“Dark Shadows” references the same soap opera from the recently released Tim Burton movie. It’s the script Megan and her friend read at the episode’s beginning. The soap opera, in a way, could be viewed as a parallel for Mad Men. It also references each character’s depression, insecurities and fear lurking internally. Each character is out for him or herself in this episode and willing to prey on each other’s basest insecurity.
Betty returns, still dieting and depressed. This time, she’s attending Weight Watchers meetings. She visits Don’s apartment and sees both the younger, skinnier Megan getting dressed through the window and the modern, glamorous life she doesn’t have. This exacerbates an already latent depression. Henry’s work mistake of betting on the wrong candidate, parallels what she feels has happened in her personal life. She mollifies him, and herself, with the same vapid cliches from the Weight Watchers clinic. She stabs at Don’s happiness, by casually mentioning Anna to Sally and hitting at Don’s weakest point, after inadvertently reading a sweet note he wrote for Megan. She blurts out an awkward comment about wanting no one to have more than she has, at a cringe-worthy Thanksgiving dinner.
Perhaps, it is because the denial of food is the one human condition January Jones grasps, but this was some of her best acting on the series. The mouthful of whipped cream spit out, the bite of steak and gulping down the small portion of Thanksgiving dinner were very believable.
Don continues rekindling his writing career. He struggles. He notices Ginsburg’s name on all of “his” work. Joan tries to smooth that over by praising his skill as a “director.” Don decides to beat Ginsburg. He comes into work on the weekends, scours Ginsburg’s notebook to come up with a better idea for SnoBall and dusts off his tape recorder. He comes up with a pitch, good but not great. He wins out by “leaving” Ginsburg’s better idea in the cab before he goes into the meeting.
When confronted by Ginsburg, Don goes into attack mode. He cuts down Ginsburg by prodding his insecurity with the “I don’t think about you at all” burn. He does a similar thing to Pete, when he calls about the New York Times article. “Don’t wake me up and throw your failures in my face.”
Roger wants to land the Monarch Wines account and enlists the Jews at his disposal. He pays Ginsburg to come up with ideas for him (though ends up crediting him generically at the meeting). He also bribes Jane into playing his charming Jewish wife for the evening. Roger gets jealous when he sees Jane flirting with the client’s son. He “marks his territory” by seducing her in her new apartment. This satisfies his ego, but absolutely ruins Jane’s fresh start. Jane calls him out. Roger responds with uncharacteristic sincerity: “I feel terrible.”
As usual, Sally is the sponge. She continues her foray into adulthood. At the beginning of the episode, Betty manipulates Sally into bringing up Anna in front of Megan. By the end, Sally is manipulating Betty, not giving her the satisfaction of getting one over on Don and prodding the open wound about her weight when Betty starts eating immediately at Thanksgiving dinner.
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