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Do You Want to Know a Secret?

By Sarah Carlson | TV | September 27, 2010 |

By Sarah Carlson | TV | September 27, 2010 |

The question that started “Mad Men’s” fourth season, “Who is Don Draper?,” isn’t going away, despite’s Don smooth answer for the journalist who asked. Don’s ex-wife, Betty, was asked an extension of that question in the season’s 10th episode, “Hands and Knees”: “Do you have any reason to believe Mr. Draper isn’t who he says he is?” Betty knows Don isn’t who he says he is, but she continues to lie for him even as the lies get dangerously close to catching up with both of them. Most of the series’ characters are on their hands and knees by this point in their respective dramas, in states ranging from compromising to begging as they try to maintain control of their lives. Some have more to lose than others, but regardless of the stakes, some in the “Mad Men” world are tired of secrets.

Joan kicks off the episode by telling Roger she’s pregnant as a result of their tryst a few weeks earlier, which was a result of the two being held up at gunpoint while walking home from dinner. Roger is soothing and tells Joan not to worry, and they discuss the matter further at a restaurant, where he wonders if the pregnancy is a sign they should be together. He also suggests that Joan could have the baby and pretend it is Greg’s, but Joan decides to have an abortion. Joan and Roger visit a doctor, who harshly criticizes Roger as if he’d gotten Joan into the situation all by himself, and he quickly refers them to another doctor. Joan, ever self-sufficient, visits a clinic alone, sharing the waiting room with a mother and her 17-year-old daughter. The mother becomes upset after the daughter is called for her appointment, and Joan asks if she’s OK. The mother discusses how she had her daughter when she was 15, and she thanks Joan for being kind and asks how old Joan’s daughter is, assuming Joan is waiting on a patient instead of being one. Joan lies and says, “15.” Later, we see Joan riding a bus at night, sitting by herself as she looks out the window.

That heartbreaking image comes immediately after a very pregnant Trudy comforts an annoyed Pete, letting him feel their baby kick. Pete, complaining about the type of people whose lies destroy everything around them, is distraught because he’s been dragged into the mess that is Don Draper — he already knew Don isn’t really Don, but now thanks to an account he brought in, the government may soon figure it out as well. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is working with North American Aviation to promote their defense technology, and at a meeting with Pete, Don, Harry and Lane, NAA executives present them with heavily redacted documents. The executives say that as their relationship with the agency progresses, more information will be made available to the ad men. This means that the Defense Department is doing background checks on the employees, and two men show up at Betty and Henry’s house one day to ask Betty questions about Don. They want to know his politics, his integrity, whether she’d describe him as loyal. A clearly unnerved Betty plays along, answering the ominous question “Do you have any reason to believe Mr. Draper isn’t who he says he is?” with a “No.” She calls Don at the office to let him know about the visit, and after they both freak out they soon wonder if they should even be talking on the phone about the issue. As if the phone is tapped, they change their tunes and feign indifference.

Don is far from OK with the matter. Apparently, he signed off on a form from the Defense Department several weeks earlier, one on which Megan, now his secretary, filled out information that will clearly not match with the real Don Draper’s. Don asks Pete to contact his friend at the Defense Department to stop the investigation. He wants the issue to go away and is prepared to do whatever he has to, and even says Pete can run the agency without him if he’s forced to run. This means canceling the NAA contract all together — a $4 million account that Pete has nursed for years, starting when Don disappeared to California for a while a few seasons ago. The next day, Pete wonders if the issue can’t be easily resolved, but Don never doubts he would be in for a world of trouble. “It’s desertion,” he says. “There’s no statute of limitations.”

Betty tells Henry about the visit from the G-Men, saying she doesn’t want to keep secrets from him. She still is, however, by not telling Henry about Don actually being Dick, but her striving for relative honesty is important. The lie-filled world of the Draper Family was too suffocating to stand and led to Betty and Don’s divorce. And just as Betty is being open with Henry, Don decides to confide in Faye, who took him home from the office when she noticed he had a fever. In the hall outside his apartment, Don immediately assumes two men who appear to be looking for someone are with the government. They aren’t, but Don has a panic attack, tearing off his shirt and tie before throwing up, as Faye struggles to help.

Faye stays at his apartment to check on him, and, clever as she is, asks him who he thought the men in the hall were. He’s tired of running, he says, and he eventually tells her (the short version, at least) about what happened in Korea and how he assumed another man’s identity. She’s also optimistic that Don could hire a lawyer and plead for clemency, but he’s doubtful. “I shouldn’t have told you, but I’m just so damn tired of lying,” Don says. “I’m glad you told me,” Faye replies, tenderly. Perhaps Don has met his match in Faye. Pete arrives at Don’s the next morning, catching him by surprise and receiving his own shock at seeing Faye there. She quickly leaves, and Pete tells Don that he hasn’t yet been flagged by the department, according to his friend. Pete isn’t happy with the prospect of losing the NAA account to save Don’s ass, and he isn’t happy that by showing up unannounced, he learned another thing he didn’t want to know — Don and Faye’s romance.

Pete will do what Don says, though, a situation that in some ways mirrors a subplot involving Lane. Lane, whose wife left him and moved back to London months ago, was expecting his son to visit him in New York. Instead, his father, Robert (W. Morgan Sheppard), arrives, saying he’s there to take Lane home. Lane invites Don to join them for dinner, and the three visit the Playboy Club, which Lane apparently frequents. He asks for one of the bunnies to be sent over, Toni (Naturi Naughton), a black woman who is familiar with Lane and pleased to meet his father. “She’s the finest waitress,” Lane gushes like a schoolboy, and later we see him visit the club during the day to see Toni. They’re in love, apparently, and he wants her to join him for dinner with Robert properly. But at Lane’s apartment, Robert makes an excuse to leave after he arrives and sees that Toni would be joining the men. Lane tells Toni he’ll meet up with her soon for dinner and kisses her goodbye. “You’re coming home, Lane,” Robert says after she leaves, but Lane replies “I’m afraid I’ve moved on.” At that, Robert uses his cane to whack Lane on his head, knocking off his glasses and sending his son down to the ground. Robert puts his foot down, literally, on top of Lane’s hand, saying, “Put your home in order, either there or here. You will not live in between.” He keeps his foot on Lane until he elicits a “Yes Sir,” then leaves.

Lane buckles to his father’s pressure and announces the next day at the partners’ meeting that he’s taking a leave of absence for the next two weeks to a month. The company is in fine fiscal shape, he says, even though Pete has just announced that because of an “error” on his part, the agency has lost the NAA account. He takes the fall for Don, and clearly isn’t pleased about it, and Roger berates him to the point that Bert says Roger should apologize. Roger is naturally upset at the news of losing a $4 million account because he has news of his own that he does not share: SCDP is losing Lucky Strike, the account that makes up the majority of the agency’s business. Lucky Strike’s Lee Garner Jr. unceremoniously gave Roger the news at dinner the night before, but Roger was able to talk him into holding off on moving to BBDO for 30 days so Roger can get SCDP’s affairs in order.

Roger is desperate, going so far as calling old contacts in his Rolodex, including one who had died, according to the man’s widow and unbeknownst to Roger. But he doesn’t tell his partners — he just laughs as Lane announces his leave after Pete has announced losing NAA. The still-young agency is being set up for a severe financial crisis, a new problem to come on top of its workers’ own issues. “We avoided a tragedy,” Joan tells Roger before the meeting, when he asks about the procedure and whether she should even be at work. She’s resolute, but her strength feels more like a front than it has been in the past. I fear only more trouble is in store for Joanie.

Aside from positive developments including his apparent ceasefire with Betty and his mature and developing relationship with Faye, one thing seemed to go right for Don during “Hands and Knees”: He secured tickets for him and Sally to see the Beatles perform at Shea Stadium. The news of that concert sent Sally into hysterics, and Don hounded Harry for days to get the promised tickets. Megan delivered them to Don at the end of the work day. “You see, everything worked out,” she said.


Sarah Carlson has a front-row seat to the decline of the newspaper industry and lives in Alabama with her overly excitable Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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