Posts tagged Dark Shadows
Posts tagged Dark Shadows
This episode was not on the level of “Mystery Date”, “Signal 30”, “Far Away Places” or “At the Codfish Ball” but I loved this episode’s Betty-ness a lot more than “Tea Leaves”. That episode had a lot of interesting stuff around it, Peggy shaking down Roger and the introduction of Michael Ginsberg while the center story was of Betty’s uninteresting, rushed story line explaining her weight gain and anxieties. This episode is about trying to overcome the anxieties of trying to lose the weight, and the prosthetics have either become more subtle or she has lost some weight since the summer, by joining Weight Watchers that I guess at the time was more of an Overeaters Anonymous for Women. She seems sympathetic and totally buying what WW is selling including delivering spiel to Henry that made me take pause at how kind Betty seems the way Peggy was disturbed by Don’s kindness in “A Little Kiss”. But that did not last long. The claws came out and Betty, and this seems underplayed in many recaps I have read, did one of the most evil things she has ever done on the show. Ever.
Sally is doing her family tree that she was mostly doing in the Draper Love-Nest and she with Bobby and Gene brought back a lot of scraps of paper they drew on, including on paper that was not meant to leave the Love-Nest, mainly a love note that Don and Megan seem to have a thing for since she has left SCDP. Betty reads it in Don’s voice and something triggers.
I am not sure if it is a reminder of what she had with Don or that this was a completely different man, as in a kinder, romantic man, who treated her poorly but is now with a younger, thinner woman who she catches an accidental glimpse of changing into a paisley shirt before their awkward first ever interaction on the show. Either way, Betty is pissed by the note and drops the nuclear bomb on unsuspecting Sally Draper. She tells her about his ‘first’ wife, Anna Draper. This is all new information to Sally, of course, but considering that Megan is the one helping Sally with the family tree, I am pretty certain Betty’s aims were to also drop the bomb on Megan about the Anna stuff which would lead into the Dick Whitman stuff which caused her marriage for Don to end and would surely in her mind really shake the foundation of the Don-Megan marriage.
Seriously, the revelation and what it could have done in terms of damage far exceeds Betty moving out of Ossining or firing Carla. But of course, Megan already knew off-screen and refers to Don as Dick Whitman in “A Little Kiss”. Betty is not aware of their union being more honest and open from the start than her marriage to Don ever was. Still, Sally feels some level of betrayal. She is entering teenage-dom and finding out how much adults lie and it bothers her a lot. So when Megan knows a secret about her father, she feels betrayed on a friend-level. Remember she has been in a friendship with her stepmother that existed before Don even had the male gaze for Megan (and remember, that was when Sally felt her father failed her in trying to escape her mother and Megan was her should to cry on in Season 4’s “The Beautiful Girls”). Sally does not really see Megan as her mother but a lifeline into adulthood the way Don saw Megan as a lifeline into youthfulness. She ambushes Megan in full Betty mode (and to a certain extent, Don at his worst) calling her ‘phony’ (how Holden Caulfield) and projecting a Disney Evil Stepmother to her and the deceased Anna.
Megan tells Don what has happened and basically can read what exactly Betty wants to happen. I mentioned in “At the Codfish Ball”, I see more Megan as an older Sally who has dealt with the drama of her parents bickering. She calms down Don before ever trying to make that phone call, with the awoken Sally hearing through the walls realizing that Megan cares about Sally’s feelings and that this needs to be talked about but not in an argument-driven, accusatory phone call to Rye, New York’s haunted mansion. Sally gets part of the story, but mainly the Anna Draper story without hearing about the Dick Whitman revelation. When Betty asks Sally, after hearing how good her grade was with her family tree, she asks if she included Anna, Sally responds lovingly with how much Don and Megan spoke admiringly of her and she ever saw photos. In one flail swoop, Sally tells her mother she knows more about Anna than she ever did, note how it was a complete 180 from Sally calling her and Megan insignificant. Sally ain’t stupid, she finds out she was a pawn and Don diffused her anxieties about hearing her father had another wife by saying he wished he had the chance for her to meet Anna and that it was the sweet California home he once took her to see. Betty’s plan gets foiled with great passive aggression goal-keeping by somebody who witnessed way too much of it in her childhood.
We move from Don’s very lovey-dovey marriage that seems to still be going fine if into mushy territory, not just the letters but him immediately realizing she is right about not falling into Betty’s trap, into him getting ahead in work, including stepping on the copy-writing golden boy, Michael Ginsberg. Don is no longer relationship-cheating, just work-cheating and it is indeed as pathetic as the reversal seasons ago. He skims through Ginsberg’s work after going into the empty SCDP office after realizing how much he screwed over Peggy and himself with the Heinz account fiasco. Everything interesting has been done by Michael, who goes against Don and Pete revealing ‘nobody chooses advertising as a profession’ in “Signal 30”. The guy is a savant but he gets cut down to size by Don, much like taking some of Peggy’s idea for the Glo-Coat ad, taking some of the general idea of Ginzo’s hundreds of pitches in his pocket for Sno-Ball and makes his own, which I personally think has appeal but Ginsberg’s was just better and more accessible. Peggy and Don had it out in “The Suitcase”, largely because Peggy had it pent up in her for a long time while being stuck working late with him (and amazingly at that time hated working late while now has made her office a surrogate home). Ginsberg is too blunt to keep his frustrations inside by telling Don he knows he left his ad in the cab and did not even present it. In many ways Don is correct but there was a lack of ‘That’s what the money is for!’ type of clarity Ginsberg needs versus ‘I don’t think about you at all!’. Instead it is childish and a little cruel because Ginsberg can always go to another agency. But Don wants his mojo back and gets a little bit of it even if he stepped on the wunderkind of the agency. He is the boss but is his agency hip or ‘hep’ as Bert Cooper says it?
While this episode was about Don getting a successful pitch account and Roger charming new business, suddenly using Jane’s once hidden Judaism as a plus, it is undercut by Pete realizing that this agency just is not up to par with the fresh faced agencies of the period like the real Wells Rich Greene aka Peter, Paul and Mary ad agency. It may not be wise for Don to bask in the glow of outdoing an underling with promise when that guy is the future. But cruel Don, or Devil Don (with Jon Hamm’s ludicrous devil voice affectation), can now only seem to function outside of the Draper Love-Nest because Megan is not tolerating it there and not just the smog monster of Betty Hofstadt Draper Francis trying to drop bombs from Rye, New York, as Alan Sepinwall notes in his recap.
Overall, the episode is getting undeserved flak for not being up to par with the other episodes but it shows SCDP actually functioning with new work and accounts showing the new talent as well as showing how old habits die hard with Don and Roger.
Sepinwall also nailed that maybe Don is still not completely in work-mode as the best pitch is his love letter to Megan that could easily be an ad pitch. I hope they find an electric light bulb company and fast.
Pete Campbell has a BUtterfield 8 fantasy of Beth Dawes (aka Rory Gilmore) that was somehow creepier than Don’s fever dream of strangling an evil ex.
Pete’s fantasies about the affair have become so overt it cannot sound ridiculous without the context, telling Howard on the train point blank he would have sex with his wife. Howard almost interprets it as Pete either upset he cheats on his wife or that Pete simply cannot take the idea that Howard snagged a beautiful 24 year-old woman. But Pete was asking to get caught in the previous episode with Beth. Again, this seems like a story-line moving along to bad things.
My mother told me nothing in those Weight Watchers meetings have changed in 50 years. That really depresses me.
I am ignoring the Roger story-line because it seems like he did feel empathy for Jane by ‘defiling’ her new apartment by being her first lay there. At first I thought Roger was regretting ever letting her go by her charms to the Rosenberg wine-magnate son but he was just jealous and their encounter held no meeting other than feeling empowered. Jane knew it and Roger knew it. Did Roger really change? Jane feels like she missed out on something in that LSD trip to the point I feel really bad for her and wonder if she is a candidate for the death-pool. I actually just hope she schtups the Rosenberg kid.
Kiernan Shipka during her act-out with Megan felt a little too much Betty, to the point where it felt like a horror movie when another person’s personality takes over a new body.
I normally do not say this but January Jones as Betty Draper was good tonight such as the Weight Watchers meeting, the passive aggression, and counting her points and bites. I feel like Fat Betty was the best thing that happened to her. Her Thanksgiving plate was so grotesque, darkly funny, and depressing at the same time. In all but 10 seconds, I laughed, clapped, and felt depressed by her eating and spitting out whipped cream.
So is there more to Megan teaching Sally how to act-cry? Should I start re-looking at all previous Mad Men episodes that featured Megan crying? Maybe I am too naive but I think she is just an earnest Canadian who wants to be away from the cynical world of advertising and using children as pawns.
So Megan’s actress friend is trying out for “Dark Shadows” and Megan dismisses it, except it does portray how for many actors, soap opera appearances are a **GET**. I think that Megan is choosy and snobbish toward soap operas, a carry-over from her father hating advertising and probably promoting high-culture into her education. I know “Dark Shadows” was/is a beloved soap opera, but the genre is pretty low-culture. So what can Megan find to do? I still think acting will not be her long-term profession.
Roger admits he should not carry around that much cash. Do not even look at the inflation index of what he has paid out to the likes of Harry, Peggy, and Michael in 2012 money. Do not even include how much he put into Jane’s new apartment.
I will finally get my Lane Pryce fix next week. A Christmas present, indeed.
I feel like the Mothers Day theme is more tied to this episode than “Dark Shadows”.
Some theories that the creative team will be leaving Don, even before this episode, and seeing the sight of Wells Rich Greene did feel like a foreshadowing of a triage that people are certain Peggy will be apart of, because she is having a rough season work-wise and is bitching about loyalty. She has a pact with Ken and I consider Stan Rizzo to be her work-boyfriend, so those three immediately stick out. Ginsberg is an X-factor but I cannot see Rizzo staying and Peggy going.
Next week episode is indeed Christmas themed and it looks like it will be Harry-heavy in addition to Lane and it looks like Don and Megan are going out to see something that I am certain Megan put Don up to. But that means deciphering another ‘Next Week on Mad Men’.
Betty inhales whipped cream gif:
It’s Thanksgiving of 1966. New York City has a smog issue. It killed 169 people.
Draper Love Nest:
Don gets the kids for the weekend (since it is November is it Thanksgiving weekend?) and takes Bobby and Gene out while Megan and Sally appear to be spending their time entirely at the Draper Love Nest. Baseball season’s over, not sure if the Garden with Rangers or Knicks games would be appropriate for two little kids (Bobby #4 is super short) nor would Yankee or Shea Stadium for a Jets or Giants game. Maybe a movie? Only kids-related films I could find that could fit is the Adam West Batman film or the family comedy The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming! Would he take them to the parade? Would Sally and Megan not go? Screw it, Don is totally taking the boys to see Fantastic Voyage or 10,000 B.C. to keep up with the Raquel Welch quotient.
Megan appears to be doing a table reading of a script she has. It sounds very Betty. Is she having Sally or Don do a table reading with her? I believe it has to be a script because it seems un-Megan, especially given the context of her previous rapports with Don, Sally, or any of the kids.
Henry and Betty have driven to the city. Their conversation seems a bit too open to have the kids sitting in the back. So are the going into the city for something? Are they seeing somebody? Or are they just picking up the kids for the Francis version of Thanksgiving? Henry seems to be in a hurry while stuck in traffic. This drive also seems to be all about Betty the way Harry talks to her in an exasperated manner and it does not seem like the first time she is having this little moment. They’re going to some place she wants to that Henry is not too enthused about.
Crackpot theory: Did Megan do the unthinkable and invite those two over for Thanksgiving dinner? Surprise again, Don! She does it because she got a TV or theater call back to play an evil mother. She slyly invites Betty because Sally remarks how much the part is like her mother. Betty is there to be studied!
Don does indeed appear to be surprised by something Megan tells him in a very Don, “Are you kidding me?!?” way. Is it something to do with her new acting career or is it something as simple as the kids are coming at last second? I notice that Don and Megan are in the same clothes as they are shown when Don kisses Megan goodbye when he takes the boys out (although it is not very noticeable with Don in an overcoat) which seems to take place after the news. Given Betty’s propensity for such shenanigans, such as inadvertently planting the seed for Don’s second marriage by firing Carla for the Disneyland trip, this is believable. But boy how I would love for some legit Betty-Megan interactions. Betty last referred to her as the 20 year-old girlfriend.
I noticed that on the original promo telecast there was Sally remarking, “How did you do that?” or something in that vein. I think she was talking to Megan. So I am guessing there is going to be a little bit of girl time between those two. Betty’s going to hate that.
Prediction: Don and Megan get the kids for Thanksgiving weekend thanks to Henry’s tight schedule but Betty demands that on their way to what I assume is his political operative functions she wants to go to the Draper Love Nest to check in on Sally or just specifically, Sally and ‘that good for nuthin’ skinny French-Canadian harlot who stole my first husband when I was prepping to win him back with booze and angry sex in an empty house who has now also stolen my daughter’. Megan is actually doing a table reading with Sally who will also be interested in acting and they watch the vampire soap opera Dark Shadows that Sally is OBSESSED with since neither of them want to even think about going out in the smog. Also note, Megan still barefoot and in jeans (**gasp**). Maybe Megan gets a Dark Shadows script. Like many soap operas it was shot in New York and since the days of yore soap opera appearances provided a steady pay check to stage actors. Dark Shadows, however, may be a little too pop history but it could just be the script.
Now moving onto SCDP:
Much like Don’s lonely exit from the office of SCDP after Megan left. Did he pull an all-nighter (Megan’s acting classes are at night) or did he just go into an empty office on a holiday? He does have a lot of catching up to do.
Bert Cooper is telling who we presume is Roger that ‘This requires your finesse’. Another feather in the cap for ‘Roger’s got his groove back!’. Does Don’s fall mean Roger’s rise from the ashes? Roger is also calling somebody to have dinner. Is it Mona? It cannot be Joan, since I think Roger would just go into her office to ask. Or is it Jane’s pseudo-intellectual psychologist who introduced him to LSD? Or is it a client/account?
Harry Crane once again appears to project himself onto a situation because when he says ‘empty promises’, Peggy’s sarcastically inquisitive ‘What were you promised?’ seems like a line any character would ask to Harry in that situation because of what a total buffoon he has become. Seems that the creative team may be getting a pep talk from Harry as Head of Media and Peggy acting out since really, when was the last time Harry was specifically involved in anything work-related besides him smoking pot at a Rolling Stones concert?
Joan’s “It’s something to talk about.” I notice her hair is less put together. She may be talking about a current event, I guess. Too oblique for even me to try and decipher.
Pete is in Loveland over Beth, the poster girl for Mother’s Little Helper. What else could he be laying down in his office looking stupid for? But wait, who is this unexpected person in his office? Is it Beth? Pete’s tone makes me think it has to be a woman and a very vulnerable situation about to unfold.
Pete has been stalking Beth and she gives him a tearfully depressing piece of her mind to him before she splatters it while falling into Chekhov’s empty elevator shaft… or she just kills herself at SDCP. Her death leads Howard to suspect the affair and as does Trudy who immediately wants a divorce that causes her father to take away the accounts he has given Pete through Clearosil. The PR damage to the SCDP makes Don’s letter to Lucky Strike a distant memory and Pete has to be put on leave if not quit/fired from his position. I could go on and on. SCDP’s competition has to deal with dropping balloons on civil rights activists, they have to deal with dropping liaisons off buildings. Either way, Pete is destroyed professionally, ethically, psychologically, and romantically.
Transition into “You wonder who is going to get hit next!” by Don at a pitch meeting (Ginzo is beside him). Okay now even the promos have the illusions to violence and death and given this comes off a Pete clip…. Nah, it could be Don trying to get his groove back too.
Also missing from the original promo after episode is a scene of Pete with Bert Cooper, Don, and I think Roger all on an elevator telling all of them to be patient (But sadly no Lane Pryce). Pete would be the first one to be neurotic about an account so I am pretty sure people catch on to his weird behavior. In fact, I think he gets a look from Bert and Don. They are all on an elevator in their trench-coats either all going to see a client are just had a rough time with a client. Side-eyes could mean latter.
It’s back to work time at SCDP. Don will finally try to be serious and the copy-writers are moving on to media with an account (oh no, are we back to the Heinz Beans account?). Peggy’s work relations continue to be rocky while Ginsberg’s prospects are on the up with Don having him as his new ear to youth culture. Roger definitely gets his groove back with a client. Pete does indeed get a visit from Beth to cut it out and she probably is not long for this world but not as dramatic as my crackpot theory (coming back to the city was hard enough, I am thinking if there is a suicide it is in Howard’s love nest to spite him). Pete Campbell is also probably gone from even reasonable work productivity, suicide or not. Hopefully there is some Lane Pryce. Maybe that is who Joan was talking to!