Mad Men, Season 4

Week 11: Cherchez la Canadienne
Talking television.
Oct. 4 2010 4:46 PM

Mad Men, Season 4

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Week 11: Cherchez la Canadienne

I was also one of the unfortunates who lost sound. So thanks for the assist, Julia, and, John: Let me take all those questions you so nicely teed up for me.

You asked about Cooper's line to Sterling: "Lee Garner Jr. never took you seriously because you never took yourself seriously." One of the things I've always liked about Roger is how he lives the ad man's life as though it were a sport and a pastime. This seemed to vex the more thoughtful Cooper, but I doubt that Lee saw that as a problem. If anything, he viewed Roger as a kindred spirit, a son coasting on his father's legacy.

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John, I also fear that Roger may be going gently into that well-upholstered night. The scene with Joan had a valedictory air, and he seems a little suicidal to me, at least when handling the copy of Sterling's Gold. I hope the writers send him out on a high note, as his character was flimsy in this episode. Are we really supposed to believe that Don, Pete, Cosgrove, and Cooper would fall for the fake phone call? I also wanted more of a sense of how Roger had used his monthlong reprieve on Lucky Strike. We saw him working the rolodex late one night, but are we to assume that he just gave up?

Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss). Click image to expand.

I didn't find Peggy's actions entirely believable, either. Abe was charming on the drive back from Jones Beach, so, sure, let her make the mistake of sleeping with a journalist. (Almost as insecure as actors!) But I was bothered by the scene where Peggy falls for Stan's "relaxation technique." After almost a year's worth of jackassery from Stan, Peggy should have seen that one coming. I also thought the lipstick-on-the-teeth gaffe was off. We've watched her gain confidence and savvy all season as Don's understudy, and now she can't even present to a client?

While I'm at it, the Megan-Don scene felt rushed and underbaked, too, for many of the reasons that you cite, Julia. Imagine you're Don: Your agency is falling apart, it's the end of a long day, and you still have work to do for a racist auto-parts client. You're going to invite your secretary in for a little "how the ad business works" tutorial? I don't think so. The scene became more believable when Don asked what Megan liked about the Glo-Coat ad, but went askew once more when Megan declared her feelings had nothing to do with their work relationship. Is that supposed to be part of the "Chinese wall" theme of the episode's title? Megan can separate wanting to sleep with Don from wanting to be a copywriter someday? I'm the client, and I'm not liking it.

However, I did love the grim irony of David Montgomery's memorial. The dearly departed was never home, but boy, did he relish finding thimbles for his daughter's collection! Don and Pete will be soon facing questions of what they are in the ad business for—the money, the prestige, the furniture, the women, or the creative fulfillment. In that vein, I was surprised that Pete was so unreceptive to Chaough. He just threw himself on a grenade for Don, so why not at least consider a competing offer? Likewise, Don repeatedly tells his team to be extra receptive to clients' wishes over the next few months. Why not look around to see if there is a more secure perch that will give him the creative freedom he so covets?

The episode needed to show us more of the esprit de corps that seemingly animates the partners and staff of SCDP. Where is that conga line now? Faye committed the only true act of loyalty: risking her professional credibility to help Don. She made that decision, I think, because Don confided his secret to her. Their relationship is the most exciting part of the show for me. Are they going to become some sort of proto "power couple," or does a long-term relationship for Don mean a woman at home?

OK, enough questions. Give me some answers.

I need some cheering up,
Agger

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

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