Everyone knows that I am deep in the tank for Sally Draper, and it isn’t just because we had those same sheets in our house when I was a kid.
That Kiernan Shipka is such a find. And whether it is fighting with Betty (“You’re mean!”) or running away from home (“I hate it here!”) or perfectly summing up Manhattan (“Dirty”), Sally is sublime. And her all dolled up teenage dream outfit was my fashion gasp of the week.
This week, we got as close to a Sally episode as we ever get and I couldn’t have been happier. After Sally’s incessant telephone use caused deliciously nasty Pauline to have a convenient accident, Sally and Bobby were whisked away to Manhattan to spend a few days with Don, at which point Bobby (constantly recast, never important) disappeared like Jimmy Hoffa. This may be a male dominated era and show but ultimately it is a story of women, with our plucky Girl Friday Peggy operating as emotional stand-in for series creator Matthew Weiner.
The endless cycle of womanhood was brought home and fried up in a pan by some very on-the-nose plotting this week. Megan created a perfect pitch for Heinz (mother and child down through the ages) and sold it with her womanly charms, succeeding where more masculine Peggy has failed. Peggy it seems is backsliding at work and at home, as Megan powers ahead at the office and Abe presents her with a new glass ceiling in her own apartment.
I am always happy to see the return of delightful secondary characters and Peggy’s mother is reliably a disapproving treat. Same goes for Mona Sterling, even if I am always bothered that her hair doesn’t seem as aggressively period as everyone else. Glen returned as well, now at boarding school and more grown up. But we also got new characters in Megan’s visiting parents, all French speaking and French attitudes about sex. But it was Megan’s mom Marie that offered the best Deja vu.
Marie looked and acted enough like Roger’s old girlfriend Annabelle (the one who dumped him before he married Mona) that I got a little chill of excitement. Some people have criticized the writing this season for being too obvious, that the show has been dumbed down to make it more accessible. Instead I think we are getting the obvious rewards that come with a long running series: the plot payback. The plot payback works when longtime viewers are rewarded with the surprise return of long lost characters or references back to past seasons that serve to confirm their devotion to the show. Even the final last supper shot at the banquet…
was a throwback to last season with Peggy, Joan and Faye in the elevator…
itself a nod to the ducks-in-a-row advertising art for the 1962 Shelley Winters/Jane Fonda film The Chapman Report.
Get in line, girls! So this is the world Sally gets to grow up in. One where women are punished for their choices by men and other women. Yes there are glimmers of hope here and there (a surprisingly supportive moment between Peggy and Joan), but Sally is right: Manhattan is dirty.
Mad Men airs Sunday nights on AMC.