As one character rose from the bowels of discontent, two more lined up to take his place on last night’s episode of Mad Men. “At the Codfish Ball” features the return of Sally Draper, and a visit from Megan’s parents. Wherever the in-laws go, conflict is sure to follow.

Check out our full review below…

The Players:

  • Director: Michael Uppendahl
  • Writer: Jonathan Igla
  • Cast: Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss, Jared Harris, Robert Morse, Rich Sommer, Aaron Staton, Kiernan Shipka, Christopher Stanley

Episode Title: “At the Codfish Ball”

Don receives an award and Megan has an idea that saves an account. Also, her parents decide to stop by for a visit. Sally and Bobby spend time at their Dad’s place, while Roger and Pete look for new business. Elsewhere, Peggy takes the next step in her relationship.

The Good:

  • 007: Of course Don Draper reads James Bond. He’d be the first no-nonsense version of the spy. Don would punch the bad guy at first glance and step on his throat until he confessed his plan and admitted defeat.
  • Someone Dumped You: Peggy’s disbelief that some man, or any man, would end a relationship with Joan was a tiny slice of perfection. It was a miniscule moment for sure, but it spoke to the psyche of many women. Females often have trouble being realistic about the lives of women they worship or find exceedingly beautiful. Looking at Christina Hendricks, it’s easy to forget she’s just as normal as anyone else.
  • Last Shot: Kudos to the director for the presence of mind to include that final shot. The Draper-Calvet family sitting together, all of their bubbles appropriately burst. That was the best end to an episode so far this season.

The So-So:

  • Megan, Copywriter Extraordinaire: Thanks to Don and Megan’s lightening speed courtship it’s been hard to form a real opinion about her. But Megan is now seen as likable, genuine, and devoted to her husband. Copywriting is as instinctual to her as it is to Don and Peggy, but it doesn’t seem to be making her as happy as her marriage. It was blatantly obvious after her interaction with Peggy, but her conversation with her perceptive father drove the point home. Unfortunately, with no real insight into what’s troubling her, it’s hard to say which way this will go. If it’s a change of career that Megan seeks that might cause problems for Don. Without his love-colored glasses, work could become as dreary as it was before.

The Bad:

  • Approval: Often when children seek approval from their parents they know beforehand what the parents’ reaction will be. It wasn’t really a surprise that Peggy’s Catholic mother didn’t approve of her shacking up. What was surprising was that her disapproval centered more on Peggy selling herself short than anything else. Peggy has never seemed happy with Abe, and at work her happiness is waning as well. Peggy might be the next character headed for a downward spiral.
  • The Dirty City: It’s obvious Sally is on her way to growing up. Nothing made that more clear than her poised and appropriate behavior at her father’s award dinner. It’s unfortunate she walked in on Roger, but it’s more worrying that she called Glen afterwards. You know, slightly creepy, older Glen who holds a torch for women with the last name Draper. Seems like the writers might be inching towards Sally growing up even faster than we’ve anticipated.

The Quotable:

  • Men don’t take the time to end things. They ignore you until you insist on a declaration of hate.”

Overall:

It was nice to check in with the Draper children, although it seems Bobby and Glen will never be fully formed characters. There was balance in this episode, as one character (Roger) pulled himself out of a tailspin, two more (Peggy and Megan) entered the fray. It’s hard to tell in which direction the core cast is headed, which is as frustrating as it is intriguing. More than anything, an episode that addresses the health of the company is necessary.

Rating:  7/10

Mad Men airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on AMC.

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