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Blowing Smoke
Don S4E12 Blowing Smoke.jpg
Season 4 Episode 12
Air date 10 October 2010
Written by Andre Jacquemetton
Maria Jacquemetton
Directed by John Slattery

Chinese Wall


Don Draper is visited by an old flame, Midge, and sees that she has fallen on hard times. Several business opportunities with major corporations are lost, scared away by Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce's immanent collapse. They suddenly realize how dire their financial situation is, and as a result redundancies are made. This causes Don to make an impulsive decision that will not only affect him, but the other partners. Cooper makes a decision. Betty and Henry decide to make a change, much to Sally's dismay.


Don has a secret meeting, obtained thanks to Faye's help (Chinese Wall), with an executive from Heinz's vinegar, sauces and beans branch, who is frustrated how the beans business of Heinz has become the "fading older sister" of the ketchup branch. He hopes to revitalize the image of beans, especially since beans were most popular during the war, leading to some negative image association. The exec reminds Don that he can't afford to move his business now from Ketchum McLeod, and that there is still the issue of whether SCDP will still be in existence in the next six months.

During dinner with Bobby and Gene, Sally expresses an interest in eating dinner with Henry and Betty. An interest Betty takes kindly to.

During a meeting determining the financial solvency of SCDP, it becomes evident that their billings have fallen by 50 percent, and that not only is signing new business "of the essence", but it is crucial that the business appear non-stagnant or worse, not "decaying". Dr. Geoffrey Atherton addresses the fact that SCDP should stick to what they do best, cigarettes. He says that not only do they have the team assembled already, but they also have Don. Comparing the company to a specific type of girl, and tobacco being their "ideal boyfriend", Geoffrey offers a meeting with Philip Morris, who have a new women's cigarette in the works.

During a series of vignettes featuring various SCDP employees, the reality that the company may close is setting in for each individual. Harry and Ken are worried for their jobs. Lane realizes that they have to start downsizing. Roger believes that they should court more companies, which Cooper reminds him is impossible.

Faye provides Don with research on other woman's cigarettes, telling Don that Heinz was very impressed.

Sally and Glen are alone, and they discuss Sally's psychiatry sessions with Dr. Edna, when Glen offers Sally a cigarette. Sally refuses. The conversation turns to Betty, where Glen reminds Sally that Betty has a particular distaste for him and children in general.

Coming out of the office, Don is called over by a woman, who is revealed to be Midge. She claims that she was just getting out of a meeting at Life Magazine when she saw Don. Realizing that she is noticeably skinnier, Midge taunts Don on his new company, "Draper, Draper, and Draper". Don surprised she is there, and tells her that he always thought that if he ran into her, it would be in the Village, telling her he now lives on Waverly. She invites him to come back with her and meet her husband, and Don is apprehensive. Twisting his arm she, says they'll eat together, he'll buy a painting, and she needs a ride, because she lost her purse. Don accepts.

During a meeting with Dr. Edna, Sally seems to show a lot of progress getting ahold of her emotion when it comes to her mother. Dr. Edna reminds her that even though Sally gets stressed, Betty also has her stresses too. She also reminds Sally that she is very proud of her progress.

Arriving at Midge's dilapidated apartment, Don meets Midge's partner Perry, who is a playwright. While Midge freshens up, Perry exhibits her paintings, a series of abstract-expressionistic art that radiates what Midge sees when she closes her eyes.

While persuading Don to buy a painting, he subtly hints that Midge will do "anything" if Don buys a painting, citing that the two of them are "not possessive" of one another, he also lets it slip that the fact that Midge ran into Don was non-coincidental. Midge returns knowing she shouldn't have left Don and Perry alone, and Perry tries to relieve the tension by going out and getting groceries to make dinner. Realizing Perry has no money, and neither does Midge, Don offers him ten dollars. With that Perry leaves. Knowing Perry is just going to take the money and "put it into his arm", Midge reassures Don that all she wanted was for him to "buy a painting", nothing more. When Don asks "what's it like" Midge compares her heroin addiction to drinking "100 bottles of whiskey while someone licks your tits". Don asks why Midge doesn't just quit, Midge says that it's "heroin", and the fact of the matter is that she just can't even though she knows it's bad for her.

Midge reveals that Perry talked her into the habit to distract her from her work, although now she realizes it's a "full-time job". Giving Midge $120 cash, Don leaves the apartment. When she asks if her work is any good, Don asks, "Does it matter?"

While with Dr. Edna, Betty vents her problems with Henry, while Dr. Edna discusses Sally's progress. Betty asks whether Sally is "cured". Dr. Edna assures her that psychiatry is a continuum and in the light of Sally's progress she wants to cut her sessions to once a week. She'd also like to send Betty to a colleague of hers. Betty insists she doesn't need a psychiatrist. Upon hearing this, Dr. Edna realizes Betty is much more comfortable talking to her, even though she is a child psychiatrist.

On the day of the meeting with Philip Morris, the partners assemble in the reception area. Geoffrey turns up solo, claiming that Philip Morris has given the cigarette account to Leo Burnett. Outraged, the partners gather in Don's office, where Don cites that Phillip Morris is letting the firm die, and the reason why Philip Morris didn't show is because the firm is "desperate", and taking from the "scraps". Lane shares that as a company they will last at least six months, granted that each of the senior partners put forth $100,000 and the junior partners put up $50,000 each for collateral. Drastic staff cuts have to be made, too.

During another one-on-one, Sally and Glen discuss their dreams. Sally shares that the idea of "forever" scares her. She also shares her modernistic views on religion, sharing that she "doesn't believe in God".

In his office, Pete reveals that Philip Morris used SCDP's situation to leverage a better deal with Burnett. Peggy suggests to Don that the company change its name and start over. "If you don't like what they're saying about you, change the conversation." Don exclaims that it isn't possible to start over because they've "just started".

Meanwhile at the Campbell compound, Trudy reveals that she received a call about a loan application. She is mislead, thinking it's for a new house, but Pete shares the unfortunate news that he will have to put up collateral for the company. Outraged, Trudy forbids Pete from giving anymore more to the company, protesting that they simply don't have the money, and what money they do have is for their daughter, Tammy's, future.

Staring at Midge's painting Don is inspired to write the infamous article "Why I'm Quitting Tobacco".

The next morning all the partners storm into Don's office exclaiming that the article is "suicide" and business "euthanization". Cooper highlights the fact that Don did it for personal gain and in that gesture of self-involvement, he humiliated the other partners by not giving them so much as a nod. In an act of protestation Cooper resigns his post. As the other partners leave the office, Megan lets Don know that she was impressed with the letter.

The rest of the company are in the creative lobby discussing lay offs when Cooper walks past the office with all his belongings wishing the rest of them "good luck". Stan mentions he didn't think they'd start by firing Cooper. Peggy is then called into Don's office.

Peggy arrives anxiously. When Don asks who Peggy can lay off, she is relieved that it's not her getting fired. Don mentions that Peggy has yet to say something about his letter, and Peggy says she "thought [he] didn't go in for those sorts of shenanigans" grinning, quoting him yet again, referring to the episode "Public Relations", when Peggy and Pete pulled a publicity stunt.

While driving, Betty sees Sally and Glen meet up. Glen quickly makes a run for it. When Betty and Sally return home, Betty forbids Sally from seeing Glen again. Sally says that Betty "doesn't know [Glen] at all".

Faye arrives at Don's office with a box of her things. She tells him that because her company would like to do business with tobacco companies in the future, she had to resign from SCDP. She is happy about it, and she states that it's a "fair trade" so that Don and she can date in the open.

Before leaving, Faye swings by Peggy's office, where Peggy shares that she is genuinely sorry that Faye is leaving the company. Peggy has a great deal of respect for Faye because she does her job so well without having to play any games.

When Henry returns home early from work, Betty makes the suggestion that they should move away from Ossining to Rye, in a desperate bid to keep Sally from Glen. She uses the excuse that the neighborhood is being "overrun by low caliber people", throwing Sally pointed glances. An upset Sally runs to her room and begins to sob.

During a partners meeting, Joan tells her colleagues that they should start making cutbacks now to avoid any more damage to morale. Roger shares the news with the group that the American Cancer Society called Don several times, eventually calling Roger in an attempted to have SCDP create a prestigious anti-smoking ad. Positive about the call, Don and Roger remind an apprehensive group that at least someone "called them", and that this is a lucrative business "opportunity". Before the lay-offs begin, Lane tells Pete that Don paid Pete's share of the collateral, knowing Pete couldn't afford it. As Danny walks into Don's office Pete and Don share a moment as Pete lets Don know he is grateful.

As the day goes on, the surviving employees of SCDP watch as a large number of sober employees leave in tears.


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Seasons of Mad Men
Season 1 • "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" • "Ladies Room" • "Marriage of Figaro" • "New Amsterdam" • "5G" • "Babylon" • "Red in the Face" • "The Hobo Code" • "Shoot" • "Long Weekend" • "Indian Summer" • "Nixon vs. Kennedy" • "The Wheel" •
Season 2 • "For Those Who Think Young" • "Flight 1" • "The Benefactor" • "Three Sundays" • "The New Girl" • "Maidenform" • "The Gold Violin" • "A Night to Remember" • "Six Month Leave" • "The Inheritance" • "The Jet Set" • "The Mountain King" • "Meditations in an Emergency" •
Season 3 • "Out of Town" • "Love Among the Ruins" • "My Old Kentucky Home" • "The Arrangements" • "The Fog" • "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency" • "Seven Twenty Three" • "Souvenir" • "Wee Small Hours" • "The Color Blue" • "The Gypsy and the Hobo" • "The Grown-Ups" • "Shut the Door. Have a Seat" •
Season 4 • "Public Relations" • "Christmas Comes But Once a Year" • "The Good News" • "The Rejected" • "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" • "Waldorf Stories" • "The Suitcase" • "The Summer Man" • "The Beautiful Girls" • "Hands and Knees" • "Chinese Wall" • "Blowing Smoke" • "Tomorrowland" •
Season 5 • "A Little Kiss, Part 1" • "A Little Kiss, Part 2" • "Tea Leaves" • "Mystery Date" • "Signal 30" • "Far Away Places" • "At the Codfish Ball" • "Lady Lazarus" • "Dark Shadows" • "Christmas Waltz" • "The Other Woman" • "Commissions and Fees" • "The Phantom" •
Season 6 • "The Doorway, Part 1" • "The Doorway, Part 2" • "The Collaborators" • "To Have and To Hold" • "The Flood" • "For Immediate Release" • "Man With a Plan" • "The Crash" • "The Better Half" • "A Tale of Two Cities" • "Favors" • "The Quality of Mercy" • "In Care Of" •
Season 7 • "Time Zones" • "A Day's Work" • "Field Trip" • "The Monolith" • "The Runaways" • "The Strategy" • "Waterloo" • "Severance" • "New Business" • "The Forecast" • "Time & Life" • "Lost Horizon" • "The Milk and Honey Route" • "Person to Person" •