Mad Men, Season 4

Week 10: Whack!
Talking television.
Sept. 27 2010 1:14 AM

Mad Men, Season 4


Week 10: Whack!

Lane Pryce (Jared Harris). Click image to expand.

It was not a good week to be a partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. The episode was called "Hands and Knees," and it found Lane, Roger, and Don all prostrate before potentially overwhelming forces.

Julia Turner Julia Turner

Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast.

In Lane's case, that force was a blow from his father's cane. Robert Pryce, a deceptively benign-looking gentleman in tweed, arrives in New York to bring Lane home and is amused neither by Lane's Mickey Mouse doll nor by his "chocolate bunny." Lane has found love at the Playboy Club, where he's a keyholder with a penchant for whiskey sours and a fetching cotton-tailed waitress named Toni. (She thinks he's "dashing.") But Robert Pryce is unmoved by this interracial romance. When Lane protests, "I've moved on," his father cracks him across the temple with his walking stick, knocking Lane to the ground. Grinding Lane's knuckles into the carpet with his shoe, he demands, "Put your home in order, either there or here. You will not live in between." He even refuses to acknowledge Lane's "Yes" until it becomes a "Yes, sir." Our commenters have been wondering for a while whether perhaps Sally was abused as a child (by her grandpa), but this episode suggests we should have been worrying about Lane instead. It's startling to see a grown man cowed—and beaten—by an elderly one; Lane caves, telling the partners he's taking a month's leave. (And who knows what he told poor Toni.)


Lane chose the wrong month to take off. Roger learns this episode that Lucky Strike—which accounts for the lion's share of SCDP billings, and is Roger Sterling's primary contribution to the firm—is taking its business to BBDO. Lee Garner Jr. says the change is effective immediately, but Roger pleads for a 30-day reprieve: "I'm begging you." Garner grants his request, but Roger remains weaselly: Rather than bringing the bad news to the partners' meeting, he trawls his ancient Rolodex, hoping to drum up new business but finding instead that it's full of dead men. Roger is equally weaselly when confronted with the news that Joan is pregnant. (More props to our commenters for guessing that one.) I've never liked Roger less than in the scene at the cafe, where he first complains that an abortion is a bummerish way to commence an extramarital affair, then suggests that Joan just keep the kid and pretend to Greg that it's Greg's, then advises that maybe Greg will die and it won't matter ("Jesus. Greg dying is not a solution," Joan says), and finally explains that if Joan does keep the baby, "It wouldn't be my child, let's make that clear." If Joan ever fantasized about starting a family with Roger, this conversation would give her cause to reconsider. "I'll take care of it," Roger says, meaning the fee for the abortion, not the kid.

Don, meanwhile, is under scrutiny from the Feds. Pete has brought a defense contractor in as a client, and now SCDP's principals must undergo background checks to acquire security clearance. Two agents show up in Ossining, N.Y., to interrogate Betty, and Don is spooked. He sets up a trust for the kids, drinks, sweats, and starts seeing federal operatives everywhere. Faye accompanies him home, nursing him through a panic attack and a bout of vomiting, and he spills the beans about his double identity. Faye seems to take this confession as a sign that they're getting closer and Don's problems as something for them to solve together. Don seems less engaged: "I shouldn't have told you, but I'm just so damn tired of all of it." In the end, though, Don skates through again: Pete covers for him and declines the account, something they'll all regret when they learn what's become of Lucky Strike.

I'll leave a dissection of Pete's motives here to you, Michael—although his self-righteous tirade about being the last honest man in advertising was a piece of work!—but before I go I have a few questions for you both:

Did Joan have an abortion? I think so—Joan tells Roger "we avoided a tragedy," and she's not one to be coy—but the episode left things a bit ambiguous.

Why was Don staring at Megan at the episode's end? Was he considering his lawyer's counsel to start shtupping her?

Where does Betty get her nightgowns? There are so many of them, and they are all so pretty!

Are you the keyholder?


P.S.: The Slate TV Club finally has an RSS feed! Get notified as soon as our latest entry posts.

Like  Slate on Facebook. Follow us  on Twitter.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Even When They Go to College, the Poor Sometimes Stay Poor

Here’s Just How Far a Southern Woman May Have to Drive to Get an Abortion

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?


Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 6:49 PM God’s Oligarch One of Vladimir Putin’s favorite businessmen wants to start an Orthodox Christian Fox News and return Russia to its glorious czarist past.
Oct. 20 2014 6:48 PM Apple: Still Enormously Profitable
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 6:32 PM Taylor Swift’s Pro-Gay “Welcome to New York” Takes Her Further Than Ever From Nashville 
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.