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Mad Men Review: Take A Load Off, Betty

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She's just fat.

Since many fans of Mad Men have professed their hatred for Betty Draper/Francis over the years, I'm sure very few were sad to see that she added weight gain to her constant state of sadness during the hiatus.

Betty's increased size, which was a way of covering up January Jones' real life pregnancy, Betty's health scare and how everyone reacted to both covered a majority of what happened in "Tea Leaves."

Megan and Dox

Unlike many Mad Men viewers, I have always enjoyed the character of Betty. She has always been interesting to me, whether it be her relationship with Don, how she treated the children,or her new marriage to Henry. Her actions here were no different.

Most interesting? Her reaction to finding out that her tumor was in fact benign. "It's nice to be put through the ringer and find out... I'm just fat," she said after hearing the news. In that moment, it was difficult to tell whether she was just frustrated, or if Betty might have really preferred dying over simply being an overweight woman. At least the former makes her special.

Now, without the cancer, Betty has to come to terms with the fact that she is a depressed, obese woman, who eats both her own and her daughter's ice cream and may or may not have a stronger connection to her ex-husband than her current one.

I mention that last piece because of the phone call she made to Don. She called him quickly, and she never told Henry that she had talked to her ex. Betty needed Don to tell her that everything was going to be okay. It couldn't be just anyone. She needs Don Draper to be there for her... and don't we all?

A number of other reactions to the situation were nearly as interesting. Henry seemed genuinely happy that Betty was not dying, but supremely angry that she called Don about it. Don, meanwhile, wanted to be there for Betty, but didn't want to tell Megan about it because he had no idea how she would react.

And the new Mrs. Draper, well, she was all over the place. Megan was strong in hearing the news, but then acted a bit too quickly in volunteering to be the children's new mother. When Don stopped her, she then swept it under the rug and moved on as quickly as Harry Crane accepts an offer to hit some weed.

The three other stories in "Tea Leaves" were also intriguing, if a bit slow moving. My favorite had to be Peggy and her hiring of Michael Ginsberg, played by Ben Feldman. We could be in for some fun times with Michael working on the Mohawk account, as Feldman's over the top New York Jewish bit could work for a while.

If anything, his appearance is good for Roger Sterling. He's still as racist as ever, as was apparent in referring to Don's new secretary as "It's Always Darkest Before The Dawn," but even Roger realizes that having a Jewish copywriter shows that the company is more modern, and that' a big step for Mr. Sterling.

Do you know what else was a big step for Roger? The one Pete Campbell took right on his face? Roger put in the effort to get Mohawk on board, and little Petey swooped in, took all the credit, and swiped Roger to the side. It probably felt weird from the other side for Roger, but this he might have to get used to it, as Pete is slowly but surely becoming the face of SCDP.

Finally, Don and Harry adventuring in the back stage area of a Rolling Stones concert was fun. It was nice to see Harry's affinity towards Don, and it was nice to see Don's apathy towards Harry. The highlight of the night was either Harry eating that entire bag of food, or the fact that he thought the Trade Winds were the Stones.

It might have been a slow burn, but still much went down in "Tea Leaves." What was your favorite part of the episode? And did it measure up to last week's season premiere? Take a look at some of the best lines of the night in our Mad Men quotes section, take the poll below, and then sound off in the comments!

Which part of "Tea Leaves" was most interesting?

 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (59 Votes)

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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I am not so sure that Betty is cancer- free and "just fat." When she tried to tell Don what the doctor said, she was unable to, she mixed up and confused the words. She was totally freaked out by her neighbor's description of her cancer. Maybe she wants to stay on the beach a little longer, eating Sally's ice cream, so she didn't hear what the doctor said? This hungry young copywriter, Pete and Roger are setting themselves up for a giant blowdown. And I hope Pete stays down! He's an unlikeable jerk.

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Glad to see Betty again! I just started watching Mad Men over the summer, when it came out on Netflix, and by the time I saw her in late seasons 3 & 4, I could understand why she had turned so icy. I love me some Don Draper, flawed as he is, but if I were put in Betty's shoes (learning my husband had made up an entirely new identity after deserting the war and had been lying and cheating for 10+ years), I would probably be a little unhappy/depressed/evil, too. With that said, I totally agree with Jonesy. Henry is such a good husband to Betty, but he's obviously still intimidated by her relationship with Don...rightfully so, because she's obviously unhappy. Don is married to a gorgeous, young Canadian, but we all know he's not living in bliss. These two might find their way back to each other...probably not in a "happily ever after way", but it'll be interesting to watch it all unfold.

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I thought last night's episode was about juxtapositions. Don, who's never been comfortable with anything more than superficial, has a superficial relationship with his new wife, yet is drawn to the seriousness of the situation with Betty. Similarly, Betty has focused her life on the superficial - her looks, her neighborhood, her clothes - and even remarried to feel desired. Now she's miserable, and looking for substance and connection, with Don. I think Megan and Henry will be the casualties of Don and Betty finally growing up. Then again, to think that Don Draper has changed his spots entirely would be absurd. As he realizes that great sex with his 26 year old wife leaves an enormous void in his life, he'll return to his womanizing ways. I can't wait!

Ava-mila

I missed Betty so much the last episode, I was scared that they will let Meghan take her screen time. I've always had a thing for her, sure she is damaged but whoever loves Don and hates Betty is just a hypocrite since they are pretty much the same. They both have a good heart but damn they are crazy. As for her current storyline I think they are continuing to explore how desperate and lonely she is as a housewife in the '60is. She will probably get addicted to diet pills or something but I hope Don will help her. Meghan is annoying, she seemed pretty sad that Betty wasn't sick what means she wouldn't take her role and that just shows how evil she can be. Be careful Don, Betty may have been a crazy bitch but Meghan is an evil one..