“Mad Men,” Episode 9, “The Beautiful Girls”


Miss Blankenship’s parting shot: “It’s a business of sadists and masochists, and you know which one you are.”

I didn’t love this episode, “The Beautiful Girls.” I found it heavy-handed and speechy in ways that “Mad Men” is usually deft about avoiding, e.g. Peggy’s friend Joyce’s bit about men being vegetable soup and women being soup pots. That kinda made me choke. This was clearly the Women with Issues edition of “Mad Men.”

I’ll sleep on it but I think it’s the weakest of the season run so far. There were some poignant moments, courtesy of the immensely talented Kiernan Shipka. For me, the highest and lowest moments of the episode, written by Dahvi Waller and Matthew Weiner and directed by Michael Uppendahl, came close together at the end.

After Sally has already torn our hearts out by playing out her Daddy-romance fantasy, right down to making rum-soaked French toast for breakfast while wearing one of his T-shirts, she just kills it all over again with her freak out in Don’s office.

The sight of Sally running down the hall, running for her freedom, running to get her dad’s undivided attention, and then falling face first — pass the tissues. Finally, somebody figures out that the kid needs a hug, and I suspect it helped to calm Sally that the woman who picked her up, Megan, was a tall brunette who looks nothing like her mother.

The powerful moment comes in the following scene, when Sally is taken to Betty in the lobby, and Joan and other women in the office come out to watch the handover as if they were human rights observers. I’m convinced Betty was only halfway human to Sally in that moment because all of those female eyes were boring into her. At least Don mostly rose to the occasion when confronted with an 100-decibel cry for help.