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Mad Men



Episode 11 - Chinese Wall

6 March 2012

Mad Men - 411 - Chinese Wall

Another good episode. The show did a really nice job of showing how much Lucky Strike meant to the agency. All the partners abandoned their personal lives to rush into work and the staff all think this could be the end of their jobs. Similarly clients call questioning the existence of the agency now that there only major client has left them.

The episode managed to touch on so many interesting things throughout. Particularly striking was the scene at David Montgomery's memorial service. His wife and daughter sat looking miserable as a room full of ad men chuckled at stories of when David was away from home chasing clients. The speakers claimed that David had always been thinking of his family but clearly he hadn't thought enough to spend more time with them. Pete (who was missing the birth of his child) and Don (who put his need for clients ahead of his relationship with Faye) sat watching and perhaps considering whether they needed to learn a lesson from this scene.

Meanwhile Roger who has always put a good time before work suddenly has nothing to fall back on. He had no magic escape plan and is exposed as a big baby when the Lucky Strike news becomes public. We see him go crawling to Joan for support assuming that like Lucky Strike, she would always be there for him. But she isn't and back in the office his colleagues turn on him. I really enjoyed the way he quickly deflected Pete and Don's anger and got up on his high horse, he isn't about to show vulnerability to them even if knows he is being exposed as a failure.

Don treats Faye about as poorly as he ever treated Betty and I don't think either of them see how damaging it was. When she mentions the clients she works with who are unhappy he seizes on it and demands to be given new business leads. He is asking her to betray her ethics and risk her own job and her boss' business just to help him out. "This is everything to me" he claims. Later on when she gives in and helps him out she cites part of her reasoning being "whatever you are in my life right now." Clearly she is building for a future with Don, that part of her life means more to her than work. Don not only prioritizes work over her but in the meantime he sleeps with Megan. Faye is heading for some serious heartache and I doubt she will go quietly at this point.

As for Megan, it's difficult to tell if she is really ambitious for a job like Peggy's or just a rich husband. Either way Don's judgment is shockingly bad throughout the episode, lashing out at Roger and Pete when they need to rally together. The agency is now so built around Don that its failure would clearly make him feel like all he has accomplished meant nothing. I liked the subtle and obvious references to his attempts to control his drinking.

Peggy meanwhile is the only one to have some professional and personal success as she sleeps with Abe and uses that to help her nail a pitch for latex gloves. That moment demonstrates the legacy Don would leave were the agency to fall. Peggy has taken his style and incorporated it into her pitches to make them succeed. I enjoyed Stan's continuing crush on her and ability to make an ass out of himself while doing it. 

I was very impressed by the simplicity and the depth of this. The news about Lucky Strike managed to touch everyone and tell a compelling story in an effortless way. 



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  • I agree with your high marks for the episode. I thought the show returned to a more even keel and intriguing character development.
    I also liked that I found Megan hard to read when she tells Don that she wants to learn the business and work like Peggy. As you commented, is she serious or is she shopping for a man. Sad to say, people in the workplace still sometimes ask this about women but they never ask it about men. [Not a critique of Robin-just my observation.]

    Posted by Lenni, 16/10/2010 2:28am (10 years ago)

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