Mad Men, Season 4

Week 10: Dramatic Irony 101
Talking television.
Sept. 27 2010 1:47 PM

Mad Men, Season 4


Week 10: Dramatic Irony 101

 Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks). Click image to expand.


Like a good agency man, I'll take your questions in order.


Joan is still preggers. She was ready to take care of things until the other woman in the waiting room asked her how old her daughter was. "Fifteen," Joan lies. It was a vintage keep-the-baby exchange under the pastel flowers. This may be Joan's last chance. She left the doctor's office and got on the bus and kept her secret, just like Roger kept his. I agree that Roger is probably the last man you want to have a love child with. His insensitivity throughout crossed the line from rakish to rapscallion. The lowest moment was near the end—the one you mentioned in passing, Julia. Roger: "I feel awful." Joan: "We avoided a tragedy." Roger: "What?" (Clearly thinking of the Lucky Strike account.) Let's hope that Joan has a chance to borrow Trudy's maternity nightgown. That pink bombshell was rather awesome—she plopped on the couch like a water lily.

Don's appraisal of Megan at episode's end was a vision of a man being flooded with relief. Pete took the fall for him in the partner's meeting, the D-o-D investigation hasn't raised any red flags, Don doesn't have to run. His life is intact. He's still Don Draper, creative star, lord of an office garlanded with well-tailored beauties. That said, I found Don's leer to be a touch ungrateful. Betty lied for him. Faye comforted him—he revealed his secret to her! And here he is, contemplating secretaries again.

Regarding Betty's nightgowns, let me refer you to the Knickers blog.

As someone who just reads Playboy for the listicles (and who is not a key-holder), I found the whole Lane-Toni thing a little odd.  Sometimes the show will drop something out of nowhere and it works (lawnmower carnage), and sometimes the plot development lies there like a jellyfish on the beach that you want to poke with a stick, then back away quickly. What's the deal with Lane, anyway? Is he supposed to be some inscrutable Englishman—unexplainable? Or is the show advancing a notion that living in America is like living in a colony?

I got the sense that the relationship with Toni was just Lane wanting to provoke his family. Perhaps they had gotten wind of the affair in England and that's why the father was sent instead of Lane's son. And would Toni have really been that clueless and sweet? I think a Playboy bunny, someone who teases men for a living, would have had a better read on the complexities of the situation. I'll admit I was surprised when the old guy caned his son. But it wasn't a pleasant surprise that sprung from previous hints in the episode. I felt like I was getting hit on the head.

Finally, Pete's motives. He has a chance to sink Don for good but seems terrified when Don says that the agency can be run without him. Pete has a child coming soon and no doubt wants stability in his work life. He's also a weasel who sees that protecting Don puts Don more into his debt and furthers his goal of pushing out Roger. Little does he know how much they share in re: office babies. 

That was the sword hung over the door in this episode. Pete's self-righteous talk on the couch with Trudy was dramatic irony 101. The Peggy child is going to come to light, somehow, some way.

John, I'll leave it to you to put the rest of the house in order.

No hard feelings,

Michael Agger is an editor at The New Yorker. Follow him on Twitter.


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