Roger, trying to talk it out to himself by telling Roger, more than with Megan. It clearly bothered Don, you could see it in his face.

      It was also intriguing that Megan, young though she is, seemed supportive when first told the bad news, but then dismissed his good news with the comment that Betty was always finding reasons to call him. Is she? – that’s something we’re not aware of, as the audience.

      • I know from personel experience that calling your ex by a pet name is difficult and huge. My ex and I have gone out of our way to call each other and even sign our own names in the most formal manner. It feels like we are trying to say, “I’m not the person you love anymore!” At least that’s what I mean…..

        Also a good point that Don responded as best he could. It is not resonable to expect he would have hurried to Betty’s side. Again….. personal experience here. My married ex suddenly lost the use of his legs. It was very frightening. Our children were afraid. They needed me to show I cared for their dad (which I do), but I could not just barge up to the waiting room during surgery and hold Wifey’s hand. I spoke with her, asked if she needed anything, loved on the kids (both young adults now) and visited their father one-on-one after he was released to rehab. It was an emotional meeting but I’m glad it happened that way. I am honestly glad that if this had to happen to him, he is married and has someone to care for him.

        Forgive the personal indulgence, but maybe this perspective will help someone.

  37. This is not meant as bashing about physical appearance, just an observation. In a couple of scenes now I’ve noticed that Megan appears to have poor posture and a noticable lack of fitness. Megan is slim, yes, but doesn’t appear to have a body that regularly is put through it’s paces working out.

    And this is something that’s been said before about Don. I love how fitting to the times this is — because working out, pilates, all the ways people today keep in shape, were not a part of the culture of the 60s. I don’t know how/what Matt has done to create this general look of nonfitness on the look of most people in the show but I love that they’ve done this!

    • Don does work out a bit though. We see him doing push ups before bed from time to time, and he swims at the athletic club since he moved into the city. He’s still way too fit for a guy consuming upwards of 1000 calories worth of liquor per day though! 🙂

    • Actors are instructed not to work out on this show. This has come up in interviews several times.

      • Personally, I adore seeing actors who DON’T look like maintaining body-building status is their second job. I remember sort of half-cheering, half-gasping when Peggy stripped in front of Stan, for instance.”My body looks a little like that!”, I thought.

        It may sound strange, but it’s one of those things that makes this show so endearing to me.

      • Deborah, I can see why that is: I remember how even generally slim, athletic people were not “ripped” in those days!

        Also, I’d point to the fashion show Betty and Don attend–the one at the country club, when members of the military were asked to stand and be recognized. Betty winds up buying a gorgeous yellow swimsuit and coverup, and she looks amazing in it, but Don tells her she looks “desperate”. Cringeworthy moment there!

        Anyway, the models in that swimwear fashion show were all slim-but-soft-bodied, also known as “thin-fat”. They had softer thighs and bottoms, and the stretchy suits accentuated that. Today, models tend to have no subcutaneous fat whatsoever, and breasts–if they have them–are usually added on by a surgeon!

      • I got the vibe that they were going to use the fact that the desk attendent let the applicants see that statue thingy as she brought it in as an excuse to let her go. They were all giving her ominous looks as they grilled her on who had seen it as it came in.

        • I doubt they let her go. They need a face at the front desk and they couldn’t move another secretary there–it’s a demotion. Plus that actress has exactly the kind of comedic style that Matt adores. I predict we see her again.

      • That’s interesting. I can see it in all the charecters except Don (in the early seasons especially). JH looks a bit to defined shirtless for me to believe he isn’t doing something to get that way.

  38. Did anyone understand the comment from the young girl at the concert that she will “jump on Brian like Jack Ruby”. The only Jack Ruby I know of was associated with Oswald. This comment does not make sense. Can someone tell me what this means? I understood Lady Jane. I wonder if this show goes 3 years into the future if there will be any reference to Brian Jones’ death?

    • The Jack Ruby reference felt out of place and threw me out of the story at first, too. When Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald, he was swarmed by the police — they were all over him immediately. Oswald was being moved from police headquarters to an armored car, being transferred to jail, and Ruby was there (in the basement of the police station) with a gaggle of reporters and television cameras and stepped in front of them with a gun and shot Oswald.

      I was ten years old and watching the television coverage with my dad. He rocketed to his feet and started screaming to my mother to “get in here!” We couldn’t believe it.

    • The way Ruby jumped on Oswald — it’s a quirky thing to say, not really accurate and certainly, by polite standards, in really bad taste. I don’t remember Ruby jokes but I was only eight years old at the time.

    • Reporters and police were swarming around Oswald, but Ruby managed to jump out from the crowd and get the guy. Our young groupie’s analogy makes perfect, if perverse, sense to me.

  39. For anyone who’s interested, on a Jewish media blog I asked for a translation of the prayer the old man said over Michael Ginsberg. Here’s what someone said it was, with a link to its Wikipedia page. It’s called the Priestly Blessing and is sometimes part of a Friday night (Sabbath) blessing over the children. Or so the poster says. I’m no expert. So maybe that was his father. We’ll see.

    “This blessing is also used by some parents to bless their children on Friday night before the beginning of the Shabbat meal. Some rabbis will say the blessing to a boy at his bar mitzvah or to a girl at her bat mitzvah. It is usually prefaced, for boys with a request for God to make the child like Ephraim and Manasseh These were the two sons of Joseph) who are remembered because according to tradition, they never fought with one another. For girls the traditional request is God to make them like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, the Matriarchs of the Jewish people.”

    May the LORD (YHWH) bless you and guard you –
    יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ
    (“Yivorekhekhaw Adonai v’yishm’rekhaw …)
    May the LORD make His face shed light upon you and be gracious unto you –
    יָאֵר יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ
    (“Yo’ayr Adonai pawnawv aylekhaw vikhoonekhaw …)
    May the LORD lift up His face unto you and give you peace –
    יִשָּׂא יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם
    (“Yisaw Adonai pawnav aylekhaw v’yasaym l’khaw shalom.”)

    • That’s wonderful. Thank you!

      Interesting coincidence: when I was a kid in Catholic junior high, we sang a hymn called “The Irish Blessing” in church. The lines above are very, very similar to the bridge:

      May the Lord bless you and keep you
      May the Lord cause his face to shine upon you
      And give you peace

      So my first thought, upon seeing your translation: Catholics are terrific thieves.

  40. This message is brought to you by THE MYSOGINY COUNCIL. Abe is probably ‘faithful’ to beloved Pegs. Would that make him a more palatable partner than a wealthy guy who cheats? Or do you have to be the total package? I mean a man is basically as faithful as his options, (Chris Rock. Poet.) Why bother trying to get rich, if you can’t parlay your success into……….parlaying.

    • That’s not fidelity, tilden. That’s like claiming to be honest because you don’t steal in stores with security cameras.

      • True, but how many people would steal if those cameras didn’t exist?

        • Some people would steal if they didn’t exist tmfak, and some people would not. The ones who would don’t get to claim virtue just because cameras are there.

          • Fair enough. The point I was trying to make (and I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth but I think this may have been what Tilden was driving at as well) is that the percentage of people whose virtue is more a result of lack of opportunity than anything else is a lot higher than most of us would like to admit.

        • I wouldn’t. I don’t cheat on my husband, either. There’s something to be said for resting easily at night.

    • I disagree with your definition of fidelity. Are you married? A spouse has options everyday. He/she can act on an impulse to get with another person that they find attractive or honor their marriage/respect their spouse and not act on that impulse. That option can present itself everyday and yet there are faithful people in this world even knowing that they probably would not get caught.

    • I believe that our friend tilden is referencing a quotation by the great comic and cultural theorist Chris Rock, who also said, “The black man has to fly, to get to what the white man can walk to.”

      In answer to your question, tk, I doubt that Peggy cares. She seems to be far more interested in merit than fidelity. Peggy may not be a sexual opportunist on the level of a Don Draper, but she’s had her moments (notably, with Pete). From this perspective, infidelity might not be a deal breaker for her. She might even be the one to initiate it.

      That said, I don’t know what Peggy would define as “the total package”. I’m betting it includes stock options and a retirement plan, though.

  41. Just brought it up cause Abe is getting sold short simply for not having fat pockets. I thought it was no longer the be all end all to bring home the bacon on the 1st and 15th. The cliches of a man wants variety a woman wants security are so ossified as to be laughable. Right?

    • I think it’s worth noting that for most people, the ideas we were raised with never really leave us completely, even if we make a concious decision to reject them. Peggy may not be her “mother’s daughter”, but the views she grew up around certainly will shape her decisions going forward to some extent. Just like Don still has a lot of the bowl cut boy from coal country in him, despite the fact he’s rejected that in the most literal way possible.

  42. I absolutely love you Anne. I had forgotten that joke. I bent over in short spasms. You made my day. Again.

  43. Incredibly obvious statement: much, much easier for those of the feminine gland (ode t to o Colonel Potter) to take advantage of, and, be presented with more options than xy’s. Unless said xy looks like someone Count Willie would walk up to, and introduce himself.

  44. As usual my ranting has stopped the conversation cold. My apologies. Deb chose the correct avatar for me. I’m such a creep sometimes.

  45. By the way–yellow dress girl at the Rolling Stones concert (the one that Don was talking to more, when the other girl went off with Harry) reminded me a little bit of a younger Allison. Or, to be exact, she reminded me of Allison and also of Meghan from “Felicity.”

    Off-topic but today was my birthday, and I am happy to say that my boss took me out to lunch. Unlike Don, he is pro-birthday, so I had a better day than Peggy did on her last b-day! (I didn’t have to work overtime either….although I rarely do anyway at this job.) 🙂

    • Happy birthday, MC!!

    • Happy birthday!

      I’d sing you something but I haven’t practiced. 🙂

      • I appreciate the thought anyway. Thank you. 🙂

        I totally have Don’s voice in my head now, when he first talked to Peggy about birthdays (“It’s time for you to get over birthdays….”). I still really like celebrating birthdays…but I know that part of Don’s issues have to do with the way he grew up and his later secrets. I’ve always had a really good loving family and they’re all very pro-birthday. 🙂

    • Interesting. Megan wears a yellow dress at the end too. Youth = yellow dress?

      Betty is not going to die. How about you, your yellow dress and I go out to dinner? Ok!

      • Could be a youth connection! I also remember Megan wearing a lovely yellow dress in “The Beautiful Girls”…when Sally ran into her arms. It was very summery and appealing.

      • Yellow – i always assumed it meant independence or taking control of your life. Betty’s infamous bikini was yellow, the cup she used in last season’s finale to share a drink with Don was yellow. There are other examples but my brain can’t come up with any right now.

        On a similar note … watching S1 reruns yesterday morning, I noticed in one ep (maybe Marriage of Figaro?) Roger said something about psychiatry being last year’s candy pink stove… and then they cut to the next scene with Betty setting the table – in a candy pink striped dress. I love how the use of color is so meaningful in this series! 🙂

  46. Hey! Feliz cumpleaños Mad Chick!!! May you live long enough to see your every wish come true.

  47. The scene that jumped out at me was when Don told Roger that he’d grown up without a mother. This would’ve been unthinkable earlier in the series. Don once fought fiercely to keep his private life away from the office. Now, his wife works there.

    Later in the same scene, after Roger finds he can’t joke or BS his way out of dealing with the prospect of Betty’s cancer, says, “Real life and death. I gave up on that a long time ago,” and Don replies fervently: “I can’t do that.” Again, this dude is way different from the one we met in the first season. The old Don would’ve smirked and gulped another jolt of whiskey in response to Roger’s remark.

    Don is a lot less cynical now. He seems to be doing what Dr. Faye prescribed: Relaxing and becoming a human being like the rest of us. I doubt it’ll last long, though; something bad is bound to happen … unless Weiner pulls a fast one and lets Don slowly degenerate into Fat Elvis until he finally jumps off the Time-Life building.

    Don’s not drinking as much as he used to, but this season he seems totally drunk. On something.

    I predict Megan will talk him into throwing a key party before the season’s over.

  48. Two things I picked up on my second viewing:

    1) Peggy going through the portfolios and saying “Fat. Thin.”

    2) Mr. Ginsberg’s portfolio says, “judge not lest ye be judged” or something like that on the cover. Good slogan! However, it is a quote from the new testament which is interesting given the scene with his father and Roger’s comment that the character is jewish. Meanwhile Ginsberg is busy judging Peggy, Don, the advertising industry in general and so on!

    • What’s more amazing about 1) is that she is *rejecting* portfolios, sight unseen, without even glancing at the material within them, on the basis of their being too fat or too thin. Too much experience (but examples not bought by anyone?) or not enough. Imagine if she had been judged that way at the beginning of her time as wishful copywriter.

      • I used to hire graphic designers, illustrators and photographers, and had to winnow them down somehow. I don’t remember doing what she did, though. I would look at the first and last image in each book and then toss it aside to the Yes or No pile. The Yes pile books each got a full look-through. LIke Don, she is getting a bit sloppy.

  49. just read through all the comments, and only one person said anything about Roger, and the window. Him and the new guy were both looking out the window, and his comments in Dons office lead me to believe he is going out the window…anyone else?

    • “Who will fall or push or jump out the window?” is the new, “Who killed Laura Palmer?”

      I don’t think anyone will fall out of the window. It’s metaphor. Probably a metaphor for “society” or “corporation” or “modernism”. Or some such. Really the show is about character, not plot.

      And I also don’t think that MW is Alfred Hitchcock. I don’t believe he has the next two seasons storyboarded out, shot by shot. He seems very much more organic, collabrative, and inspired by his actors. Don wasn’t even married until MW met January Jones in casting, for example. Imagine how radically that one bit of casting changed the entire story. And that is just one example.

      • I think falling off the balcony or out the window is a foreshadow! I thought so when Megan walked out to her balcony after the birthday party and I thought so again in Roger’s office. I’m so anxious/tense/excited/intriged just waiting to see how this plays out!

        • The window scene reminded me of Don looking out the window on the season 4 finale. Any connection?

      • Don was married, TT, but his wife wasn’t intended to play an important part in the series.

      • Not sure about the SCDP office windows … i think it was pete who said that the windows don’t open. of course, forcibly going through the window is another possibility ….

        • I think you are thinking of the fake ad they put in the Advertising paper as a dig to Y&R. Y&R dupmped water bombs out their window on the protesters so the SDCP ad referred to their windows not opening.

  50. Two totally unrelated, and possibly unfounded, theories/observations (sorry if already covered, but I didn’t see them):

    1. Ginsberg as the new Don Draper. Rough around the edges outsider with no background (“I don’t have a family”), but creatively brilliant. Possible hints: two Dons (Don and Dawn), Pop’s suggestion (joke?) that they get some prostitutes, “most famous Ginsberg” – willingness to make things up, ability to “yurn it on and off” like Don, declining to name the person who liked to be addressed as “Mr. –” (could resume be false – could he have made up/stolen his identity?)

    2. Is Betty lying about the tumor being benign? Possible clues: we don’t hear the doctor’s side of the conversation, Betty’s very vague responses, keeping secrets from Henry (like having told Don in the first place), that Don hears the “good news” only from Henry. Will Betty have a different story when she speaks to Don directly? Might that reveal that, ironically, Betty is more true in her dealings with Don than Henry, who appears to allow her to be more herself?

    • I’m sure that’s possible, but I think Betty told the truth. I really don’t think she tries to hide things from Henry, in general. Wasn’t she trying to find him/talk to him, in a panic, before she called Don? I think her first impulse was to tell Henry her news, and then he wasn’t around, so she turned to Don. I don’t get the feeling she hides things like health issues from Henry.

  51. Thanks, Megan. I cribbed a line and turned it into a blogpost:

  52. Just watched the episode yesterday. WOW.

    1) When Betty called Don – he called her “Bets” and then “Birdie.” I got a lump in my throat. She needed him. He sheltered her. Like old times.

    2) Megan is speaking to Don in a way Betty would never have dared – it’s interesting to see a woman be cruel to him after the abuse we’ve seen him dish out over the years. Her go to barb is his age – something he can do nothing about. My Dad is 17 years older than my Mom – I never once heard her attack him for his age. (He’s 89 and played golf last weekend!)

    3) The manic copy writer and Peggy – a bit forced for my tastes. A bit cliche. We’ll see how that one goes.

    4) Sally turning down the ice cream – finally getting her Mom’s attention. And leaving it cold at the table. Wow,

    5) Henry – can’t figure that one out – he got the prize – the prize is now a Grand prize (so to speak) and he still seems content – is he? Isn’t he? I like him – but I’m not sure of him.

    6) Shouldn’t that baby be older?

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