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MAD MEN RECAP 8: DARK SHADOWS

Press Play By Deborah Lipp | Press Play May 14, 2012 at 1:12AM

"I’m thankful that I have everything I want, and that no one else has anything better."
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A second, connected theme is secrecy, and people being outed. This is threaded throughout Dark Shadows: Secrets and the ability to expose secrets represent power, and power is what our characters compete for. Nothing is more insidious than Betty's "sweetly" mentioning Anna Draper to Sally (watch it below):

In Betty's version of self-revelation at her Weight Watchers' meeting, she's so vague as to border on meaningless: She says merely that she experienced something that upset her. What upset her was another person's happiness. Don and Megan have a magnificent apartment, and Megan has a young, beautiful body. Betty can barely contain how awful this makes her feel. Inadvertently finding a love note from Don to Megan puts her over the edge: It's simply not okay for them to be in love, for Don to be sweet to Megan, for the Draper apartment to be more beautiful than the Francis house. (By the way, Megan is wrong about the distance; it's 25 miles from Rye to 73rd and Park.)

Betty setting up Sally to ask just the right question to create havoc reminds me so much of Betty setting up Sara Beth in the Season 2 episode Six Month Leave (Betty has an Episode 9 pattern, I guess). She manages her feelings by making others suffer, this time in an episode where the Weight Watchers leader talks about stuffing the feelings you can't express using food. Betty wants to feel differently; swallowing the mouthful of canned whipped cream and then spitting it out is a perfect encapsulation of that YES NO YES NO feeling; wanting and not wanting, stuffing and letting it out. She offers just the right kind of support and wisdom to Henry even while spreading her poison.

So, Betty tries to use outing someone's secret as a weapon, and we get a sense of that with Jane and Ginsberg, too: Jewishness is a secret you have to keep in Roger's social circles, a secret Roger required Jane to keep. Now he expresses power over her by pushing that secret out of the shadows. Roger wants Ginsberg to keep a secret and he says no; Peggy kept a secret for Roger, and each was paid for it (although Peggy was paid a lot more). Whoever holds the reins to a secret is ahead in this "doggy dog world."

Some additional thoughts:

  • Henry wonders if he "bet on the wrong horse" for nothing. It seems like Betty is wondering the same, and Henry is that horse.
  • It looks like a senility plot might be in Bert Cooper's future. Correcting "hip" for "hep" makes him seem amusingly out of touch, but not knowing that Roger and Jane are divorcing could be a bad sign.
  • Betty really enjoys food this episode: Whether it's her meager breakfast, or a bit of steak, or a tiny bit of Thanksgiving dinner, she chews with gusto. In past seasons, when thin, she barely ate at all. Allowing herself or not allowing herself to experience pleasure is a whole motif with this character. At least chewing is some kind of start.
  • On the other hand, I feel like the chin appliance gets in the way of January Jones's ability to use her face expressively.
  • Okay, fine, I said I wouldn't, but I'll give quote of the week to this: Peggy: "You are not loyal. You only think about yourself." Roger: "Were we married? Because you’re thinking about yourself too. That’s the way it is, it’s every man for himself."

Deborah Lipp is the co-owner of Basket of Kisses, whose motto is "smart discussion about smart television." She is the author of six books, including "The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book."

Watch Mad Men Moments, a series of videos on Mad Men, produced by Indiewire Press Play.

This article is related to: TV Reviews, Deborah Lipp, Mad Men, indieWIRE Video, Video, MAD MEN Recaps (Deborah Lipp)


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