'Mad Men' Recap: Betty's Back And Bigger Than Ever ... Literally

betty fat mad men

Photo: Mad Men

Roger Sterling hit the nail on the head when he slung back a drink and asked, “When is everything going to go back to normal?”Sorry Roger, but times they are a-changing both inside and outside the walls of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and it looks like things are never going to go back to the way they once were.

While SCDP’s first black and Jewish employees (both hired in one episode!) could have served as the major symbols of change, it was the appearance of Betty Draper Francis that stole the show: once an emblem of icy, suburban housewife perfection, she went from looking like Grace Kelly to Anna Nicole Smith (the late years).

Matthew Weiner made Betty Francis quite literally the elephant in the room.

After her notable absence during last week's two-hour season premiere, viewers wondering what the former Mrs. Draper has been up to since season four finally got their answer: Apparently Betty has been sitting on her couch in a pink mu-mu eating Bugles.

Rather than show an eight-month pregnant January Jones strategically hold groceries in front of her stomach throughout the season, Betty-hating producers had Peggy's makeup artist from season one stuff Jones in a fat suit. (That is, when they aren't employing a body double to depict the jarring image of Betty rising from a the bathtub).

After the newly self-conscious and depressed Betty misses one too many Junior League meetings, she is visited by her obese monster-in-law (who told Henry: 'I know what you see in her and you could have gotten it without marrying') and sent off to the doctor to procure diet pills.

What she ends up with is a cancer scare instead, and viewers and characters alike spend the episode wondering if her weight is a result of thyroid cancer, depression-induced eating, or a big slice of karma pie.

Before you get too sympathetic ...

After a phone call to Don (who reassures his 'Birdie' that everything will be all right), and a Christmas Carol-esque dream about her own death, we find out that the tumour is benign.

'It's nice to be put through the wringer and find out I'm just fat,' she says.

Then Betty is back to her old old self (shooting down her loving husband when he tells her he doesn't notice her weight with the retort, 'I know, your mother is obese') and her new/old self (eating double helpings of ice cream).

She also doesn't give Don a courtesy call to tell him everything is alright. Fail.

Megan Draper

There is no greater juxtaposition than Megan in a floral bikini right after a close-up of the bloated Betty.

She handles the news of Betty's potential illness with grace and sympathy but doesn't allow Don to use it as an excuse to take her for granted. When Don wants to cancel their 4th of July plans to hang out with her (presumably) cool, young friends on Fire Island, Megan calls him out for not being too overwhelmed to go to a Rolling Stones concert the night before.

Don might have bitten off more than he can chew.

Is Don getting old?

At the behest of a client, Don and Harry Crane went on the hunt to sign The Rolling Stones to make a jingle for Heinz Baked Beans. (Because what is more natural than converting 'Time Is on My Side' to 'Heinz is on my Side'?)

Don's distinguished and authoritative presence gets him nowhere backstage at the Stones concert. The managers won't let him meet the band, and the 16-year-old groupies agree with Megan's assertion that he looks 'so square, you've got corners.'

Harry Crane

Harry does slightly better in the cool department--a turtleneck!--but he still comes up short.

He mistakes band called The Tradewinds for the Stones and accidentally signs them. Although this might not be the worst thing in the world: It turns out that The Tradewinds were actually an early form of Styx.

Mohawk Airlines

While Harry and Don are out on their wild and crazy adventure, the rest of the agency is working on signing former client Mohawk Air.

Even though they end up winning the account, at the end of the day it feels like everyone is getting screwed.

In spite of her qualifications, Peggy can't work on the account since she is lacking male genitalia ('I'll work on that,' she assures Roger). And even though Roger wins the account with his charming ways, Pete steals the glory.

New character: Michael Ginsberg

On the hunt to hire someone who fits Mohawk's copywriter requirements Peggy interviews, dislikes, and later hires Michael Ginsberg, SCDP's debut Jew.

He keeps a rolled up resume in his pocket that says he's related to Allen Ginsberg; he wants to work for Don Draper more than anything; and in spite of being very rough around the edges, his copy has real voice (he adds, 'that's what they said about like Mein Kampf').

Ginsberg's Judaism doesn't hold him back in the application process--in fact Roger notes that it makes the firm look more modern.

With the chalk-and-cheese chemistry between whacky Ginsberg and straitlaced Peggy, it looks like Peggy's lefty journalist boyfriend has some competition.

A new Dawn at the agency.

Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce welcomed another minority into its waspy halls: Dawn, Don's new secretary.

Dawn wasn't around to hear Roger's outright racism and tactfully ignored Harry Crane's uncomfortable remarks, 'It's really hard to tell who's who.' Hopefully her character will get to do more than be the butt of jocular wordplay.

And finally, Roger.

Roger's role within the agency might be diminishing, but he is still in heavy supply of one-liners. (Only one upped by Ginsberg's father who announces to his son, 'we should get women, an old one and a young one.')

One particularly notable comment, however, occurs after Roger meets SCDP's newest copywriter: 'Turns out we both have a dream of throwing something through this window.'

What is with all of this jumping/falling/throwing out of a window imagery. I know, I know, it's become a symbol of the show, represents helplessness, blah, blah, blah ... but is this also foreshadowing someone actually jumping from a building? Last week it was Megan staring longingly off her balcony.

Thoughts?

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