Mad Men Review: Pity, Dirty, Funny
Like many Mad Men episodes, and the series in general, "At the Codfish Ball" was a slow burn. It was taking so long to build up that I was ready to unabashedly declare it the worst hour of the season thus far.
Fortunately, once the Draper clan made its way to the eponymous gala, there was so much to adore that the lack of previous enjoyment was forgiven.
It is so often the little things that make Mad Men such a treat, and nothing epitomized that more than the quick conversation between Pete and Dr. Emile at the event. Of course Emile takes on the opinion that an account man does absolutely nothing at the company. Thankfully, after listening to the academic complain and condescend all episode long, Pete Campbell put him in his place if just for a few moments.
Emile was certainly an easy target, what with his ego ready to burst anyway, but it was a treat to watch Pete do what he does in a matter of seconds.
They were all there to watch Don receive his award, and that he did. What he probably didn't think he would here that night was the fact that nobody in the business liked him or would work with him because of his open letter a ways back. How could they trust you after the way you bit the hand? Ken's father-in-law asked Don.
I'm not sure when this episode was filmed, but Jon Hamm was so good at showing disbelief in that moment that I wouldn't be surprised if someone was behind the camera telling him Albert Pujols had signed with the Angels.
Poor Megan. She achieved what was probably her most significant professional moment ever the night before, but all she hears from her disapproving father is how much she is giving up for Don. Really, Emile? She's on her way to being the top female copywriter at a major New York Advertising Agency, but it means nothing because she's married to a man with some money? Is this guy super wrapped up in his ideas, or is he just impossible to make happy?
Whether he's happy or not, Emile certainly isn't making his wife happy. Marie gave off a great first impression. After drinking herself stupid for a few days straight, she then jumped at the chance to hit Roger Sterling with the old downstairs make out sesh on the piano. The only person who is probably more scarred than us viewers is Sally Draper.
Yes Sally, the city is dirty, and you witnessed it firsthand. The worst part of it is that the act most likely ruined what was working out to be a fantastic duo. Roger and Sally were so enjoyable to watch at the dinner. Whether it was tag-teaming clients, or just him simply buying her Shirley Temples and making alcoholism jokes, these two were fun. We'll never get to see that again. She'll probably tear her own eyes out first.
After all that went down in the final few moments of "At the Codfish Ball," there couldn't have been a more satisfying ending than watching the entire Draper gang sit down at the table mostly befuddled by the events that had just taken place.
The other half of the episode was much less interesting. Whenever Peggy's family gets involved, I could usually care less. I was tired of the story even before her mom came in and started yelling at her for moving in with Honest Abe.
Thankfully, the hour also included Sally almost killing Momma Francis with the telephone, Don and Megan's fantastic tag-team pitch to Heinz at dinner and the ridiculous moment when Sally came out in an adult looking dress only for Emile to make a ridiculously inappropriate comment about her soon spreading her legs.
"At the Codfish Ball" brought us back to normal on a structural level after last week's trio of trips, but it also left me wanting more up until the final 15 minutes or so. What did you think of the episode? How great was Megan's pitch? And who do you think had the worst time at the ball?
Mad Men: "At the Codfish Ball"
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.