By Jordan Bartel
11:21 PM EDT, April 1, 2012
"When is everything going to go back to normal?" - Roger Sterling
Raise your hand if you were ready for Fat Betty? Or Don's new secretary being named Dawn? Or (what I'm guessing) is the first-ever Rolling Stones-potential-bean-commercial idea.
Yeah, me either.
How random was this episode? Betty was the star. So let's start with her, or "#FatBetty" as she was hashtagged immediately on Twitter.
To accommodate January Jones' pregnancy while filming began on Season 5 (and probably to give her a better storyline this year), the writers have decided to make her big. How big? I mean, she's not HUGE. She's, well, like medium-muumuu territory. I must say that January Jones never seemed to sport a double-chin while really pregnant, so I'm assuming there's some clever makeup/prosthetics going on here.
Anyway, Betts is unhappy -- shockingly -- because she's big. She won't go to a political event with Henry Francis, despite it involving the Junior League of New York which sounds ultra-important. Betty is even at the point where she won't let Henry look at her naked when she gets out of the tub. Yikes. Despite Betty's general power to annoy and general feel awful, you feel sympathy for her (nice work, January!) especially after she gets a visit from Henry's mother.
Pauline Francis, bless her, suggests diet pills, but mostly for the benefit of her son's budding political career and to make fun of Betty ("You become comfortable and give up a little bit," Pauline says of Betty's unhappy housewifedom).
So Betty hightails it to the doctor to see about the Pauline-endorsed diet pills (Pauline, by the way, a big lady, has never taken them because of her heart condition, she says).
"With housewife rapid weight gain, the cause is usually psychological," the kindly doctor states. That is, until, he examines Betty and finds a lump in her throat.
Cue the overly dramatic swelling orchestral music. Side note: Why do TV shows still do this? We get it. It's serious. We don't need suddenly loud sullen music to let us know what's up.
Thanks for bearing with that rant for a moment. Moving on, it's not entirely surprising to see that the first person Betty calls is Don, who is back to calling her Birdie, which was sort of cute. These two are actually getting along!
"Say what you always say," Betty says.
"Everything's going to be OK," says Don, who says this to men and women and children and dogs and then the world is suddenly OK and you look into his eyes and see sunshine (even if it's over the phone).
The next day, Betty goes to the doctor to get things checked out. She runs into an old friend who's there getting radiation treatment, and they agree to go out to lunch.
After having the most depressing-but-realistic conversation about cancer, the ladies are approached by a psychic or palm reader or fortune teller or whatever who's going from table to table. She asks if she can read them.
Did this really happen in the 1960s at restaurants? If so, I would have never eaten out.
Looking over the leaves in Betty's tea, the lady tells her what's perhaps the worst thing you could say to someone who's freaking out about a potential cancer diagnosis: "You're a good soul. You mean so much to the people around you."
Still, it turns out Betty's OK. The tumor is benign and Henry is thrilled. Betty -- not-so much.
"It's nice to be put through the wringer and find out I'm just fat," she says. Now that's the Betty we know! By the way, was I the only one who thought perhaps the writers were going to give her cancer, just to, perhaps, film around her pregnancy by having her in bed?
Are we in for a season of Fat Betty's battle of the bulge -- and happiness? That second helping of hot-fudge sundae won't help, Birdie.
AT THE OFFICE
Away from Francisville, there's four developments at Stanley Cooper Draper Pryce.
1. Don has a new secretary. Who is named Dawn. She's the product of SCDP's forced-affirmative-action hiring from episode 1, and now she's also forced to put up with not only inane chatter form Harry, who says that the names are "confusing" because "Out in the office, it's hard to tell who's who." Right.
2. Heinz is interested in a new ad campaign for their beans in which they a) not only use the Rolling Stones but b) make them sing "Heinz, Heinz, Heinz is on my side." For real. Harry thinks he can make this happen, so he sets up a meeting with the Stones' manager at a show and brings Don along.
The whole Rolling Stones thing is an odd plot point this episode, and was basically an accuse to see Don interact with teenage groupies to show just how "square" and "out of touch with the times" he has become. I mean, at one point Don says to Annoying Groupie Girl 1 that "We're worried about you."
Don: The moral compass of 1966.
Turns out Harry thinks he's talking to the Stones but is really talking to another band so the whole thing is a bust. However, the Stones outing was also a chance to see Harry smoke a joint, pig out and complain to Don about being married and having kids. "Eat first," is Harry's "recommendation to any man wanting to get married and have kids. Food is important to Harry.
3. We have a new copywriter in the mix for Peggy to mold/glare at/be insecure around Don about. Since Mohawk Airlines is officially back at SCDP, Roger asks Peggy to find a new guy to handle the copy for the account.
Peggy interviews the promising Michael Ginsberg, whose ad book shows real innovation and talent. The book has a leather cover emblazoned with the phrase, "Judge not lest ye be judged" which is pretty ballsy for a book of your samples if you want to be hired.
Peggy sort of hates him immediately. He's brash and annoying, is obsessed with Don and puts Allen Ginsberg on his resume as a reference because "we've got to be related."
"Your book has voice," Peggy allows.
"That's what they said about 'Mein Kampf.' 'Kid really has voice,'" is Michael's response. Apparently, Michael is best friends with young Woody Allen.
Shockingly, Don hires him (Michael tones it down a bit in the next interview), so I'm guessing we'll be seeing a lot of him. I just hope he finds a new place, because the sad, dusty apartment he shares with his father is not fun.
4. Pete and Roger: official rivals this year. After Pete misleads Roger into thinking he'll handle the Mohawk account himself, Pete has a big to-do meeting where he announces the signing, says he landed the account and that "Roger will be handling the day-to-day, but rest assured everything he knows, I'll know."
Roger pretty much storms off to drink with Don and fret about having to prove his worth in the office.
"When is everything going to get back to normal?" Roger asks.
BUT I WANT TO GO TO FIRE ISLAND: Finally, a bit less of a Megan-Don episode. We get a bit more of the young generation vs. old generation stuff (Megan really, really wants to go hang out with her friends in Fire Island, but Don could care less about going).
And Megan's immaturity shows through just a smidgen when Don tells her that Betty might be sick. "It affects me," Megan says at one point. Sure, but that's really one of the first things that come to mind?
Also, no encore singing performance from Megan. Guess she was tired.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS FROM 'TEA LEAVES'
Roger on having a Jewish copywriter in the office: "Everyone's got one now."
This is NOT true: Peggy: Who smells like pee? Roger: Writers
Worst joke: Megan on the suit Don wears to meet the Rolling Stones: "It's so square you've got corners."
Is this true about Pittsburgh? During a dinner meeting with Don and Megan, the Heinz guy says, "Back in Pittsburgh, everyone's pretty much who'd you expect them to be."
Best passive-agressive burn: Betty to Henry's mom: "Aren't you sweet to come over when a phone call would have sufficed."
Henry still hates Don: Seriously, Henry. You can't even be nice to Don when he calls to see if the mother of his children has cancer or not? Time to move on.
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