Mad Men: The Secret Life Of The American Man


Last night on Mad Men, everyone struggled with life-altering secrets. Don tried (again) to keep his identity hidden, Joan was forced to make a difficult decision, and Lane came clean, only to wind up getting knocked to the ground.

“Hands and Knees” starts out with Joan telling Roger she’s pregnant with his baby, which was fairly predictable thanks to last week’s unusually revealing “next week on Mad Men.” Joan explains that since Greg’s been away for weeks, the baby’s definitely his. Roger assures her that everything will be okay, and says, “let me take care of this.”

Joan is too embarrassed to go to her own gynecologist, who knows she’s trying to conceive with Greg, so she and Roger go to another doctor together. Like every gynecologist we’ve ever seen on Mad Men, he considers judging his patients’ sexual activities part of his job description, and yells at Roger that he’s “used this woman” and “ruined her.”

Afterward, Joan and Roger go to a coffee shop and try to decide what to do. It seems Roger is Joan’s only confidant, since she burst into tears several weeks ago when Greg suggested she talk to her “friends at the office.” However, Roger isn’t much of a friend or a lover to Joan, telling her, “Maybe I’m in love with you.” While he was willing to uproot his life with Mona for Jane, and is open to continuing a relationship with Joan, he makes it clear that he doesn’t want to start a life with her and the baby. He suggests that they could pass it off as Greg’s, but “It wouldn’t be my child. Let’s make that clear.” He also graciously suggests that her husband may die in Vietnam, but Joan says, “Greg dying is not a solution to this.” (Despite the hopes of many Mad Men fans.)

Joan goes by herself to another doctor, and meets the mother of a 17-year-old girl who is getting an abortion in the waiting room.

Of course, Joan understands all to well when the woman says, “There’s no one to talk to.” Joan lies to the woman about having an even younger daughter partly to make her feel better, and partly because she’s embarrassed. Joan has had abortions before, but the circumstances were different. As Betty’s doctor explained when she wanted an abortion, it was considered, “an option for young girls.” Betty’s doctor was shocked that a “married woman of means,” would consider terminating her pregnancy, and since she’s not a young single woman anymore, Joan isn’t supposed to be in this situation.

Later, we see Joan on a bus, but is heading home after having the abortion, or perhaps going to surprise Greg at base camp so she can pass off the baby as his in nine months? Later in the office, Roger worries that Joan shouldn’t be on her feet so soon after her procedure, but she’s says cryptically that “Everything went fine… We avoided a tragedy.”

Elsewhere at SCDP, Lane is expecting a visit from his son Nigel, but instead his father Robert shows up at the office to bring him home to England. Lane tells him he isn’t going back, and attempts to show his father how good his life is in New York by taking him to the Playboy Club. He also wants his father to meet his new girlfriend, Toni:

When Paul Kinsey dated an African-American woman, Joan accused him of being with her to show how progressive he was. While Lane is looking to challenge his father, it’s clear that he and his “chocolate bunny” actually love each other as well. Lane may be hoping for Robert’s approval when he reintroduces him to Toni at his apartment, but he knows there’s a fight coming. What he probably didn’t expect was his father to answer his outburtst, “Are you more distraught that I’ve found someone I love, or that she’s a negro?” by cracking him in the head with his cane, then standing on his hand until he agrees to “put his home in order.”

As for Don, things start off on a good note when he calls to tell Sally he’s taking her to see the Beatles at Shea Stadium.

It almost makes up for all those years of shitty parenting! (But not quite.)

It seems things have been going well between Betty and Don’s since they declared a truce at baby Gene’s birthday party. They manage to get through the entire phone call without fighting over whether their little runaway masturbator deserves to see the Fab Four.

But Betty’s real feelings for Don show when she’s visited by two federal agents who are doing a background check on him, due to SCDP’s new contract with North American Aviation. After questioning her about Don’s loyalty and integrity, they ask, “Do you have any reason to believe Mr. Draper isn’t who he says he is?”

Betty calls Don and tells him she lied for him, but they’re both so paranoid they think their phones have been tapped. Don goes to see Pete, who tried to blackmail him in season one after discovering he’s Dick Whitman. Pete says he’ll contact a friend at the Department of Defense about their investigation, and makes the sensible suggestion that Don just come clean. Don totally dismisses this and starts preparing for a life on the lam, telling Pete they can run the agency without him and trying to set up a trust fund for his kids.

At the Campbell residence, we discover that Trudi’s frilly nightgowns come in maternity sizes

and without revealing any details, Pete complains to her that Don is forcing him to dump the account he grew from “cocktails to four million dollars” after Don flaked out on their California meeting years ago. While Pete has a point about Don’s secret infecting the lives of others, we can’t agree with his assessment that he’s one of “the honest people” who has to “pick up the pieces.”

After Faye takes Don back to his apartment, he spots two men dressed like federal agents in his hallway and has a panic attack. When you have an actor with the ability to barf on camera as convincingly as Jon Hamm, you don’t waste that talent. After recovering, Don tells Faye that he assumed another man’s identity during the war, and unlike he’s always feared, she doesn’t run screaming into the night.

While Don has taken a step toward living his life in the open, he’s still not prepared to reveal to the world that he’s Dick Whitman, even though it means throwing a colleague under the bus. At a meeting of the partners, Don lets Pete take the blame for “losing” the North American Aviation account. Roger lashes out at Pete, but doesn’t share that Lucky Strike is leaving the agency. Lane announces he’s going to “tend to his family” in England, but says he’s happy to report that the company is financial stable. Roger bursts out laughing, since he knows that SCDP is on the cusp of ruin.

Finally, we hear a Beatles song on the show when “Do You Want To Know A Secret,” plays over the credits. Roger, Don, and Joan have managed to keep their secrets hidden for the time being, but seems it will only be a matter of time (or about three episodes) before the truth comes out.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin