'Mad Men' Season 5 Episode 507 'At the Codfish Ball': Summer in the city

mad-men-507-codfish-ball.jpgIn what continues to be "Mad Men's" season of the women (aka Season 5), three of the show's female favourites -- Megan ( Jessica Paré), Peggy ( Elisabeth Moss) and Sally ( Kiernan Shipka, finally returning to the timeline after a noted absence) learn a tough lesson about the world: It's dirty. One is accepting, one resigned and one unsettled.

The Accepting
Peggy is a complicated character. Amidst all of her ambitious angst and banter with Rizzo and Ginsberg, it's easy to forget that this is a woman who comes from a deeply religious Catholic family and just a few short years ago gave birth to a child fathered by her co-worker, Pete Campbell ( Vincent Kartheiser). Like most good lapsed Catholics, she's got major issues with guilt and self-esteem. So much so that while she was momentarily blinded enough to believe that Abe was on the cusp of a marriage proposal, she quickly assimilated his (to her mind) lesser offer of shacking up. For Peggy, she's thinking it's as good an offer as she's going to get. And, despite her mother's vicious dressing down, we hope she'll stick with Abe and not settle for two cats and a spinster's death.

The Resigned
Although Sally Draper isn't old enough to "spread her legs and fly away," as Megan's father Emile so crassly put it, she's a girl who doesn't miss much. Initially shocked by walking in on Roger Sterling getting lip service from Megan's mother, she'd recovered her equilibrium enough to dismiss what she saw as part of the "dirty" city by the time she called the still-in-the-picture (YAY!) Glen Bishop to confide. Or what passes as confiding for Sally. This is Don Draper's -- or Dick Whitman's -- daughter, no question: She's a girl who keeps her own counsel and knows how to keep a secret.

The Unsettled
Megan is conflicted and now that her parents have filled in a few blanks, it's easy to see why. She single-handedly landed the Heinz account (with an assist from Don) and loved every second of it until her socialist father told her she was actually unhappy because she's given up on her dreams for Don. What felt like creativity and spark and ambition and progress was covered in dirt by her father, much like he facilitated Bobby Draper's fountain pen defilement of the Drapers' white living room carpet. She's a young woman who -- had she not fallen in love with Don -- would have more room to make mistakes and figure out who she is. We hope she knows she can love her papa without buying into his embittered BS.

More things to note about "At the Codfish Ball":

-- Sally Draper calls Mrs. Francis "Bluto," referring to Popeye's outsized nemesis. Love it.

-- Glen asks Sally if she's bought "The Spoonful" album yet. He's talking about The Lovin' Spoonful, the '60s band that first hit the charts with the upbeat "Do You Believe in Magic" in 1965. But by August 1966, the band had also reached no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with their awesome-sauce song, "Summer in the City," which makes reference to the "back of my neck feeling dirty and gritty." Sally, little genius that she is, knows that Glen will get this reference when she makes her "dirty" proclamation about Manhattan.



-- Megan's parents were played by the tres chic Julia Ormond and character actor Ronald Guttman, who has been in pretty much everything from "All My Children" to an episode of "Gossip Girl."

-- A book of Joan Harris' notable quotables would be money well-spent for any girl's library and we're betting she could land a book deal faster than Megan's dad. Here's a start: "Men don't take the time to end things. They ignore you until you insist on a declaration of hate."

-- If Cynthia Cosgrove's father looked familiar -- he was the one who let Don down easy at the American Cancer Society awards dinner -- it's because he's been on the show before. But also because Ray Wise  a.) Played VP Hal Gardner on "24" and b.) Because he played the crazy-pants hotelier Leland Palmer on "Twin Peaks."

-- The Hemisphere Club is where Don and Megan team up to finally land the Heinz account with their futuristic homefires pitch. The club was a private dining facility in the Time-Life building, where SCDP leases their office space. As the New York Times put it in a 2005 article about New York's hey-dey of sky-high dining clubs, "While everyone else ate at ground-level restaurants and coffee shops, or brown-bagged a few floors up in the stockroom, the captains of industry, whisked through the streets in their limos, ascended by elevators to private redoubts at the tops of skyscrapers."

-- At the Cancer Society dinner, Roger points out a formidable older woman to Sally Draper and refers to her (uncharitably, of course) as Margaret Dumont. Dumont was a '30s-era actress best remembered for her roles as the comic foil -- and grande dame on the order of a cruise liner -- in several Marx Brothers films. Here she is in "Duck Soup":



P.S. In honour of the Calvet's visit, we've French-ified our spelling. 
Photo/Video credit: AMC
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