Mad Men Season 4-11 ‘Chinese Wall’ Recap

Lucky Strike and North American Aviation is gone. With the future of the company hanging in the balance and with Lane away in England, the other partners: Roger Sterling, Bertram Cooper and Don Draper come together to discuss how they are going to rescue the company. We first hear of the betrayal by Lucky Strike when Kenny Cosgrove (now back at Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce) is told by a friend in a rival ad company that they have acquired the account. It gets round like a domino effect and the main employees meeting in the office. What we then learn is that it has been 30 days since Roger met with Lee Garner Jr, and he lies about having known about this and he never did inform the other partners.

The usually honest Roger for one time, is oddly dishonest, shaken up by this he takes a back seat while Don announces the news to the other people in the company and tries to cover his bases, not all is lost yet. While the Don tries to keep the company on its feet, Pete Campbell’s baby is born and he dashes off to be with the mother. Business must be kept up and Don relies on Peggy to deliver a stellar pitch in a business transaction ready for the following day. The romance developing between them is becoming more and more obvious despite them both now having significant partners. Peggy has succumbed to the man who was bothering her last week and originally charmed her at the art party in the fourth episode.

Meanwhile, despite keeping the employees in a safe position at SCDP telling them all to work, the partners weigh up their finances and look at their overall billings with all the other accounts put together. Despite initially thinking they are safe, another stumbling block rears itself when GloCoat (the account which won the award for Don) reveal they are leaving SCDP too. Pete gets the blame thrown at him and Roger spectacularly loses it. Everything is becoming more vulnerable than it was before, there is now more at stake than there was before, it is a superb twist taken by the creators. But it begs the question as to where it can go next, and when thinking about it the only place it really can go is downhill. In fact the whole plot development of this season has been to send everything into the irretrievable pits of darkness, with only two episodes to go after this it’s a wonder as to how the situation the characters are in can last another season. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if it were all to end by episode 13 or a major character dies, it has been saving for something major happen for a long time.

There is an air of sickening desperation brought over in the episode which is fantastically played by all the actors and hardwired into the plot. Don, despite his cool front, is underneath trying to play down his anger. In a moment of recklessness he asks his researcher girlfriend, Dr Faye, to give information on how other clients feel they are being treated by SCDP. Roger also turns to Joan, to again provide him comfort over his loss, he is sadly turned away. One of Peggy’s colleagues, Stan, also comes onto her and he is turned down too, however she later regrets this when during an important pitch she makes a mockery of herself by having lipstick smeared on her teeth. It is a moment of light relief in an otherwise downbeat and low key episode, it fits nicely however as she is triumphant in the pitch and it doesn’t bother her. Now she is a fully responsible person, she doesn’t need to rely on other people to succeed, and more importantly does she need to rely on Don? Other desparation comes in the form of Pete who strongly becomes persuaded by the rival company who now owns Lucky Strike, where they promise to make him a partner. All is left uncertain on many different counts.

It is an all round good episode however in it’s final moment it does kind of slip up. Don risks himself again by having sex with another of his secretaries and to be honest the shag-em-then-dump-em spiel slowly becoming dull. We understand he is a man out of control with his emotions but by bedding another secretary everything he has learnt especially in the 7th episode has gone. I suspect it will play another part in the final two episodes, I somehow doubt it though as it doesn’t make sense to repeat something that happened earlier in the season. On the basis of this episode however the season finale has an interesting place to go.