"Mad Men" Love Among the Ruins (TV Episode 2009) - Plot Summary Poster

(TV Series)



Showing all 4 items
Jump to:


  • There's trouble in both the Sterling and Hofstadt families. With the Sterlings, Roger's daughter Margaret informs him that she doesn't want his wife, Jane, at her wedding, Margaret being ashamed that her step-mother is the same age as her. With the Hofstadts, Gene's Alzheimer's is getting worse, and his wife Gloria has left him. As such, Betty and her brother William have to make some decisions about what to do with their father. William gets some unsolicited and unwanted advice in this matter. At the office, two accounts are on the minds of the executives. One is for Patio Cola, Pepsi's diet soda. Pepsi wants to go with an Ann-Margret Bye Bye Birdie (1963) feel. Peggy does not agree with this approach. Despite that, Peggy is feeling in an Ann-Margret spirit in her personal life. The other has Don trying to win the business of the town's new planned multi-purpose facility, Madison Square Gardens. Don gets some bad and unexpected news on this front.

  • Betty Draper has to deal with her brother William who wants to place their father Gene in a home for the aged. He says that they do not have the resources to keep him but Betty suspects he just wants to get his hands on their Dad's house. William keeps laying on the guilt and it's up to Don to settle it all. At the office, Don and Roger Sterling go after a major account: the group that wants to build the new Madison Square Gardens and demolish the beautiful Penn railway station. They're successful but head office in London has other ideas. Peggy doesn't agree with the Agency's approach to a new Pepsi campaign thinking that it should be directed more at women that at men. She still feels like the odd "man" out on the creative team even though, consciously or otherwise, she is beginning to act more and more like her male colleagues. With his daughter's wedding soon upon him, Roger Sterling has to deal with the fact that his daughter doesn't want his new fiancée to attend.

  • Don is brought in to save the day for a P.R. campaign involving the building of the new Madison Square Garden, only to have the rug pulled out from under him. At home, Betty argues with her brother over how to care for their sick father.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • "Mad Men" - "Love Among the Ruins" - August 23, 2009

    We open on a clip of Ann-Margret singing the title song in "Bye Bye Birdie," the gang is watching the movie musical in the conference room. When it ends Sal says Susan Watson on Broadway was good but didn't have "that." Apparently, a Pepsi knock off is starting a new diet drink to help women "reduce" called "Patio" and want to do a shot-for-shot copy of the "Birdie" sequence. The men are excited about the casting phase. Peggy wonders why they're going with a male-targeted ad when it's for women. Ken points out that she's not fat anymore. Peggy thanks him, awkwardly, and wonders if they'll at least be allowed to "make fun of it." Ken tells her to stop being a prude. Peggy says clients don't always know what's best. Ken retorts that when they land the account she can talk to them that way.

    It's morning in the Draper house and a very pregnant Betty is bummed there's no Melba toast left. Don tells her to have some oatmeal or the baby will only weigh a pound. Don notices some pictures of furniture. Apparently, they're hiring a decorator for something. (A nursery?) She says they need to go to Tarrytown to stare at antiques. The kids protest that the stores are stinky. Don says they'll go and like it...and then get Carvel.

    Pete and Kinsey are meeting with new clients: they're the folks behind Madison Square Garden, and they want to tear down Penn Station to build it. New Yorkers are not amused at the idea of tearing down the Beaux Arts classic. MSG wants Sterling Cooper to help sell the building since newspaper columnists and others are voicing vocal protest. Kinsey goes through the protests and seems to agree with them, much to the MSG men's dismay. Pete says Kinsey is just helping them look for an angle. The MSG man snorts at Kinsey that New York is the greatest city in the world and if he doesn't like it he can move. Kinsey complains New York is losing its memory. The clients leave in a huff. Pete tells Kinsey he'll have to talk to Don now about his behavior. Kinsey asks him not to, saying he talked to them that way just so they'll be impressed when Sterling-Cooper makes it happen for them.

    Betty arrives at SC and Joan compliments her on the way she's carrying, saying that she'll soon be in a family way if it's up to her hubby. Don's secretary performs the old wives' trick of swinging a necklace over her belly to determine the sex. It's swinging side to side but they don't know what that means.

    Roger and Don and Bert meet with Price, the head Brit. He tells them they've been sacked by Campbell's Great Britain. Bert tells Price to not bother calling every time they get sacked, since he'll just wear a path in the carpeting and takes off. Price is mad that the account slipped through the cracks. Don says he doesn't call meetings he's invited to them. Price complains they've all effed up.

    Don goes out to meet Betty and Roger says hello. She asks after him and he says it's not hard to adjust to happiness. As Don and Betty depart, Joan and Roger are left standing there. Roger smiles at her, Joan walks away. (Awkward.) Betty tells Don she's in a foul mood as they depart.

    The Drapers and the Prices meet for dinner. The Prices have settled into a 3 bedroom place near the U.N. She snarks that this is good since that means there are plenty of Africans around. They drink a fancy schmancy wine, including Betty, and compliment it. Mrs. Price wonders how long Don and Betty have been together, he says ten years, she says nine. The Price's have been together 15. Mrs. Price says she misses London, but what they've lost in Britishness they've gained in insects. Mr. Price tries to bring up business but Don steers them away from that. Mrs. Price asks after schools in New York, Betty isn't familiar.

    Driving home Don tells a pissy Betty that he didn't want to be there any more than she did. She gripes that it was simply the cherry on her sundae. He asks her to tell him what's wrong now, not later ten minutes after he's fallen asleep. She says she hasn't been able to reach her dad and it turns out that Gloria, his new, younger wife has left him. Betty's mad at her for abandoning him in his hour of need. Don thinks she just finally realized he's a son of a bitch. Betty is worried and suggests having her brother William and sister-in-law Judy to bring him up for the weekend. Don snarks, "Great, more antiques." He wonders why she even bothered asking. Betty ignores this and says the baby's really kicking. (Maybe because she's smoking.)

    In the office Roger's ex-wife Mona and daughter Margaret show up. They've come to talk about Jane. Margaret doesn't want her at her wedding, that it will ruin it for her since Jane is young enough to be her sister. Mona proposes that she and her date sit with the in-laws and Roger and "June" host their own table. Roger is annoyed at this, especially since he's paying for everything. Margaret picks an invite. The wedding is set for Nov. 23, 1963. (So her wedding will be ruined for other reasons.)

    Don has a visitor, Mr. Price. He compliments Betty and says she lifted his wife Rebecca's spirits. He asks Don to take the gent from MSG to a nice lunch since Kinsey effed things up. Roger will be joining as well. The MSG guy is irate and wants SC to be its Cyrano De Bergerac and make New York fall in love with the idea of the arena.

    Betty's dad arrives at the Drapers with William, Judy, and their three daughters. They've brought sandwiches and Gene, Betty's dad, even got one for Gloria. William shouts that Gloria is in Boca Raton and not coming back. Judy reminds Gene he should take his medication, Cumadin, with his sandwich.

    Peggy eavesdrops on Joan charming some visitors, joking with them that she was in a place so crowded she felt like she was on the subway.

    At lunch Roger joins Don, late. Don is grumpy and wonders what else Roger had to do today or the rest of the week for that matter. Roger says that Mona and Margaret are bringing him to his knees. Don says nothing. Roger surmises that Don is implying he's made his bed and should now lie in it...right? Don says those are Roger's words not his. Roger says the wedding has turned into a land grab for their daughter's affections and Mona is pouring poison in Margaret's ears. He says he no longer cares about wedding, he just wants to win.

    Edgar from MSG arrives but claims he only has a minute. They coax him to sit and apologize about Kinsey. MSG man points out that they're supposed to be helping him and he doesn't like that they're making him sound like a villain. Don points out he should only feel that way if he has a guilty conscience. He also points out that the project is going forward no matter what, so it's up to them to change the conversation if they don't like it. That change is neither is good nor bad, it simply is. Some people greet it with terror and others joy. Some throw a tantrum to keep things the way they are while other do a dance for something new. MSG man is intrigued and grabs a menu and asks, "What is that conversation?" Hooked! Don points out that when he went to Cali it was beautiful, clean, and full of hope. NYC is in decay, but MSG is the beginning of a new city on a hill. The MSG man says he doesn't want Kinsey, the communist, on the account. Don says he'll handle it personally.

    Grandpa Gene comes in to where the kids are watching TV to see the end of the baseball game.

    In the living room Betty says Gene seems well and has a good appetite. William says eating isn't a problem and in fact when he heard Gloria was gone he was hoping Gene ate her. Judy says he's down in the dumps but clearheaded. William disagrees saying he's angry and in and out of clarity. He suggests the Parker Home in New Brunswick, halfway between them. It's expensive but they can sell their house to give him something to live on. Betty says William just wants their fancy childhood home. She says those places are just for people who don't have families. He angrily wonders what she proposes then.

    Don comes home and stops by and says hi to Gene, who complains about his accommodations. Don tells him to man up.

    He enters the bedroom and Betty complains that Don didn't hang up his coat and it's covered in soot. She tells him William's plan to put him in an old folks home. Don thinks that's a good idea. Betty thinks he just wants the house.

    William and Judy go to sleep in the bunk beds in Bobby's room and chat. William says Betty never remembers that she and her dad fought all the time. Judy says family is important to Betty. William remembers that Don didn't have anyone on his side at the wedding. Judy wonders why they can't just move in with Gene and she'll take care of him. William says it's bad enough to work for him, he's 30, and doesn't want to be told he has the wrong tie on.

    Peggy is washing her lacy under things before heading to bed. She brushes her hair and tries on some coquettish looks and sings "Bye Bye Birdie" to the mirror, trying to be cutesy. She goes back to brushing her hair.

    Pete meets with Don, Paul and Kinsey. Don tells Kinsey to keep a low profile on the MSG account. Price shows up and asks for a private meeting with Don. Bad news, London has called, now there's a problem with MSG, it's a conflict and they've been told to turn it down. Apparently, it won't be cost effective because they'll have to service MSG with a big team of people. Don is pissed saying MSG is their way into the World's Fair not to mention the 30 years of dividends it could pay with concerts, sporting events, special events. Price says the home office in London doesn't appear to care about that. Don is mad saying he told them to go get the account, he did, and now he's being told don't do it because Price forgot to check with his boss? He wonders who's running the place.

    Don asks, "Why did you buy us?" Price replies, "I don't know."

    As their meeting ends, Peggy's waiting outside with Sal's storyboards. Don hasn't seen "Bye Bye Birdie." Peggy screens the opening for him. She reiterates her opposition to the male bent of the approach and adds that Ann-Margret's voice is shrill. Don wearily explains what he knows she knows: men want her, women want to be like her. She calls it phony and not really for women and if they were writing a play they wouldn't go this way. He reminds her she's not an artist, that she solves problems. He tells her to leave some tools in her toolbox.

    At the end of the day, Peggy holds the elevator for Roger. They awkwardly chit chat. He asks her as a young girl, "what would your father have to do for you to not want him at the wedding?" Peggy says her father passed away. Roger says then she'd likely do anything to have him there.

    Peggy comes up out of the subway and walks past a bar and looks in the window, before deciding to go in. She smiles at a guy and says hello as she makes her way through the crowd. At the bar she tries out Joan's line about the subway. A couple of guys laugh. One asks her where her drink is. She smiles. Cutely.

    Don comes home to Gene at the table playing solitaire, William plunging the sink, Judy setting the table, and the kids watching TV. Betty comes down the stairs saying she's going for a bucket of chicken and that she's a bad daughter. She tells Don that William says it's a home, or they move in with Gene and Judy takes care of him. Betty doesn't like that.

    Don calls William into his office. William says he understands they're all upset. Don tells him what's going to happen: William is going to explain to Betty and Judy that William is going to support his father financially and Gene will move in with the Drapers. William will tell Betty and Judy that this is what he wants so he can pretend he did the right thing and the family house will be untouched. He tells William it's now time to take a hike, but to leave Gene's Lincoln. William protests and wonders how his family will get home. He tells him to take NY Central, Broadway Ltd., it leaves Penn Station in two hours. William huffily says, "You want him, you got him."

    Don sits at the table with Gene with the paper. He watches William tell Betty and Judy; she looks at him, happily it seems. William comes in and breaks the news. Gene tries to protest. Betty says they want him here, just for a while, a vacation of sorts. Gene says he's not that blue and then grumps that the animals are now running the zoo. William says they're not selling the house and they're giving him his car. Judy consoles him and says Gene really wanted to get out of town and always says Betty is a better cook anyway. (She says this with a somewhat pained expression.) William tells the girls to get their things together. Gene is not happy.

    Peggy has a "stinger" with a boy at the bar who's having a messy burger. He's going to Brooklyn College, he loves to eat, his mom says he's still growing, and he needs to work on his manners. He says he was pre-law but switched to engineering. She points out that those things are very different. He says if we're all going to be replaced by machines he should be the guy who makes them. She says she works at an ad agency. He assumes she's a secretary. She says her boss is a jerk. The guy's friends come over to tell them they're leaving, and asks if he needs cab fare. He points out that he lives around the corner. After the other guys leave she grabs the boy's burger and takes a bite. He says she's funny. She chews, and smiles.

    They get along well, enough that they end up back at his place making out and doing some petting on the couch. She asks if he has a condom. He doesn't. He's sad. They make out some more. She stops him. He says it's getting late. She says there are other things they can do. He's psyched, they start making out again.

    Don and Betty are awakened by noises from downstairs. Don goes down to find Gene dumping out booze. He says "the heat is on" and they have to get rid of the "stuff," like it's prohibition. He's definitely losing it.

    Back at the boy's house, post-"other things," Peggy gets up and gets dressed and tries to get gone. He awakens. She says she has to leave since she has to work in the morning. He tells her he hangs out at that place a lot. (So maybe he'll see her again he silently implies). She says okay and adds "this was fun" and leaves.

    Gene, Don, Betty and Bobby attend Sally's field day and dance around the Maypole. Don seems more interested in the fresh-faced teacher and her bare legs as she frolics around with the kids. Another dad takes a family photo.

    Coming in to the office late from the festivities, Don sees Peggy typing away. She comes in his office to talk Pampers.

See also

Taglines | Synopsis | Plot Keywords | Parents Guide

Contribute to This Page