Recap: Mad Men 5×03 – Tea Leaves

I didn’t get to recap episode 1, but there are only 3 things you need to know:

  1. Don and Megan did get married
  2. Joan kept her baby
  3. Caroline is my new favorite secretary

The unthinkable has happened, ladies and gentlemen: Betty Draper got fat. Of course, next to January Jones’s normal waifish frame, any weight gain seems gargantuan in comparison.

Before an event with Henry, she’s recruited Sally and Bobby to try and zip up her too-small dress. One thing I love about this show is the genius of costume designer Janie Bryant. Betty The Ice Queen tends to have very icy hued clothing.  In comparison, in the next scene we see Megan breezily getting ready in an outfit as exotic and uber-trendy as Megan herself as the two prepare to meet with one of Don’s clients from Heinz for dinner.

The big news building back at the office is that Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has landed an account with Mohawk Airlines. Given Roger’s men-who’ve-been-to-war rapport with the Mohawk bosses, Pete tells Roger that he should handle the account.

In their last official meeting, Heinz proposed that The Rolling Stones sing a jingle for their beans commercial. I know, I know—beans and rock music are a match made in heaven, but strangely Don seems hesitant. Harry drops by Don’s office looking both thinner and somehow creepier this season, and also meeting Don’s sweet new secretary, Dawn.

Harry convinces Don to come with him to The Rolling Stones’ concert to try and get them to do the bean jingle—after all, they did a cereal commercial 3 years ago in the UK, how different can these two circumstances be??

Back in Fancy Suburbtown, Henry’s mother stops by to accuse Betty of having an affair with Bugles tell her she may want to look into getting diet pills (yikes).

Betty goes into the doctor to get a prescription for diet pills, as every housewife does, and the doctor first tells her that her weight gain is probably due to psychological problems. And Betty’s all, “Whatever, of course I’m happy with my fancy house, silver fox husband, and steady supply of Bugles. What more can I want?” The doctor gives her a check-up to be sure, and finds a lump on her thyroid gland in her throat. Betty freaks out, and when she can’t get a hold of Henry she calls Don to calm her down and to tell her everything will be ok.

The next day she goes to a cancer doctor, I guess (this is a TV blog, you expect me to know science stuffs?) and she runs into some old friend named Joyce who’s there getting cancer treatment. The two go to lunch after their appointments and Betty engages in probably the most grown-up conversation I’ve ever witnessed her having on the show. Joyce relays the hardship of juggling dealing with cancer and raising her kids, and you can see it hit Betty that everything may not be ok. Possible character development??

The incoming Mohawk account demands a new copywriter because the bosses are old school and won’t want Peggy to do it (read: they are sexist), so Peggy and Stan search through resumes. During this little bonding sesh, Stan is bizarrely…not obnoxious? Enjoyable, even? Maybe I’m just delirious. Their most promising applicant is one Michael Ginsburg, so Peggy brings him in to be interviewed. He shows up, but totally blows off the interview with her—I mean, who gets interviewed by a GIRL, am I right?? Peggy’s having none of it and curtly shows him out. Roger tells Peggy that all copywriters are disrespectful and weird, and to just hire the guy. They need a Jew anyway—“everybody’s got one.” She goes ahead and brings him in for an interview with Don, where he instead acts normal instead of the worst and Don signs him on—infuriating Peggy that Michael didn’t respect her enough to give her a proper interview. Peggy is somehow both the most successful woman on the show and the most frequent victim of sexism on the show.

Don and Harry show up to the Stones concert and it becomes apparent that there is nothing more odd than seeing Don and Harry hang out together. And I love it.

They talk up two random mod girls backstage as they wait to try and talk to the band. Random Mod Girl #1 says she can get Harry back to talk to them, and they rush off leaving Don with Random Mod Girl #2. Naturally Don turns on his advertising psychoanalysis, grilling her about what’s so special about The Rolling Stones. Harry comes running out triumphantly, saying he got them to sign on, only to have the real Rolling Stones arrive just then at another door. Apparently, Harry has mistakenly signed the opening act, The Trade Winds, and as the band rushes off backstage they miss their chance to book the Stones. Harry then mourns not being cool and Don is clearly wondering when Harry was ever cool.

At home, Don breaks the news to Megan that Betty has some sort of tumor, to which Megan flippantly (or, as she claims, “optimistically”) assumes it’s probably nothing. This scene cuts straight to Henry and Betty, where the wondrous Janie Bryant once again draws a comparison in how little-girl-like these two women are. Both women are dressed in cutesy floral prints—a nod to their infantile personalities. Only, Megan is childlike in a mildly irresponsible and free-spirited way, while Betty is childlike in an insecure and utterly dependent way.

Betty gets a phone call from her doctor and finds out her tumor is benign. While a true adult would be ecstatic at this news, Betty just complains, “It’s nice to be put through the ringer and find out I’m just fat.”

Back at SCDP, Pete gathers everyone to make a big announcement. Fresh off his exclusive Don-hangout-time, Harry greets him with, “Saturday night was fun!” and Don returns, “Ok,” only strengthening my belief that these two need to be paired together more often. Pete announces to the company they got the Mohawk account, but also slyly uses the time to announce that he will be handling the Mohawk account—leaving Roger dumbstruck and mad.

He manages to quietly storm off, and Don follows. Roger is furious at Pete for taking the account from him and feels like everyone sees him as having no real value in the company anymore except for being the S in SCDP. Apparently Roger has only just figured out that Pete is a slick, slimy jerk who is the absolute worst. Has he not been watching this show??

The final scene shows Betty and Sally eating ice cream together. Sally eats a little and then stops because she’s full (showing, you know, self-control), while Betty downs her entire glass and eats the rest of Sally’s once she leaves. At 12-years-old, Sally is honestly more woman than Betty will ever be. To send us off into the credits, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” from The Sound of Music comes over the air, perfectly summing up Betty’s constant childlike state—“You wait, little girl, on an empty stage for fate to turn the light on…”

Watch new episodes of Mad Men on Sundays on AMC at 10/9c. Next week’s episode on April 8 is a new episode entitled “Mystery Date.”

All images property of AMC.


About Kailee

Offering TV opinions and trivia to anyone that will listen since 2003.

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