'Mad Men' Recap: All's Fair in Love and Advertising
'Mad Men' Recap: All's Fair in Love and Advertising
This week on Mad Men, everyone is trying desperately not to be replaced by a younger and better model. Betty fights her feeling of inferiority against Megan by dropping the Anna Draper bomb on poor unsuspecting Sally and her color pencil family tree. Don fights the million idea machine that is new hire Ginsberg and his own fears he might be irrelevant. Roger continues his fight against Pete with Jane as collateral damage. Meanwhile, Pete's coup de grace with the Sunday New York Times fails him.

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As Pete's friend on the train says, the grass is always greener on the other side. All the characters are fighting this week, not against each other, but against the passing of time. As each character moves on, they realize there is someone else ready in wait to take their place.

Betty sees this literally in Megan, who seemingly has it all. The penthouse, Don's affections, a good relationship with her kids and the youthful body Betty used to define herself by. So she of course tries to poke holes in the idyllic life she imagines Megan and Don live. But Betty's not alone in her vindictiveness. Megan too takes a shot at her friend's soap opera audition and later seems less than happy with her friend's success.

As the episode opens, Betty weighs her food while Roger talks about the joys of fishing -- the weighing and measuring for the right moment. Our favorite Madison Avenue denizens are busy this week taking the measure of those nipping their heels. Don and Peggy are threatened by Ginsberg's talent and brazen disregard for hierarchy. Roger is threatened by Pete and by the fact that Jane might move on, leaving him behind.

But it's Betty who is the most threatened, as she's always been, by the happiness of everyone else. For Betty, happiness has always been elusive, a feeling she thought she'd gain by playing by the rules society set out for her. She's never really had it, and always resented it in others. As she succinctly put it at Thanksgiving dinner, "I'm thankful that I have everything I want and no one else has anything better."

Not a Sno Ball's Chance

Don is beginning to feel the constraints of his role as creative director. When Joan tells him what a good job he's doing, having assembled such a great team of creatives, he seems more pensive than happy. Don always considered himself the ultimate creative. Above all, he prized his ability to sell and to sell anything. Now that Megan has left the office, the honeymoon is over. Don is looking around the landscape at SCDP and Ginsberg's work is making a real impression.

After paging through some of Ginsberg's funny, wry Sno Ball pitches, he comes up with a few of his own. While pitching in his empty office, he realizes that his devil idea is cliched. But in the meeting, hearing Ginsberg explain his idea featuring people hit in the face with snow balls, Don changes his mind. He pitches his own idea and, although everyone is less enthused, they all gamely agree to create images for both.

Is it a coincidence that Ginsberg's pitch features authority figures being hit in the face with snow balls? On Mad Men, surely not. Ginsberg has a problem with authority, with following it and with deferring to it. We see this when he speaks to Roger and demands money the same way Peggy did, despite having just been hired scant months ago. We definitely see it after Don leaves Ginsberg's pitch in the cab and hooks the account on his own. Ginsberg tells Don in no uncertain terms that he's here to stay. He has a million ideas. "I feel sorry for you," Ginsberg says angrily. Don says he doesn't think about him at all, which is clearly a lie.

Don has felt left behind by the steady passage of time all season. He doesn't understand the new music or the cultural changes that we, in hindsight, know will not be slowing down. Will Don Draper be able to keep up with the times or will we soon see him eclipsed?

A Dinner and Daydream

Meanwhile, Pete's dreams of Beth are crushed when the New York Times doesn't run the feature he hoped for. Good lord, Rory Gilmore! If only Lorelai could see you now! I'm aware that Alexis Bledel is a full grown, very attractive lady, but I feel like running through the television and telling her that outfit is not Star's Hollow appropriate.

With Pete's failure to gain fame or Beth, Roger should maybe be less concerned with one-upmanship. He convinces Jane to come to dinner with him to pitch a Jewish wine account he hopes to rub in Pete's face. "When a man hates another man very, very much," Roger begins, in his explanation of the situation to Ginsberg. It's ironic that Roger is working harder than ever to surpass Pete when Pete conversely seems to be on the descent.

Jane uses the opportunity to leverage a new apartment out of Roger, one that won't be full of unpleasant memories. When Roger sees the handsome son of the wine family flirting with Jane, however, he seems to have a momentary change of heart. At Jane's new apartment, he initiates an encounter.

The next morning, Jane sits on her new couch looking sad. She wanted a place that would be for her, away from the memories of Roger. "You get everything you want and you still had to do this," Jane says. Between Jane's rebuke and Peggy's elevator assertion that Roger has no loyalty, he seems almost chastened. That doesn't mean that he doesn't have some truly fantastic one liners tonight, including his inability to move beyond his LSD trip, mentioning it whenever possible.

Weight Watchers

It's all about weight for Betty. She's weighing everything, even down to cheese cubes. Her weekly weigh-ins at Weight Watchers appear to be half humiliation and half group therapy. For a bit, this group therapy seems to be working. When Henry mentions his work problems, Betty tells him that problems can't be blamed on others but must be tackled head on. This is a pretty unfamiliar refrain, especially coming from Betty, who consistently seems to put her happiness and misery at the feet of forces beyond her control. (Don, Henry, tumors, her weight. There's always a reason she's unhappy.)

After seeing Megan and reading a sweet note for her on the back of one of Bobby's drawings, all Betty's zen new attitude goes out the window. She advises Sally that her family tree is missing a branch. That would be the one belonging to the original Mrs. Draper, Anna. She then icily mentions that of course Megan knows this as well and how surprised she is Megan wouldn't mention it. You have to give Betty props, because she is GOOD. Stone cold, but good.

Obviously, this sets Sally into a tailspin in which she gets into a fight with Megan. This eventually leads to a fight between Megan and Don, with Megan only narrowly talking Don off the edge of calling Betty to yell. It's what she wants, Megan explains. Sally overhears both this argument and the argument Don has the next day with Pete on the phone. Don should really invest in some form of soundproofing if he's going to be yelling that much. It's getting like Downton Abbey up in here with all these people overhearing conversations.

Sally and Don talk over the Anna Draper of it all, although Don is still cagey about Anna's real identity (and his own, for that matter). Returning home, Sally doesn't let on that Megan and Don had a fight and paints a rosy picture for Betty when she asks. Betty angrily throws groceries off the kitchen table, although she keeps herself from pounding down whip cream like someone on the Jersey Shore would pound down a Jagerbomb.

As the episode ends, both branches of the Draper family prepare for Thanksgiving. As Don goes to open the window, Megan advises him against it. There's been a warning and the air outside is toxic. It's been noted this season has had a fair amount of death symbolism, so here's another to add to the growing list.

Next week on Mad Men, people stand together in rooms and say things! Megan wears something phenomenal that matches her lipstick. Lane returns to be British! The next week promos on this show are horrible.

What did you think of tonight's episode? Is Betty the worst or just misunderstood? And what are your opinions on Ginsberg? Sound off in the comments.

Morgan Glennon
Contributing Writer

(Image courtesy of AMC)

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