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Every week, Aaron Cohen (@UnlikelyWords) writes a recap of Mad Men for his blog Unlikely Words, and I illustrate something from the episode to go with it. Here’s Aaron’s recap for season 5 episode 7:
I’m hoping this recap gets done quickly, and I apologize in advance for any lapse in memory, analysis, or grammar. This weekend I put together the Boston Bacon and Beer Festival, and I’m exhausted. It’s a good thing I acknowledged last week my reliance on episode title for thematic guidance, because this week, “At the Codfish Ball” doesn’t help at all. Best I can tell, the title refers to a song in the 1936 Shirley Temple movie Captain January. One tenuous connection, Sally hates fish, but eats it at the ball they go to.
-My sense for the theme of the episode was generation to generation, pretty much the theme for the pitch, but also parent/child relationships. The idea is basically, things don’t change from mother to daughter, etc. This was illustrated obviously with Megan’s pitch and the inspiration for the pitch, making spaghetti for Sally and Bobby. I also saw it in Peggy looking to Joan (who is still wearing a wedding ring) for advice on dinner with Abe, and then with Peggy again when she was telling Megan to savor her success (Something like, “It’s as good as this job gets.”). Megan’s parents’ scenes fit this, as do Sally and Bobby being left alone with Henry’s mother.
-So…Creepy Glen Bishop is back, what a sketchball. First he’s in a helmet on the phone, and then a parka. It seems like he and Sally talk pretty regularly. He looks like he’s aged much more than Sally, and times are tough for him because his summer romance has hit the skids. I don’t know why he was back, except to let us know he’s still in the picture.
-Megan’s parents visiting, dad Emile is an academic, and mom Marie falls asleep with lit cigarettes and blows aging advertising executives (“We should have everything we want”). They don’t get along great, “I see she’s convinced you she’s particular. I am proof she is not.” Emile is a Marxist and is disappointed Megan appears to be settling. “You’re just like your mother.” This parental disappointment was evidenced also, with Peggy’s mother who thinks Peggy is also settling or selling herself short. I thought the whole moving in together was filmed and acted in the way… Well, if you watched the scene in the restaurant on mute, you would have assumed it was an accepted proposal. And if you watched the scene in the apartment on mute, you would have assumed they were telling Peggy’s mom for the first time. Peggy’s mom hinted at some tension when she raised an eyebrow at Abe eating ham, but then seemingly denies that has anything to do with it. I wonder if she’s more worried about Peggy living in sin than Peggy getting hurt (again). Their arrangement is from a new generation, keeping with the theme of the episode. “This boy will use you for practice.”
-”Every daughter should get to see her father be a success.” It was also excellent to see Pete charm Emilie’s pants off as evidence of what he does everyday.
-It was nice to see Mona back, I hope she’s in more of the rest of the season, and Roger has definitely got his groove. I hesitate to say got his groove back, because I’m not sure we ever saw him like this. He’s on fire. “My whole life people are telling me I don’t understand how other people think and it turns out it was true.” “I thought you married Jane because I got old, but it turns out it was because you had.” “Lots of people who haven’t taken LSD already know that, Roger.” Roger and Sally at the dinner was really funny until it wasn’t, and the scene of Sally opening the door to see Roger and Megan’s mom was reminiscent of the first scene of the season when Sally opened Don and Megan’s door to see Megan sleeping naked.
-When Sally showed off her new dress, boots, make up, it was kind of a coming out as an adult, or wanting to. (Her statement about there not being any stairs at the dinner implies she had a vision of walking down the steps into everyone’s attention.) Her outfit reminded me of what people in the 60s thought future clothing would look like, with the boots and sparkly material. This ties back to the kid from the pitch on the lunar module eating beans. Sally dressed as the future, and Don looked and saw Sally’s future or something. “Your little girl will spread her legs and fly away.” Nowhere else to put this, but noting Sally lied about how Henry’s mother tripped. Also, how do you break an ankle tripping on a phone chord? A knee, maybe.
-Peggy coming to Joan for advice on Abe. They’re hard friends, more like allies, it’s a weird relationship. “Someone dumped you?” Joan opened up to her slightly. Also, I thought Peggy’s sly smile when leaving Joan’s office was just a great shot. “I think you’re brave. I think it’s a beautiful statement, congratulations.”
-We got to see Don pitching again this episode, always worth it. Again, he doesn’t necessarily have the best ideas, but he’s the best at selling them. “It’s the future, it’s all I ever wanted.”
-Megan really is a great character. I wonder how long into the show she’ll get before the writers start making us hate her like we hate Betty. “You’re good at all of it…I was just gonna scream in his stupid face.” I can’t really tell why she wasn’t super psyched about getting Heinz. Do you have any thoughts? “I’m getting to experience my first time. This is as good as this job gets. Savor it.”
-”How could they trust you? After you bit the hand.” I don’t know if this is going to have bigger meaning in future weeks, or if it’ll just shut the door on Roger’s gold mining. It’s a sentiment that was brought up previously, maybe by Bert Cooper, maybe last season, but it was also the second time Don’s character/personality was brought up as a negative this episode (also by the wife from Ray from Heniz). Is THIS going to come up again?
-Great last line. “How’s the City?” “Dirty.”
-And no Betty…?