The title of this stellar episode was ”The Chrysanthemum and the Sword” in honor of the agency’s initially clumsy wooing of the Japanese Honda account. I did a quick bit of glib research on Ruth Benedict’s enduring 1945 study. Here’s her succinct description of the World War II Japanese mindset: ”both aggressive and unaggressive, both militaristic and aesthetic, both insolent and polite, rigid and adaptable, submissive and resentful of being pushed around, loyal and treacherous, brave and timid, conservative and hospitable to new ways.” If that doesn’t sum up Don to a T, I don’t know what does. And it fits Betty — the mum if you’ll allow me to Don’s sword — in some crucial ways as well. Poor Sally’s parents are a mess of blinding contradictions.
Pete had a new spring to his step now that he has a baby on the way. That man was on fire last night, the first to introduce the possibility of making lucrative ties with the Japanese. Roger snapped out of his smirking reverie of laxative one-liners and accused Pete of sleeping with the enemy. ”I don’t expect you to understand this because you’re a little boy,” he spat at the youngest partner in the room sipping his orange soda pop. Roger is a louche man, used to not working hard for all that comes easy to him. But he is uncynical when it comes to his one true record of service, and now here was Pete innocently pricking at his heart with a Japanese souvenir flag.
On the day of the meeting, the partners conspired to send an oblivious Roger off on a long lunch. Everyone had an unread copy of Ruth Benedict’s book on their desk and Pete hilariously whisked a bouquet of white chrysanthemums out of the building. ”Apparently they symbolize death,” he said. ”So much conflicting information!” (I know he’s kind of a worm, but I do love the guy.) He had done a quick brush-up on Japanese culture and told Don that the protocol was simple: ”We don’t have to do anything but avoid criticizing them or giving advice.” Apparently Don is Japanese because that is similarly the way to stay in our man’s good graces.
”Don’t give me any advice,” Don hollered meanly at the babysitter before he showed her the door. It was Don’s weekend with the kids and their somber presence left him feeling itchy enough to call up banal Bethany, whose name does not impress Sally in the least, for a third date. So he left his kids in the care of folksy Phoebe from down the hall. Easy breezy Bobby was impressed by Phoebe’s stethoscope, but Sally looked stung by her father’s abandonment. She emerged from the bathroom with butchered hair and frank questions about whether Phoebe had let her Dad go pee-pee inside of her. Phoebe suggested Sally go to her mother for such intimate conversations without knowing that the girl would have better luck asking Miss Blankenship to take her shopping for a training bra. When Don got home he was outraged at news of the impromptu haircut. ”You’re supposed to watch them!” he roared. Dude. Really?
NEXT: Mommy dearest