‘Mad Men’ Recap: Devious Betty’s Twisted Scheme

Betty Francis (January Jones) returned Sunday to "Mad Men" (Photo: AMC)

Betty Francis (nee Draper) returned with a vengeance (literally) as mind games were played, and secrets kept and revealed, on a “Mad Men” episode that was heavy with intrigue.

The episode seen Sunday night on AMC — titled “Dark Shadows” — was the ninth episode (eighth week) of the current fifth season of the storied, award-winning drama series. The episode contained so many layers, and involved so many of the show’s characters (while still managing to exclude some) that identifying a central theme presents a challenge.

Let’s try the “secrets” theme mentioned above, character by character, and see how that works:

Betty (January Jones): Don Draper’s ex-wife continued her struggle to control her weight, an effort that now included participating in Weight Watchers meetings. In the show, unhappy Betty got a glimpse of Don (Jon Hamm) and Megan’s Manhattan lifestyle when she entered their Park Avenue apartment to pick up her children. Betty apparently became so jealous that she later told daughter Sally (Kiernan Shipka) about Don’s first secret marriage to Anna Draper. This resulted in rifts between Sally and Megan (Jessica Pare) and Sally and her father, who blew his stack (but refrained from calling Betty to tell her how he felt).

The manipulations were vintage Betty, who demonstrated once again that she’s this show’s most mentally unbalanced character.

Sally: It could be she’s a chip off the old block. To get her way, she lied to her mother when her mother asked what happened when she’d talked to Don and Megan about Anna. Clearly, Sally’s growing up.

Roger Sterling (John Slattery): He pretended that he and his Jewish, soon-to-be-ex-wife Jane (Peyton List) were still married so he could impress a Jewish potential client, the family that owns Manischewitz wines. He enlisted the Jewish copywriter Michael Ginsberg (Ben Feldman) to help with some ad campaign ideas on the sly and Ginsberg shook him down for $200 so he would keep the situation a secret. Ginsberg wound up telling Peggy (Elisabeth Moss). Meanwhile, Don’s feeling very rivalrous with the brash, young Ginsberg, who’s a better copywriter and a better presenter than he.

Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser): He was stunned to receive a visit in his office from the desperate housewife (Alexis Bledel) he had an affair with. She showed up by surprise to continue their affair in his office, just because she saw his picture in the New York Times Sunday magazine.

Only a few weeks remain in this season of “Mad Men.” How the show’s multiple storylines will end up is anybody’s guess.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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