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Mad Men Review: Take A Load Off, Betty

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She's just fat.

Since many fans of Mad Men have professed their hatred for Betty Draper/Francis over the years, I'm sure very few were sad to see that she added weight gain to her constant state of sadness during the hiatus.

Betty's increased size, which was a way of covering up January Jones' real life pregnancy, Betty's health scare and how everyone reacted to both covered a majority of what happened in "Tea Leaves."

Megan and Dox

Unlike many Mad Men viewers, I have always enjoyed the character of Betty. She has always been interesting to me, whether it be her relationship with Don, how she treated the children,or her new marriage to Henry. Her actions here were no different.

Most interesting? Her reaction to finding out that her tumor was in fact benign. "It's nice to be put through the ringer and find out... I'm just fat," she said after hearing the news. In that moment, it was difficult to tell whether she was just frustrated, or if Betty might have really preferred dying over simply being an overweight woman. At least the former makes her special.

Now, without the cancer, Betty has to come to terms with the fact that she is a depressed, obese woman, who eats both her own and her daughter's ice cream and may or may not have a stronger connection to her ex-husband than her current one.

I mention that last piece because of the phone call she made to Don. She called him quickly, and she never told Henry that she had talked to her ex. Betty needed Don to tell her that everything was going to be okay. It couldn't be just anyone. She needs Don Draper to be there for her... and don't we all?

A number of other reactions to the situation were nearly as interesting. Henry seemed genuinely happy that Betty was not dying, but supremely angry that she called Don about it. Don, meanwhile, wanted to be there for Betty, but didn't want to tell Megan about it because he had no idea how she would react.

And the new Mrs. Draper, well, she was all over the place. Megan was strong in hearing the news, but then acted a bit too quickly in volunteering to be the children's new mother. When Don stopped her, she then swept it under the rug and moved on as quickly as Harry Crane accepts an offer to hit some weed.

The three other stories in "Tea Leaves" were also intriguing, if a bit slow moving. My favorite had to be Peggy and her hiring of Michael Ginsberg, played by Ben Feldman. We could be in for some fun times with Michael working on the Mohawk account, as Feldman's over the top New York Jewish bit could work for a while.

If anything, his appearance is good for Roger Sterling. He's still as racist as ever, as was apparent in referring to Don's new secretary as "It's Always Darkest Before The Dawn," but even Roger realizes that having a Jewish copywriter shows that the company is more modern, and that' a big step for Mr. Sterling.

Do you know what else was a big step for Roger? The one Pete Campbell took right on his face? Roger put in the effort to get Mohawk on board, and little Petey swooped in, took all the credit, and swiped Roger to the side. It probably felt weird from the other side for Roger, but this he might have to get used to it, as Pete is slowly but surely becoming the face of SCDP.

Finally, Don and Harry adventuring in the back stage area of a Rolling Stones concert was fun. It was nice to see Harry's affinity towards Don, and it was nice to see Don's apathy towards Harry. The highlight of the night was either Harry eating that entire bag of food, or the fact that he thought the Trade Winds were the Stones.

It might have been a slow burn, but still much went down in "Tea Leaves." What was your favorite part of the episode? And did it measure up to last week's season premiere? Take a look at some of the best lines of the night in our Mad Men quotes section, take the poll below, and then sound off in the comments!

Which part of "Tea Leaves" was most interesting?

 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (59 Votes)

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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I didn't like the episode at all. Why did they hire another obnoxius employee like Michael when they all ready have Harry and that other buffoon that works with Peggy. I still like the show but if I had to make a choice between 'Dance Moms' and 'Mad Men' - I can't say MM would win hands down. I'll continue to watch because I remember the Boujolie lipstick and Kodak Carosel pitches. But I'm starting to find it harder and harder to believe they came from the same show.

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Honestly, I want to like Megan more than I do. Her character is just poorly planned. We never saw her developed.

Ava-mila

@stbob that wasn't Don's ex, that was the wife of the real Don Draper, the one from who Dick took his new identity. He was obligated to take care of her cause she accepted him and was a long time the only one who knew about his secret. He loved her as his only real friend. He was really worried about Betty, he has to have a little love for her somewhere. And I think they could be happy if they both weren't so immature and confused with who they are.
I don't know, maybe Megan is good for Don, but her reaction to the news that Betty is healthy was so cold, if she is this positive person you talk about she would have been way more relieved that her husband's kids won't loose their mother.
And she is so ambitious, she told Peggy she want's to be like her. And Peggy really hates her, but I think that has a lot to do with jealousy.
She uses Don to get what she wants since she was only his secretary before they got married and that's all why I think her positive energy and everything is just an act and that she has an evil side.

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They need to add depth to Megan's character. Right now she's too static, so of course we suspect her of foul motives. This is Mad Men. I felt so bad for Roger. He looked crushed. Pete, is growing more and more greedy for power. Before, he had some redeemable qualities but now we're seeing the ugly side of ambition. He made me feel sorry Roger Sterling, that takes a lot. I loved the Peggy and Micheal interaction. It was a reminder that Peggy was still judged for being a woman. Also that men could get away with being eccentric but Peggy would never had made it if she'd acted the same way. I like Micheal a lot. He's NOT what I expected when they talked about a new hire.

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I think the reason we all suspect Megan as being evil is because she's so cheerful all the time. We're used to Don and Betty, we first saw them when they'd been married a long time. I'm sure as newly weds they were happy. I wish they'd do an episode where we get to see Don reflect back on the happier days with Betty, the beginning of their family. I think Megan is extremely out of place. We all saw her struggle at that dinner. Betty would have aced that, it came with years and years of training. I don't Megan knew how to react to Don's news about Betty. I think she was trying to be positive and it ended up sounding callous. Also, I think she wants a family. This may become a struggle between the new Drapers.

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Don already had one ex lover that he looked out for while she died of cancer remember? He seems to like that role especially when it doesn't involve any commitment. Just don't expect him to do anything Betty other than paint your walls or give your drapes an occasional fluffing.

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The most interesting storyline for me is the ever-growing animosity and back biting between Roger and Pete. There have been LOTS of references to windows so far in Season 5 (too many to mention here and if you're as avid a fan as I, you practically can recite the dialog so far). Don says "our windowns are always open"; Y&R jerks throw water balloons out of windows; and last night when Ginsburg is waiting on the couch for Peggy, Roger is next to him also staring out of the window. Roger says something like "we're both thinking the same thing...throwing something out of the window." Keep that thought...now remember way back when Abe is trying to woo Peggy, shows up at the office, and presents her with his manifesto entitled "Murder on Madison Ave". As I have come to realize Matt Weiner sooner or later reveals that EVERYTHING that someone says eventually plays out. Back to the window...I think Pete and Roger and going to get into a physical fight and Pete will either be pushed out, or accidnetally fall out, of a window. Murder on Madison Avenuye will come to life, but not quite the way Abe foresaw it.

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Jon Hamm is basically Fabio - http://bit.ly/HfWJ7c #MadMen

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I was glad to see Betty; she is actually one of my favorite characters; the acerbic wit that comes from her great! And as the other comment said, I can't stand Pete either!
And I was thinking the same thing someone else said; I'm not sure that she was truthful about the phone call to Henry,and I think she will reveal the truth to Don; so if she tells him it is benign I will then believe it...

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I don't understand seeing Meghan as "evil." I think of her as the counterpoint to the ancien' regime. She is positive energy, look on the bright side, take things as they come and try to do right by them. It's interesting to watch Don try to deal with that. I posted on my own blog (barbarasbookhouse) reading material suggestions for Mad Men background. One of them was The Valley of the Dolls, published in 1966, the very year of this season. I'm sure Weiner is well aware of that fact, and as January Jones looked very much her old self when I saw her on Charlie Rose recently, I'm wondering if Betty doesn't get back to where she once belonged by taking a shortcut through the Valley.

Mad Men Season 5 Episode 5 Quotes

Don: Mohawk is going to insist on a regular copywriter.
Roger: Someone with a penis.
Peggy: I'll work on that.

Megan: Time is on my side.
Raymond: Yes it is, dear.

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