In a new and shocking direction for the show I like to call The Many Mommy Issues of Don Draper, this week’s Mad Men is all about power struggles in families. Betty and Henry clash over how to deal with Sally and what it’s okay for Betty to bother her pretty little head over. Megan and Don have a super weird subliminal argument over Anna Draper’s pregnant niece that culminatesin a super awkward threesome. And Peggy deals with a rift in her own work family when Ginbserg— WHY WOULD YOU WHAT WHY NO.
Betty is prepping for a dinner party in this profoundly ugly blue peasant gown. Does it scream “Republican wife of a politician in 1969?” Sure does. Is that a fashion statement that anyone else should emulate?
But once the dinner party hits, she goes into pink and yellow florals and stays there for the rest of the episode.
These looks are all very Betty Francis: stylish, immaculate, and icy. (Imagine how much hairspray she must have used for that dinner party look. Two cans? Three? The beauty queens of Dallas got nothing on Betty when it comes to tall hair.)
They’re also very feminine and domestic, just like Henry wants Betty to be: the uniform of a woman who passes the perfect nose onto her daughter, not a woman who shares her views on the Vietnam War at a dinner party. (Sidebar: “I’m not stupid. I speak Italian.” That’s the best Betty line since “It’s just that my people are Nordic,” yes?)
But the thing is, Betty kind of sucks at being domestic. Maybe turning her mind to public service would finally give her a use for all that pent-up rage? A scary, Margaret Thatcher-like use, sure, but I bet Bobby and Sally would be grateful to be spared her wrath.
Get Sally’s teen rebellion outfit! There’s no good head-to-toe shot of her, but trust me on this: she’s wearing prim little loafers with that artfully tasseled poncho. This is aggressively 1969 and would look ridiculous on a teenager today (or, you know, anyone), but as a sign of Sally’s adolescent angst, it’s pretty fab. How perfect was, “It’s a nose job, not an abortion”?
The poncho also ties Sally over to the Megan and Don storyline. Let’s take a look at the extremely bedraggled and pregnant Stephanie.
Yup, that’s a drapey knit with the same silhouette as Sally’s poncho under that twelve pounds of dirt and unwashed hair. This is the authentic version of the counterculture that Sally’s imitating, and wow, is it wildly unappealing. All those germs can’t be good for the baby, honey.
But when Megan’s done with her, Stephanie is, in her own words, a Madonna.
Look at her, all maternal and swathed in Megan’s dreamy, frilly pink robe. This is what the ideal woman looks like in this episode: it’s what Harry wants Betty to be, and it’s what Megan thinks Don wants.
Megan, meanwhile, starts the episode in a California version of Betty’s outfits. The soft fabric and romantic strings of beads are downright contemporary with my 2014 goggles on, and is anyone else wracked with envy at Jessica Paré’s ability to wear that shade of yellow without looking like she’s dying of tuberculosis?
This is Megan’s version of The Perfect Housewife, and it’s what she puts on to welcome home her husband and Stephanie, the walking Electra complex.
So remember way back in season four when you saw Stephanie for the first time, and your first reaction was, “Oh, Don’s gonna nail her?” Megan’s no fool. She’s seen this show too, and she thought the exact same thing. Which is why she ditches the housewife drag and slips into this glamorous little minidress.
BORN TO WEAR IT. Those purple swirls are perilously close to paisley, but Megan pulls it off. This is an updated version of her Zou Bisou dress, and she uses it to put on another show for her husband. And then, like a totally reasonable and sane person in a totally healthy relationship, she pressures him into having a stoned threesome with her and a friend. Not because she particularly wants to, but because she thinks it will save her marriage.
The next morning Megan triumphantly reclaims the bathrobe, like, “Behold! This acrylic pink robe signifies that I am a successful woman who has pleased her husband and usurped the position of power in my domestic establishment.”
But I guess awkward stoned threesomes are not endorsed by marriage counselors as a good way to salvage a relationship with an alcoholic philanderer/pathological liar. Who knew?
Cheer up, Megan. At least your weekend was better than Peggy’s.
Look at this hideous outfit! The pink of the…turtleneck vest…thing…clashes so perfectly with the red slacks. And that dingy white ribbed shirt underneath! It’s kind of refreshing, right? With Megan spending all of her time swanning around in minidresses and Betty’s elaborate coiffures and Joan living in fitted sheaths (missed you this week, Joanie!), it’s kind of nice that Peggy’s all “Fuck that shit. I’ll put in the effort to look presentable at work, but otherwise, why bother?”
This is what she wears to watch TV and eat pretzels with the neighborhood kid, before Ginsberg barges in — yet another domestic mother/child situation that gets interrupted by a man, just like Betty and Sally with Henry or Megan and Stephanie with Don. Only Henry and Don weren’t in the middle of a schizophrenic breakdown, unlike Ginsberg.
Oh, Ginsberg. Okay. So…all I can figure is that Ginsberg travelled forward in time to the twenty-first century, decided to check out the latest in sketch comedy, saw “Dick in a Box,” but decided it didn’t go far enough. So he cuts off his nipple, puts it in a box, and gives it to Peggy.
At least Peggy can take comfort in the fact that this is her best navy blue sheath dress yet. The fit is perfect on her, and those gold chains are darling. She can clutch them for comfort! After receiving a severed nipple in a box. Hey, it’s something.
Meanwhile, Don makes his own power play (yes! I’m riding this family power dynamic theme all the way to the end of the recap, babes), as he offers to humble himself to a tobacco company in order to regain control of SC&P.
Cutler doesn’t seem too thrilled at him, but Don’s got a little of his old swagger back at the end of the episode. It’s all very “Daddy’s home, kids.” But will the rest of the partners let him take the reins without a fight? My money’s on Joan to raise hell — and I can’t wait to see it.