“Mad Men,” Episode 10, “Hands and Knees”

Madmen4handskneesjoan

Betty…Yes? … Thank you.

I can’t decide what was more heartbreaking in this brutal episode: The sight of Lane Pryce getting beaten down by his own father or the cruel twist of biological fate that befell Joan.

Those were hard to take. In the moments after Joan told the woman in the abortionist’s office that her daughter was “15,” I lost it. I felt like I’d swallowed a billiard ball for a few minutes. The whole scene with Joan talking to the mother in the waiting room was so beautifully shot, too, by first time “Mad Men” helmer Lynn Shelton. Good for her, and good for Jonathan Abrahams and Matthew Weiner for penning “Hands and Knees.”

This episode also had one of the most uplifting moments of the season to date when a distraught Don reveals all to Faye in about 20 seconds and two sentences. He’s not making the same mistake he made with Betty by allowing the lie to get bigger every day. His Dick Whitman-Don Draper back story isn’t so morally horrendous in the context of war and a soldier already wounded. The thought of time in the Big House for desertion naturally scares Don, especially because of what it would do to his kids, who have already been through the mill. But I took his confession, and the relative ease with which it was delivered, to Faye as signs that he is more comfortable in his own skin (which has been a theme of the whole season) and an indication of his respect and affection for her.

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