Mad Men Episodes

2007, TV Show

Mad Men Episode: "Chinese Wall"

Season 4, Episode 11
Episode Synopsis: An all-hands meeting is called at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and the gossip starts to fly about an important client leaving the agency and that possibly more will follow. Meanwhile, a competing firm attempts to poach select SCDP employees; Peggy has a passionate romp with Abe and later tries her hand at wooing the Playtex people.
Original Air Date: Oct 3, 2010
Guest Cast Joe O'Connor: Tom Vogel Cara Buono: Faye Miller Larisa Oleynik: Cynthia Baxter Zosia Mamet: Joyce Ramsey Tommy Dewey: John Florry Danny Strong: Danny Siegel Charlie Hofheimer: Abe Drexler Ray Wise: Ed Baxter Peyton List: Jane Sterling Joel Murray: Freddy Rumson Sheila Shaw: Jeannie Vogel
Full Episode
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Season 4, Episode 11
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Length: 47:32
Aired: 10/3/2010
Also available on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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Mad Men Episode Recap: "Chinese Wall" Season 4, Episode 11

"This means everything to me!" — Don Draper
Sorry, Faye (and Megan): Even after a disastrous end to his first marriage, Don Draper still hasn't learned to separate his work from his life. But who on Mad Men has? On Sunday's episode, faced with the crisis of Lucky Strike leaving Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Don uses Faye's personal feelings for him to get ahead in business, while also engaging in an affair when he thinks his request won't be granted. Pete finds himself choosing to save the drowning ship that is SCDP over spending time with his wife and new baby girl. Peggy, on the other hand, uses her relationship with Abe to give an inspired pitch to Playtex.

Then, of course, there's Roger, whose own self-denial has put the company at risk. Rather than telling his partners that Lee Garner Jr. is taking his money elsewhere, he's wasted a few weeks wallowing in guilt. And when the rest of the SCDP gang inevitably finds out, Roger lies and looks for solace in Joan, who is no longer there to catch him when he falls.

The episode takes its name from a business term: A "Chinese wall" is an information barrier that many companies establish between two parties to eliminate conflicts of interest. Although some of the characters on Mad Men could use the Great Wall of China to keep things appropriate, whatever wall that should exist is crumbling just as fast as Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce itself.

"Why is it that every time something good happens, something bad happens?" — Peggy Olson

Peggy's statement could really sum up just about every development in Mad Men's history, couldn't it? In this case, Peggy's "good thing" was a long night spent between the sheets with Abe, the reporter Peggy sent away after his screed against Madison Avenue. Abe must have done adequate damage control during that ride back from Jones Beach, because even after their romp, Peggy doesn't want Abe to leave the next morning. (She does wish he wouldn't talk so much though.)

Peggy is so entranced, in fact, she shows up to work late on the fateful day that Don & Co. announce the bad news: Lucky Strike is moving to BBDO. While Don starts beating the bushes for new clients, he warns Peggy and the rest of the creative team to make sure the clients SCDP already has are happy. He even leaves Peggy in charge of the Playtex pitch, which allows the show to make fun of itself, as Peggy frets about ending the presentation with poetic "examples ... that explain how big the idea is," just like Don does. And as she waxes poetic about her the power of a woman's touch (inspired by her night with Abe), Stan and Danny become unable to think of anything but Peggy's fingers. "Is she giving it off or what?" Danny asks, while Stan says the fear of SCDP closing will make the women sex-crazed.

And while Peggy somewhat fits that bill (she gets it on in the office with "delivery boy Abe"), she quickly rejects Stan's advances.  Now twice humiliated by Peggy, he gets some revenge as he lets Peggy present to Playtex with lipstick all over her teeth. (Peggy hysterically misreads the situation: She believes the sexual undercurrent of her presentation has connected with the client, who licks his teeth trying to discreetly tell Peggy what has happened.) But in any case, Playtex likes what Peggy is selling, and they leave the office happy. And good on Peggy for taking the joke in stride. See, Stan, maybe she's not a "humorless b----."

"There's no reward in going down with the ship." — Tom Vogel

Pete learns the bad news about Lucky Strike while awaiting the birth of his daughter in the hospital waiting area. He leaves Trudy's family to deal with the crisis, only to learn that there's nothing that can be done. When Pete divulges the possibility of SCDP's collapse, Tom revives his tug of war with Pete, instantly suggesting that it's time for Pete to find a secure job to support his family. In fact, Tom says Ted Chaough is dying to get Pete on his staff. Pete, choosing to honor his partnership at SCDP, will hear nothing of it.

Pete wavers a bit, however, when Don dares to suggest that Pete isn't giving his all in Operation Save Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. When a Glo-Coat exec tells Don they are walking, Don blames Pete, who's distracted by Trudy's labor, for screwing up an earlier phone call. Pete puffs out his chest and storms out of the room, almost threatening Don, for whom he fell on his sword last week. And, of course, Ted Chaough is in the hospital waiting room schmoozing Pete's in-laws when he returns to check on Trudy. He offers him a "full voting third" partnership and his name on the door at CGC. Between that and the baby rattle, Teddy Chaough is offering a pretty sweet deal.

But for whatever reason, Pete remains loyal for now. Even though Ted offers him a partnership, part of me feels like he still has something to prove to Don and the rest of SCDP. They came to him and made him a partner, but I think he still feels a need to please them. But at the wake for fellow adman David Montgomery, it's clear that Pete is weighed down by the fact that he's there to poach vulnerable clients instead of being with his wife and newborn. I don't think he wants them sitting on the dais someday listening to war stories from his colleagues about how he often thought of his family during the long nights and weeklong business trips.

"I'm used to having ideas rejected, not me." — Don Draper

While Don was busy rallying the troops and destroying his beloved Clio when Glo-Coat bailed, he also got himself right in the middle of a love triangle. Out of his desperation over losing clients, Don asks Faye, who works with other agencies as well, to tell him which of her clients are unhappy where they are. Faye is appalled that Don would even ask. She refuses to lower her ethical standards.

Perhaps thinking that it was over between he and Faye, Don spends a little quality time with Megan, who not only fixed Don's Clio, but also wants to know how the creative process works. She divulges that she's really interested and keeps rambling on until she kisses Don. Hesitant to make the same mistake he did with Allison, Don finally draws the line between getting personal and being professional. But when Megan assures Don it has nothing to do with work (and that she won't run out of the office crying), Don goes ahead and sleeps with her.

Much to Don's surprise, Faye is waiting for him at his door when he arrives home. And rather than ending things between them, Faye tells Don that she has secured him a meeting with Heinz. "I thought about what you said, and I thought about you, and I thought about whatever you are in my life right now," Faye says, explaining her change of heart.

If it's a choice between the two, I think Don clearly ends up choosing Megan. True, both women are concerned about keeping Don on his sober-ish path (Faye warns him to slow down and keep a clear head; Don asks Megan to let him drink no more than three drinks at work), but Megan wins out in other categories. She's already proven to be a compassionate nurturer both with Sally after her spill in the office and with Allison during the focus group. She also seems focused on a career and she doesn't know Don's secret. Advantage: Megan.

"I'm not a solution to your problems; I'm just another problem." — Joan Harris

Then there's Roger, who can't bring himself to tell his partners that Lee Garner Jr. is moving on. When confronted with the news, Roger lies and acts out the argument he had with Lee in the last episode, only this time into a phone receiver. (Roger slyly hangs the phone up with his other hand. Do you think anyone saw and didn't say anything?) To keep the lie alive, Roger agrees to fly down to North Carolina to make a final plea, but he never goes, calling from a downtown hotel to report the bad news to the rest of the team.

But Roger tells Joan the truth. She is furious with him for including her in the lie, but also for not having the good sense to say something sooner. Roger says he feels guilty and that he's carrying a hole in his gut, and he needs Joan to make him feel better. When he visits her at home, however, Joan refuses to be his port in the storm, repeatedly emphasizing that she can't go down this road with Roger anymore. That was perhaps the most crushing blow.

Roger then gets defensive when Don and Pete pile on at the office. Roger's denial continues: "You're the one who dragged me into your amateur hour. I was perfectly happy where I was. And why did I do it? Out of friendship, but now that the account is gone, I guess that went with it," he says, trying to deflect the blame and the attention. But Bert Cooper cuts through it all, telling Roger, '"Lee never took you seriously because you never took yourself seriously."

I honestly thought the episode would end with Roger Sterling going home and killing himself. (And I am not convinced that it won't still happen this season.) Roger is at the end of his rope, and without a client or Joan or an agency, what is left for the character creatively? Even Jane's gift to Roger — she self-published his memoir — is another reminder of Roger's empty life. His wife has no idea that he's a fraud, and that there is nothing about him of which she should be proud.

What did you think of the episode?

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"This means everything to me!" — Don Draper
Sorry, Faye (and Megan): Even after a disastrous end to his first marriage, Don Draper still hasn't learned to separate his work from his life. But who on Mad Men has? On Sunday's episode, faced with the crisis of Lucky Strike leaving Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Don uses Faye's personal feelings for him to get ahead in business, while also engaging in an affair when he thinks his request won't be granted. Pete finds himself choosing to save the drowning ship that is SCDP over spending time with his wife and new baby girl. Peggy, on the other hand, uses her relationship with Abe to give an inspired pitch to Playtex.

Then, of course, there's Roger, whose own self-denial has put the company at risk. Rather than telling his partners that Lee Garner Jr. is taking his money elsewhere, he's wasted a few weeks wallowing in guilt. And when the rest of the SCDP gang inevitably finds out, Roger lies and looks for solace in Joan, who is no longer there to catch him when he falls.

The episode takes its name from a business term: A "Chinese wall" is an information barrier that many companies establish between two parties to eliminate conflicts of interest. Although some of the characters on Mad Men could use the Great Wall of China to keep things appropriate, whatever wall that should exist is crumbling just as fast as Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce itself... read more

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