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Mad Men recap: Affairs of the Heart

Sal ends up paying for Don knowing his secret, Betty opts out of an easy dalliance, and Don is back to his dirty-dog tricks

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Mad Men

Mad Men

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Elisabeth Moss

”I want what I want when I want it,” said Betty, giving voice to her hungry baby in the middle of the night. ”You don’t care what it does to the rest of us.” Pause. ”Sounds like somebody else I know.” Ostensibly she was talking about Connie. The old coot has taken to snapping Don awake at all hours to wax folksy-like about the Hilton mission. And by golly, if he wants the moon then Don better craft a pitch that will make the moon gratefully hand herself over. But of course Betty could easily have been talking about Don. Or that stinking Lucky Strike low-life, Lee Garner Jr. And in the miserable end of the darkest Mad Men I can remember, her words could even have applied to ruined Sal.

And yet not Betty, who spent the episode flirting with her desperate need to be desired. There was an interesting moment during this knotty hour of TV when a Rockefeller spokeswoman assumed the bleak hearth of the Draper home. ”First of all,” the Cokie Roberts look-alike declared, ”I would like to dispel the rumor that there’s a mandatory contribution tonight. This is the taking of a pulse.” It was as if Betty too wanted to test the own beat of her heart. We opened in her dreams. She’s languishing on her illicit chaise when a faceless Henry appears and strokes her face and spreads open her dress. Before she can get to the good stuff the damn phone rings and the baby starts squalling. Even her sex dreams end with Don lighting a cigarette.

So Betty starts a girlish pen-pal fling with the man — an action that I’m not sure I really buy from this character. Soon enough a breathless Henry appears in the Draper foyer and Carla walks in on the two of them looking googly-eyed at each other. She has bigger things on her mind than whether or not a rich white woman is stepping out on her husband, but Betty is aghast. Henry pretended he was there on fund-raising business so now Bets is in charge of rounding up a posse of well-heeled women to hear about the Rockefeller cause. Betty hurls the moneybox at him for failing to show. Of course, this leads to a breathless smooch and just when you think Henry’s going to lay her out on his own matching swoony couch, Betty stops herself. Consummating their affair would be ”tawdry” and she apologetically backs him off.

No such restraint from the men. My God did people behave badly this stormy episode. So much pain inflicted! So many wounded stares! There were few scenes I didn’t find myself hollering at the tube in dismay. ”We have an impulse and we act on it,” said Connie. ”How do we know to do it?” Don, rubbing his bleary eyes, guesses instinct. ”So you’re just like a dog,” said his new boss before hanging up without saying goodbye. Don, always left holding a dead phone with this man, couldn’t get back to sleep. So he headed into the office before dawn and, dog!, picked up Miss Farrell who was jogging on a lonely stretch of highway, her peaches bouncing up and down under her cut-off T-shirt.

NEXT: Sal makes a stand and is then forced out