The atmosphere of melancholia on the show Mad Men has to broken by brief bursts of bright comedy or an undercurrent of sexual intrigue.  In this instance, the show indulged in the use of (at least) three strategic ploys to distract us from the plight of sad, newly divorced Don Draper regretting he boinked his secretary.

Draper’s ad agency SCDP is facing competition from a small entrant, say agency X (I forgot the name).  SCDP has lost some accounts and is bidding for a new contract from Honda.  Honda has put strict limits on the bid, stipulating that only a storyboard should be presented, not a filmed ad.  SCDP cannot afford to produce a filmed ad and nor can agency X.  Also, Don believes the Japanese might not appreciate the rules of their auction being broken.  He comes up with a bluff: pretend to  make a filmed ad and thereby trick agency X into making one.  The Japanese will reject them and agency X will be driven close to bankruptcy. The ploy works not because of the clichéd Japanese cultural stereotype embraced by Don but because Honda is using its own strategic ploy: it gets a better deal from its existing agency by threatening to switch to the winner from the auction.

Two players bluffing and lying.

And then another player, Dr. Faye, reveals her bluff.  She is not really married and is wearing a wedding ring to ward off unwanted male attention.  She tells Don and he wonders why she told him.  Faye smiles slightly.  We know why she revealed her hand and we wonder why Don doesn’t get read it.  Married-Winner-Don of Seasons 1 to 2 and perhaps even Season 3 would have worked it out immediately. But Single-Loser-Don of Season 4 is missing even blindingly obvious signals.  I guess codes will be broken in a later show.