Mad Men 5.03 – Tea Leaves

So. Don hired a secretary named Dawn, Pete arranged his office just like Don’s, the better to continue his power struggle with Roger, Betty still reaches for Don in moments of panic (also has the cutest quilted house robes ever), Don still takes Betty’s crises personally, Megan has a decent attitude about the whole thing, Peggy has to hire a new copywriter because the people at Mohawk are sexist anti-semites, and comes up with my favorite new character since Joyce, David Mamet’s daughter, something Ginsburg in a checked coat and a clashy tie.

This episode gave us a health scare for Betty–after her pushy mother-in-law sends her to the doctor for diet pills, she has to have a biopsy for a growth on her thyroid. After the doctor’s visit, at lunch with a Convenient Acquaintance she ran into in the waiting room, a medium comes up to read her tea leaves. Right after confiding her fears that her kids will be raised by Don and his “20-year-old girlfriend” she has to hear someone bullshit about what a Rock she is and how appreciated by the people in her life. Compare that to the times Don had his tarot read. Ouch. But then, compare Henry’s reaction to her eventual negative biopsy results to the way Don handled her numb hands and anxiety in season 1. The reassurance she gets from Henry makes her forget to even call Don back.

And Don and Harry backstage for the Rolling Stones. Oy. I went and looked up the Trade Winds. Harry’s such a tool–I remember when Don actually liked him. They bonded when they were both sleeping on office couches in their briefs, remember? The young woman Don was talking to about why she wanted to get backstage reminded me of Joy, from when Don went walkabout at the end of Season 2. The 60s are pushing the 50s sensibility of earlier seasons out of the way, and running screaming down the hall in search of Mick Jagger.

So far the conflict between what people want and what others think they want seems pretty huge. Last episode we had Don and Megan, this episode we had Betty and Henry. “I thought that’s what you wanted.” If advertising is in the business of making people want things, Mad Men characters sure spend a lot of time cut off from their wants and needs.

I loved the episode ending–Betty has finished a sundae (we almost never see her eat, very few instances where she has something sweet), and starts on Sally’s untouched ice cream, looking like a kid in a candy store. Even if this story line was enhanced to accomodate her pregnancy, it’s still nice to see her just…enjoy something, even as simple as hot fudge.

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