Mad Men Episode 5-9 Review – The Replacements

Everyone can be replaced. That, and selfishness, seemed to be the themes I got from last night’s episode of Mad Men.

Betty sees that she’s been replaced by young, thin Megan and can’t cope with the misery of knowing that Megan is happy with Don, when Betty was always “so profoundly sad”. Roger knows he’s being replaced by Pete and is doing whatever he can to fight it. Both Don and Peggy seem to be on the verge of being replaced by Ginsberg.

Weight and See

Betty’s been attending Weight Watchers, a group where she might have been able to find some emotional support but, of course, cannot. Can anything? I think Betty can turn any situation into an unpleasant one, because she’s empty, sad and suffers from mental health issues that no one had explained in the 1960s.

Betty was so unnerved by the sweet love note from Don to Megan that she found, and I think the idea that Sally might like Megan that she revealed to her that Don had a third wife. There was no reason to tell Sally that information other than to drive a wedge in between her and Megan and Don. And as upset as Sally was upon hearing that at first, we saw that she herself can be just as manipulative. I was fascinated by the way Sally used her mother’s own mind games against her, telling Betty that Don and Megan had spoken very fondly of Anna and had shown her pictures.

Sally has become an integral character this season, and is slowly being opened up to the various complications of the adult world. The news about her father’s past, and the way she used that information to hurt her mother, is another layer to that.

The final scene of Thanksgiving at the Francis household perhaps laid it on a little thick. “I’m thankful that I have everything I want,” Betty said. “And no one has anything better.” Oh, Bets. You’ll never change, will you?

Devil On Your Back

Meanwhile, we’re watching both Don and Peggy struggle at work while Ginsberg succeeds. Ginsberg’s idea for an ad campaign for Pepsi Sno-Ball was better than what Don came up with, but when it was time for the pitch Don left Ginsberg’s mock-up in the cab and used his own. I’m still not really sure what to make of this storyline. In the case of Roger and Pete, we’ve known for a while that Pete is ambitious and hungry, and that he’s slowly usurping Roger. But Ginsberg, we don’t know enough about him yet to believe he’s the creative genius the show seems to be selling him as. We know that all the recent good work has been his, and not Peggy’s. And we know that, despite Don’s insult of “I don’t think about you at all”, he’s in Don’s head.

I found so much of this episode to be disappointing, including Roger’s storyline. I felt like his secret deal with Ginsberg and his brief reunion with Jane were just there, just things that happened but had very little consequence. I don’t care whether Roger intentionally ruined Jane’s new apartment for her, or whether he felt good or bad about it.

Perhaps I wasn’t in the right mood for Mad Men this week, or maybe it’s just because this is the second episode in a row after a run of several stellar episodes that I haven’t loved. What did you guys think?

Stray observations

  • Mystery smog of 1966 = Betty Draper (Don’t let it/her get in!)
  • Pete’s fantasy about Beth was ruined because Alexis Bledel really can’t play that character (and I was a bit uncomfortable seeing Rory Gilmore so nude) but the fact that she mentioned the Times piece was classic Pete Campbell. And of course he didn’t end up featured in it.
  • There were a lot of inappropriate-for-today but kind of hilarious Jewish remarks, mostly courtesy of Roger Sterling.
  • Do you know Don? Tall guy, short temper?