Mad Men Episodes

2007, TV Show

Mad Men Episode: "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword"

Season 4, Episode 5
Episode Synopsis: Don and Pete disregard Roger's expectations in an effort to land an important new client.
Original Air Date: Aug 22, 2010
Guest Cast Randee Heller: Miss Blankenship Christopher Stanley: Henry Francis
Full Episode
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Season 4, Episode 5
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Length: 47:33
Aired: 8/22/2010
Also available on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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Mad Men Episode Recap: "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" Season 4, Episode 5

"Why does everybody need to talk about everything?" — Don Draper
"I don't know, but they do. And no matter what happens while they're talking, they feel better when they're done." — Faye Miller

Clearly, Don Draper is a man who likes his privacy, but as this episode proves, sometimes baring your soul can be productive. Roger Sterling works through his long-held anger toward the Japanese thanks to a quick chat with Joan. Betty's icy demeanor is temporarily thawed by a potential child psychiatrist for Sally. And Don lets down his guard with Faye, admitting that his divorce from Betty has been hardest on his kids.

Sally, who doesn't have anyone to talk to about the changes going on inside her body, expresses herself by chopping off her hair and, um, "behaving inappropriately" to get some attention. Perhaps seeing the therapist four times a week will help, but for now, this little girl is as lost as her father has been over the last few weeks.

"You're wrapping yourself in the flag so you can keep me from bringing in an account because you know every chip I make, we're less dependent on Lucky Strike, and therefore, less dependent on you." — Pete Campbell

Upon hearing that Pete has landed Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce a meeting with Honda about a new TV commercial for its motorcycles, Roger flatly refuses to do business with the Japanese. "I used to be a man with a lot of friends," Roger says. "Then World War II came and they were killed by your yellow buddies." The rest of the partners, however, agree to take the meeting, using The Chrysanthemum and the Sword as their guide to understanding the rules of Japanese culture.

Of course, Roger's long lunch meeting doesn't run long enough, and he interrupts the Honda meeting. Nearly every word out of his mouth is offensive. When Pete insists that the meeting is over, Roger says, "They won't know it's over until you drop the big one. Twice." When the men set forth the ground rules for the firm's presentation, Roger is even more direct. "We want it to be unconditional. ...We beat you and we'll beat you again, and we don't want any of your Jap crap. So, sayonara."

It's oddly refreshing to see real emotion from Roger Sterling, whose one-liners usually keep things light, even when they're not. Here, however, he is downright angry, and he doesn't give a damn who knows it. Of course, some of that anger is directed at Pete, who points out that Roger is threatened by a younger generation making him irrelevant. Even Don knows this to be true, and he says so when Pete, mere seconds from being decked by Roger, says, "The rest of us are trying to build something" before slinking away.

In the end, Bert Cooper makes Roger see that his personal feelings can't torpedo the company, and Joan refuses to listen to Roger wax nostalgic about his young soldier poet buddy, if only because she can't stand the thought of Greg shipping out to his own war. "When did forgiveness become a better quality that loyalty?" Roger asks. Joan's only response is the one he perhaps most wants to hear: Roger fought to make the world safer, and he did. (More Joan-Roger scenes, please!)

"The minute he declared himself the competition, we became equals." — Don Draper

The battle for Honda's business brings back the competitive side of Don Draper that the season premiere promised before turning him into a drunken disaster. Not only is Ted Chaough at rival agency CGC bragging to The New York Times that he is stealing Don's clients (jai alai, Clearasil), but he's also in the running for the Honda account. Even though Sterling's outburst makes it all but certain that SCDP is dead in the water, Don decides to take the opportunity to swat down Chaough once and for all.

Realizing that blowing Honda's mind with an incredible commercial won't work — Honda insists on a $3,000 budget and no finished work; besides, Lane says that producing an ad out-of-pocket will bankrupt the company — Don lets Chaough hang himself by making him think SCDP is producing a commercial, rules be damned. It's a delightful caper with shades of the Season 3 finale, and best of all, it worked. When Don resigns from the competition because the Honda businessmen "didn't honor their own rules," he makes an impression on them. And though it turns out they were never going to move their motorcycle business from Grey, Don & Co. will get the first crack at Honda's first automobile. Don is still doing plenty of drinking this week, but he wasn't nearly as impaired as we've seen recently, which is a welcome change.

"You have short hair and Daddy likes it." — Sally Draper

Meanwhile, Don doesn't have any idea how to deal with Sally. He admits to Faye that he doesn't know what to do with the kids when he has them at his place, and that he is relieved when he drops them off with Betty. While he's out on his third date (in five months) with Bethany, he comes home to find that Sally has taken scissors to her own hair. Don unfairly takes out his anger on Phoebe, who he claims wasn't watching Sally closely enough.

Similarly, Betty misdirects her anger at Don ("I want him dead!) on Sally, who she slaps across the face and forbids from attending a sleepover. Henry, however, proves useful for something, telling Betty that she needn't punish Sally because she is upset with Don for letting the hair-cutting happen. Betty is clearly floored by the idea that loving her daughter might prove to be the best course of action, but Henry, who raised "a delightful young woman," knows a thing or two.

And while Sally is, as Henry's mom said in the premiere, "terrified" of Betty, she honestly just needs someone to talk to. She brags to Phoebe that she knows about sex ("I know the man pees inside the woman," she says. Thanks, friend at school!), and she incorrectly assumes Don and Phoebe are "doing it." She even cuts her hair because she thinks Don likes that. But she's rejected by Phoebe, ignored by Don and slapped around by Betty, which leads her to more acting out.

Glen Bishop may have loaded Sally's mind with new thoughts, but it's The Man from U.N.C.L.E. that pulls the trigger. While attending that sleepover, Sally gets caught "playing with herself" while her friend is asleep. When her friend's mother takes Sally home, Betty threatens to cut her fingers off. "What is wrong with her?" Betty asks over and over. Again, Henry is the voice of reason, suggesting that Sally see a child psychiatrist. But it's also a thinly veiled suggestion that Betty needs some work too. "It's hard on the both of you," he says, perhaps finally admitting to himself that he inherited four children instead of a wife and her three kids.

"All I wanted was long hair. In fact, when my mother was mad at me, she would threaten to cut my hair." — Betty Draper

Betty blames Don for Sally's "inappropriate behavior." She claims that Sally's masturbation is because of the whores Don parades in and out of his bachelor pad. She's more concerned about Sally becoming a fast girl and that the neighbors will be talking than she is about her daughter's fragile emotional state.

But when opening up to Dr. Keener (who asks Betty to call her "Dr. Edna," like her young patients do), the blame is perhaps shifted slightly. She still cites the divorce as problem No. 1, but she also notes that Sally's change in behavior coincided with grandpa Gene's death. This starts a long digression about her father, the underlying message of which is that Betty hated her mother as much as Sally hates her. Even though Betty realizes that "little girls do this" — and admits that she herself outgrew her own habits — she fails to see the parallels between her own strict mother and the way she treats Sally. Fortunately, Dr. Edna picks up on it, and though Betty refuses Dr. Edna's suggestion to see a therapist herself, she does agree to monthly checkups with Dr. Edna about Sally.

Series creator Matthew Weiner said at the beginning of this season that the writers of the show think that Betty is incapable of real change, and that she has grown the least over the show's four seasons. It's telling that she feels more comfortable talking to a child psychiatrist in a room full of toys than she ever did her own adult doctor in Season 1. (Also note how Betty perks up when she realizes that these chats will be held in confidence.)

A lingering shot of a dollhouse in Dr. Edna's office is a striking image, punctuated by Betty's smile when she first notices it. She had a dollhouse life, which, granted, has been destroyed by Don's misdeeds. But Betty, both then and now, seems more comfortable playing pretend. And though she sometimes treats them as such, her children are not soulless plastic dolls that can be molded into whatever perfect scene plays in Betty's head.

A few other thoughts:

• Peggy riding the Honda in circles on the empty soundstage is made of awesome.

• I loved the Japanese businessmen's tour of the offices, particularly the poor translation and their mystification at Joan. She's a special woman, no matter the culture. And is she just perceptive or does she speak Japanese?

• I was thankful to see Bert Cooper taking a more active role in the business this week. Last season's finale and this season's premiere promised as much, but that shot of him last week lounging in reception scared me.

• Speaking of Cooper, we know he has an affinity for Japanese culture. (See: his art collection and his insistence that people take off their shoes in his office.) So how has Sterling, who obviously hates the Japanese, tolerated working with the man so long?

• Did you spend hours Googling Dr. Lyle Evans, whom Roger referred to last night? I can't find anything on him, and it seems the writers were having a joke on the viewers who seek out every reference made in the show. (The term was trending this morning in Google, and The Chrysanthemum and the Sword rocketed to the top of Amazon.)

• Glad to see Smitty still finding work, even if Chaough refers to him as "the kid who used to work for Draper."

What did you think of the episode?

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"Why does everybody need to talk about everything?" — Don Draper
"I don't know, but they do. And no matter what happens while they're talking, they feel better when they're done." — Faye Miller

Clearly, Don Draper is a man who likes his privacy, but as this episode proves, sometimes baring your soul can be productive. Roger Sterling works through his long-held anger toward the Japanese thanks to a quick chat with Joan. Betty's icy demeanor is temporarily thawed by a potential child psychiatrist for Sally. And Don lets down his guard with Faye, admitting that his divorce from Betty has been hardest on his kids.

Sally, who doesn't have anyone to talk to about the changes going on inside her body, expresses herself by chopping off her hair and, um, "behaving inappropriately" to get some attention... read more

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