Sunday’s episode of Mad Men, entitled “Dark Shadows,” featured many quarrels; some fleeting and a few that will shape the rest of the season. As Don regained his footing in the workplace, a glimpse of his vintage, brooding self came out of hiding. Hello old friend, you have been missed.

Check out our full review below…

The Players:              

  • Director: Scott Hornbacher
  • Writer: Erin Levy
  • 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, Jessica Parè, Jay R. Ferguson, Ben Feldman

Episode Title: “Dark Shadows”

As Thanksgiving approaches, Betty continues to wrestle with her weight. In the face of temptation, she’s forced to compare Don’s happiness with her own—with entertaining results. Meanwhile, Roger and Bert drum up some business. Roger enlists the help of his soon to be ex-wife Jane, with a few predictable complications. Elsewhere, Don and Megan continue working without one another. And she flounders as his competitive streak flourishes.

The Good:

  • Sterling Cooper: Once upon a time Roger Sterling and Bert Cooper were the men to impress. But these days, they’re more like the agency’s silent partners, than its enforcers. Watching them band together to draw in business—without a certain Mr. Campbell—was a reminder of the olden days. Continuing with Roger’s upswing is good, but giving Bert more than two lines is even better.
  • Lovely Megan: Watching Betty plant a seed of discord in her daughter’s mind to upset Don’s happiness was almost as horrifying, as it was satisfying, to watch the Drapers deal with the problem. Don doesn’t have to cross over to the dark side to give viewers a taste of the attitude they love. His new marriage didn’t implode, but gave fans the fight they’ve been clamoring for, while still showing the strength of the union.
  • A Snow Ball’s Chance in Hell: As Bert pointed out a few weeks ago, love has made Don lose his competitive edge. That’s no longer the case. Was it right to leave Michael’s ad in the cab? Of course not, but it forced Don to really sell his idea, instead of resting on the laurels of his team’s work. It laid the groundwork for a continued struggle between Don and Michael, which could be as entertaining as the constant clash between Pete and Roger.

The Bad:

  • Overweight Sympathy: When the season began, the controversial “Fat Betty” plot line garnered sympathy for the character. But due to her jealous motives and manipulative meddling there’s little chance of that lasting past this episode. Betty quickly returning to her old ways isn’t surprising. But it’s a little jarring that the writers would abandon the opportunity to give her a chance to gain a fan base. Seems like Betty’s back to being the coldest mother on television.

The Quotable:

  • “When a man hates another man very, very much, sometimes he wants to know something is his. Even if in the end, he has to give it up.”
  • “I’m thankful that I have everything I want. And that no one else has anything better.”

Overall:

At the beginning of the season, things didn’t feel right. No matter how hard you tried to ignore it, everything was just a smidge too happy for Mad Men. However, in recent weeks, the writers have done a good job of returning the gloom the show thrives on. Let Don be content in his home life, but give us the deception and scheming we salivate over. “Dark Shadows” was another step in the right direction.

Rating: 8/10

Mad Men airs on Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on AMC.

What did you think of last night’s episode?