'Mad Men' Episode 503, 'Tea Leaves': Betty's back!
Considering Sunday's (April 1) episode of "Mad Men" marked Jon Hamm's first time in the role of director, suffice to say the guy did good. In the episode -- technically the third of the season since the season opener counted as two eps -- we continued to see his character, Don Draper, grow as a husband and a human being. And he's not the only one who's grown.
The new Don Draper is able to resist the temptations of a teenage (although above age of consent, we're sure) flirt backstage at a Rolling Stones concert and is completely rocked when he finds out that his ex -- January Jones returning as a now portly Betty Francis -- may have cancer.
We just need to pause to applaud show creator Matt Weiner for taking Jones' character in this direction if only because it was completely unexpected that Betty would eat her depression and because it is such a perfect cover for the very real fact that she was several months pregnant when the season began taping. Although a quick comparison with several paparazzi shots of her while pregnant has us convinced that the "Mad Men" makeup department gave her a little prosthetic bulk, too.
And Betty, by the way, has grown in more ways than just girth. The moments when she comes off as a likeable character are few and far between and in Sunday's episode she was clearly humanized when confronted with a "node or nodule" on her thyroid and the possibility of dying and leaving her children behind.
But, don't worry, she became instantly annoying again when we see her at the end of the show trying to get daughter Sally ( Kiernan Shipka) to join her in scarfing down an ice cream sundae and laying the groundwork for giving Sally lifelong food issues.
More important things to know about "Tea Leaves":
-- Pete Campbell vs. Roger Sterling continues apace. Mohawk Airlines is back, largely because they remember how well Roger took care of them. That doesn't stop Pete from touting in front of the assembled company that he landed the account then informing everyone that even though "Roger will be running the day-to-day, I'll know everything he does." Your move, Sterling.
-- Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has a new employee, Michael Ginsberg. We wrote all about the new addition in another post, so read it after you're done here.
-- Megan continues to surprise us -- and Don -- with her ability to keep him off balance and happy. "You're so square you've got corners," she says to him when he's heading off to supposedly meet the Rolling Stones with Harry Crane in the hopes of landing them to sing a Hines beans jingle. She also overrules his decision to skip Fire Island with her friends and he acquiesces.
-- About the Stones. Harry thinks he got them to sign a contract, but it turns out he got totally punk'd and landed a band called Trade Winds. There were two bands by that name floating around the '60's -- one eventually became Styx. Also, Harry scarfs down like 20 White Castle burgers in a sitting while explaining to Don -- a man with a wife (technically two) and kids -- why it really sucks to have a wife and kids.
-- SCDP made good on their equal opportunity employer ad and hired the agency's first black employee. Her name is Dawn and she's Don's new secretary. What? As Don said, "She was the best qualified."
Finally, two favorite snippets from the dialogue:
Henry Francis' mom to a pudgy Betty: "There are things you can do about this, there are pills you can take."
Betty: "Then why haven't you taken them?"
Roger Sterling to Peggy on why they need to hire a new male copywriter for Mohawk rather than letting her handle the account: "They're looking for someone with a penis."
Peggy: "I'll work on that."
A sneak peek at Episode 504, "Mystery Date":