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Sunday, March 16, 2014
Tea Leaves – Mad Men Episode Summary 5.3
Episode Summary: Betty Francis, who has gained a considerable amount of weight, struggles to fit into her dress as her husband, Henry Francis, anxiously waits for her. Unable to fit into her dress, Betty feigns illness in order to avoid having to join her husband at a Junior League of New York event. Conversely, Don Draper helps his new young and slim wife get into her dress for a dinner with Raymond Geiger, the Heinz executive, and his wife. Don is eager to be at the restaurant before their client arrives and learns that Megan is keen to please the Geigers as well. Megan, however, loses her poise when confronted about the manner he and Don got together, but the Geigers are polite enough to let it slide. Her inquiry about the Geigers’ daughter prompted Raymond to ask Don about having The Rolling Stones record a jingle for Heinz using their current hit song Time is On My Side, one his daughter keeps on playing.
Pete Campbell and Lane Pryce inform Roger Sterling that Mohawk Airlines is about to drop their current agency for Sterling Cooper Draper and Pryce. The airline company asked for Roger to handle the account. Lane apprises him of the terrible shape the company is in with their multi-million dollar debt and potential mechanic strike. Pete brings up the need to have a dedicated copywriter for Mohawk Airlines, a requirement Lane could not fathom. Roger agrees with Pete believing that their client will not treat Peggy Olson seriously and Don will not agree to write local fare ads three times a week. With the partners including Don in agreement, Lane acquiesces to adding another copywriter to their staff. Don and Roger inform Peggy that she is to hire a male copywriter to work on the Mohawk Airlines account as soon as possible. Peggy reviews portfolios from various candidates and becomes exasperated with the lack of originality. Many candidates have included a modified version of the popular Volkswagen ad using it on other products. After hours of scouring through tasteless portfolios, Peggy runs into Michael Ginsberg’s collection and finds him to be a talented copywriter. Stan Rizzo agrees that the man does have talent, but dismisses him as a potential hire seeing that he could one day take over Peggy’s job. Peggy, however, states that she finds inspiration in talented people. She puts aside her competitiveness for a chance to work with a talented copywriter.
Although having a band with stones in its name sing a jingle for a product shaped as kidneys would be foolish, Don still asks Harry Crane to procure for them a meeting with The Rolling Stones in an attempt to please their biggest client. Harry succeeded in getting backstage passes at the concert in Forest Hills Tennis Stadium that Saturday night to allow Don to propose to them the idea of singing a jingle for Heinz Baked Beans. He waits outside his office as Don’s new African American secretary, Dawn Chambers, informs her manager of Harry’s arrival. An African American landing a job at SCDP was the result of the prank Roger and Don ran to embarrass Y&R. Their names sounding like homonyms have caused giggles on staff and partners alike. Don argues that he decided to hire her despite the confusion it might cause, because she was the most qualified of all the candidates.
Henry’s mother, Pauline Francis, drops by the next day to check on Betty whom she knows has feigned illness. She sensed that Henry was upset for not having his wife by his side at the previous night’s event. Pauline is aware that Betty’s weight gain was the reason for her absence and seeing her with a box of Bugles validated her supposition. She advises Betty to take control of her weight gain, which surprised her seeing that Pauline is overweight as well. The woman cites her heart condition and her lack of need to please men at her age as the reason for her not practicing what she preaches. Having taken her mother-in-law’s advice, Betty wastes no time to see her physician to ask him for diet pills. The doctor is reluctant to prescribe her diet pills without conducting an examination. Moreover, he believes that middle-aged women’s rapid weight gain is usually psychological, but thorough as he is, the doctor would like to rule out physiological issues first. It was right of him to do so for his examination revealed a lump on her thyroid. Shaken with the news, Betty rushes back to her house to find her husband, but he is nowhere in sight. She decides instead to confide with her ex-husband, Don. He senses that the news terrified his ex-wife and he does his best to console her. Henry, at last, comes home and uses his connections to get Betty an appointment with a formidable specialist the next morning. Betty is on her way to the doctor’s office when an old friend, Joyce Darling, bumps into her. The woman has cancer and is about to go through radiation therapy. She invites Betty to have lunch with her afterwards. Betty only ordered tea trying to limit her food intake despite learning that her health problem might be the cause of her weight gain. She jokes to be the only one to have cancer that causes a person to grow fat. Joyce confides that she only learned about her illness after the third visit. Moreover, she managed to keep her illness from her children despite her frequent doctor’s appointments. She would rather have her children think of her dying in an accident than having to say goodbye to them. This made Betty think of her own death and the unpleasant memory she will leave her children. She asks her friend of how it is like living with cancer and she gets a blast of reality full of dread such that Joyce accepts an offer from Cecillia, a clairvoyant, to predict their future knowing that the woman’s predictions are always pleasant. Betty hands her teacup for the clairvoyant to read her tea leaves. True enough, Cecillia finds that Betty means so much to the people around her for she has a great soul. Her words brought tears to Betty, alarming the clairvoyant who did not notice it right away. Joyce pays her for the prediction and sends her away. The thought of her passing has overcome Betty’s thoughts that she dreams about it that night. In her nightmare, she sees her domineering mother-in-law attending to her family in mourning.
Peggy Olson brings in Michael Ginsberg for an interview and finds him an appalling person. Michael finds no reason to impress Peggy seeing that she is a woman and he insists on seeing Don Draper or any man who has the authority to hire an employee. Michael, despite his poor first impression, does not seem alarmed. He pulls his crumpled resume from his sleeve, one that cited Allen Ginsberg as a character reference and has no advertising agency work experience. Peggy dismisses Michael after having only spent a few minutes with him. His dismissal finally made Michael realize the precariousness of his interview and he struggles to repair the damage with honesty and attempt at chivalry. Roger returns to the office after a drunken lunch with the executives of Mohawk Airlines and checks with Peggy about the interview only to learn that she has refused to hire the candidate believing that Don will not be able to work with him. Roger, however, orders Peggy to hire Michael in spite of his shortcomings for he had already told the client about it. Roger had initiated the discussion with the client about hiring Michael in order to get the sense of how Mohawk stands with having a copywriter who is a Jew. Ostensibly, Mohawk does not have any qualms about Jewish people believing that it is no longer an issue in most companies. Moreover, Roger believes that having a Jew among their staff modernizes their agency.
Don Draper enters the backstage of The Rolling Stones dressed inappropriately for a concert. He and Harry Crane walk over to the door to the dressing room where security refuses their admittance despite Harry relaying their appointment with the band manager, Allen Klein. Don bribes security into informing them of the band’s arrival, while he and Harry wait. As they stand in wait smoking a cigarette, teenagers approach them for a light, but not before ensuring that they are not with the police. The teens learning of their occupation and associating them with characters from the TV show Bewitched highlights the incongruity of their presence. Moreover, Harry manages to meet The Rolling Stones through one of the teenage girls. The other teenage girl is left with Don. She finds herself confiding to an ad man her fantasy. Don, hearing that the teen would do anything Brian Jones would ask her to do, warns the girl of her endeavor showing genuine concern. Their conversation is interrupted when Harry is hauled out of the dressing room holding an agreement that will have The Rolling Stones do a Heinz commercial. A minute later the crowd goes wild as they rush over to the band that had just arrived through helicopter making Harry realize that he had just signed an agreement with an unknown band called The Tradewinds whom he mistook for The Rolling Stones. Harry envies the young who are high on drugs and free of any worries. His reluctance to return home shows his regret for having married and for having started a family.
Megan wakes Don, who went to bed on his clothes from the previous night. Exhausted with last night’s fruitless waiting and with the news of Betty’s tumor, Don refuses to spend the day at Fire Island with Megan’s young friends. Don finally informs Megan of Betty’s tumor and uses it as an excuse for not wanting to go. Megan convinces Don to go with her to Fire Island citing the fact that he cannot do anything about Betty’s condition. Meanwhile, Betty spends the Fourth of July with her husband and children relishing every minute of it knowing that she might not have enough time left with them. Henry and Betty wait restlessly for the test results that the sound of a ringing telephone startles them. The first call turns out to be for Henry, but the second call that Betty answered delivered the test results. Betty learns that her tumor is benign. Husband and wife heave a sigh of relief and a chuckle, but Betty’s distress for the anxiety of learning of her potentially having cancer comes forth soon after. Fortunately, her tough yet loving husband is there to comfort her and to make her see how lucky they are to have eluded the worst.
Peggy follows Roger’s advice and presents Michael to Don with a strategy to limit the man from speaking. Peggy is surprised at the uncharacteristic agreeable behavior from Michael that is the opposite of his attitude during her interview with him. She is concerned after seeing that the man is not crazy after all and that he already has gotten the approval of both Don and Roger. Michael is saddened upon hearing Peggy’s disappointment only to learn that he was hired in spite of his obnoxious behavior towards her. Michael returns to the tiny apartment he shares with his father with news of him landing the job with an ad agency. His father is proud of his son’s achievement and prays over him in Hebrew.
Later, Peggy and all employees are called to reception to hear that Mohawk Airlines has chosen to return to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. The announcement elicited applause from everyone. Roger, however, becomes incensed when Pete takes credit for getting the airline back and for making it sound like Roger will be working for him. Roger after assuring Peggy that she should not be worried about her hire taking over her job rescinds his assurance with a statement that Pete was the last person he hired. Don follows Roger after the man walks out of the celebration knowing very well the reason for it. He relays Betty’s misfortune in an attempt to console Roger revealing that he too needs comforting as well. Don worries about his children growing up without a mother aware that he had an unpleasant childhood for not having one. He calls the Francis’ residence to hear news about Betty surprising Henry, who was unaware that his wife had informed her ex-husband. He is relieved to hear that his wife does not have cancer, but Megan does not seem to care much.
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