'Mad Men' recap: Season 5, Episode 9: 'Dark Shadows'

It's Thanksgiving! So naturally everyone is mad at each other.

  • Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka) had a very revealing family tree project to work on.
Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka) had a very revealing family tree… (Frank Ockenfels/AMC )
May 14, 2012|By Jordan Bartel

"The air is toxic. I don't want that in here." -- Megan Draper

Sure, Megan was talking about the smog alert. But she was also basically summarizing what all of "Dark Shadows" was about. Everyone is angry. At everyone else. No one is happy.

Not one bit.

Oh, and it's Thanksgiving. Can't wait to see what sort of anger explodes come Christmas.

There were so many inter-personal battles this episode, so let's run through them all, shall we?


Betty vs. Don vs. Megan vs. Sally vs. weight

Yup, Betty is back. A little less plump, but a bit more bitchy. Remember bitch Betty? Or "normal Betty" as most call her? Apparently, Betty has still not gotten over the fact that Don is with Megan. At all. Henry basically adding nothing to the relatuonship but boring local politics talk ("I picked the wrong horse") is not helping.

Betty's at Weight Watchers, which, yes, existed in 1966 in what appears to be embryonic form (the meeting looks to be in a classroom and there's writing on a blackboard. Jennifer Hudson, take notes). Women are there rejoicing that they've lost 1/2 of a pound and such. Betty seethes, perhaps also really, really hungry after her meal of burnt toast, cheese cubes (carefully weighed!) and grapefruit.

How will hungry Betty make herself feel better when food's not an option? Bounce on Don's past.

Betty's already angry because she found a note from Don to Megan that was really cute: about how he was going out for light bulbs and when he comes back he will be able to see her better. That would make one good ad, Don. I would buy those lights.

Anyway, Sally is working on a family tree project (uh-oh) and Betty "let's it slip" that daddy had a wife before her and Megan: Anna Draper. "She's deceased," Betty says to her daughter. "I don't know why Megan didn't tell you. Ask her."

Sally Draper's 50-year psychotherapy begins now.

Sally's upset and lashes out at Megan, who knows everything about Anna and gives Sally basic details about it. "Guess what? You're not special. And neither is Anna," Sally remarks cuttingly. This family tree project just got real.

Megan does the right thing and tells Don about what happened, even though she promised Sally she wouldn't.  He immediately grabs the phone to call Betty (isn't it interesting that Don and Betty never spoke through this whole episode?) since he's mad that Betty's "sticking her fat nose" in his business."

Megan remarks that Don is letting his ex "poison us from 50 miles away," which is perhaps the most mature thing the new Mrs. Draper has ever said. He decides to let it go and not give Betty the satisfaction of a phone-call fight.

Later, Betty finds out Sally got an A+ on her (really confusing/messed up) family tree project, and she asks her daughter how Don and Megan dealt with the whole Anna situation (Don, for the record, handled it in the best way possible with Sally: giving her the basic facts about Anna while not revealing every single Dick Whitman issue).

"Daddy showed me pictures and they spoke very fondly of her," Sally responds before scurrying off and leaving Betty to throw something off the kitchen table. Take that, bitter Betty.

In the end, Betty's life-ruining plan has failed. The unhappy Francis family sits around the table and says what they're thankful for. It should have been a silent table, but Betty ends in this head-shaker of a comment: "I'm thankful that I have everything I want and no one else has anything better."

Who says something like that? 1966 Weight Watchers Betty, that's who.

Don vs. Michael Ginsberg

We haven't seen Don and Michael interact much apart from Don approving of Michael's really good ideas and being annoyed by his jokes. Michael is the anti-Don Draper, after all.

But there's real tension there. On a weekend, Don is in the office, striving to drum up some new ideas in that stressed brain of his. He walks into the Creative office and spots some proposals for the new Sno Ball account (check: sort-of Baltimore reference) and is impressed with Michael's ideas of cops and other hated people getting hit in the face.

Don seems to think he has a better idea, involving the devil and hell (Sno Ball's chance in hell, after all. That Don is super-innovative) and decides to show Michael that he's the boss and, of course, he's not threatened AT ALL by his underling's creativity.

Don's Sno Ball idea is no Kodak Carousel (like, at all), but he ends up pitching his devil idea because -- oops! -- he leaves Michael's sketches in the cab on the way to the meeting.

Sno Ball loves the devil idea, but when Michael learns what Don did he sulks and later confronts him in the elevator about it (a ballsy move I didn't expect from Michael).

"I feel bad for you," Michael says to Don, hitting the nail on the insecure head.

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