Mad Men

Episode Report Card
Joe R: A | 2 USERS: D+
The Winner of the Ham Battle is You
y, "It'll pass."

Oh shit, y'all, it's time for Thanksgiving at the Francis house. Henry has Betty, Sally, and Bobby with him, and they sit uncomfortably as Henry's family files into the dining room. Henry's adult daughter greets her grandmother -- Pauline -- warmly but is much cooler towards his dad and ignores the Drapers altogether. Call it a dick move if you must, but you wouldn't talk to any of them and you know it. They do manage to hand presents over to Sally and Bobby. Once everyone's seated, Henry's daughter apologizes for being late, as the traffic was murder. "That's what's become of this country," Pauline grouses. "Everyone has two Thanksgivings to go to." The pointedness of the statement is not lost on Henry, who volleys back that maybe under this circumstance, there's more to be thankful for. Betty grabs his hand in support even though she's not doing a great job of projecting someone worth giving thanks for.

Sally has barely touched her food, and ever the grandmother, Pauline notices. "Don't you like the food, dear?" Pauline asks. Sally: "No." Betty's mortified, of course, so she goes to that old standby of hers: intimidation and abuse. She tells Sally to at least eat the sweet potatoes, even pointing out that it comes with a marshmallow. Betty shoves it all into Sally's mouth, 'mallow and all. Sally gags it back, because she's as willful as her mom and juuust a bit brighter (I suspect she knows this reflects worse on Betty, tasked as she is with getting Henry's family to accept her, than it does on her). Betty yanks Sally up from her seat and drags her into the next room. "Sorry," Sally calls pitifully as she's being dragged. "It's all right dear," Pauline faux-graciously declares, as she calls Isabel in to clean the mess. Offscreen, Sally cries, "Ow! Stop pinching me!" Yeah, that girl knows exactly the game she's playing. Back at the table, Bobby cuts through the uncomfortable silence: "I love sweet potatoes." Bobby will definitely say the Gump-iest thing at any given moment. Henry calls again for Isabel.

At Don's Sad Pad, he answers a knock at the door to be greeted with a "Happy Thanksgiving" from a woman who, while I could mince words and waste both our time, is plainly a prostitute. We know this because Don pulls out his wallet immediately after she enters, because her sleek, revealing black dress speaks volumes, and because she starts shtupping Don with the dispassionate workmanship of a real pro. Cut to this proud woman riding atop a naked Don Draper (pretty much filling in the Webster's entry for "nice work if you can get it") as she calmly announces her intentions to remove her brassiere. And who could blame her, that thing's so pointed, it looks like she's wearing twin Travelocity gnomes. Don's like, "Wait, not yet [...AMC won't let us show your boobs]," but Prostitunia admonishes him not to tell her what to do. "I know what you want," she continues. And then she starts slapping him. Hard. Harder. Not that it should come as any surprise to anyone that Don would want this kind of treatment in the bedroom. After all those years married to Betty? At least now he's not getting frostbite.

Some time later, Prostitunia wakes Don up with news of a phone call. Normally she wouldn't answer, but it was the third try. Perturbed, Don takes the call. On the other line, of course, is Peggy. Was there even a question? "I need $280 for bail," she tells him. Of course she does! Though, honestly, after bailing out Don and Bobbie Barrett, Don does kind of owe Peggy one in this arena. Prostitunia takes off as Peggy hesitates to tell Don the reason. She gingerly explains the Sugarberry stunt, making sure to mention that they got them to increase their media budget. Then she mentions the actresses and how one is pressing charges against the other. "It's $80 bail and a hundred each to keep their mouths shut." Don asks why she isn't calling Pete. Peggy takes a drag of her smoke and asks if he thinks he's her first call.

Cut to Don answering the door to Peggy, who is accompanied by a diminutive gentleman-caller type, hanging back, holding a casserole dish. Don starts reading her the riot act about how he doesn't think this is funny or cute (it is) and how they should have run this by him first, and they all look like fools now (they don't, and they won't if he'll just hand over the cash, but whatevs, he's making a point). Short Guy -- Mark -- steps up to tell Don to take it easy on Peggy, at which point Don snaps at him too: "Who are you?" Mark feebly introduces himself as Peggy's fiancé. Oh REALLY? Don barely registers this as news, and Peggy tells him, quietly, "don't." Don rifles through his wallet for the cash and asks what she brought Mark up for if she didn't want him involved. Peggy's a big girl, though, and she takes her lumps and collects the money. After Don shuts his door, she turns to Mark: "Fiancé?" Mark: "It just came out."

That night, Betty and Henry are getting amorous in bed when she hears a noise out in the hallway. It's Sally, of course. She's trying to sneak a phone call to her dad. Betty takes the phone away and tells Sally she'll see Don tomorrow. And then, because so far this has been a pretty average moment devoid of the usual Betty awfulness, she adds: "Were you calling to complain about how awful I am? Don't expect any sympathy when he hears my side of the story." I know it says all sorts of terrible things about me, but Betty's awful mothering is easily my favorite thing about the character. What fresh psychological hell will she unleash on her poor doomed brats from week to week? I'm on pins and needles, giggling. Sally begs her mom not to tell her dad anything, and having successfully cowed her child, Betty orders her to bed. Back in the boudoir, Betty gets kissy again, but Henry instead proposes they wait until Don takes the kids tomorrow and they can take a little day trip. Yeah, watching Mommie Dearest doesn't exactly put me in the mood either, Henry, I feel you.

The next morning, Don shows up to pick up Sally and Bobby. Sally, for as much as she wanted to call Don last night, telegraphs her discomfort with her dad, even wiping the top of her head after he kisses it. Poor, messed up kid. Don and Betty have a terse exchange of words over baby Gene (Carla took him for the day, since Don wasn't going to and Betty and Henry have plans), and Don and Henry have an even more terse exchange about nothing at all. After Don and the kids leave, Henry and Betty get in the car, in the garage. But rather than embark on a trip up the Hudson, Henry wants to get busy right in the front seat. Where are Peggy and Joey to do the "John and Marsha" voices when we need them?

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Mad Men




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