Mad Men “Dark Shadows” Review


Matthew Weiner’s timing couldn’t have been better. On the opening weekend of the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp movie of the same name, Mad Men gave us “Dark Shadows,” an episode that only briefly referenced the melodramatic horror soap opera, and focused more on how pride always goes before a fall.

Don has always been at the top of his game, better than anyone else at almost everything. So it’s pretty much killing him that he hired kid protege Ginsberg, who is whipping out winning campaigns like they’re going out of style. Campaigns that might be better than Don’s. How does the creative director respond to that? Well, it’s simply a matter of not bringing Ginsberg’s ideas to the client meetings. That’s his prerogative. Peggy understands it. Ginsberg, of course, does not.

What Peggy doesn’t understand is Roger asking Ginsberg to do some under-the-table work for a client so that he can continue his efforts to undermine Pete Campbell. She is supposed to be his silent flying monkey and Peggy is big on loyalty. Well, honey, you came to the wrong person for that. Roger Sterling is only loyal to Roger Sterling. Just ask his almost-ex wife Jane.

Pete’s life continues to be a pile of crap, as he can’t stop thinking about his train buddy’s hot wife and the New York Times betrayed him by not paying enough attention to him. I wonder if he knows how much Roger hates him…or if he would even care at this point.

We haven’t seen Betty in awhile (probably because that fat suit she’s wearing can’t be cheap or easy to produce), but she re-emerged this week, carefully sticking to a new diet courtesy of Weight Watchers. But even the empowering message of fixing one’s life instead of just one’s waist-line was lost on Betty. After seeing just how much Don cares about his new wife, not to mention just how gorgeous his new wife is, Betty had no qualms about messing with her daughter’s mind in order to mess up Don’s life.

She’s been sitting on his secrets for so long, unaware that Megan knows all about them, but Sally wasn’t aware that Don was married to Anna, the dead friend whose house they visited in L.A. Like most children who feel they’ve been kept in the dark, she lashed out at Megan. Megan told Don and Don nearly flew at Betty in a rage. Megan, once again the voice of common sense and reason…almost to an annoying degree…told Don that was exactly what Betty wanted. Sally overheard this and took it to heart, so when Betty tried to enjoy the fruits of her labor, Sally was able to brush it off like it was no big deal, denying Betty any satisfaction. It was a truly brilliant moment. Betty is going to need more than one meeting a month.

The episode ended on a very ominous note. On Thanksgiving morning in 1966, a mysterious toxic smog covered the city of New York, killing hundreds of people. Mad Men always finds the weirdest little bits of history and weaves them in so flawlessly; of all the things the show does well, that is one of its greatest accomplishments.

What did you think of the episode? Let me know below!