'Mad Men' Season 5, Episode 9 Recap - 'Dark Shadows'
No vampires as far as I can tell in this episode that shares a title with the 70's soap opera and recently released Tim Burton movie, but it seems that Betty is dealing with a green-eyed monster.
Fat Betty isn't so fat anymore, as we open with her very carefully controlling her portions and even attending Weight Watchers meetings. She's doing fairly well physically, but she is clearly still ignoring the psychological and emotional triggers that lead her to binge eat.
In fact, we see one of those triggers play out: Betty goes to pick up the kids from Don and Megan's apartment, and Sally lets her in. Betty steps into the unfamiliar home, one slightly more modern than the old one that she shared with Don and certainly more modern than the haunted mansion she now lives in, and catches a glimpse of Megan getting dressed, young and thin and beautiful and married to Don. Immediately after this encounter, she goes home and inhales a mouthful of whipped cream.
That's bad enough, but Betty takes even more emotional left hooks when she finds a sweet yet domestic love note from Don to Megan on the back of a drawing of a harpooned whale that one of the kids drew, and learns that Megan is getting better with the kids and helped Sally with her family tree project. But it looks like she's going to move past damaging herself and start lashing out at those around her: as Sally works on her family tree, Betty casually mentions that Don was married to another woman, Anna Draper, before her. "Ask Megan," she says.
Sally does, and manages to be a brat about it too. Don flips out (of course) when he finds that Betty is tossing his most personal secret around as if it were nothing, but Megan sees the truth behind it: Betty is trying to "poison" them "from 50 miles away."
One of the saddest moments we've seen for Betty comes later, though, when at Thanksgiving she claims that she's thankful for having everything she wants, and for nobody else having anything better. It's a typical Betty statement, one that seems sweet on the surface but actually carries quite a bit of malice. After that, she digs into the barest, saddest plate of Thanksgiving food ever, a fine metaphor for how dissatisfying her life really is.
Don seems to be doing much better. Megan's happy with her new job, and Don tries to settle back into actually working at work, as opposed to canoodling with his wife/co-worker and making the occasional emergency pitch at dinner. It's rough at first, as we hear Don sending a stream of consciousness onto his tape recorder that naturally gravitates toward sin. Soon enough, though, he comes up with a decent concept for the Snoball soft drink, which he pitches to the group. Ginsberg has an even better one, though, and the group is more or less split about it.
Ginsberg isn't making things any easier, as he gets a little passive-aggressive with Don: "It's just great that you could not write for so long and then come up with that," he says about Don's pitch. Uh oh.
That eventually leads to Don leaving Ginsberg's ad in the cab when he makes the pitch to the client. He makes the sale, so that's all anyone cares about... except for Ginsberg, who is understandably a little pissed off.
Of course, his treatment around the office could be a little better too: when Roger gets put in charge of landing Manischewitz as a client, he naturally enlists the two Jews he knows--Ginsberg and Jane--to help him out. He's as insensitive as ever about it, too. It looks like race and culture issues will cover not only the civil rights movement, but also the role of Jewish New Yorkers in the professional world.
Pete makes a short appearance this week, and it looks like his fling with Beth will continue, as she shows up to his office wearing a fur coat and almost nothing else. He even gets a little short with Howard. Clearly a dangerous situation for Pete, who lacks the self-control and finesse that made Don so good at just this sort of thing.
An interesting close to the episode, as Megan warns Don against opening the window because of an air quality advisory. "The air is toxic," she says, "I don't want that in here." Did Betty really get to her that badly?