Mad Men Recap: The Parent Trap

Parental disapproval played big in this week’s Mad Men — and Betty wasn’t even around! Megan got a dressing-down, Peggy got an I-told-you-so, and Roger got a… well, let’s go ahead and take a look at what happened during “At the Codfish Ball.”

Not just a pretty face Megan asked her hubby for a moment of his in-office time, and he gladly agreed. “No, pervert, this is about work,” she teased, then pitched a pretty perfect idea for the troublesome Heinz account: moms throughout history — and into the future — serving their children beans, with the tagline, “Heinz beans: Some things never change.” Though his surprise was palpable, Don praised her work and called Michael and Stan in to redo the whole campaign before the client meeting. “Tell them it was your idea,” she said, worried that the creative team would be mad at her, but Don nudged her to admit that she really wanted — and deserved — the credit. The comely Mrs. Draper followed up that win with an even bigger one at dinner with Raymond, the Heinz exec who hated Peggy’s previous efforts; his wife; Ken; and his wife, Cynthia. During a trip to the powder room, Alice let it slip that she hoped she and Megan could stay friends after Heinz’s business with Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce was done. “We’re getting fired,” Megan whispered in Don’s ear as she returned to the table, then effortlessly set up her husband to deliver her beans-through-time pitch before Raymond and his missus could leave for the night. The Drapers played the situation with the timing of a well-rehearsed vaudeville duo — right down to fawning over Raymond’s suggestion about how to cast the commercial — and when Don called the pitch a “once-in-a-lifetime idea,” the bean boss was sold. In the cab, Don lustily told Megan he couldn’t wait to get her home, but they quickly realized they’d have to have their naked celebration at the office, thanks to their full house. Speaking of which…

Meet the parents | Megan’s parents, Emile and Marie, made their first visit to their daughter’s new home right around the same time that Don’s two oldest kids also showed up, thanks to babysitter Grandma Pauline breaking her ankle while Betty, Gene, and Henry were on a trip to Michigan. Sally happily took credit for keeping calm during the emergency and conveniently glossed over the fact that her pill-pushing grandmother had tripped on the cord to the phone Sally had dragged into the bedroom to call Glen at boarding school. (It’s times like these I miss Betty. She could smell a lie from her daughter like three-day-old fish.) Don’s consternation throughout his in-laws’ stay — were they disapproving? Or just foreign? — wasn’t helped by their distaste for his profession, their arguments about Emile’s infidelity, and their tendency to have entire conversations in French. (Casting kudos: Julia Ormond and Ronald Guttman were great choices for Megan’s folks.) But Don continued to try to please them, including inviting them to join him, Megan, and Sally when he was honored by the American Cancer Society for his “Why I’m quitting tobacco” ad from last season.

It’s all happening | Roger’s recent acid experiment made quite the impression; we saw him recounting it in tones of awe to his ex-wife, Mona — “I took LSD. I went on a trip,” he told her, and it sounded exactly the way it sounds when your grandparents talk about texting: just wrong, somehow — and Don later mocked him that the insights he’d gathered on his mystical voyage were kinda mundane. But Sterling asserted that he was seeing the world with new eyes, and that the American Cancer Society ceremony was a great place to drum up new business. Don disagreed, but Roger posited that good people throughout history could have had ulterior motives for their selflessness. “For all we know,” he observed, “Jesus was trying to get the loaves and fishes account.” At the awards dinner, Roger gave a very grown-up looking Sally a hilarious running commentary on the other attendees while flirting with Marie across the table throughout the meal. (A moment, please, for Megan and Marie’s gowns. I die.) But things went south for everyone after the entree course. Don accepted the accolade but was later informed by Ken’s father-in-law, Ed, that no one in the room would give him their business. “They love your work, they all do, but they don’t like you,” he said, adding that they wouldn’t trust him after the way he “bit the hand.” Meanwhile, Megan’s Marxist professor father took advantage of a quiet moment at the table to express his disappointment in Megan’s choice of husband and life. “I hate that you gave up,” he said, bringing her close to tears. “Don’t let your love for this man stop you from doing what you wanted to do.” That’s funny, because in another room down the hall, Marie wasn’t letting her love for Emile stop her from doing what she wanted to do — and Sally had the misfortune to walk in on her step-grandmother giving Roger a blow-by-blow account of how just much she liked him. Does this show have a public sex act-per-episode quota it’s trying to meet? Just wondering. Sally, traumatized, later phoned Glen to tell him that New York was “dirty.” At least you didn’t wind up under some furniture and zonked out on pills like the last time your mom went out of town, Sally, so let’s consider the evening a success.

Living in sin | Abe joined Peggy, Michael, and Stan for some Chinese at the office, but took off when the advertising kids’ conversation left him cold. He later called to insist that Peggy meet him for dinner that night, which made her think he was going to end their relationship. Thank goodness Joan’s back! “Men don’t take the time to end things. They ignore you until you insist on a declaration of hate,” she asserted. (Preach, sister.) The redhead said it was far more likely that Abe was preparing to propose than to cut Peggy loose, adding, “You’d better have your answer prepared, especially if it’s no.” Peggy gussied herself up and arrived at the restaurant pretty clearly expecting Abe to offer a ring and was pretty clearly disappointed when he instead wanted to cohabitate. But she covered nicely, smiling as she said yes and saving her sad face for when he peered down at the menu. But Peggy’s kerfuffled emotional state didn’t stop her from sincerely congratulating Megan about the Heinz homerun the next day at the office. “This is as great at this job gets,” Peggy advised. “Savor it.” But dinner with Mama Olsen went about as well as you’d expect; remember, this is the same woman who regularly has the parish priest over for dinner. Her parting shot: “If you’re lonely, get a cat. They live 13 years. Then you get another one, and another one. After that, then you’re done. Thank you for dinner.”

What did you think of this week’s Mad Men? Did you love the irony of the ACS attendees smoking during the ceremony? Did you laugh out loud at Pete’s demonstration of his advertising abilities? And do you agree with me that Glen is on his way to pulling a Neville Longbottom and showing up handsome and dashing at a point in the not-too-distant future? Let’s hear it in the comments!

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