“The Chrysanthemum and The Sword” – Mad Men

This was my favorite episode of this season and is a big contender for my favorite episode of the series. This is the first episode in a while with Betty and Sally playing bigger role. Betty is having problems with the results of the divorce and takes it out on Sally by slapping her in the face after Sally cuts her hair. Sally gets caught playing with herself at a friends house and Betty threatens that she will chop Sally’s fingers off if she does anything like it again. Henry convinces Betty that she needs to take Sally to see a psychiatrist. Betty calls Don and tells him that they both need to meet with the psychiatrist separately and they blame Sally’s issues on one another. Betty meets with the psychiatrist and she suggests that they meet four times a week. Betty seems to be the one that really needs to see a psychiatrist I think it is clear that she had problems with her mother. In past episodes she has described her mother to be very beautiful and in this episode Betty talked about how strict she was. January Jones and the writers have done a great job with Betty’s character. I hate her for the way she disciplines Sally and all of the hate she has, but I can tell that she has been tortured to the point that she has some serious problems, and the I really feel for her.

At work, Don and the gang have competition as they attempt to win over the client, Honda. SCDP is advised to read “The Chrysanthemum and The Sword” to prepare, hence the title. When the Honda representatives arrive, Cooper almost blows all of their chances with them but luckily the translator doesn’t relay his furious racist remarks. The representatives say that they are giving each of the competitors $3,000 to create a presentation and win them over. Cooper and Pete have a heated argument. Peter says that Cooper is trying to “wrap (himself) in the flag” in order to keep them from winning Honda, because the the company will be less reliant on Lucky Strike and in turn, less reliant on Cooper. Donald suggests that they make a big commercial to present to Honda, but no one wants to because it would limit the rest of their year. Later, Don has the idea that they should trick their competition into believing that they are making the big commercial so that they will sacrifice the funds to create a commercial themselves. So, Joan has a meeting with someone that works with the competition and Don “accidentally” interrupts them with a Honda bike. And Peggy rides a bike into a studio to mislead them. Don goes to the meeting with Honda and resigns because they let SCDP’s competitor present a finished piece which was against Honda guidelines they wrote. Honda later disqualifies the other company, leaving SCDP at the front of the running for Honda.

This episode had a lot of good drama, but there were also many really funny parts. Most notably when the Honda representatives meet Joan. “How does she stand?” they ask and she says, “They are not very subtle are they?” And then, when we see Peggy driving the Honda motorcycle around and empty lot after the competitors are not allowed to enter. It was also funny when Peggy, in the most serious voice ever, tells her co-workers not to touch the drinking bird because she wants to know how long it will keep going.

One of the best lines of the episode: “Christ on a craker!” -Peter


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