Mad Men Monday: The Chrysanthemum and the Sword

In the words of the Bob Dylan song, The Times They Are A-Changin’. Roger, Burt and Pete watch a news report about the growing Civil Rights movement wondering what “they” want.  Pete says: Lassie can stay at The Waldorf and “they” can’t. A surprising comment coming from, the usually insensitive Pete Campbell.  Yet more changes are on the horizon for Roger Sterling and Sally Draper.


Sunday night’s episode of Mad Men, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword is named after cultural anthropologist, Ruth Benedict’s book, which explained Japanese culture to American businessmen. The book becomes required reading when Pete Campbell gets the agency a chance at the Honda Motorcycle account,  little Japanese  company that is thinking about getting into automobile production. As Lane Pryce puts it: “a motorcycle with windows and doors”.

Everyone is excited about the chance to work with an innovative new company, except Roger Sterling. The usually glib and sarcastic Roger shows a different side. Having fought and lost many friends in  20 years ago in World War II, Roger is not willing to forgive and forget when it comes to doing business with the Japanese.  Don, Pete, Burt Cooper and Lane are more concerned about finding new business, so they go a head against Roger’s wishes. In fact, they make sure Roger will not be present when the Japanese come to the office. Unfortunately, their plan didn’t work and Roger comes to the meeting full of vitriol and insults the Japanese businessmen, most likely losing the account.

The world is moving fast for Roger Sterling and his generation.It has only been 20 years since Roger fought in World War II. Pearl Harbor would still be in his memory and some wounds never heal. But these changing times are changing to fast for Roger. Joan, who is his usual comforter, tells him that he fought to make the world a better place, now it is a better place-get used to it.

Don, not willing to concede defeat comes up with a brilliant plan to trick the other agency competing for Honda’s account into breaking the rules. (Don is the only one who actually read the book.)


On the home front, Sally is beginning to act out. She is a growing girl in a broken home with a psycho mother her only friend is creepy Glen. They are in for BIG problems with Sally. During their visit with Don, he leave the kids with Phoebe,  the nurse from across the hall, while he goes on a date to check out the hot new Japanese restaurant, Benihana. While Phoebe and Bobby are watching TV, Sally goes in to the bathroom and cuts her hair. Sally tells Phoebe, “you have short hair and Daddy likes you…Are you and Daddy doing it?”  She is only 10. Where is getting this info? I suspect Glen.

Betty freaks out when she see Sally’s hacked up hair. Betty slaps Sally’s face-really hard! It was shocking to see that. I grew up in that generation when spanking and physical punishment were the norm. But I was NEVER hit on the face. Even Henry, knows Betty has gone to far and insists Betty take the girl to the beauty parlor to fix her hair and allow her to go on her sleepover.

Most little girls cut their own hair. I wanted bangs when I was 10 and I cut a big chunk out of the front of my hair. I had to wear a headband until it grew out. Later I wanted Barbra Streisand’ asymmetrical hairstyle. Another bad haircut. Did you ever cut your own hair as a child?

Sally goes on her sleepover. Her friend, Laura is asleep on the sofa in the den while Sally watches Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) on The Man From UNCLE. We see Sally fiddle with her nightgown, then things go silent and Sally is caught touching herself. Laura’s mother takes Sally home immediately and tells Betty what happened. Betty is livid.  At a time when a girl most needs to understand the mysterious changes in her body, Betty threatens to cut Sally’s fingers off. Oh, yeah…Sally is going to be smoking pot and naked at Woodstock in just a few years.

Henry thinks it would help Sally to see a child psychiatrist.  Betty tells Dr. Edna how Sally has changed since Grandpa Gene died; and that she feels like  Sally did this to punish her. Betty,  it’s all about you, isn’t?  Dr. Edna suggests Betty might want to see a psychiatrist too. The show ends with Sally in Dr. Edna’s waiting room with Carla. CARLA!  Sally is sent to her first visit with a psychiatrist, not with her mother or father, but with the maid. Woodstock, here she comes.

Previously On Mad Men

Mad Men: The Rejected

Mad Men: The Good News

Mad Men: Christmas Comes But Once a Year

Mad Men: Public Relations

Photos by Michael Yarish

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About Clarabela

Clarabela (Clara Mathews) is freelance web content copywriter, professional blogger and Hugh Jackman fan. In addition to writing about her love of movies at, Clarabela is also a regular contributor to DignityZine.  Follow Just Chick Flicks on Facebook.


  1. Filmgirl Force - » Mad Men Monday: Waldorf Stories says:

    […] Mad Men: The Chrysanthemum and the Sword […]