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TV Recap: Mad Men “Tea Leaves”

(Image © Lionsgate/AMC)

(Image © Lionsgate/AMC)

I wish Betty really had cancer.

Not because I hate Betty; I don’t. Don’t get me wrong, if Betty were real, there would be no way I would hang out with her (not that she would want to, anyway), but as a character I find her quite fascinating and I’m glad she’s still part of the show and part of Don’s life. But the “Betty gets fat” storyline, inspired no doubt by January Jones’ real-life pregnancy is kinda weak, and her creepy fat-face makeup is off-putting. I guess ultimately a long drawn-out cancer storyline would be a bit too maudlin for this show, but watching Betty either balloon-up or learn self-control doesn’t much appeal to me, either. She was also way too human in this one. Give me my Ice Queen, please. I would like to see Betty incorporated into the show more, somehow. I’m not sure how that would work, exactly. But I’d like to see her interacting with more of the folks at SCDP than just Don. Obviously, she and Megan will be fun to see together, too. I know we’re supposed to get that Don and Megan are doomed to failure because of the age difference, but damn it, I still like Megan and I still hope they find a way. I’m easy, though. Sing to me once in French, and I’ll forgive a lot.

I also wish Peggy had never let that smug sexist jackass Michael into the second interview with Don. He was a prick and he didn’t treat our girl with any respect, “strong-voiced” though he may be in his ads. But at least we know Peggy’s storyline this season: fighting Michael, who will no doubt wind up leap-frogging over her, career-wise.

As for Pete vs. Roger, all is right with the world again, as Pete was a needless asshole to Roger in public and I’m back on Team Sterling. I guess if you want me to sympathize with Pete, he needs to be permanently glued to Trudy’s side.

Dawn is Don’s secretary. So they didn’t just give her a token position. Cool. I hope they expand the character.

As for the general theme of the episode; “the passage of time”, well we’ve seen that on Mad Men before and no doubt we’ll see it again and even though Don and Harry’s scenes trying to woo the Rolling Stones and talking to the kids were fun, I kind of thought we were retreading a lot there. Besides, my feeling about Don is that due to the fact that he’s living a fake identity, he kind of exists “outside of time”. When the young girls at the concert where basically calling Don and old man and a square, all I could think of was Don’s crazy drug-fueled almost three-way with that couple in the hotel last year, or his impromptu getaway in California the year before. Dick Whitman is a reckless child, always waiting for a chance to make a break for it. Those girls ain’t got nothing on Dick.

Ultimately, this episode didn’t wow me too much, but it’s early still, and this is Mad Men’s way. I’ll be back next week, and so will you. Even if it’s just to watch January Jones pretend to eat a sundae.

Mad Men, Episode 5:3 “Tea Leaves”: B-

Ryan Roach lives in Studio City and suffers through traffic indignities on a daily basis. He also has a cool movie blog: