Mad Men is back on Sundays at 9/8 Central, and with 3.5 million viewers tuning in for the season premier, you won’t be alone if you indulge.
Tonight’s episode, “Tea Leaves,” brought back Betty Francis, whom we did not see at all in the first episode. In fact, the only real mention of her in last week’s season-opener was a wry, “give my love to Morticia and Lurch” uttered by Don while dropping off his children. Betty, obviously, has slipped into a fairly stereotypical housewife dilemma: she has gained weight and is ashamed of her new body. After her mother-in-law’s recommendation that she start on diet pills, Betty visits her doctor, who, upon evaluation, finds a tumor on her thyroid. The subsequent cancer scare honestly works to soften the now-rounder, but still icy, Betty. In a particularly picturesque scene, without dialogue, we see Betty and Henry sitting outside, presumably on the 4th of July, while Sally and her brother run about with sparklers, the very-Adams-Family-like estate in the back, all dark and foreboding, Betty cradling her youngest son and taking a moment to sweetly smell his head. This tenderness humanizes Betty and the scene plays beautifully.
The episode had definite themes of dieting and change, with Harry inhaling a bag of food (“…there were 20 in the bag; I thought you had bought them for your family….”-Don ; “Eat first. That’s what I tell men to do before they marry and have kids…” –Harry). There was also Peggy evaluating portfolios with a “too fat; too thin”. And, of course, the scene where the newly hired writer returns home to offer his father “rye bread and farmer cheese” which led into the final scene of Betty and Sally eating ice cream, Betty already having finished her sundae, polishing off her daughter’s. Quite an interesting thread.
The power shift paradigm, which began when Roger lost the Lucky Strike account, was in full-swing tonight. Roger can wine and wine (intended) to woo Mohawk Airlines, but Pete only punishes him and hates him more for this, offering Mohawk to Roger to handle, upon the client’s request, but announcing, in front of everyone, that he, Pete, would be overseeing all that Roger does with this new account. In a profound scene, Roger sighs to Don, “When is everything going to get back to normal?” and we have the benefit of knowing, in a sad way, it never will.
I liked seeing Don as a mature adult, even if his new wife described his choice of wearing his quintessential suit and tie to meet the Rolling Stones as being, “So square, you have corners.” Don was fatherly to the very young, wannabe groupie, which was nice to see. The humor in the episode came from Harry, who thought he was courting the Rolling Stones to do a commercial for Heinz, only to discover he had just signed a nobody band called the Trade Winds. Harry continues to be the butt of jokes and the biggest jerk. I am often unsure if I should pity or hate him, so I do both.
This episode also marks the directorial debut of Jon Hamm, Mr. Don Draper himself. I thought it was brilliantly done and well-rounded (dieting pun intended). As usual, it will be a long 6 days until the next one.
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Marie’s Musings: I'm a woman whose daily wardrobe consists of Joe’s jeans, Edun tees, Prada sandals and large, dark sunglasses. Still, I am devoted to fashion. It is art, it is of-the-moment, it is life. I read every fashion magazine & newspaper, loving it all & clipping pages for my Look-Book. Oh, the fantasy! And, fantasy is fun.View all Marie posts.