Betty is back! The ninth episode of "Mad Men" opened Sunday night in the Francis family kitchen, where Don Draper was engaging in a rare domestic task — making chocolate shakes for the boys. Betty and Henry return from a fancy dinner with the dean of a university (a "distant Rockefeller," she says) and Betty reveals some ambitious new plans to get a master's degree in psychology because "people love to talk to me."
What she lacks in self-awareness she makes up in a delightfully '70s update of her signature '60s housewife style. Her floral gown is sweet and feminine, yes, and she's wearing pearls. But the dress is sleeveless (radical!) and has a ruffly neckline (fancy!), and she's got an up-do. We've seen her wear her hair up in ornate ways before, but never with these artfully curled strands framing her face. Betty is moving upwards and onwards, and she looks at Don with pity when he scoffs at her academic plans.
Meanwhile, Megan Draper rolls into town — safe from the Manson family, for now! — to try to reboot her acting career, take a million dollars from Don, and argue in French with her sister and mother.
For her lunch meeting with Harry Crane, Megan's outfit is all va-va-voom: tiny powder blue dress, sheer sleeves, breast-enhancing bow, matching eyeshadow, and the kind of hair volume that requires several cans of hairspray to maintain. Megan is desperate to act again, but she busts out of there in a huff when Harry tries to turn their business meeting into a romantic one. We can imagine her pouting somewhere while seductively smoking a cigarette in a French-Canadian way.
For her meeting with Don at the divorce attorney's office, however, the hot blue dress stays completely hidden under a crisp white trench coat. Nothing can dampen that hair volume, though. Ignoring divorce expert Roger Sterling's advice to be brutal in the divorce proceedings with Megan, Don doesn't hesitate to write her a check for a million dollars when she calls him "an aging, sloppy, selfish liar." She takes it and leaves her engagement ring on the table.
Poor Don. So many uncomfortable situations for him this episode. Perhaps the most tense is an elevator ride with his new flavor of the week — a waitress named Diana, with the requisite amount of baggage and promiscuity — and his neighbors, the Rosens. Dr. Rosen is drunk and doesn't hide his disdain for Don, who was schtooping the beautiful Mrs. Rosen a couple of seasons ago. She keeps her composure, steely-eyed in a stunning sequined gown and long white gloves. (Linda Cardellini, I love you.)
The most exciting part of the entire episode was the arrival of a completely new character, celebrity photographer Pima Ryan, who fits right in thanks to her expert ability to manipulate others with her sexuality. She pits Stan and Peggy off against each other by playing to their egos and whipping them into jealous frenzies. But most importantly, she only wears stunning menswear pieces, done up first in a white silk with a red tie, and later, in pin-stripes with a light blue shirt. Her distinctive look is finished off by a prominent swath of gray hair. No wonder Stan and Peggy are captivated by her — there's no one else like her.
Still no Sally Draper appearances yet. Here's hoping we get some scenes of her at boarding school next week, because if she surprises her father with a visit in the city again, she might be disappointed by the sudden lack of furniture. There are only five episodes left of the entire season. Maybe he can hold out without redecorating?