Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mad Men -- 'At the Codfish Ball' Episode = What the Heck?

*Warning -- Spoilers ahead from the recent episode of Mad Men.*

Things are seriously twisted in the world of Mad Men. More so than usual. More so than when Roger Sterling dropped acid.

You've got Sally Draper -- the girl who was humiliated last season after she was caught pleasuring herself at a friend's house, the kid who adores her father -- walking in on Roger, with whom she was palling around, being given oral sex by the married mother of her father's new wife.

Don, who was feted in grand style by the American Cancer Society for blasting Lucky Strike and all of tobacco in the New York Times, learned that the titans of business don't trust him because of his celebrated correspondence.

Peggy, who seemed truly disappointed that her boyfriend Abe suggested that they move in together instead of marry, unconvincingly tried to sell the arrangement as something edgy. (I don't buy that she's into this.)

Megan put a new twist on Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce's flailing Heinz campaign and, after getting Don to blurt her idea out before the Heinz guy could fire Don over dinner, saved the day. For those of you keeping track at home, that makes twice that Don struck out in the business realm, given that the Heinz success was all Megan's doing.

The world seems upside-down.

Seeing Megan's parents openly fight the way they did, seeing Marie go after the willing Roger and seeing Megan rescue Don made Megan seem like a more substantive character than she's been portrayed thus far. She is now more than a young, pretty secretary who's good with kids and caught Don's eye. Plus she's been bringing out these vulnerabilities in Don that we haven't seen before, weaknesses that he hid from Betty and for which he overcompensated by being sternly authoritative. As we saw in the previous episode, being authoritative doesn't work with Megan who isn't in the grasp of the massive insecurities that plague Betty.

Then there's poor Sally, the kid who gets slapped by her mom in front of people, who is fearful of eating as she witnesses her mother pile on pounds of misery. She's maturing and starting to dress like a teenager under Megan's youthful, hip influence. She's forced to mother her officious step-grandmother when Mother Francis got hurt, weeks after Mother Francis gave her a prescription sleeping pill when the child was anxious. Sally's making clandestine phone calls to Creepy Glen who's at a residential school. I don't see happiness ahead for Sally, or for her father Don who, despite proclaiming his contentment, seems unmoored.

Image credit: Ron Jaffe/AMC.

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