26
Sep
2010
Mad Men: Season 4, Episode 10
Hands and Knees
Jordan
At about this point in every season, Mad Men has a place holder episode, one that may not shine as brightly as a standard episode, but that nevertheless puts all the peices in place for the final stretch of episodes. "Hands and Knees" is that such episode, stepping back a bit on quality, but moving a whole lot of plotpoints into place for the end of the season.

First and foremost, Don comes close to being found out by the government tonight, when he realizes he inadvertently signed documents for a security clearance that contain false information, about his name, his age, his social security number and other facts. Living life as Don Draper for most of his adult life has been pretty easy (it is the '60s after all), yet when it comes to the government looking into his life, Don gets understandably panicked. Betty, in a moment of uncharacteristic kindness, covers for Don when she is interviewed, and Pete, in a moment of shocking selflessness covers for him at work, taking the blame for losing the account that he has to throw away to keep Don from being discovered (more on that later). But most importantly, Don tells Faye about his past, with no provocation at all. He's tired of running and hiding, and he is ready to stop living a lie. This was another great episode for the Faye-Don relationship, which I am increasingly convinced is here to stay (or at least I hope it is). The two make a good team, and Don seems to trust her more than almost anyone else.

On Lane's front, his father comes to town to persuade him to return to England and tie up his affairs with his wife. It seems Lane has taken up with a black waitress named Toni and fallen in love. Which is all well and good until Lane's father beats him with his cane and crushes his hand until Lane submits and agrees to return to England. Its a shocking, demeaning scene, but Lane, ever meek and officious, announces his leave of absence and is off to England. This subplot seems a little shoehorned in to be honest, with Lane and his bi-racial relationship being brought up out of nowhere and almost as summarily dismissed. This brief window into Lane's life does show how much he has adapted to life in America, yet it also seems like Matthew Weiner just realized he hadn't given Jared Harris anything much to do for several weeks and so gave him a girlfriend out of nowhere.

Roger and Joan have the most interesting plotline of the episode, as Joan reveals that Roger impregnated her during their alleyway tryst, and the two deal with their feelings for each other and the possibility of keeping the child (As well as the possibility of getting rid of it). Roger points out that if she keeps it, it would not be his child, and Joan dutifully makes the appointment to have it taken care of (though the episode leaves the question of whether she goes through with what would be her third abortion ambiguous). Roger, meanwhile, loses the Lucky Strike account that is still the centerpiece of SCDP, and is too embarassed to tell the other partners. He screams at Pete when Pete admits "he" lost the airline account, but clearly, he is really screaming at himself. He points out that "you're only job is to hold their hand and to jerk them off" and that is exactly what he has been responsible for throughout his career, and exactly what he failed at earlier tonight. Roger's only use has been schmoozing the clients for his entire career, and as Lee is quick to point out when Roger is outraged at his betrayal, Roger inherited even that account. Roger continues to be a tragic figure, as he increasingly realizes exactly how little he has accomplished and exactly how useless he is. All he really has in the world is his love for Joan, and even that eludes him.

"Hands and Knees" was not the best episode this season. In fact, it was possibly my least favorite all year (Though it was still very entertaining television), yet every plotline tonight set up plenty of avenues for the show to explore over the next three weeks. And that prospect is very exciting to me.

Grade: B

Notes:

-It was a good day for Sally Draper tonight, as she got tickets to see The Beatles. I was seriously expecting the tickets to fall through (Because, come on, its Sally) and it was nice to see that it worked out for her. Also, the episode ended with "Do You Want To Know A Secret?" though it was a muzak version. Clearly the rights to use the actual song are a little out of AMC's price range.

-So, who thinks that Joan didn't go through with the abortion?
Tags: Mad Men
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