'I'll Cut Your Fingers Off!': Mad Men Recapped

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The same goes for Roger -- usually. Not so much during the Honda reps' visit to SCDP, where the only lapse in taste that can possibly outdo the Japanese observation of Joan -- "How does she not fall over?" -- is the double-barreled blast Roger levels right between their eyes. On the one hand, you can't blame the guy for being upset; the meeting was set up behind his back without so much as an acknowledgment or conversation about his concerns. On the other, when you end said meeting with the adjournment, "They wont know it's over until you've dropped the big one on them -- twice," only to punctuate it with the fairly unequivocal, "We don't want any of your Jap crap"... Well, maybe some invitations should be lost in the mail.

Furious, Pete accuses Roger of sabotaging Honda not only because of the war, but also because it's "one more chip" that diminishes from Lucky Strike's omnipotence -- and, by extension, Roger's legacy. Roger charges Pete, Don intervenes, Pete flees with the last word: "The rest of us are trying to build something." Don agrees. But in the end, all the customs and self-destruction are just part of the Honda challenge: The ascendant automaker will allow only a $3,000 budget and no finished work in each suitor's pitch. Don's first idea is to gamble out of pocket on a splashy commercial, but a later epiphany emphasizes not the client but the competition: If Ted Chaough thinks SCDP is going big or going home with a TV spot, then he'll feel compelled to do the same thing. The ruse involves renting a soundstage and letting Peggy ride around it just so Chaough and his director -- whom Joan earlier interviewed for the fake job -- can stand outside the "closed set" and imagine what the creative genius Don Draper is up to this time. Trickery!

I know, I know: But what about Sally Draper's masturbation interlude? Er, yes. This happened. The last thing the 30-something male at this keyboard wants to do is parse the dynamics of prepubescent onanism in girls, especially as it pertains to The Man from UNCLE, which got Sally hot and bothered enough at a sleepover to gradually lift her nightgown and... yeah. I just get a big error message in my brain -- "DOES NOT COMPUTE, RETURN TO MADISON AVENUE" -- and a long spell where I type literally nothing. That said, I think we all knew where this was going -- and furthermore, how it would end, with Sally's discovery by her girlfriend's mother and prompt midnight exile back to Betty. (At this point, how does Sally even have girlfriends? All she wants to do is kiss boys and conjure her late grandfather and commit tonsorial mayhem and swoon at the appeal of lecherous young house vandals.)

Confronted, Sally denies it, prompting arguably the most disturbing line in Mad Men history: "Don't lie to me! I'll cut your fingers off!" As far as threats, vulgarity, neurosis, fear, angst, repression and cold-blooded cruelty go, can you find anything more vivid than that? Betty would rather mutilate her 10-year-old daughter than permit her to masturbate. Or at least to lie about masturbating, which is Betty's default position regarding the matter to begin with: denial. It's almost a wonder it got past the censors. I still squirm at the thought of it.

madmen_ep5_sally_carla.jpgRather than choke laughing and replying, "Are you kidding me?" when Betty asks what's wrong with Sally, Henry proposes sending her to a psychiatrist. Consulted about this in an angry phone call, swinging bachelor Don catches the blame from Betty (if she only knew his batting average this season); talking to "Dr. Edna" a little later, however, Betty comments that Sally is punishing her. The doctor starts the girl at four days a week (!), appointments to which Betty can't even be bothered to go with her daughter. Carla gets that distinction, and it's heartbreaking -- as is Don's kitchen confessional to Faye Miller about his failings as a father. Some vague romantic overtures thread the chat -- single, she wears a wedding ring as a decoy (which kind of invalidates or at least complicates Peggy's whole focus-group fantasy from last week) -- but the ultimate lesson regards Sally: "I'm pretty sure if you love her and she knows it," Dr. Miller says, she'll be fine."

As far as Honda goes, Don's winning strategy amounts to simply writing a $3,000 check and withdrawing SCDP from consideration for the account. This stuns the Japanese -- just enough to convince them that this is the imagination they want steering their brand into showrooms and driveways nationwide. Or at least Chaough is out. Lane takes some credit for quietly allowing the stunts and subterfuge to proceed in the first place, if only because he knew it's necessity in the trench warfare of competition. Speaking of trench warfare, Roger's tumble into combat-summoning self-pity gets the rebuff from Joan. Her eloquent reply to his question about believing in a better, safer world -- "I have to" -- invokes both Greg's forthcoming Army jaunt and the all-too-rare optimism of the era directly preceding phenomena like the Summer of Love. I relate, Joanie. We'll get there.

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Comments

  • Emotionally Retarded says:

    I am not sure what to think of Betty's character trajectory, but didn't you think January Jones actually gave one of her most persuasive performances last night?

  • MrsQuint says:

    You know, I have such a dislike for Betty Draper/January Jones that it is hard for me to be objective about her performances, but I have to admit I was throughly convinced Betty is capable of cutting off Sally's fingers.

  • Majean says:

    This was the best Mad Men episode so far this season. I have been getting so bored with the show that I didn't even bother catch the 10:00 showing, but tuned in just in time for the 11:00 replay.

  • topsyturvy says:

    There is something so, so heartbreaking about Sally.

  • snarkymark says:

    A few notes...I love Blankenship and her trajectory straight from here to McMahon and Tate. She's the haw-haw comic relief of 1965. I also like that while Sally has to go to Dr. Dame Edna four times a week (sweet Lord, I agree ST), Betty only has to go once a month (actually, those numbers should be reversed). Roger's rage has always been just below the surface. All the wisecracks, the affairs, etc., are all signs that he's one angry man. And, Henry Francis is far too buff to be working for Nelson Rockefeller in the mid-60s.

  • sweetbiscuit says:

    Unfortunately, I thought it was her weakest yet -- I could see her acting really really hard. It bugs me.

  • fear says:

    Sally is so damn creepy.

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