Mad Men S5E4: “Signal 30” [IB]

Guys, seriously, how great was that episode? Pete is a weaselly, slimy character, but he’s oftentimes the most interesting character on the screen after Don. He’s a guy who wants it all, but cannot recognize when he’s got it. More importantly, Pete Campbell can never have it all because he is so aggressively unlikeable.

Driver’s Ed:

Pete has a thing for going after defenseless and possibly naive women. New hire Peggy, the neighbor’s foreign maid, and now high school student Jenny. He always has a sneaky angle in and he’s always just a little too creepily aggressive. I’m thankful for Jenny’s sake that Handsome showed up to be a more age-appropriate suitor. It’s definitely an ego blow to have Handsome mistake Pete for the teacher and to feel so old, but I feel like Pete is probably more insulted by the way that Handsome makes it all seem so effortless like Don or Roger or the other men he’s trying to surpass.

The Bordello:

How hilarious was the part where the prostitute was trying out different personas for Pete? Perfect window into his soul, too. He didn’t want the devoted housewife (Trudy) nor did he want the virginal teen he seemed to crave (and who had recently rejected him in favor of Handsome). No, he wanted to feel powerful like a king. Like I’ve said, Pete constantly wants everything, but he’s never satisfied. How great was that post-club cab where Pete fumed at Don (of all people) for judging him. Don had a perfectly valid point, but Pete couldn’t see how his aping of Don could be met with such hypocritical, self-righteous scorn.

The Party:

Pete’s sycophantic compliments toward Don must have surely stung when Don fixed the sink that he technically broke. I mean, he was completely ineffectual there. Ken covered the spray with a pot while Pete went hunting for his tools and Don got to work quickly remedying the situation. Pete was left just looking useless while all the women fawned over Don. Not even the appearance of the daughter everyone was fawning over could help mask his feelings of inadequacy.

SCDP Offices:

Pretty sure everyone who’s watched all five seasons of this show has been waiting for the moment when Pete would finally end up getting punched in the face. Who would have thought that Lane would be the one to do it? The thing is, Pete and Lane have always had a somewhat genial relationship, season 3’s competition aside, and yet Pete felt the need to belittle and insult Lane. Neither of the men feel like they belong at the office, but Lane could not stomach being relegated to the bottom of the totem pole without a fight. Where does Pete stand in the office? In past seasons Don and Lane have expressed respect for him, but he’s been a rude jerk all of season 5. Insisting meetings be taken in his office, openly feuding with Sterling, calling out Don in the cab, and now this with Lane. Where does a man so thoroughly insulted go from here? I can’t wait to find out.

Other Stuff:

– Ken continues to derive the real joy in his life from his wife and non-work-related activities. Anyone else surprised he took up a different nom de plume once the old one was forcibly exposed?

– Too little for Peggy to do this episode, but Elizabeth Moss is killing it this season. Love it.

– Don and Megan’s marriage continues to be really interesting. She can tell him what to wear! She can tell him to make his own social calls! I think that her “That’s impossible” line about him putting a baby in her perhaps deserves more inspection. What did she mean? Was it a throwaway line that I’m putting too much importance into?

– Trudy is awesome. Alison Brie kills it on Community and she’s killing it here too. Loved her social maneuvering.

– OH YEAH! Lane totally kissed Joan. She was polite enough to let him stop without resisting and then open the door and come sit back down, but how utterly humiliating. I hope their relationship doesn’t sour too much over his gaffe.

– All the men in this episode looked so weak and ineffectual at various points. It’s like their new firm sheen is coming off and their age is starting to show.

– I liked the way that the drip symbol popped in and out of the episode. It’s one of Mad Men‘s more obvious symbols, but it was appropriately used.





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