I’ve been waiting all season for a good Sally Draper episode of Mad Men. I finally got it last night, but as usual things weren’t looking up for poor Sally. This girl just cannot catch a break, can she? How many things will she witness before 1970? I went into this episode looking for death clues left and right, but I forgot all about those conspiracy theories during the second half hour. You can probably tell from my opening comments where the sympathy rankings will end up, but let’s get to them anyway. Check out last week’s rankings to compare.
8. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) (Last week: 7)
Don just can’t redeem himself. He goes out of his way to help Sylvia and Arnold’s son Mitchell avoid combat, and Ted eventually agrees to get him a spot in the national guard if Don stops being so competitive. It’s about time someone ordered that to happen. But Don isn’t doing this out of the kindness of his heart. He wants to get back into Sylvia’s pants, and it works. Of course, he’s interrupted by his daughter Sally walking in and witnessing this comfort/gratitude sex, or whatever you’d call it.There’s a moment in the elevator when Don breaks down, and it seems like this could finally be a wake-up call for him. But he shows that’s not the case by refusing to own up to his behavior. He tells Sally he was “comforting” Sylvia. News flash, Don. Sally isn’t a four-year-old. She understands married men shouldn’t comfort other women with their pants around their ankles. Sally says, “You make me sick.” I second that.
7. Sylvia Rosen (Linda Cardellini) (Last week: not ranked)
I was semi-impressed with Sylvia when she broke up with Don and scolded him for stalking her. But any and all respect I had for her flew out the window when fell for his sleazy ploy to get her back into bed. Okay, you’re grateful that Don helped your son. Bake a pie or something; don’t sleep with him.
6. Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) (Last week: 8)
Pete continued to be his condescending self this episode. I was briefly enjoying his dinner conversation with Peggy, in spite of myself, but I forgot about it once he started freaking out over his mother’s imagined relationship with her caretaker Manolo. It’s pretty clear from Bob’s explanation that Manolo is gay (as is Bob, by the way, surprise!), but Pete still fires him and takes a less-than-compassionate approach with his mother. Sure, it sucks to have your mom call you “unlovable,” and it’s gotta be complicated dealing with a senile parent, but Pete is not winning himself any sympathy. By the way, are we to assume that Bob’s homosexuality is the big reveal about who he is? Because he’s been trying to get on everyone’s good side, not just the men. Explain yourself, Mad Men!
5. Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) (Last week: 1)
If I had lived in the 1960s, I like to think I’d be like Peggy Olson. She’s struggling with living without Abe, and the newest issue she has to deal with isn’t a pleasant one: a rat. She’s funny when she runs out of the apartment upon noticing the critter, and she’s funny when she asks Stan for help. (“Why are you using your sexy voice?”) She finally gets a cat to protect her. As a cat lady myself, I approve.
4. Megan Draper (Jessica ParĂ©) (Last week: 3)
Ugh, poor Megan has no idea what’s going on. She doesn’t know that Don helped Sylvia’s son, she doesn’t know that he’s cheating on her. And on top of all that, she has to discipline Sally and her friend. Plus, she might be dead? It’s awful.
3. Arnold Rosen (Brian Markinson) (Last week: not ranked)
Ugh, poor Arnold. Poor so many people! He has to worry about his son being drafted, and then when there’s good news about it, his wife falls back into bed with his neighbor! Arnold and Megan should form some sort of “I have no idea what’s going on” club.
2. Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm) (Last week: 4)
I knew I liked Ted Chaough, if for nothing else than the fact that he’ll put Don Draper in his place. Read the memos and communicate with your partners, Don! (I also love the line “I don’t want his juice, I want my juice!” because it highlights how childish this business can be.) I’m glad we’re finally getting some insight into Ted’s family life. His wife wants him to spend more time with his family, and I can’t blame her. By the end of the episode, it looks like Ted is making more of an effort to be a family man, and it’s so anti-Don Draper that I can’t help but love it.
1. Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka) (Last week: not ranked)
It’s hard being Sally Draper. First her sleepover buddy gives Mitchell the silly note they wrote about him. Don’t you hate those friends who act like they’re helping you but are really just ruining your life? Yeah, me too. When Sally gets the keys and tries to retrieve the note so Mitchell doesn’t think she likes him, what does she see but her father “comforting” Mitchell’s mother. First she sees Roger getting a blowjob from Megan’s mother, and now this? If I were her, I probably would have blurted out what I saw and finally made Don take responsibility for his actions, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel an enormous amount of sympathy for Sally. She can’t have a normal adolescence no matter where she lives.
What will happen next week? Will Pete be gay? Will Peggy have five more cats? Will Sally see something else that will scar her for life? We shall see.