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August 29, 2014

TV Moment of 2009: The Lawnmower Scene on 'Mad Men'

by Kim Potts, posted Dec 11th 2009 12:00PM
As if we even needed to say "on 'Mad Men'," because the words 'the lawnmower scene' would be enough to ensure that any tuned-in TV watcher knows what we're talking about.

But for those who are oblivious to all things 'Mad Men' - or those who, on Sept. 20, the night the episode in question aired, were watching the show's cast and crew nab its second consecutive Outstanding Drama Emmy Award - The Lawnmower Scene (the capitalization is on purpose) is a particularly memorable, surprising, shocking, gruesome, awesome clip from 'Mad Men,' season three, episode six.As if we even needed to say "on 'Mad Men'," because the words "the lawnmower scene" would be enough to ensure that any tuned-in TV watcher knows what we're talking about.

But for those who are oblivious to all things 'Mad Men' -- or those who, on Sept. 20, the night the episode in question aired, were watching the show's cast and crew nab their second-consecutive Outstanding Drama Emmy Award -- The Lawnmower Scene (the capitalization is on purpose) is a particularly memorable, surprising, shocking, gruesome, awesome clip from 'Mad Men,' season 3, episode six.

Have you seen the clip? Have a look below:


The installment's title: 'Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency.' The installment's storyline: Guy Didn't Walk Out. Because His Foot Was Chopped Off. When It Was Run Over By a Drunken Secretary. Who Was Riding a John Deere Lawnmower Around the Office.

Hence, The Lawnmower Scene.

And the gruesome splattering of blood and the mangled foot that was left in its wake.

Maybe you need to watch the clip again to see what we're talking about. Here it is:

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The biggest reason The Lawnmower Scene -- okay, we'll cut it off (pun intended) with the caps -- made such an impact was the pure surprise of it. This is 'Mad Men,' which, despite its critical acclaim, still turns off some viewers, who complain "nothing ever happens" on the show.

We'd argue that wasn't true of season 3 in general -- Betty's childbirth! Don's affairs! Sal's affairs! Sal's firing! Betty's affair! Grandpa's death! Peggy and Duck! Peggy and marijuana! Betty confronting Don! Don and Betty's divorce! Don and Roger's new ad agency! -- but the lawnmower scene was the height of something happening, as an office party, with its attendant drinking, flirting and general merrymaking, turned, in mere seconds, into a call to 911 and a trip to the emergency room.

This clip shows exactly how that happened. Perhaps a repeat viewing is in order?

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It was as if, for a moment, 'Mad Men' showrunner Matt Weiner had handed the reins of his series over to the folks running 'Dexter.' For even if we could ever have imagined something so bizarre would take place among the maze of desks in the Sterling Cooper ad agency office, that a piece of equipment created by one of the agency's clients and used for a celebratory joyride (joymow?) around the workplace would end in such a bloody mess, we never would have believed that the 'Mad Men' crew would show us the blood. And the mangled foot. And the shocked faces of Paul Kinsey and Harry Crane as they're chuckling one second, and covered with blood and foot matter the next.

You know, as you can see in this clip, which, for purposes of really understanding what we're talking about, you may need to watch again:

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Of course, this is still 'Mad Men,' and Weiner wasn't off winning his second consecutive Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Emmy for nothing. Aside from the shock and ewww of the accident, its impact on the office, which was in turmoil because of the ongoing British takeover, was huge.

The titular Guy in the episode -- his name, in fact, was Guy -- had been sent to the office to replace Lane, one of the Sterling Cooper crew's only pseudo allies amongst the Londoners. Guy had also unveiled a new org chart that would likely challenge Don's golden boy position, and which left Roger completely out of sight.

But while Guy was being treated in the ER, his fellow Brits proclaimed his career dead, and informed Lane that he'd be staying at Sterling Cooper after all. "I feel like I just went to my own funeral," Lane told Don. "And I didn't like the eulogy." And we know how that played out by season's end, with a disgruntled Lane, forced to realize his employers saw him as expendable, becoming a key to Don and his cohorts' plan to start their own agency and take with them as many Sterling Cooper clients as possible.

The incident, easily one of the top three (two? one?) most unforgettable, most re-watchable scenes in the show's three-year history, also led to one of the all-time best, most inappropriate quips from snarkmeister Roger Sterling, who, upon hearing that Guy might lose his foot, replied, "Just when he got it in the door."

A man's valuable appendage scattered around the office ... his promotion, his entire career gone ... a powerful ad agency raided by its most valued employees, who start their own agency ... Paul Kinsey's crisp white shirt, save the spot where his arm had been folded across it, ruined by foot shrapnel.

And all because of a Sterling Cooper secretary and her tipsy decision to take a little trip in The Lawnmower Scene.

Which, hey, we have an idea, why don't you watch again, right here:

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