Mad Men s4e10: Hands and Knees

“I just want some warning.”

“Why? What are you gonna do?”

“Whatever I have to. You can run the agency without me.”

Oof, this is a loaded episode filled with people hiding shit. Don and his Dick (identity), Roger losing Lucky Strike, Lane’s marriage implosion, Joan’s abortion.. it’s all a legit mess.

image courtesy of Imgur

Remember North American Aviation? Well, Pete’s done his due diligence and is very slowly coaxing them to SCDP as a client. However, this entails working with the government which is bad news for Don and his whole desertion thing.. you know, that. Pete is spot on to resent Don for needing him to kill the NAA deal, but he also seems to envy Don for not feeling more guilt about who he really is and what he did in Korea.. yet we see peppered in the episode/series how wholly crippling that weight still is, years later.

Pete: “I was thinking about this, and I know it’ll be uncomfortable, but if we have to, we can ride it out.”

Don: “Are you crazy?”

Pete: “This many years later? It must be past the statute of limitations.”

Don: “It’s desertion. There’s no statute of limitations.”

Pete: “I thought nobody cared about these things.”

Don: “What am I supposed to do?”

Pete: “I don’t know.. you’ve been doing it for years. I don’t have to live with your shit over my head.. You know, I signed this account after you disappeared in California. It’s taken three years, but I’ve grown it from cocktails to $4 million.”

Don: “Get rid of it.”

This is a far bigger deal for Don than when Pete found out, because Pete was just a smarmy jerk who wanted to wield that intel to get promoted; at best, Don could lay the smackdown as he did in Cooper’s office, and at worst, he could go full on hobo and Pete wouldn’t give enough of a shit to send the coppers after him. Sorta moot all around, and the old Sterling Cooper would have survived sans Don. SCDP is another story, since Don is pretty much the figurehead and face of this agency.. his loss would radiate.

These G-men are the real deal, and they interview Betty who covers for Don much to his intense relief and sweaty panic. The FBI has mad resources and no hidden agenda à la Pete, and should they happen to uncover Dick Whitman while conducting a routine hunt for Communist ties, he’s up shit creek sans paddle and he knows it.

Post panic attack, Don tells Faye that he’s tired of running. Then, true to form, wholly dismisses her (and Pete’s) suggestion that he should try to face the music and hope that the years passed would somewhat mitigate the penalty. The fly in the ointment is that this gigantic secret is one Don will never really escape no matter how hard he tries. Dick Whitman is dead as far as the US government and military are concerned, so he’s Don Draper until he dies, always looking over his shoulder, waiting for someone else to come blow it all up. His secret is a core part of his identity and his day to day.

Even though Pete can’t see the damage and assumes Don lives scot-free, that ain’t reality. Sounds fucking exhausting.

It was clear how much he yearned for Betty to love him after she learned the truth, and how relieved and relaxed he was around Anna who knew everything, yet Don is underwhelmed that Faye has accepted the truth so simply.. or the edited for content, semi-enhanced version he told her. There’s deffo distance between them in the final scene, and after Faye splits for the day, Don finds himself really seeing Megan for the first time. Cue Beatles cover.

(And how cool is it that Sally gets to see the Beatles at Shea Stadium?? SO BOSS)

*Fun real life tidbit: this is the song I walked down the aisle to at my wedding. Hey-o!*

Not entirely unlike Don, Lane has been running away from his life at breakneck speed. Granted it’s nowhere near as extreme, but he’s obvi chosen the USA over his family. Lane seems to really dig it in New York, and who could blame him once you meet his absolutely terrifying father.

Weirdly, Lane tries to rub his father’s nose in his choices with a trip to the awesomely decorated Playboy Club to meet his ladyfriend Toni. Even Don is in tow in a sad non-recreation of their night out, maybe an attempt to recapture that booze-fuelled magic. Everyone can tell that Lane is trying to show off, which is equal parts super awkward and sad. Turns out he’s dating a Bunny.

image courtesy of Tom and Lorenzo

Back at Lane’s place, his father coldly (and violently) orders him to come back to England to resolve things one way or the other with his wife and son. In a vacuum, he ain’t wrong– Lane can’t just leave it all hanging in the balance, but there are more subtle ways of getting the point across without a fucking concussion.

So here’s Lane.. languishing on the floor, bludgeoned into calling his father “sir.” In this moment we see the origins of that PPL organizational man; this is where the man whom St. John could count on to blindly follow orders without hope of reward came from, his origin. And as much as Lane imagines himself to be this confident, hedonistic and progressive American, he’s still capable of being rattled to his core by his father and forced to obey.

Roger has a boozed up dinner with Lee Garner Jr, where he lets the bomb drop that Lucky Strike is moving on. This ain’t good news for SCDP, since Lucky makes up most of their financial stability which is super precarious.. oy. As Roger goes through his Rolodex, he discovers most of his contacts are now as irrelevant as he seems to be at SCDP. Time to get your shit together, Roger.

On top of that, Joan is now knocked up from their sexy alley encounter. Joan had been set from the start to go through with the abortion as the pragmatic option, but thinking on their past together, she drops her guard for no more than a few seconds; testing the waters to see if Roger would want to keep the baby and they could maybe be together. She swiftly gets popped right back to reality when he immediately responds with “of course not”, the scandal of it all, etc.

Where she was serene and friendly just moments earlier, there’s a hard edge to the rest of their discussion as Joan accepts that this what she’s stuck with; Roger Sterling will never be the man she needs him to be. Some things are better left up to wondering ‘what if’. Gotta get on with it in the real world.

image courtesy of Tom and Lorenzo

Natch, Lane is too mortified by what went down to admit to the other partners the truth behind his leave of absence and returning to London. Roger blows up at Pete for ‘losing’ North American Aviation, but it’s really all about his own shit with Lucky Strike. And then there’s Don, defending Pete, while absurdly relieved he won’t be investigated further. Mess.

But hey, The Beatles tickets came through, Don’s not gonna go to jail for the rest of his life for the time being, Joan ain’t gonna have a lovechild and lie to garbage Greg.. it’s not all bad. Not just yet, anyway.

image courtesy of Tom and Lorenzo

“We’re dead, you know that. The question is when..”

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2 thoughts on “Mad Men s4e10: Hands and Knees

  1. Pingback: Mad Men s4e12: Blowing Smoke | the MARS DEN

  2. Pingback: Mad Men s5e1 & e2: A Little Kiss | the MARS DEN

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