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‘Mad Men’ Review: “Dark Shadows”

Mad Men Dark Shadows
AMC

Mad Men’ Season 5 leaves behind its ninth episode of the year, as Don tries to get back in the game while Betty reveals a distressing secret to Sally, and Roger enlists the estranged Jane in helping him land a new account.

Last week’s ‘Mad Men’ episode “Lady Lazarus” saw Pete falling for a new woman in his friend’s bitter wife Beth (Alexis Bledel) only to be cruelly cast aside, while Megan came clean about her desire to return to acting and Don dropped $250,000 (or rather Matthew Weiner did) to listen to The Beatles, so what will the latest episode bring?  Much-needed Fat Betty!

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Mad Men’ episode nine “Dark Shadows!”

Poor Betty continues her diet (long live Fat Betty!) of grapefruit, toast, and a measured amount of cheese, while at the SDCP offices Pete announces to the other partners that a friend of his managed to snag them a spot in a New York Times article, even if he only wants to talk to Pete himself.  A short time later, Don realizes going over the copy that Ginsburg has taken on a substantial amount of work, thanks to Peggy having been saddled by the Heinz campaign.  Across the office, Cooper hands over the Manischewitz wine account to Roger, noting he should use his Jewish (soon to be ex) wife in the pitch, though Roger reminds him they’re divorcing.  Is Cooper ever up to date?

That weekend, while Megan plays with the children Don heads into the office to get some work done, assuring Sally he’ll help her with her family tree project.  Betty later arrives to pick up the children, finding herself in vision of Don’s perfect life (and wife, damn!), before coldly leaving with the kids in tow.  Before he leaves the office however, Don stops to check out Ginsburg’s work on the campaign for Sno Ball, some of it very good, before Don decides to come up with ideas of his own, most of which pertain to sin, and the devil.  Subtle Matthew Weiner, at it again.

The next day, Peggy comes up with an idea of her own for Sno Ball, though its quickly eclipsed by both Ginsburg’s idea and the one Don spent time devising, the idea of the Devil enjoying a snowball.  Ginsburg in his usual awkward way is surprised that Don can still write decent copy.  Jerk.

Poor Trying-to-Be-Less-Fat Betty attends a Weight Watcher’s meeting, where she tries to take solace in the little progress she’s made, in spite of her “trying experience in an uncomfortable place.”  Back in the city, Megan reads lines with a friend of hers auditioning for ‘Dark Shadows‘ (hey, cross-promotion!), before the friend snaps at her for laughing at the script, reminding her that not every actor has the luxury of quitting their job or living in a cushy apartment.

Roger calls Ginsburg into his office to pay him for his particular expertise in selling a Jewish product, though Ginsburg, like Peggy, extorts the silver fox for cash to agree to sell his ideas under Roger’s banner.  Later that night, poor food-deprived Henry cooks up a steak, for which Betty joins him to listen how he thinks he backed the wrong horse in his political career, and reminds him that she’s there to help him.  Even the next day, Roger’s money train keeps a  rollin’ as Jane will only agree to attend the dinner with him if he pays for her new apartment, haunted by the memories of their current.  Who’s taking bets on Roger being bankrupt by the finale?

Across the office, Pete finds himself flabbergasted that Beth would show up to the office looking to “see” him, wearing only a fur coat and panties, though it becomes apparent the event is only a dream.  You know what’s not a dream, though?  The most epic Alexis Bledel sideboob of all time!

The next day over homework, Sally still filling out her family tree, Betty vindictively lets slip that Don had a wife before her, telling an inquisitive Sally to ask Megan about it.  Meanwhile at SDCP, the gang examines both Don and Ginsburg’s mock-ups, ultimately deciding that Ginsburg’s makes more sense for the demographic.

At Don’s apartment, Sally treats everyone coldly, but most especially Megan for never telling her about Don’s first wife Anna.  Though not her place, Megan explains as best she can, but clearly isn’t a match for the whims of a bitter Sally Draper.  Who could be?  When Megan take the news to Don later that night (against Sally’s urging) Don furiously goes to call Betty before Megan argues him down that they’d only be giving Betty what she wants, as Sally listens in.  When Don wakes up the next morning to a call from Pete that they’d been snubbed from the New York Times, Don reacts angrily, and orders Sally to the living room to confront her about her behavior.  Admitting Anna was the woman who’s home they visited n California, Don ultimately apologizes for not telling his daughter sooner, though insists she apologize to Megan.

The next morning, Peggy coldly confronts Roger on their way in for hiring Ginsburg to do the Manischewitz ad work instead of her, insisting that Roger’s not a loyal person and she could write for anyone regardless of being Jewish.  Far from being the only selfish person at the agency though, Don “accidentally” leaves behind Ginsburg’s Sno Ball art in the cab on the way over.  Sno Ball ends up loving Don’s devil idea anyway, and while back at the office everyone celebrates, Ginsburg is livid to hear that Don “accidentally” left his artwork behind.  Meanwhile, Betty learns that her plan to bring up Anna didn’t really cause as much of a stir as she’d hope, and she bats the groceries to the ground.

That night holds the dinner for Roger, Jane and the Manischewitz clients, who seem all but on board with “Roger”s idea to have bus ads that make it appear the passengers are traveling with Manischewitz wine.  The only trouble seems to be the eyes being exchanged between Jane, and the client’s young son!  On the way home, Roger asks Jane to show him the new apartment, and almost as if on cue, the two end up rekindling their marital rights.  The next morning however, Jane believes her new apartment to be just as tainted with memory as the old, and Roger apologizes for having ruined things.

While an agitated Pete tells off Howard on the train for not appreciating his wife more, Ginsburg confronts Don on the elevator on the way in.  Don defends his decision, noting it as a moot point anyway considering they bought it, and while Ginsburg snaps that he feels bad for Don, Don retorts that he doesn’t give any thought to Ginsburg at all.  Burn!

Later at Thanksgiving, Megan learns that her friend got the ‘Dark Shadows’ role (yay, more cross-promotion!), but instructs Don not to open the balcony for fear of a recent smog alert.  Say what?  In any case, the children share Thanksgiving at the Francis household, where all express their various gratitudes, Betty for having everything she wants, and no one having any better.  Meanwhile, her meager plate looks pretty pathetic.  Poor Fat Betty.

Far be it for us to tell ‘Mad Men’ what to do, but it hardly seems like this season has any real through-line, now that we’re nine-episodes deep.  And we love Fat Betty madly, and even enjoy poor Roger being so down on his luck, but how’s about we get going some kind of central plot for the remaining four episodes to deal with?  Man can only be placated by Alexis Bledel’s near-nudity for so long.

Did you get your fill of swingin’ ‘Mad Men’ action?  What did you think about the episode? Join us next week for an all-new episode recap of ‘Mad Men’s latest effort “Christmas Waltz” on AMC!

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