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"Mad Men" recap: Do you promise not to tell?

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MadMenEpisode410-LaneSecrets are disclosed, and secrets stay hidden in Season 4, Episode 10. Don, Roger, Lane and Pete see their worlds start to crumble. And at least three of them engage in stunning displays of spinelessness. The one who shows some backbone is most surprising.

The 1960s references are everywhere in this episode. Don gives Sally a thrill when he tells her that he'll be taking her to the Beatles' concert in Shea Stadium (Aug. 15, 1965); Lane takes guests to the Playboy Club; the Cold War and the space race are key to a client's business; women sit in a doctor's waiting room to get an illegal procedure; someone makes the casual offer of a Valium; "Hazel" is playing on a television set. Yet it is the past that makes the biggest impact in this episode.

Big fat spoilers ahead about this packed episode.

North American Aviation, a client Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) brought into the agency, has $4 million for advertising, but because the company is working on defense contracts (Minuteman missiles) the people at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce must have security clearance. You can see why that might be a problem for the Korean War deserter Dick Whitman turned ad genius Don Draper (Jon Hamm). He is so careless that he didn't even see that he was signing the application for clearance that Megan filled out for him -- an application that, as Don says, has three lies in eight questions. Betty must cover for Don when she talks to two FBI agents doing the background check. Don must ask Pete, who knows about the Dick-Don problem, to intercede with a friend at the Defense Department.

Don goes into a full-blown sweating-bullets panic attack, which Faye witnesses and tries to help him through. Draper cool melts in the face of Whitman terror. Don tells Faye about his desertion and his false identity. She's sympathetic and seems to think that they are in the mess together. (I expected her to offer to get her mob-connected father to help.) But Faye doesn't know Dick-Don.

Pete does fix things by forgoing the $4 million advertising budget and taking the blame for losing it. Who would have thought that Pete would be the stand-up guy in this group? Don lets him endure a blistering attack from Roger, who could rival Don for spineless Mad Man of the year.

MadMenEpisode410-RogerJoan tells Roger (John Slattery) that she is late and that this could only be the result of their tryst after her husband left for basic training. He arranges to get the name of a doctor who will help her take care of the problem. He waffles about what should happen, telling Joan that maybe he is love with her, but he never takes responsibility for the situation. Joan, as usual, competently handles things.

Roger also finds out that Lucky Strike is dropping the agency. The creepy Lee Garner Jr. gives him the word. This, of course, is disastrous news for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, but Roger gets Garner to hold off any announcement for 30 days and Roger breathes not a word to his partners.

Lane (Jared Harris), meanwhile, hopes to have his son come to New York, but instead gets a visit from his stern father. Lane has another secret: He is love with a waitress at the Playboy Club, a young woman he calls his "chocolate bunny." When he introduces his pretty African-American girlfriend to his father, the old man is polite but cold and dismissive. After Toni, the girlfriend, leaves, he tells Lane in no uncertain terms (and violently punctuated with a whack from his cane to Lane's head) that Lane must come to England to "put your home in order." Lane accedes -- with his father's foot on his hand. He later tells the partners that he is taking a leave to return to England. I don't know what happened to the young lady.

Don, who has allowed himself to be seen in a vulnerable state, seems to be ready to cool it with Faye, too, eyeing lovely young Megan at the end of the episode.

The episode is titled "Hands and Knees." That certainly fits: Don has to appeal to Pete for help; Roger begs Garner not to drop the agency; Lane's father knocks Lane to his knees. The agency itself will be on its knees when the word gets out that Lucky Strike has stubbed out its connection.

Other stuff:

  • I recognized the scream that Sally let out when she got the word about the Beatles. As a preteen, I squealed like that when I merely saw the Beatles on TV.
  • The earthy language hits a new low in this episode with a bleeped F-word late in the episode. I don't know. I just don't see a man like Roger uttering such a word in a business meeting, especially with a woman present. This just doesn't ring true.
  • In the doctor's waiting room, Joan talks to a woman who is there with her 17-year-old daughter. The woman assumes that Joan is there for a daughter too. Joan plays along.
  • Betty and Trudy wear frilly bedclothes -- Betty in a peignoir set, Trudy in a baby doll set. Trudy should be giving birth soon, shouldn't she?
  • Betty tells Henry about the FBI visit, assuring him that she doesn't want any secrets. Politically ambitious Henry hopes that the FBI will need to check his background some day.
  • An elevator-music version of the Beatles' "Do You Want to Know a Secret?" plays over the end credits.
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About the blogger

Pam Nelson began her career as a writer in 1976 and has worked in various editing jobs at The News & Observer since 1987. She has won awards for her headline writing and has taught college classes in copy editing and seminars in grammar and usage.