Monday, September 27, 2010

Review - Mad Men Season 4 Episode 10 Hands And Knees

Like Rubicon, Mad Men, with three episodes left in the season, moved in the endgame with several startling developments. In "Hands And Knees," the characters are hobbled over, trying to climb out of whatever terrible situation they're in. While I like where many of the plots are going, there should have been more build up than everything being dumped on our laps at once.

As far as anyone knows, Dick Whitman is Don Draper. Since very few people actually know the truth, there's no reason for Don to be looking behind his back all the time. He's slipped into another identity and for all intents and purposes, owns it. However, a background check from the DoD leads to Betty, who, showing signs of geniality, lies for Don and later calls him. With the feds bearing down on him, Don hides himself in sickness, which seems to have manifested from his stress. He nearly doubles over from seeing two men in suits and spends the rest of his day in bed. Physically, Don is an utter wreck, unable to function from the mere possibility that his world is over. Of course, Jon Hamm is excellent in his various portrayals of Don, first of his initial reaction from Betty's call to telling Faye the truth. It's as thrilling as Mad Men gets, and for a while, I thought Don's world would imploded.

But then, before things can go into overdrive, Pete comes back with good news: Don hasn't been flagged. Don takes the solution at hand, telling Pete to ditch North American Aviation to stop further investigation.  With what appears to be only blue skies ahead, Don takes one long, long look at Megan. Maybe he's getting a little cocky and looking for sex? Interestingly, as other characters are sinking, Don is rising fast, having dodged a major bullet.

Compared to the other plot lines, Don's was by far the most compelling, and I wanted to see things stretched out a bit longer, perhaps Roger telling everyone about Lucky Strike before Pete nixes the deal, forcing Don into an even narrower corner. And that may as well happen by the end of the season, but at the very least, we got to see Don sweat profusely from the increased scrutiny.

Through all of this, Pete comes out looking like a real great guy, although we know he'll hold it over Don's head. Not only does he have his buddy look into where the feds are, he also gives up a major account--$4 million dollars --in order to keep Don safe, and receives a severe reaming from Roger which, unfortunately, was partially bleeped out. He'll probably be back to cause distress, but for the time being, Pete is mighty fine beside the likes of Roger and Don.

If there is one narrative force driving the events at the office this season, it'd be the lack of money. SCDP is held up tenuously with Lucky Strike providing the lion's share. However, Lee Garner Jr. drops a bombshell that'll reverberate for a long while. Lucky Strike is dropping SCDP, and Lee only grants Roger a 30 day leeway period after a fair amount of begging. Without Lucky, SCDP loses their most important and valuable account. Can Roger turn things around?

And with all that going on, Lane leaves for England, following a smack to the head from his father, to deal with family issues. Seeing as he has his "chocolate bunny," Lane probably isn't interested in saving his marriage,

Joan's pregnancy and her response is shrouded in mystery and we'll have to wait until a later date to see what she actually did. What we do know is that she goes to an abortion clinic and talks to a mother, implying to the viewers that one of her daughters would have been 17 had she not gotten an abortion. Was that enough to dissuade her from following through? Was the tragedy the existence of the child or death of a child?

Mad Men isn't known for plot-heavy episodes, which sets "Hands And Knees" apart from pretty much every episode this season. But that doesn't mean its necessary; following Don lose control was exhilarating, but I'd much prefer if the other revelations--Joan's pregnancy, Lane's girlfriend, Lucky Strike's move--were handled with more tact and subtlety.

Score: 9.1/10
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