Mad Men, Season 4

Week 5: Nice Haircut
Talking television.
Aug. 23 2010 1:19 AM

Mad Men, Season 4

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Week 5: Nice Haircut

Bobby Draper (Jared S. Gilmore) and Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka). Click image to expand.
Mad Men

Finally, someone says out loud what we've all been thinking: "I don't know how people drink the way you do around here. I'd fall asleep." The speaker was Faye Miller, accepting a glass of sake from Don during their heart-to-heart in the kitchenette. She seems to be the first character in Mad Men history to acknowledge explicitly that boozing all day at the office can have negative consequences. Fitting, since this was an episode about consequences—about muddling through the aftermath.

Julia Turner Julia Turner

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

Struggling in the wake of his divorce, Don sums things up for Faye: "It is not going well." Sally is acting out, chopping her hair off when the babysitter's not looking, masturbating on the couch at a slumber party. (Who can tell us which TV show had her so hot and bothered?) Betty is as cruel and cutting as ever, screaming "What is wrong with you?" and slapping Sally across the face at the sight of the disheveled haystack 'do and threatening to cut Sally's fingers off if she ever masturbates again. Don is at a loss, not sure how to entertain his kids when they're in town (even scheduling a date with Bethany during one overnight). "When I drop them off I feel relieved," he tells Faye. "Then I miss them."

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Thank goodness for Henry Francis, who intervenes to point out to Betty that perhaps she's being a little hard on Sally. (He even convinces her to apologize for the slap!) In addition to being a soothsaying Betty-charmer—no one's ever handled her quite this deftly—Henry is also an advocate for the "this actually happened" ethos we talked about last week. He suggests Sally might benefit from seeing a shrink, and that it's natural for a child to have difficulty processing a divorce, as his own daughter did. Although Betty resists at first—she later tells the psychiatrist she's frustrated that Sally doesn't just understand that the new arrangement is more stable—she eventually signs Sally up.

Roger, meanwhile, is frustrated by a lack of consequences for the Japanese. As far as he's concerned, they killed all his friends in World War II—leave it to silver-tongued Roger to mourn in particular one friend who was a bona fide "poet"—and he's got no interest in working with them 20 years later. And so he attempts to submarine the fledgling Honda account, storming into the opening pitch for the potential $3 million client and shouting, "We don't want your Jap crap!" I'm curious to hear what you guys thought of Roger here. He's usually such a smooth operator, so attuned to the mood of the room; I didn't quite buy his turn as an enraged old coot. Did you? Pete had a persuasive theory about why Roger was really upset: Winning Honda would make SDCP "less dependent on Lucky Strike and less dependent on you."

Despite Roger's colossal rudeness, Don salvages the relationship with Honda with a bit of cunning: In one of the funniest sequences of the season so far, he cons rival firm CGC into shooting an against-the-rules spot for Honda by pretending to be shooting one himself. Could someone please turn the shot of Peggy doing donuts on a red motorcycle in a white room into a GIF posthaste? The skullduggery pays off, and SCDP wins a small corner of the Honda portfolio.

It's nice to see Don have a scrap of success at last (although this marks yet another week when we don't see the team devise a good pitch). Don has also become a bit better at handling the press; I loved his brisk efficiency when the Times calls to ask what he thinks of CGC's Ted Chaough and he says, on the record: "Never heard of him." Miss Blankenship is the one dim spot in Don's office life: She mishandles packages, phone calls, and personal information alike. Why does Don still have this terrible assistant? Perhaps it's a veiled reminder, from Joan, that there are consequences to sleeping with your excellent one.

Cantaloupe, anyone?

Julia