Mad Men Episodes

2007, TV Show

Mad Men Episode: "Hands and Knees"

Season 4, Episode 10
Episode Synopsis: Betty is a bit unsettled when a surprise visitor stops at the Francis home.
Original Air Date: Sep 26, 2010

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Season 4, Episode 10
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Length: 47:35
Aired: 9/26/2010
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Mad Men Episode Recap: "Hands and Knees" Season 4, Episode 10

 "I don't want any secrets." — Betty Draper

Betty doesn't want any new secrets in her new marriage, because she knows all too well how they destroyed her last one. Unfortunately, many other characters in the Mad Men universe — Betty's ex-husband included — haven't yet learned that lesson. Joan and Roger sweep Joan's pregnancy under the rug with a quickie abortion. Roger loses a client that could end Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, but doesn't tell anyone. Meanwhile, Don's past as Dick Whitman costs SCDP another client and forces Pete to take a beating from Roger that he doesn't deserve.

Conversely, Lane lets his secret out of the bag when he tells his father that he's dating Toni, a Playboy Club cocktail waitress who is black. But when that announcement doesn't go over well, Lane is unable to tell anyone the real reason he's taking a leave of absence to return to London. Similarly, Don brings Faye into his circle of trust, but almost instantly regrets it.

For three-and-a-half seasons, secrets (especially Don's) have been Mad Men's stock in trade. As such, this episode borders on feeling repetitive, or at least less impactful than the show's past revelations. If anything, this episode is less about what's being hidden and more about why the characters are hiding it. The question for Don (and everyone else): Isn't honesty always the best policy?

"We avoided a tragedy. ... Life goes on." — Joan Harris

So, Joan and Roger's tryst in the alley results in a pregnancy. Greg's been gone too long for it to be his, and Joan doesn't know what to do. (Though as we know, she's had a couple of "procedures" in the past.) "These things happen," Roger says, vowing to take care of it. Roger gets a talking-to by the doctor ("You used this woman, and ruined her," he says), but he still gives them the name of a colleague who will solve Roger and Joan's problem for $400.

And while it appears that Joan goes through with the abortion (while keeping yet another secret from the mother in the waiting room, who thinks Joan is also there with a teen daughter), I don't think she views the loss of the child as the real tragedy in this case. Rather, I think she's finally through with Roger.

It's all there in the scene between the two at the deli, when they decide to proceed with the abortion.

Roger's makes a half-hearted attempt at affection ("Maybe I'm in love with you," Roger asks more than says) that gives Joan momentary hope. But when she asks him if he wants to keep the baby, without a moment's hesitation he replies, "Of course not!" No matter how much he says he wants to do what's best for Joan, it's clear he's only interested in what's best for him. As much as I love seeing John Slattery and Christina Hendricks work together, Joanie deserves better.

"Are you more distraught that I found someone I love, or that she's a Negro?" — Lane Pryce

Lane, on the other hand, has found bliss with his "chocolate bunny" Toni. But when Lane's father, Robert, turns up at SCDP to bring Lane back to London, things go a bit awry. Instead of hiding his relationship, Lane rubs his father's nose in it, first at the Playboy Club with Don and then later at his apartment. "I want him to know why I'm staying," Lane tells Toni, who fears Lane's stunt could cost her her job.

When Lane's father declines an invitation to join Lane and Toni at dinner, the two men finally have it out. I'm not sure that Robert has as much of a problem with his son dating a black woman as Lane assumes he does. Instead, Robert seems focused on bringing Lane back to London so he can deal with his relationships with his ex-wife and son. Lane's refusal to do so angers his father, who clearly lives by a code for how men should behave. And when Lane continues his stubborn refusal, Lane receives a (literally) painful reminder of how his father does business. Robert whacks Lane in the head with his walking stick, bringing him to his knees. "Put your home in order, either here or there. You will not live in between," Robert says, standing on Lane's fingers until he squeaks out a "Yes, sir."

"How is it that some people just walk through life, dragging their lies with them, destroying everything they touch? ... No one ever knows except the honest people who have to pick up the pieces." — Pete Campbell

Of course, the biggest secret of the episode is Don's. It's odd to see Don face off about it again with Pete, who was the first person to discover Don's former identity. Pete has cultivated a relationship with North American Aviation, turning "cocktails into $4 million." One problem: In order for Don & Co. to read what's behind the black bars in NAA's documents, they need government clearance. And because Don signed the clearance form his secretary filled out without reading it, the FBI is now conducting a background check.

"Do you have any reason to believe Mr. Draper isn't who he says he is?" one of the G-men asks Betty. Has a conversation ever been loaded with more subtext? Moments before, the same agent asks Betty if Don is loyal. In both cases, they are more concerned with Don being a spy, but one can't help but think of Don's personal lack of loyalty to Betty. Nevertheless,  Betty's loyalty to Don as her former lover and father of her kids sends her into a panic and she dodges their land-mine questions. And when Betty tells Don, we see the panic wash over him even more quickly.

Don tells Pete to have a friend look into stopping the investigation. Pete thinks the secret coming to light won't matter in the slightest, but Don manipulates Pete: "You can run the agency without me," Don says, scaring Pete into compliance. But as he does so, Pete becomes more and more angry with Don. "I don't have to live with your sh-- over my head," he tells Don, reminding him that Pete signed this account in the first place when Don disappeared in California. Even worse, when Pete learns that Don hasn't yet been red-flagged, the only way to stop the investigation is to kill the NAA account.

Pete first complains to a very pregnant Trudy. (Seriously, could that belly be more ridiculous? Also, how is it that Pete now has the most functional relationship on the show?) Pete whines about Don's lies running everything, but even in that moment, Pete can't tell Trudy the secret. We know Pete isn't exactly an honest person (see his fling with the au pair, Peggy, etc.), but he believes himself better than Don. And, to be fair, he at least tells Trudy that there is something bothering him that he can't tell her.

But Pete is much more blunt with Don. "So, I walk away from 4 million dollars and just keep this to myself because why? Because you can't live out in the open?" Pete asks/accuses, moments after discovering another of Don's secrets (his bedding of Dr. Miller). Nonetheless, Pete falls on his sword for Don in the partners' meeting.

"That's your only damn job. All you had to do was hold their hands and jerk them off. Is that so hard to do? We have to come in here and have this catastrophe dropped into our lap because you don't know what the hell you're doing, because you f---ed up." — Roger Sterling

Roger's anger toward Pete in the meeting not only isn't justified, it's also misplaced. In an earlier scene, Lee Garner Jr. tells Roger that Lucky Strike is taking its business to BBDO. (We knew this was inevitable, right?) Roger begs Lee to reconsider, then threatens him with the secrets Roger has kept for him in the past. Ultimately, however, Lee can't make the decision, because he only inherited his dad's company, just like Roger inherited the account from his father. Lee now answers to a board of directors, and they want all of American Tobacco's products under one roof, and it's not going to be Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce's.

So Roger, who takes nitroglycerine to avoid another heart attack and looks like he's become an old man overnight, takes his anger out on Pete for losing $4 million that might help soften the blow of losing Lucky Strike. Yet, Roger doesn't say a word about his loss, especially after Lane notes that the company is financially stable enough for him to jaunt back to London for while. Roger tries instead to work his Rolodex, only to learn that his old friends are dead or dying. Only Ken and Pete can save the place now, right? Either way, I fear this ends badly.

"I'm tired of running." — Don Draper

While Don goes to great lengths to stop the background check, he does let Faye in on his secret. When he and Faye go home early because Don's noticeably unwell, two men who Don fears are looking for him in his building send him into a textbook panic attack: He can't breathe, he thinks he's having a heart attack, and he ultimately vomits. (And it sounds just as disturbing as the first time this season.) One nice moment of humor: When Faye springs into action, Don quips, "You're not a real doctor."

When Don has to finally explain what happened, he tells Faye about Korea, his injury, his desertion and his life as Don Draper. She, like Pete, thinks it's best to be open about his past, and Don shuts it down. "I shouldn't have told you, but I'm just so damn tired of it all," he says. Somehow, I think this is also the end of Don and Faye. I could be wrong, but look at the way Don notices Megan at the end of the episode.

So will Don stop running? We know Dick is by nature a hobo. He wanted to run away with Rachel Mencken. He disappeared on his trip to California. When he was unable to run any further, Don told Betty about his past, and he was relieved to have the burden lifted. But then he ended up divorced, and the burden was perhaps even heavier. Anna used to be his lifeline, and now she is gone. Maybe Don isn't tired of running, it's just that he no longer has anywhere to run.

A few other thoughts:

• I used the word repetitive earlier in the recap, and I think it's true. I love to see Don panic, but about this time every season, his past raises the stakes of the drama. I would like to see a different plot device used for once.

• Similarly, who didn't know that Lucky Strike was going to pull out? Again, having it happen this late in the season feels a little cheap. Of course, the addition of the $4 million NAA account was a nice twist, but it's not like that amount would even save SCDP once Lee Garner Jr.'s money is gone.

• Another regular Mad Men theme: pregnancy. It honestly felt a little odd not to have Peggy in the mix, given her past. But Trudy's about to pop and Joan had her third procedure. Or did she? We never saw it happen. That could be a surprise that truly might kill Roger.

• How selfish is Roger? He's going to let the place go under if he doesn't ask for help. Also, what did you make of Roger telling lies for Lee? Do you think he knows about Lee's dabbling with men, whether it was Sal or not? Also, while everyone might assume Lucky Strike's exit opens the door for Sal to return, I am not holding my breath.

• It was nice to see Sally (and Betty) smile when Don told Sally about going to the Beatles' famous Shea Stadium concert. Also: Nice use of the Fab Four's "Do You Want to Know a Secret?" over the closing credits.

• Lots of play-acting in this episode. Don and Betty pretend to have a normal conversation in case the phone was tapped. Joan and Faye both act as if they were talking business when leaving Roger and Don's respective offices. Those moments were humorous, but really, everyone in those offices puts on a performance every day to shield their private lives.

What did you think of the episode?

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 "I don't want any secrets." — Betty Draper

Betty doesn't want any new secrets in her new marriage, because she knows all too well how they destroyed her last one. Unfortunately, many other characters in the Mad Men universe — Betty's ex-husband included — haven't yet learned that lesson. Joan and Roger sweep Joan's pregnancy under the rug with a quickie abortion. Roger loses a client that could end Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, but doesn't tell anyone. Meanwhile, Don's past as Dick Whitman costs SCDP another client and forces Pete to take a beating from Roger that he doesn't deserve.

Conversely, Lane lets his secret out of the bag when he tells his father that he's dating Toni, a Playboy Club cocktail waitress who is black. But when that announcement doesn't go over well, Lane is unable to tell anyone the real reason he's taking a leave of absence to return to London. Similarly, Don brings Faye into his circle of trust, but almost instantly regrets it.

For three-and-a-half seasons, secrets (especially Don's) have been Mad Men's stock in trade. As such, this episode borders on feeling repetitive, or at least less impactful than the show's past revelations. If anything, this episode is less about what's being hidden and more about why the characters are hiding it. The question for Don (and everyone else): Isn't honesty always the best policy? ... read more

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Premiered: July 19, 2007, on AMC
Rating: TV-14
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