Tonight’s episode of “Mad Men” was called “At the Codfish Ball,” but it might as well have been called “The In-laws.”
Peggy, disappointed that her boyfriend, Abe, suggested they live together rather than get married, asks her mother over for a special dinner to announce their new living arrangements.
Instead of staying for dessert, Peggy’s mom gets up and leaves at the news. Heck, she even takes back the dessert she brought with her.
For all the change the series has been demonstrating as it marches through the 1960s, it was a pointed reminder that social mores had yet to change substantially and young women were expected to get married, or — as Peggy’s mom noted — get a cat. Then another cat. Then another cat. “Then you’re done.”
There was a similarly unpleasant undertone to the visit by Megan’s parents to the Draper household. Sure there were a few moments of lighthearted family fun, particularly when Sally and Megan and her mother went shopping and came home so Don could play Dagwood to Megan’s Blondie.
But most of the time the in-laws were visiting was filled with hate-filled French tirades between Megan’s parents.
Megan’s mother — played by Julia Ormond, who is, needless to say, too young to be playing Jessica Pare’s mother — livened thing up considerably at the ball that the family and Roger Sterling attended late in the episode.
After striking sparks with Roger, Megan’s mom accompanies him into a room down the hall from the ballroom. It is there they are spotted by Don’s young daughter, Sally (Kiernan Shipka) in a thoroughly compromising position. It’s another disillusioning moment for Sally and a shocking moment in the episode.
Roger’s one liners continue to be a highlight of the series. “Maybe Jesus was just pursuing the loaves and fishes account,” he notes during a discussion of motivations for good acts. John Slattery is at his most charming in this episode, partnering with Sally for the business gathering and jokingly calling her a “mean drunk” before giving her a Shirley Temple. And, needless to say, before giving her an eyeful by his antics with her sort-of-grandmother.
Joan (Christina Hendricks) gets the prize for best recovery of the episode. After observing that Peggy (Elizabeth Moss) isn’t wearing an engagement ring, Joan hears about Abe’s proposal and blurts out, “Shacking up?” before she recovers and convinces Peggy it’s really a romantic idea.
For the second time this season, “Mad Men” mines the “Twin Peaks” cast for guest stars. A few weeks ago it was Madchen Amick as Andrea, Don’s old fling.
Tonight Ray Wise, the actor who played Leland Palmer, murder victim Laura Palmer’s father on “Twin Peaks,” guest starred as a business executive who breaks some bad news to Don regarding the repercussions of his infamous ad about tobacco and smoking in The New York Times.
Which “Twin Peaks” vet will guest next? I’m holding out for Peggy Lipton.