Mad Men, Season 4

Week 5: Who Is Dr. Lyle Evans?
Talking television.
Aug. 23 2010 10:23 AM

Mad Men, Season 4

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Week 5: Who Is Dr. Lyle Evans?

Don Draper (Jon Hamm). Click image to expand.
Don Draper (Jon Hamm)

The show that Sally was watching was The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and what had her so "hot and bothered" was the mysterious Russian agent played by David McCallum. How do I know this? Twitter, of course. Last night's episode also had a Google bomb embedded in it. Roger says "Why don't we bring Dr. Lyle Evans in here?" before continuing his kamikaze run on the Japanese. Pete remarks: "Who the hell is Dr. Lyle Evans?" According to some, she was an important figure in the development of the Saskatchewan library system, but really, she's a clever trick. The spike in Google searches must have been satisfying.

I agree, Jula, that it was nice to see Don showing us—finally—why he commands such loyalty. The Honda ruse had a three-steps-ahead chess move feel—I didn't know what Don was going to do when he went in for the meeting. By the way, was the $3,000 he pays back to Honda a personal check? That would be one of his "legendary" moves. The book he was reading, and that inspired his performance, was The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, a 1946 text by an anthropologist that proposed to explain the Japanese mindset and popularized the notion of a shame culture. How do I know this? Wikipedia, of course.

Which is all to say that the writers are playing to the footnote crowd even more this season. What do the two of you think of this? I don't believe the show has tipped so far as to become a history lecture complete with re-creations, but at times I definitely feel pulled away from scenes by all the mind candy. In any event, Mad Men will make a great pop-up video some day.

Back to the episode at hand, I always love it when Roger Sterling flies off the handle—the "Some people like surprises" line was particularly arch—but his attack on the Japanese didn't really land with me until his conversation with Joan at the end. He's seen things, Joan hasn't, and she's thankful for his service. Roger can't imagine how the world has moved on in just 20 years, but this season we're seeing large changes in just a few months. (The Civil Rights Act gets a shout-out in this episode.) I don't want to hazard too many guesses about the mindset of World War II veterans, but work has always been something of a silly child's game to Roger in the light of what he lived through in the war. And now the Pete Campbells and the others are taking work so seriously.

I'd like to know a lot more about the generational struggles between those who fought in the war and those who were young enough not to be drafted. Anyone know a good Canadian librarian I can contact?

John, I'll leave it up to you to discuss Faye's fake wedding band, Henry Francis' excellent parenting skills, and the show's ominous portrayal of psychiatry.

Nailing a nudist magazine to my door,
Agger

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