MAD MEN 4.10: Hands and Knees

This episode was about the past catching up with you; chickens coming home to roost; reaping what ye sow – and any other clichés you care to mention about consequences and responsibilities. In this case, the causes were Don’t secret identity, Joan and Roger’s recent tryst, Roger coasting at work, and Lane’s marriage collapsing. They were facing the prospects of being suitably humbled; getting on their knees or holding out their hands to beg forgiveness. Actions have consequences, even for the great Don Draper. Perhaps especially for the great Don Draper Dick Whitman.

Joan (Christina Hendricks) told Roger (John Slattery) she’s late, and Greg has been gone for seven weeks, so “it” has to be Roger’s. And there’s no way she can go to her regular OB-GYN. Luckily, Roger knew a doctor, who was (slightly) less judgmental but still accused him of “ruining her”) and begrudgingly referred them to a clinic doctor who does abortions. Joan said she’ll “take care of it.” At the clinic, she encountered a mom whose 17-year-old daughter was having a procedure. The woman was devastated, and Joan (perhaps out of sympathy more than mere embarrassment) pretended to be there with a 15-year-old daughter. I suppose that was a sort of atonement, accepting social blame, but it seemed like Joan was dodging admitting she was the one who “got in trouble.”

But Roger’s torment was far from over. At lunch, Lee Garner Jr. (Darren Pettie) told him that Lucky Strike is walking away from SCDP because the company wants to consolidate everything with another firm. “We’re dead,” Roger moaned, noting he had the account for 30 years. Lee pointed out that Roger inherited it from his father. Roger begged Lee to wait 30 days to make the announcement, to give him a chance to cover his bases. As Lee left, he offered Roger his hand, suggesting, “No hard feelings?” Roger actually shook it. Lee was asking absolution, and Roger granted it. Even though he had to take a nitroglycerine tablet. It’s possible he was humbled by the experience with Joan. Roger tried calling in some other favors, but his attempts to make nice with old cronies fell on deaf ears.

Don (Jon Hamm) was nearly deafened when he told daughter Sally (Kiernan Shipka) that he would be taking her to see the Beatles at Shea Stadium! (For you modern readers confused by the Beatles reference, imagine if the Jonas Brothers teamed up with Justin Bieber. And then hired good songwriters. And professional singers. And let the pros do the show.) On the work front, all Pete’s (Vincent Kartheiser) hard work was paying off when defense contractor North American Aviation looking to spend $6 million to promote their business to Californians, and wanted SCDP to handle their campaigns. Only one problem: Don didn’t stop to think through the implications of doing work with the defense department. A couple of DOD agents visited Betty (January Jones) out of the blue in order to conduct a background check on Don. They asked pretty standard witch-hunt questions, like did he read radical or subversive publications, or ever show sympathies to communist party, etc. But then they asked if Don had ever given her any reason to believe he isn’t who he said he is. That one brought her up short, as you might guess. She covered for her former husband of 11 years, and then called him in a tizzy. He was in a near-panic talking to her. Investigating, it turned out that a clearance application was included with the NAA paperwork, and Megan (Jessica Paré) filled out the form and gave it to him to sign just like all the other stacks of papers he gets. (“It’s what I do,” Don moaned.) Now, he realized the form contained false statements — three lies in eight questions, as a matter of fact! He begged Pete to get his friend at DOD to look into it. Pete was indignant at Don’s demands. “I don’t have to live with your shit over my head,” Pete sniffed. As Don continued to unravel, he summoned Dr. Miller (Cara Buono), who recognized he had a fever and insisted he go home. At his door, two men approached, asking directions; Don’s hands shook so badly that he couldn’t put the key in the lock. He had what we know today as a panic attack. “I can’t breathe!” he gasped as he tore off his shirt, clutching at his chest as he feared he was having a heart attack. Then he puked. Don told Fay about switching identities with the real Don Draper in Korea. “I just kept living, as him,” Don noted. “But now I think that’s over.” She suggested turning himself in, but he didn’t see that as an option. There is no statute of limitations on desertion. “I’m just so damn tired of all of it,” he sighed, lying on his bed. He apologized for dragging her into it (She’s an accomplice, now.), but she said she was glad he told her. She curled up next to him. Pete was suffering, too. He couldn’t tell his pregnant wife, Trudy (Allison Brie), why he was upset, so he just groused about destructive people who let their own woes drag down other people; honest people. The next morning, he arrived at Don’s place early enough to see Fay slinking out. The good news was, Don’s case wasn’t flagged, so he could end the crisis by withdrawing his application. But that would mean spiking the account. For Pete, that meant walking away from $4 million, “because you can’t live out in the open!”

At the partners meeting, Pete announced that NAA was moving on – because Pete had messed up the paperwork. Yes, he fell on his sword for Don. Maybe for SCDP as a whole, but still, for Don. Roger went ballistic on him for losing the missile account. Of course, Roger still hadn’t told anyone about Lucky Strike yet. Don leaped to Pete’s defense. And then Lane (Jared Harris) announced that he was taking a leave of absence to tend to his family.

His family was certainly tending to him. His father, Robert (W. Morgan Sheppard), came all the way to New York to confront him. “I’m here to bring you home,” Robert declared. Lane invited Don to join them for a special dinner, and Lane took them to the Playboy Club, where he was a member. And, clearly, a regular. He had taken an interest in one bunny in particular, Toni Charles (Naturi Naughton). Robert was clearly non-plussed because Toni is not Caucasian; in 1965, the term was Negro. Later, Lane approached Toni, saying, “You know that I love you.” She replied, “I love you too.” Lane invited his father to his apartment to meet Toni properly and go to dinner with her. Lane was unapologetic, noting that he loves Toni, he doesn’t care if she’s a Negro, and she is the reason he’s staying in America. Robert cuffed Lane severely about the head, like a British schoolboy. He actually knocked off Lane’s glasses (and drew blood)! Robert stepped on Lane’s hand, and commanded him to return to England. “Put your house in order,” he growled. “Yes, sir,” Lane responded. I guess you could say he was sorry now…

Just like all our other players this week, on their knees, in supplication. I hope I am not the only one who believes Harris should be thanked for his performances this year (like this one) with a supporting actor Emmy?

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3 thoughts on “MAD MEN 4.10: Hands and Knees

  1. Totally agree about Jared Harris. While this season has been amazing, he was somewhat missed in the last few epsiodes. Think he comes back by season’s end, or does he remain trapped, literally and figuratively, under his father’s boots?

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    • I think Lane will be back. He’s becoming more American, more rebellious! When he first appeared, he may have seemed to be some snooty British stick-in-the-mud, but he has really grown. He has made mistakes, but it’s been fun to watch. Now, at his age, he’s finally ready to “grow up” and get out from under his father’s thumb.

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Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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