The latest episode of AMC’s Mad Men (“The Better Half”) will be known for a lot of things, but two things in particular stand out. For years to come we’ll call it, in Friends-episode fashion, either “The One Where Don and Betty Hook Up Again” or “The One Where Abe Gets Stabbed Twice.” Leave it to Mad Men to plod along in its typical quiet, “what does it all mean?” fashion before suddenly surprising you with something crazy. Remember the lawn mower incident? Or Ida Blankenship? Last week was pretty much nonstop WTF, but this week went the “out-of-nowhere” route, and I like it.
In terms of the Sympathy Rankings, this week was hard to line up. With the exception of our favorite messed-up divorced couple, everyone sort of fell somewhere in the middle in terms of sympathy. I tried my best to line the characters up accordingly, but bear in mind that it was a very close and confusing race. Except for Megan. I never feel conflicted about Megan.
So without further ado, I present this week’s Sympathy Rankings. Check out last week’s recap to compare.
8. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) (Last week: 8)
Ugh, Don Draper. I can’t believe we ever had hope for him last season. This episode he has the nerve to pretty much totally ignore Megan’s attempt to talk to him about her work problems, in addition to not eating the nice dinner she made for him. You eat that dinner, Don! Megan made it for you! But of course his mistreatment of Megan runs deeper than simply not eating her food. Blonde, svelte Betty is back in town, and the two of them embark on their own weird It’s Complicated hook-up, which they don’t have to feel guilty about because they used to have sex all the time. Sure, when they WEREN’T MARRIED TO OTHER PEOPLE. Then Don looks on sadly as Betty enjoys breakfast with her real husband. Ugh. These two. Side note: Does Don say “I missed you” to every woman in his life to make things seem normal? It’s getting really annoying.
7. Betty Francis (January Jones) (Last week: not ranked)
The only reason I’m putting Betty higher than Don this week is that she (as far as we know) has not just finished up a creepy affair in which she forced someone to stay in a hotel room for hours and then relentlessly stalked them. I assume that’ll happen in next week’s episode. With the death of Fat Brunette Betty comes the return of icy “mosquitoes ignore me” Betty. I don’t care that she participated in Bobby’s strange fist-pump dance. I’ll take my sympathy elsewhere, thank you very much.
6. Henry Francis (Christopher Stanley) (Last week: not ranked)
Well, look who wins the Hypocrisy Award this week. Sure, Betty shouldn’t have been flirting with other men, but is Henry somehow forgetting that he wooed Betty in much the same way back when she was still married to Don? The people on this show have convenient amnesia about any indiscretions they themselves have committed, so it doesn’t surprise me. Henry also follows in the footsteps of other Mad Men characters in terms of being turned on by unconventional things, because he and Betty then hook up in the back of the car. Oh boy.
5. Abe Drexler (Charlie Hofheimer) (Last week: not ranked)
This week’s WTF moment switched from Don and Betty’s reunion to Abe managing to get stabbed twice in one episode. And the second incident goes from WTF to WTFFFFF, because the person who stabs him is Peggy, who has fashioned a very handy broom-knife-stick thing to protect herself. She feels the need to protect herself because Abe got stabbed by a stranger on the subway earlier in the episode and refused to give the police details about the culprit. Aaaand it all comes full circle. Look, I’m sure it really sucks to get stabbed twice in one episode, but Abe has gone a little overboard with his politics. I mean, he’s got a responsibility to protect himself and his girlfriend, and his approach isn’t very helpful. Plus, all his ranting about Peggy being the enemy, as a roundabout way of breaking up with her, was just nutty. Shave your mustache and get a grip, Abe.
4. Roger Sterling (John Slattery) (Last week: not ranked)
I honestly don’t know how to feel about Roger. On the one hand, I admire that he wants to be a part of Joan’s son’s life (even though she continues to insist it’s Greg’s son — unfortunately he wasn’t born with a full head of white hair). But it also seems like he’s only doing it to make himself feel better. We haven’t seen much of him this season, so I’m not sure how often he does this, but it all seems so random to me. I need some more Roger plotlines so I can make up my mind about him.
3. Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) (Last week: 4)
Okay, Peggy, I’ll agree it’s frustrating to be caught in the middle of your bosses’ arguments, and it must suck that you stabbed your boyfriend and then he broke up with you, but do you really expect to just walk into Ted’s office, announce that you’re available and expect him to sweep you off your feet? There are issues other than Abe that are keeping you two apart. Like, for instance, Ted’s wife. Or the fact that you work together. Go take a shower, find a nicer place to live, and get over yourself. You still rank high because you’re Peggy, but seriously, get it together.
2. Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm) (Last week: not ranked)
I so want to like Ted Chaough, and I did this episode. While I thought it was a bit paranoid of him to freak out over Peggy briefly touching his hand in a meeting, I admire the fact that he was able to walk away from her after she announced she was available. While Peggy’s right that he and Don can be the same person sometimes in terms of work, in life Ted is proving himself to be much more sympathetic and mature. Keep it up, Ted! I’m worried you’ll ruin this, and I want you to prove me wrong.
1. Megan Draper (Jessica Paré) (Last week: 5)
Oh, Megan! Poor Megan can’t talk to anyone about her problems without them ignoring her or inappropriately kissing her. She’s having trouble at work, and she has to deal with Don’s increasing distance (if only she knew) and lesbian advances from her co-star. Don’t let it get you down, Megan. You’re fabulous.
What will happen next week? Will we find out who the hell Bob Benson is? Will Peggy stab someone else? Will Father Abraham have more than seven sons?