Recap: Signal 30

 Posted by on April 16, 2012 at 3:13 am  Season 5
Apr 162012
Mad Men episode 505 Signal 30: The Sink Explodes!

I’m through with all that fantasy stuff.

In Signal 30, everyone is struggling with their identity, with fantasies about who they are and how that might conflict with reality. People are pathetic or they are Superman, they are heroes or failures in their own minds, and they struggle mightily when the world disproves their theories about themselves.

This wasn’t a great episode, but it’s a breather after the intensity of Mystery Date, and there’s plenty of symbolic material to dig into. I’m a little disappointed because fifth episodes are generally among each season’s best, and I don’t think Signal 30 can really stand up to 5G, The New Girl, or Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency.* Nonetheless, let’s dive into the juicy bits: There are plenty.

We all know “Don Draper” is a false identity for Dick Whitman. This season we’ve seen Don’s growing disinterest in hiding himself. He is willing to share with the Campbells and Cosgroves that he grew up on a farm—something he wouldn’t have dreamed of doing back in 1960. Yet, his dual identity is alluded to twice in Signal 30, first, when he winces at the shared last name of Charles Whitman, the Texas Tower killer whose August 1, 1966 shooting spree took eighteen lives. The second time is when the sink explodes: Don whips off his shirt and starts fixing the sink as one of the women says “Look, it’s Superman!”

The point of the episode, though, isn’t Dick Whitman and Don’s secret past, but the second identity we all have—walking through life as Clark Kent and imagining we’re Superman. Over various meals, everyone has a chance to discuss their fantasy selves—writer, actress . . . even hog farmer.

Lane imagines he’s an account man. Ken has an established “secret identity” as Ben Hargrove; when outed, he goes back into hiding as Dave Algonquin (no wonder Salvatore had a crush on him, Ken is all about being adeptly in the closet). Roger had an identity as a master account man, and Pete has, bit by bit, taken that away from him.

Ah, Pete. We really have to talk about Pete, but allow me to dwell on Roger for a moment. In Season 4’s Waldorf Stories, Roger, in a “morose” mood, complains that there are no Clio awards for what he does, and Joan asks what that is exactly (well, she doesn’t so much ask as slap him across the face with the question). We’ve built an understanding of Roger as spoiled and incompetent for five seasons now, but it turns out he does do something, and he does it well: He knows how to turn clients into friends, how to get them to be allies in the cause of winning their own account. In a way, “account man” is the ultimate secret identity: Roger has the gift of turning himself into whatever the client needs him to be in that moment.

I’ve had it up to here with Roger’s whining and self-pity, but this week was different: He not only showed competence, but wistfulness. When he calls himself “Professor Emeritus of Accounts,” and when he tells Ken he “remembers” that the account job can be satisfying, he is being realistic about the pasture to which he’s been relegated, even while he longs for more. This week, I kind of don’t blame him for poaching Pete’s meetings in A Little Kiss, especially since Pete has been such a shit.

Okay, let’s get to it. Pete is a shit.

Wait, you wanted more?

Fine. To my eyes, Pete was the villain of Season 1, but he gradually redeemed himself, being on the right side of a lot of issues, becoming a much better husband to Trudy, developing tenderness towards fatherhood, and being exactly the right kind of prick in negotiations with his father-in-law. (That last instance may not seem exactly heroic, but he was right, dammit, and Tom Vogel needed putting in his place.)  Now, he’s back to being a thorn in everyone’s side.

This week’s Pete debacle has been foreshadowed out the whazoo. Let’s start with the very first episode, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, when Don tells Pete in the cruelest possible terms that he’ll never get very far in business because no one likes him. Then there was Pete punching himself in the nose in A Little Kiss, walking straight into his pillar, and then Roger offering to “take it outside” with Pete in the same episode. So, yes, the bizarre and strangely awesome fight was set up well in advance.

Pete is just a boiling pool of dissatisfaction. His wife wears curlers to bed! And she’s not a teenage girl! And the faucet drips! And he hates the suburbs!  It all seems really petty when laid out like that, because it is petty. What we’ve seen, over and over this season, is that nothing can make Pete happy. He’s even nasty when a car account comes in the door (and remember, Ken told him quite recently that a car was the prize they were all hoping for). He’s just spewing misery everywhere.

In A Little Kiss, Trudy told Pete, “Dissatisfaction is a symptom of ambition,” but Pete is happy when he’s ambitious. It’s now, that he has what he thought he wanted, that he’s miserable. In the past, we’ve seen Pete longing for Peggy while married to Trudy, we’ve seen him vying for recognition, competing with Ken, fighting with his father-in-law, and he just got happier and more pleasant to be around. But now that he’s a partner in a growing company, with a nice house and a gorgeous daughter, he’s a sour, frowning, pimple of a guy who is determined to belittle everyone within earshot. He’s nasty to Roger, rude to Lane, and deserved the punch in the face.

How galling it must be to be the Pete Campbell version of Clark Kent and have Don Draper put on the cape, fix the sink, and get the women hot. How galling to have Don Draper, of all people, throw your adultery in your face by abstaining. How absolutely humiliating to be unable to successfully land a teenage girl because you’re not “Handsome” enough (and the casting of that teenage boy was no coincidence: He’s a young Don Draper in every particular). Finally, Pete’s only pleasure—insulting his supposed “friends”—backfires on him when Lane fights back.

In the cab, Pete bitterly says to Don, “I have everything,” and Don agrees. But after the fight, Pete is near tears as he says to Don, “I have nothing.” I don’t believe there’s anything that Pete can have that will make him feel good, because what he wants is to be Superman, to be “king.” What he imagines he wants is to be Don Draper. Let’s keep going with that: What Lane imagines he wants is Joan, or to be an account man, or both. What Roger imagines he wants is to be Roger about five years ago. What Ken imagines he wants is to be Ben Hargrove or Dave Algonquin, and since he is, Ken (as usual) is the only one who ends up happy.

What Don imagines he wants is exactly what he has. It makes the entire audience sit on the edge of our seats, though, because we all know how good he is at screwing things up for himself. Placing him in the context of this episode practically demands that we wonder when the other shoe will drop.

Some additional thoughts:

  • Notice we didn’t see Harry this episode? He’d be redundant: Like Pete, he just wants youth. Notice also that Trudy is wearing a very old-fashioned dress for the party—that poofy skirt is so over in 1966; she’s no longer fashionable.
  • Ken and Peggy have a pact—if either leaves, they take the other. Interesting. I’ve always loved their friendship, but I’m surprised Peggy has an ear to the ground.
  • Signal 30 is the name of the gruesome driver’s ed film that Pete is watching as the episode opens. This episode is filled with wrecks, from Pete’s bloody nose to Roger’s career.
  • Quote of the week: “He was caught with chewing gum on his pubis.” Ha!
  • Megan exercises a lot of control over Don, and we see more and more of that each week. This week, she refuses to do the dirty work of turning down Trudy’s invitation, then she makes him change into a sport coat that she bought him (and WOW, what a sport coat it is).

*Oops, that was episode 3.06. The fifth episode of Season 3 was The Fog.

Originally published at Indiewire Press Play.


  207 Responses to “Recap: Signal 30”

  1. I thought this was a strong episode for a number of reasons, most centrally because it explored the bread and butter of the whole series – the deep, aching, lonely emptiness (or empty loneliness) inside these Mad(ison Avenue) Men and, in many cases, their women.

    The centerpiece of the episode – the dinner at the Campbells’ place – is the source of so many story and character developments, just about all of them centering around two things: 1) the role and place of friendships in life – where they should and shouldn’t exist, how they’re cultivated, and what content they can encompass/include; 2) in the absence of friendships with others, can you love and forgive yourself? Don hasn’t fully forgiven himself yet, but Megan is enabling him to love himself a little more. Pete hates himself with relish, as Don used to before he realized he had to live with Dick Whitman and the knowledge of it.

    Lane hates himself. Roger hates what he’s become, but interestingly, he’s (Don-style) more accepting of his place in this episode. Ken is the character who most readily and consistently loves himself, and it’s great that he is getting more play on the show so that the contrast between him and the other Mad Men can be more fully illustrated.

    Terrific stuff.

  2. Sure, Pete is a shit. But is it for being unhappy for no good reason? The show is in great part about people having everything that should make them happy and (usually)not being happy. Same for Roger whether with Mona or with Jane or with Joan for that matter – not to mention all his money. Same for Don the first three seasons. Of course many people in MM universe are shits.

    Yes Don is controlled by Megan. Since last season, in fact, when she initiated the first sex encounter, and when she put the phone in his hands so that he would call Faye to break up with her. For now Don is an obedient quasi Stepford husband, who even enjoys the pleasure of judgmental self righteousness – and of spectacularly garish outerwear.

    • Yes, but Pete is petulant. Yes we’ve seen other characters express dissatisfaction but Pete is a whiny complainer.

      • Well said. Both Pete and Roger have the capacity to alienate the audience by whining.

      • No matter how hard you may work or contribute to the workplace, if people do not like you, you never get the full credit for accomplishments. He has to tell people repeatedly that he is the head of accounts, almost beat it over their head. If was likeable, he would be treated like king, just like the prostitute did.

        The other identity for Roger is author. I forgot the actual quote but he definitely elevated his writing skills when he was talking to Ken

        • Remember what Don said to Pete in Season 1: You will be that man …. whom women go out with out of pity and you will [never be successful] because no one will like you.

          • Yes, I referred to that quote in my recap. 😉

          • Deb, your recap changed the quote from Smoke Gets in Your Eyes somewhat:

            You said ;

            “Don tells Pete in the cruelest possible terms that he’ll never get very far in business because no one likes him. ”

            He didn’t say “nobody lkes you, ” Don actually said that IF Pete continued to do shabby stuff like making crude remarks to ruin a secretary’s (Peggy’s) reputation, he would wind up being that guy that nobody likes.

            • Yep, I was paraphrasing because I didn’t have the quote handy. I think it’s close enough. Six years later, he’s crude and he’s not liked.

  3. You’ll be fine.

    Because we all remember the *last time* you mentored someone in the office.

    I want you to say what you always say….

  4. Pete Campbell always wanted to be Don Draper even after he knew about Dick Whitman.

    For god’s sake, WHY?

    Not everyone gets a Trudy.

    You should thank your lucky stars, that if your new money wife can’t make you cringe, at least the homo Brit accountant will bloody your nose.

    Interesting that Roger *threatened* to “take it outside” but Layne Pryce actually followed through.

    I guess getting regularly clocked by your Dad’s walking stick,when it doesn’t flat out kill you, probably makes you grow up to be kind of a bad-ass.

    Other than the crippling humiliaton, that is…

    • I guess getting regularly clocked by your Dad’s walking stick,when it doesn’t flat out kill you, probably makes you grow up to be kind of a bad-ass.

      I had the exact same thought.

  5. I loved this episode! It proves one of my favorite things about Mad Men which is that these characters are always evolving. Yes, we know a lot about them, but there is so much more to each of their characters and every episode we get a glimpse of more and unexpected facets. I also loved the theme of “Life’s Expectations” and the glimpses into the developing relationships (Peggy and Ken, “The Pact!”), (Ken and Cynthia, learning each other’s limits), (Megan and Don, clearly still getting to know each other), (Lane and Joan, ahem!), (even Roger and Pete, still evolving), (Lane and Lane, what is behind the “stiff upper lip facade?”)

    Finally, Pete. Oh, Pete. Vincent K. did an amazing job…A bit reminiscent of Don in S1 when he was building the dollhouse for Sally and oh, so unhappy. Did anyone catch that Don mentioned the outside fridge to Pete that he drank so much from that day when he took off from the party to escape Suburban Bliss? So many parallels from Don’s old life to Pete’s current life. But after that last scene of the show, I suspect there is more to it for Pete. There is a reason he is so unhappy..Is he sorry that he didn’t continue with Peggy after all? This is what I mean about Mad men…so much hidden under the surface for each of these characters, Pete is in some serious pain, something is backing up on him and I think it is more than mid-life crisis!

    • Agreed. I think there is more to Pete’s unhappiness than meets the eye so far. Perhaps future episodes will reveal more. A flashback to Pete with his father would be great.

      • yeah Pete has lost it in some way, it can’t just be hating the suburbs. He finally had become a partner and gotten more respect from Don and now he’s blowing it away by being an idiot

    • I thought the girl in the driver’s ed class reminded me of Peggy at the time she was with Pete. They both had similar hair color in a ponytail. The girl in class though dressed better than Peggy did at the start.

      • plus her blue skirt in the first scene looked a lot like peggy’s one when they were on the sofa.

    • When Pete left the office at the end I wondered if he was going to be the falling mad man. He seemed almost at the end of his rope. Pete had gotten to be more likeable and now he is bitter and and emotive

  6. A note on Roger’s wistfulness: Notice how he phrased his last comment to Ken: “When it’s right [my emphasis], this job satisfies all your needs.” Now that he’s “professor emeritus,” where can he feel satisfied?

  7. Glad to see Ken get some attention on the show. Its been awhile since he has been anything but a background player. But this episode was Vincent Kartheiser Emmy nomination submission.

    The boys at UnderScoopFire do a weekly Mad Men wrap up podcast called “Mad Cast” It can be found on iTunes:

  8. I slept on it and I do have to say, this was definitely my first dislike *ever* for a Mad Men episode. There were elements I liked, the dinner party for instance was quite enjoyable. And I noticed a lot of hints were dropped throughout for future problems like that Megan most likely can’t have kids (but why would Don care about that? — I can’t see it causing major drama). I also thought Ken getting so focus on was good, I like the actor and the actress who plays his wife–very authentic. Other than that…I was left feeling, “Is this it?”

    • when did it say Megan can’t have kids


        That does not sound like the Megan we’ve met so far.

        So: Just. A Fan. Inference.

  9. Probably the best Pete-centric episode since “New Amsterdam” (1.04), and well worth it, IMO.

    A few notes to add to Deborah’s delicious recap:

    – Terrific symmetry between the first glimpse of the Jaguar client and the last, in that he’s always dressed like his mates (English scarves in the pub; lobster bibs at the client dinner) … is he getting others to be like him, or is he going along with how others behave?

    – I find the “Pete wants to be Don but can’t” theme endlessly fascinating … the similarity between the Campbell’s kitchen and the old Draper kitchen was striking when we first saw it in “A Little Kiss”. So this ep can be studied forever in that regard. The “Superman” scene in particular (Don leaps into action as Pete fumbles with his toolkit), as well as the cab ride after the night out (“I’m really trying hard to be you, so please stop changing”).

    – And of course, the closing music: Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. Need we say more?? …. (double-win for MW: public domain!!!)

    • One other addition- Megan actually noted that Don has no friends leaving her to inviting his accountant to the birthday party. I had wondered if when Megan was making the invite list if she thought it strange that everyone was from work. Apparently she did.

      • Good catch.

      • I wouldn’t marry a man with no friends. People in this show willfully ignore giant STOP signs that are right in their faces. If Megan is so smart and with-it and mature, why did she marry such a screwed up guy? Just because he’s hot and he can advance her career and give her a nice lifestyle?

        Oh. Right.

        • And because she can change him. That’s the narcissism at the center of the bad boy fantasy.

          • THINKS she can change him. We’ll see. People can change but people can’t really change people or not as much/in the way that they think they can. Someone who’s had a nice childhood just Doesn’t Get It.

          • Megan was asked by CYNTHIA (!) how we she got into advertising. When she said she saw what Don and Peggy did and thought their might be something there for her ( paraphrase), Pete remarked something like, “yes….you certainly did.” It seemed like something you would expect to see him thinking in a bubble over his head..
            I was surprised, considering how much of an effort he was making to please Don that he let that slip. Megan shot him quite a look.

          • CYNTHIA (!)

            The only appropriate way to refer to her for the rest of the season. Nicely done.

    • Regarding the new Campbell home, Don complimented it at the entry and the Pete said something like, “But you haven’t seen it yet.” Of course, Don has – he used to live in one just like it. It was touching that Don got sentimental and had baby fever when he saw the Campbells with their baby daughter. Pete does have what Don has but on the first go around and with no shared custody agreements and stepparents to complicate things. Not that Pete appreciates it.

  10. What I loved was how the party girl knew how to get Pete. “You’re my king.” Yep, that did it. And what makes me unsympathetic is that that’s how Trudy treats him, too, but somehow that’s not enough.

    Also Joan’s graceful smoothing over of Lane’s apology. “You did something that every man in the office has wanted to do – to Pete” LOL!!! I also loved how she didn’t deny that she could do his job. Good for you, Joanie!

  11. Two questions: Does anyone know why the driver ed films were called signal 30. I know it was a series of films. Were there 30 films? Just wondering if there is a deeper meaning of “signal 30” that can be applied to this episode. Also, anyone know the classical music that Pete played at the party? Wondering if that is tied into the ending song. thanks

    • “Signal 30” is the state highway patrol radio code for a fatal automobile crash (in addition to a gruesome film).

      In this case it was Pete who crashed and burned figuratively.

      • The drivers ed film “Signal 30” made use of the records of the Ohio State Patrol, who provided evidence footage and expert tech support.

        By 1966 a lot of people owned emergency frequency radio receivers, Those with a scanning feature were just then being popularized by a firm called BearCat. They have subsequently taken-over publication of what in 1966 were unauthorized and sometimes illegal lists of emergency frequencies and various radio codes.

        “Signal 30” was never shown in such lists sold in California, nor is it shown on the current BearCat website. My assumption is that was a unique code for the Ohio State Patrol and maybe some Ohio emergency services.

        The “Ten Code” for police communication goes back to the end of WWII. Many have heard “10- 4” meaning a situation is under control and maybe “10-20” meaning “location of Response” Personally I never heard anyone use “10-30” but it is listed as “unauthorized use” whatever that means.

        Quite possibly since a generation of teens saw “Signal 30” in drivers ed that might have become a term over CB.

    • Both were Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. At the party it was the second movement, at the end the fourth (the “Ode to Joy.”)

      • It was the Ode to Joy, but in its most lugubrious version, played entirely by double basses (and in this performance somewhat indistinctly at that) – it’s just where the theme is emerging from what came before (a chaotic section that reviews and throws in bits of previous movements before rejecting them all) in the deep basses but before it finds itself in the bright light of day. A very interesting excerpt to quote here.

  12. I loved that it ended with Ken writing a new story that was inspired by the dinner party. Pete had said something about a little orchestra playing in this 7 foot box and Ken’s title referred to a little orchestra so you know that Ken is writing something new. Undeterred he is. As Don says, you dont like what they are saying, then just change the name. Ken did!

  13. I agree about Vincent Kartheiser’s acting chops in this show, and throughout the whole series.

    I think he gets less notice because he’s not built like a brick sh&thouse….and isn’t your typical debonair leading man- type, though many will disagree.

    The expression on his face when the young driver’s ed teen talks about how quickly “times flies” says multitudes and provoked so many emotions in me- regret, melancholy, reminiscence.

    This is why I like Kartheiser and Moss the best- they both have that ability to convey so much, with nary a peep. Just a look sufficeth.


    • I think it’s partly they way they style and dress him. I noticed in the different lighting at the “party” he has the makings of an attractive face but it is obscured.
      If you see him when he is styled modernly he looks like the boys that I see in my neighborhood, and he’s pretty cute.

      • And also he always has a shitty scowl on his face.

        • VK was incredible last night and I must admit that his interaction with the prostitute was absolutely hilarious. I watched the repeat at 12 and stayed up just to see it again. I died.

  14. JS- I think you’ll find, as I almost always do….upon reviewing of “Signal 30” and further reflection, you’ll discover the episode contains so much more than our initial reaction.

    I love reading everyone’s insights, makes this “onion-peeling” that much more enriching!

    For me, this is the kernel of appeal for Mad Men. Onion-peeling! Sometimes makes me cry.

  15. Each episode of Mad Men must be seen in this context:

    1) Within the entire series

    2) Within the entire season (so far)

    3) Within itself

    Let me first deal with the series. Within the context of the entire series, Pete Campbell has always represented the youth movement.

    Here from the movie Lawrence of Arabia is how an Arab sheik views the youthful Lawrence: “Lawrence is a young man and young men are passionate and they must be heard.”

    And from the movie A Summer Place (1959): “Is youth supposed to be a time of suspended animation?”

    In essence these two quotes describe Pete Campbell, a young man who is hungry for the business success that Don Draper has enjoyed and the perks that go along with it and is willing to do almost anything to achieve it, even to marry Trudy who he respects but is NOT deeply in love with.

    And there is the young man who is fixated in sowing his wild oats to the extent of having sex with Peggy Olson a week before his wedding to Trudy and with an au pair in his building while Trudy was away.

    Objectively we see Pete Campbell as a mini-Don Draper, but without the charisma in both his business and personal life. But he is a young man with business talent which throughout the entire series is becoming more recognized and rewarded.

    But we also at the end of season 1, when he is told by Don that Peggy will be promoted to junior copywriter and help Pete to flesh out the Clearasil account which he had just picked up from his father-in-law, that Pete can be a real a**hole in not wanting Peggy anywhere near his account and not wanting Peggy to receive that promotion from Don. Pete is extremely selfish and not magnanimous.

    So over the first four seasons we have seen this narrative pretty well play out to the point where Pete is quite successful in bringing in new accounts to the firm and at the end of season 3 is made a partner in the newly formed advertising agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP).

    In Season 4 we see Pete is in the ascendancy while both Don and Roger are struggling with their own personal and professional challenges. Of course Pete witnesses all of this and as a result begins to even feel better about his role in the firm and really is now feeling his oats professionally and personally and coming into his own.

    Now we come to season 5. And throughout the season so far we see Pete as the suburban commuter and daddy that Don once was and that he is frankly NOT happy in that lifestyle.

    We get a hint at that in a previous episode where a commuter tells Pete he will be soon not taking the 5:25 PM to go home but delay it to 7:05 PM, an indication Pete will not be as excited to returning to Trudy in the suburbs and become more wrapped up “In the city.”

    Having said that we see Pete rising further up the ladder in SCDP in season 5 with Roger going into further decline.

    But under the surface in his relationship with Trudy, we now see a Pete Campbell who is more dissatisfied with his private life and who wants to get more serious about taking a page out of Don Draper’s playbook and have affairs on the side. And Pete expects to receive the benefits from his “swinging” lifestyle that he has perceive Don has over lo these many years.

    And the reason he is so pissed off at Don “for getting religion” and not sleeping with a prostitute in episode 5 is that Don is telling him to stop this behavior while Pete considers Don now a hypocrite.

    Pete is simply NOT in Don’s league when it comes to his choice of women. Notice the choice of women he has chosen to go after–the young, innocent, virginal types who he perceives as easy as compared to Don who prefers generally older women who have careers.

    And secondly, Pete does NOT possess the sexual appeal of a Don Draper. We see that played out in yesterday’s episode even to the point of Don fixing the faucet “in Superman fashion.”

    And because Pete is depressed that he cannot pick up women like Don, he takes full advantage of his opportunity while visiting a whorehouse with a perspective client to indulge as well when the prostitute claims “he is a king.” Pete is feeling so low right now that is the only thing that will cheer him up but the sexual act itself does little to do so.

    And the final straw came when his personal distress transfers over to his business success and he finds himself embarrassed and humiliated at the office and he is physically knocked down by Lane Pryce. But that knockdown represents far more in the psychological arena–it confirms that Pete’s ego is in shatters and when going down in the elevator with Don he pretty well confesses to him that he is at a very low point in his life.

    And then the last scene reinforces that feeling as the young girl makes eyes at a young man she has met at the driver education class while Pete stares at them. He is forlorn and shattered. Whether he fully recovers from episode 5 is anybody’s guess. But one thing I know he will be happy when he is finished with the classes and he can put this whole chapter in his life behind him.

    But can he? Time will tell.

    But to keep it in perspective Pete is making a good living, lives out in the suburbs, has a wife that loves him and a child. He could be like Don and hide his true feelings for a long time and still remain fairly successful in his career.

    But we also know Pete could crack anytime and go off the deep end and do something extremely irrational such as raping a young girl or becoming like Don is season 4.

    • Excellent comments. I agree, the sex was totally without anything positive. He lied to Don in the car, he did NOT have a good time. His Nope. Nope. Okay. was really telling.

  16. Just a thought about Signal 30: isn’t Pete about (or approaching) 30? It’s often the time when men get a sort of mini-pre-midlife crisis, as they are definitely no longer college boys in their early 20’s, and beautiful teenaged girls tend to be wary of them as opposed to captivated by the wit and wisdom they assume they’re projecting.

    I was watching John Slattery’s terrific direction take us into Pete’s misery–the way the camera tracked up and down the teenaged driving student’s body, to the hand of the younger “handsome” guy on her thigh, for example–and also noting the way Handsome had mistaken him for the instructor, which irritated Pete (and undoubtedly reminded him his youth was gone; he was an “old guy” with family responsibilities now).

    So, Signal 30, for me, carries a subtext, namely, the Big Signals to Pete that he’s at or near the age of 30, which in the sixties was definitely considered Rather Old by those who were younger.

    • I had the same thoughts on Pete’s age and the title as well. Pete was just turning 26 in the pilot, so he should be about 32 now. At this time in history, it was much closer to middle age than it is now — right?

    • Pete was born in 1934 and is now 32.

    • Yeah good point – this was the era of “don’t trust anyone over 30” so that was definitely over the hill to the youngins of 1966.

  17. The reason Deborah’s recaps are so great is that they almost always nail the “other thing.”

    For example, this week. Matt Weiner describes Signal 30 as a bout the tenuous nature of “business friendships.” And it was a pretty clear theme of the episode, even without that confirmation. But the other thing this ep is about is more difficult to capture, yet captured by Deborah.

    A while back — perhaps in Season 1 — Weiner said that the show lives in the two questions, “Who Am I?” and “Is This It?” At that time, he mostly talking about Don. Now it’s Pete and Lane (and possibly Roger) asking those questions.

    I would add is that it’s a bit of a shame that Vincent Kartheiser’s big turn here will likely tend to overshadow how good Jared Harris was in this episode.

    Lastly, I think the prostitute’s scenarios for Pete were quite telling. Although the ep opens with Pete ogling a high-school girl, he doesn’t go for the “virgin” pitch. Unlike Roger, Pete is not necessarily chasing youth. Rather — as always — Pete is seeking unquestioned validation. Trudy is a very supportive wife, but she to some degree encourages his dissatisfaction because she knows that what motivates him and makes him successful. She calls it the coal that feeds the fire. Now the fire threatens to rage out of control. (I hasten to add that I’m not blaming Trudy for Pete’s behavior here. I’m merely noting the prostitute — after two tries — found exactly the right buttone to press for Pete.)

    • Great metaphor.

    • There’s so much to be said about this notion of “business friendships.” The characters’ different views of “business friendships” unearth so much about each character – perhaps not as fundamental, grounding aspects of characters, but certainly about their mindsets at this point in their evolution.

      First of all, Pete and Trudy assign a completely different level of importance to business friendships than Don does; interestingly, Megan seems to assign more importance to these kinds of friendships than Don does as well, though that could simply be a politically astute move on her part more than a genuine belief in the necessity to make friends at the office and extend those friendships to the home.

      Speaking of Megan, the flow of the dinner table conversation reinforced the reality that as a character (not necessarily a person, but a character…), Megan remains very much a person without a clear center. Little was known about her when Don chose to marry her, and it seems that Matt Weiner – while giving us glimpses of her personality and a larger window into her relationship with Don – doesn’t want Megan to be easily “seen” or “found out.” The dinner conversation showed Megan to be, content-wise, out of her league. When she blanked out for a moment, I do think she was following Trudy’s earlier cue to shift the conversation to something more pleasant, but her inelegant execution betrayed a level of nervousness and self-consciousness about how she’s fitting into this world of Don’s “business” relationships. One could say that she might be feigning this lack of ease and make a credible case for it; that could be part of Megan’s inner thought world right now. The larger takeaway, though, is that Megan’s goals beyond her life with Don remain murky, the full measure of her intelligence as anything OTHER THAN a political operator (she’s extremely savvy in that regard, without question) is completely unknown. Just what is it that Megan wants to do with her life/career/ambitions beyond anything connected to Don? There is this ever-present chameleon-like quality to her career identity. She is not of the generation that’s going to be content to be a housewife in the late 1960s and early ’70s.

      I’d like to hear what other posters have to say about Megan on these fronts.

      The other major note to touch on concerning “business friendships” is that Pete used this dinner, which he and Trudy were so keen on having, as a leverage play against Ken (whom he’s often fought on a political level in the office) by outing him as a writer.

      It was fascinating to realize, after watching this episode, that AMC’s Sunday morning Mad Men repeats from season 1 (episodes 4 through 7) involved so many of the themes and images evoked in “Signal 30.” Pete’s rifle was from that sequence of S-1 episodes; so, too, was Roger Sterling causing trouble over dinner at the Draper’s home in a meal clouded by the need to sustain a “business friendship.” (Don is surely mindful of those events and is reluctant to want to go to Pete and Trudy’s place for that and other reasons.) The Dyckman family money and name are very much part of Signal 30, and so it’s worth noting that Pete has his contentious, dispiriting talk with his disapproving father in one of the S-1 episodes that re-aired Sunday morning. Simply stated, the fact that this dinner spilled over to the office and was used as political ammunition by Pete (with Don being an observer more than anything else) surely adds context and weight to Pete’s ambitiousness and the misery attached to it. It also does more to explain the way Don behaves, as a “Look Pete, I’ve been where you are” guide, the “Ambitious Man Emeritus” similar to Roger’s “Account Man Emeritus” when Mr. Sterling talks to Lane.

      Gosh, there’s so much good stuff here………….

      • Re Megan : I wonder if it is of significance that this is the second episode in which she sits at Don’s desk while he is not in his office. I agree that she is still an unknown quantity apart from her relationship with Don. She is portrayed as ambitious, but without a real focus (artist? actress? just wants to be like Don and Peggy?). We have still to learn about her.

      • Once roped in (by Trudy) to socialize with “work friends” he does so with aplomb (though he’s not intimate by any stretch). Don’s private social life remains stunted. Except for Megan he has no friends – though he could surely cultivate some if he wanted any. Certainly he has few regrets about losing contact with his former Ossining neighbors.

        (I imagine Betty misses some of those neighbors more – which would contribute to her ongoing depression)

        While there’s little doubt that he tattled to Roger, are you suggesting that Pete suspected Ken’s authorial career (so much more than a Boy’s Life short story!) *before* Cynthia spilled the beans?

  18. “his dual identity is alluded to twice…”

    I think Don’s identity was alluded to three times. The two that Deborah listed plus Don’s comment to the madam. I need a second viewing in order to quote it exactly but it was about him growing up in a whorehouse, although not quite as nice as the one the madam was running. I think the madam then allowed him a free drink.

    • You misunderstand: Don also talked about growing up on a farm. I’m not talking about Don’s actual identity, I’m talking about a reference to dual identity and “secret identities.” I’m citing two instances of having two different names: Don Draper/Dick Whitman and Clark Kent/Superman. Your point is that he also referred to his actual (Whitman) childhood, but that’s who he really is and has nothing to do with secret identities. See what I mean?

      • Thanks for the clarification. I think I was just so suprised that he would admit anything about his childhood to the madam and at the dinner party to ppl who is not close with. On the one hand he is accepting his past but on the other hand, the more he reveals the more he puts himself and his family at risk

        • I know what you mean, SR, but what he said was really not that revealing overall. The madam is a stranger who doesn’t know his name. The mention of the farm at Trudy’s dinner party is more revealing than we’ve seen Don before, but in retrospect it really isn’t that much of a juicy tidbit.

          Possibly Megan knowing some things about him has made him feel somewhat more relaxed.

          • Also Pete knows about Dick Whitman too (and perhaps Trudy?) so the only people growing up on a farm is news to is Ken & Cynthia – and Ken is less interest in office politics. Overall I think it was decided by Don to be a safe thing to mention.

          • Of course there was a time when no one knew a thing about his past. I don’t think Betty knew any details about his life. Roger once made a comment about thinking Don grew up on a farm because of the way he drops his “g’s” or something like that. And I believe Don was a bit rattled by that.

          • I thought about Don in the comment from Ginsburg about the dropped G’s

    • I was a little bit confused about Don’s comment to the madam. We know his mother was a prostitute, but I was under the impression that nuns brought baby Dick to his father and stepmother when Dick was still an infant. He did not “grow up” in a place like that—unless his Dad took him along frequently on his own visits when Don was old enough to remember.

      Am I forgetting details from previous episodes?

      So what he told the Madam was either bending the true story to get her off his case about “pleasing him” (without exactly shaming her, as he was claiming to be very familiar with her lifestyle), or he “grew up there” when he was hanging out waiting for his Dad.

      Am I missing something?

      • Lady K, it wasn’t a nun, it was the local midwife. We never saw Don “grow up” in a whorehouse, although perhaps he spent time there because of his isolation. In a town in which absolutely everyone knows you as “whore-son,” perhaps it’s one of the few places you’re made welcome.

        • Okay, it was a midwife, thanks!
          But he was an infant, and he never knew his mother or lived in a whorehouse (to the best of our knowledge up until this episode). He knew he was a “whore child” only because he had been told that. Perhaps by Archie. Perhaps by Abigail. Perhaps it was known all over town and he learned it at school?

          Abigail was not likely to encourage visits to whorehouses, and Dick wouldn’t have had easy access to cars and things to get to a whorehouse when he was little.

          So either his dad or Uncle Mac took him frequently (the way his dad offered him the moonshine), or when Dick was a bit older he snuck away to whorehouses often enough that he felt he “grew up” in a whorehouse?

          Or he was bending the truth to the Madam.

          It is not impossible that he felt like a social outcast and befriended some women he knew to be “like his mother.” There could have been some prostitutes who were very kind to him and surved as surrogate mothers. If he was older–maybe they were more like girlfriends. Perhaps that is why he is always trying to offer money to make things better.

          But that is pure speculation–it’s just as possible that Don exaggerated his connection to whorehouses or that he got dragged there frequently by Archie on the way home from delivering crops or something.

          I wish I knew for sure.

          • I wondered a lot about this as well. Perhaps this is a new nugget we are learning about his life? I felt like I had missed something too, because there was never any previous indication he had “grown up” in or around whorehouses. Maybe you are right, and the implication is that Archie and Uncle Mac brought him round to these places. Or maybe it is meant less literally, and Dick/Don just went to those places a lot in his teen years.

  19. Terrific recap Deb, as usual. And, as usual, you gave me a lot to think about. While I liked this episode, it left me feeling very fearful for Pete’s survival. One thing that caught my attention was during the restaurant scene with the Jaguar exec. The men were all sitting there in those silly lobster bibs when a woman walked by in a pink suit and pillbox hat that was eerily similar to Jackie Kennedy’s famous pink suit worn on the day of JFK’s assassination. My first thought was why would any woman wear a suit like that after 1963? Could this fleeting glimpse of an iconic piece of clothing that is so associated with violence and tragedy hint at things to come? If that’s the case, Pete’s future looks grim.

    • That suit is classic chanel though, so I imagine people still wore it.

    • I caught that too… it was a little distracting seeing a Jackie doppelganger in the background. The pink suit and pink pillbox hat – I mean, they choose what costumes to put on these people, so I have to wonder why they chose to do that.

    • I didn’t notice the Jackie O doppleganger, but I was very worried that Pete might harm himself or someone else.

      The whole episode seemed to be about the emasulation of Pete. I think it was bigger than “Pete wanting to be Don.” Pete was shown up by almost EVERYONE in this episode.

      The hot young stud gets the high school girl, making Pete feel shown up.

      Ken has had lots of stories published, reminding Pete of how he crashed and burned with his writing attempt several years ago.

      Pete struggled to fix the drip, messed it up, and then Don saves the day whipping off his shirt and fixing the problem with his bare hands–and then (unfortunately for Pete) happens to mention the cause was something Pete did in his ignorant attempt to fix the drip.

      Pete was witnessed visiting a prostitute by his colleagues, including Don, just after Don had been a dinner guest of his wife’s. Perhaps he initially thought this would make him look manly, but when he came out and saw that Don withheld for his wife, it put him instantly on the defensive. Did that mean that Don’s wife and Don’s marriage were better than his Pete, Trudy, and their marriage. Don’s marriage satisfies him, and Pete’s doesn’t?

      Lane–Lane Pryce of all people–shows him up by waltzing in with a possible Jaguar account.

      Roger knows how to show the Jaguar man a good time–clearly something outside Pete’s line of expertise. And Roger made it look so easy.

      Then Lane Pryce punched him out in front of all the other partners–and nobody tried to help him (though I’m sure if someone had helped him, that would also have been emasculating).

      All of this–juxtaposed with the prostitute turning him on by calling him “my king”–show the pain of a man who WANTS to rule the world so desperately, but who feels upstaged and disrespected at every turn.

      I don’t think Pete’s problem is that he “loves someone else” (another post suggested he still had feelings for Peggy). I think Pete’s problem is Pete. He has entitlement issues that torment him. He is jealous, competitive, dissatisfied, and can’t seem to be happy unless he can be king and gloat over others. He is not totally inept–at least not when he’s calm and relaxed–but his jealousy and his pettiness can overpower him.

      This is villain/tragic Pete from previous seasons. It is almost comic. I just worry he will snap in some crazy, unpredictable way that leads to harm.

  20. I could never see Pete Campbell romancing any woman Don Draper was involved with.Pete lacks not only the charisma of Don,but the intellect to relate to these women. Pete is unhappy both at work and home.Pete has grown up in a family where sex is an entitlement.Pete is doing what he saw his father do.Pete wants Trudy and daughter in the burbs,a job and time for trysts too.He sees Don and Roger doing this.He wants the life his father had.Pete and Roger were both raised in the same social class. Pete hates Don because he was not born into that social class yet is his boss.Pete resents Don because is is a success in business,and a success with women. Pete wants to be king, the hooker got it right.

    • I am still confused as to what Peggy ever saw in Pete. i watched the first few episodes and saw that Paul Kinsy was interested in her. She shrugged him off because she liked blue suit pete. a thing like that.

      • He’s her type–she likes baby-faced thin men. I did a post on it with pictures on time. If you searched on Peggy’s Type I bet it would come up.

  21. Although this is slightly off the topic at the end I will bring it around to yesterday’s episode.

    I want to take an in-depth look at the actual proposal by Don Draper and the aftermath at the office until he broke it off with Faye Miller.

    The death of Anna, “handwriting on the wall” of Dick + Anna 1964 (perhaps symbolic) and the gift of Anna’s engagement ring from the real Don Draper to him sent Don into a temporary depression in Califormia and he became very vulnerable. We clearly see this in Season 4 episode 13 Tomorrowland. But what allows him to maintain his sanity and equilibrium is first that his children are with him–he cannot unravel in front of them–after all he is an adult–and secondly the presence of Megan Calvet, who is playing the role of a temporary nanny to the children.

    The focus is on the milkshake incident, but I think what was even more important was at the moment Don was walking towards the table in the restaurant (he probably had just gone to the bathroom) and noticed the smiles on the faces of his children and then Megan, appearing and acting like a typical family. The milkshake incident just reinforced what Don had felt just seconds before. And you can imagine through his remaining time in CA and up to the scene where we see Don sitting on the edge of the bed in his apartment in NYC that image was uppermost in his mind.

    And now we come to the actual proposal. Notice that Don is sitting on the edge of the bed dressed in a shirt and tie and well-groomed while Megan is still asleep. This is to indicate whatever is about to happen is to be taken seriously. If Don was dressed in his underwear and looked disheveled would the audience have taken the proposal as seriously? I certainly wouldn’t have.

    Now the scene starts off by Don telling Megan he has been up for hours and thinking about her. In other words what is to come out of Don’s mouth is not ill-considered or impulsive. Don has had time to reflect on what he is about to say and to consider and weigh his options and where his life currently stands.

    You can imagine he is thinking about the “one-night stand” in his office, the words from Megan’s own lips that Don is constantly in her head, how she is with Don’s children and finally of course how Megan is as a sexual partner (you have to assume they had sex hours earlier). And you would have to think Megan’s age of 25 would have to enter the equation somewhere and her willingness to accept him at face value and not hold the past against him.

    Don starts off his proposal by suggesting he cannot quantify why he feels the way he does for Megan, but that there is a mysterious quality that she possesses that he would be a fool to ignore. And that Don is ready to take the next step and tell Megan that he loves her.

    For those of you who feel Megan was manipulating him, remember Megan has just awakened from her sleep so she is still trying to clear the cobwebs from her head as Don is telling her this and then handing her the box with Anna’s ring inside. The cynics believe Megan was playing Don all the way, but do you really believe she thought Don was going to ask her to marry him at that very moment, given he had just gotten to know her and the knowledge that Don had mistresses on the side. And remember Don was a big shot in the advertising business and Megan was just his secretary. I don’t think Megan is clairvoyant.

    Megan says to his proposal, “I don’t know what to say. It’s all been so fast.” In other words she begins to think a bit more clearly and realizes this was not supposed to happen or if it were supposed to happen it would be down the road and not now. Thus for a moment she hesitates.

    But Don realizes the importance of his proposal and understands fully what needed to happen to bring him to this spot in his life’s journey. Don is a man who always wants to be in control but at this very second, he knows that Megan can say no. So he offers his sincere feelings on how fate brought them together and honestly implies if it has not done so he might not have reached this decision. In other words there is a subtle hint his proposal may not be available to her later if she says no now. A great sales technique by the way.

    It is then that Megan also realizes the golden opportunity presented to her by saying, “I can’t believe this.” Because logically his proposal makes little sense. But for Megan the only thing that makes sense to her now is that she has the opportunity to become Mrs. Draper and deep-down that is what she has wanted since the time she went to work at SCDP but that till now was a flight of fancy.

    And by handing her the box with the ring inside and then putting the ring on her finger, Don shows Megan that he is indeed serious about the proposal. I think an argument can be made that without the gift of the ring from Anna, Don may NOT have had the impetus to go through with the proposal or that Megan would NOT have considered the proposal as serious as she did.

    And then when Megan wonders about what happens at the office, a further indication she was now fully awake, Don tells her, “We’ll tell everybody.” And then Megan smiles and laughs like a little girl. This is a further indication to Megan that Don will NOT consider her his mistress as he has done with so many women in the past and that he will accord her the respect due to her as his wife.

    And this question tells us a lot about Megan and Don as well. Imho, Megan was content to become Don’s steady girlfriend and compete with Faye. That was all she expected now. She couldn’t imagine herself except in a Cinderella sense of being married to Don. That was what the phone call from California to her mother was all about. And when she again phones her mother to tell her the good news, Megan confirms her sense of the importance of family and how important she considers Don’s proposal.

    And by Don basically telling Megan he would NOT hide his love for her from the world, he was also telling Megan and the audience he was now ready to move on with his life. Don’s remark to the American Cancer Society really presaged this proposal: “But I think in my heart it was an impulse, because I knew what I needed to do to move forward.”

    And once Don told his colleagues of his marriage proposal, there was only one more thing to do make a clean break from the past: Tell Faye he was breaking it off from her, which he did with the insistence of Megan.

    Don knew he had to do so but you can tell he did not enjoy it. And that is further shown after he gets off the phone with her and for a split second I think he wondered what happens if Megan backs out or if he made the wrong decision.

    It is at that point Megan enters the office, walk over to him, tells him she loves him and they kiss in his chair. From that moment all doubt left Don that he had made the right decision and he has never looked back.

    Now let’s bring it up to last night’s episode. A lot of MM fans are in a state of shock or denial that Don Draper has apparently turned over a new leaf. There are two schools of thought: That the old DD will soon re-appear or that Megan is manipulating Don.

    Of course the scriptwriters will ultimately determine the course their marriage will take but after what happened in Mystery Date, the fact that Don refused to have sex in a whorehouse where he admittedly had grown up in and knew his way around was further evidence that he had “gotten religion.”

    And his admission to Pete at the end of the conversation with Pete in the back of the cab really tells us where Don is now in his life: “If I had met her (Megan) first, I would have known enough not to throw it away.”

    Yes, the skeptics will be outraged or horrified that Don said this and remind us on how many affairs Don had when he was married to Betty but taking his comment at face value what Don is saying is that he has learned from his past mistakes which he hopes Pete will NOT make but he fears he will and that he is fundamentally a changed man towards fidelity within marriage as a result to his marriage to Megan. That is why I have compared Don to ‘getting religion.”

    But realistically Don is a changed man because he selfishly knows what he has in Megan and he has resolved not to screw it up because he knows he will never find another woman in his lifetime that loves him as Megan does and he will never feel how he feels now with another women. After all Don has had ample opportunity in a perverse sense to find that out. And he doesn’t give a crap what other think about his relationship with Megan. Yes, indeed Don has come a long, long way.

    • This is very thoughtful commentary. However, I am not ready to conclude that Don has truly, as you say, “come a long, long way.” It just seems so completely out of keeping with anything we knew about Don before, and with Matt Weiner’s views.

      My reaction to what you say aboves is threefold:

      1) Weiner has repeatedly said, in talking about Mad Men (and it seems to be part of his wider world-view as well): “People Don’t Change.”

      2) Weiner has also said in interviews that in Season 5, Don has a new problem, and that we were shown what it is in Episode One (or he may have said, in the first episode, which could include Eps 1 and 2). I don’t know yet what Don’s new problem is, exactly, but I think it has something to do with Megan, his attempts to change who he is fundamentally, or some combination of the two.

      3) I find it very, very interesting that Don continually professes his deep love for Megan, but I don’t feel that we have been shown very much at all — either this season or last season — about why he really loves her, beyond anything superficial. Okay, she’s nice to his children (or at least she was last season), okay, they have great sex, maybe even okay, she tells him what to do and stands up to him, and he likes that. But how do they actually relate to each other? They can’t have sex 24/7, so what do they talk about when they aren’t having sex? How are they companions to each other? That has not been shown. We know that Don likes Megan to go home with him at the end of the day (when it is still light out, so in the summer, perhaps early evening) — so presumably they spend the evening having dinner and talking. And we know that Don was meeting Megan for lunch in this episode. Again, presumably they would spend lunch at a restaurant talking. So — what do they talk about? Do they actually have a relationship, as friends, companions, colleagues? I don’t think we’ve seen that. Which leads me to wonder whether it exists. If it doesn’t exist — then is this relationship really, in any significant way, a real one for Don? Maybe he really isn’t so changed.

      I personally have a very ominous feeling about this season. I am waiting for the other shoe (whatever that shoe may look like) to drop.

      • You may be right that another shoe might drop or they could become the modern “power couple.”

        You discount the two aspects of Don’s life that Megan is very compatible with:

        a) His business life (in which Megan respects the work he does and wants to help him to be even more successful)

        b) Don’s idea of lively physical sex

        Both are very powerful forces in Don’s life. In Mystery Date Don tells the imaginary Andrea, that he doesn’t want her “to ruin what he has” and then last night he tells Pete last night that if he had married Megan first he would have “known enough not to throw it away.”

        Yes, Don and Megan will have their challenges as every couple does, but as long as Megan fulfills Don’s needs in the two above areas I do NOT see them breaking up. Don has come a long, long way and Megan is willing to accept him for who he is now and she know about DD’s fake identity as Dick Whitman. And finally Megan knows about Don’s extra-marital affairs. Don won’t be able to pull the wool over her eyes as he did with Betty. And based on the last two episodes Don is fully aware he is on a short leash with Megan.

        Don is now considered boring to some people, a hypocrite to others and insincere for the folks in-between.

        As for characters not changing that is the view of Henry Francis in which he says, “There is no such thing as a fresh start.”

        But Don doesn’t believe that and appears to believe in personal redemption. Why he doesn’t believe it could have come from his childhood experience with religion, from Anna or somewhere else. That is an interesting aspect of Don’s persona. He appears to be a very cynical fellow but actually if you examine Don’s screen time, even with prostitutes he is NOT a habitually depressing sort of person like Pete is for example. Yes, Don has his moments of anguish and pain but then after a bit he dusts gets up, dusts himself off and gets back on the road again.

        • You may be right that Don *believes* in personal redemption, but that doesn’t mean he is actually *capable* of real change. I think that in order to change fundamentally a person must deeply examine himself, and I haven’t seen Don do taht — at least not since he “fell in love” with Megan. I actually feel like it’s the opposite: he uses Megan as a soporific to make himself feel good without having to do the hard work of self-examination. Further evidence of that is that the temptation to sleep with other women is now suppressed and comes out in fever dreams. Last season, when he was journaling, he started to examine himself for the first time, but when Faye tried to get him to do more of that, he dumped her and turned to Megan, who makes him feel good. I feel like he is medicating himself with her. (Remember that she told him last season that she doesn’t care about his past and “knows who he is now.” But at the time she knew almost nothing about him).

          You also mention their work relationship. But we have been shown almost nothing about what Megan does at work. Coupons? There have been no scenes of her and Don doing work together, so we don’t know whether they are really “working together.”

          • Remember Megan’s line to Don in Chinese Wall (season 4- ep 11):

            “You judge people on their work. I’m the same way. Everything else is sentimental.”

            And she tells him he will get through his business difficulties despite he has lost Lucky Strike.

            This is right out of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand in which the main female character Dagny Taggart comes to describe her obsession with doing good work and the standard the world should judge her by.

            And Don confirms he feels this way in season 4 episode 1 when he is advised to do another interview with the NY Times to promote the firm:

            “Who cares the crap what I say? My work speaks for me.”

            I disagree with you about their work relationship Where does Megan work? At the firm where her husband is a leading figure? Why? Because it is in her interest to further his interest. And Don know this as well.

            If Don talks about business when they get home, Megan is NOT going to tell him to change the subject. Instead she will act as a sounding board to him which he never got from Betty.

            And in terms of Don here are three huge lines in the last two episodes which tell us where his head is at with Megan:

            a) “I will be with you until the day I die.” (explaining to Megan about his past liaisons and that he is totally committed to her)

            Translation: Don has made his bed and now will lie in it.

            b) “You have nothing to worry about.” (after he awoke from his dream)

            Call it taking proactive action, burying your past, an exorcism or being “scared straight” in Mystery Date but once Don realized his killing of Andrea was a horrible nightmare he realized how important to him Megan was.

            c) And we saw that play itself out in the whorehouse where Don abstained from being unfaithful to Megan and this line to Pete:

            “I am who I am, I’ve been where I’ve been but if I had met her (Megan) first I would have known enough not to throw it away.”

            Translation: Don at 40 realizes what he has in Megan. His search for true love is over. He is no longer alone.

            Sure Megan could become less interested in Don’s work as time moves along and sure she might not “put out” sexually as she once did but ask yourself have you seen anything in Megan on screen that tells you she is not now interested in Don’s business or that she will always bring to the table all she has to offer in terms of sexual energy and intensity.

            Remember Megan is only in her mid 20’s. She still sees the world through rose-colored glasses. And Don in her own words “is in her head all the time.”

          • I agree. I’d like to know whether Megan is a good writer or not. I wouldn’t think Don would marry a hack — but, then again, she is quite a dish! : )

    • I greatly appreciated this analysis. It’s one of the best explanations of the psychology behind Don’s decision to marry Megan and how it (quickly, even abruptly) evolved. Thank you!

      • Betty haters like to think that Betty wasn’t interested in Don’s work– she was, but he shut her out.

        Techno says “If Don talks about business when they get home, Megan is NOT going to tell him to change the subject. Instead she will act as a sounding board to him which he never got from Betty.”

        I don’t recall Betty ever telling him to change the subject. After a business dinner, she said “I like working as a team,” but he only wanted her to be arm candy.

        Don wouldn’t allow Betty to be his sounding board. She tried to become involved, but he wouldn’t let her. After all, if she got too nosy about his work, she might discover that he wasn’t working all those nights he stayed in the city.

        Don’s attitude to Betty was: “I don’t want to talk about my work at home” and “you wouldn’t understand anyway.”

        Yes, Megan acts as a sounding board, but that’s because she was a work wife before she became his real wife. And she already knows about the careless appetite.

        • Agreed.

        • I may have missed the episodes but I don’t remember anywhere Don wanting to discuss his business with Betty, but by the same token I don’t remember anywhere where Betty expressed an interest in what Don was doing except when Roger phoned her out of the blue and told Betty about the three year contract that the firm wanted Don to sign.

          In real-life I have known many men like Don. They simply don’t think anyone would be interested in what they do for a living and consciously decide “to leave their work at the office.”

          But notice even at the office a pivotal point in the history of MM occurred when Megan entered Don’s office to give him strategy statements and after Don told her she could go, she turned around and asked if she could help him.

          And you could tell he didn’t particularly want or felt he needed her help but when Megan confessed to him she would like to do what he did one day or what Peggy does he suddenly changed his mind.

          Was Betty ever that up front with Don about wanting to understand what went on in the agency? I don’t think so.

          Don married Megan for many reasons but her enthusiasm for what Don did for a living imho was among the top three. Megan was much more than a pretty face. Remember she was his secretary as well and unlike Jane Sterling told her husband she wanted to continue to work at the firm after they got married.

          Don and Megan have the potential of being a modern day power couple if the scriptwriters want to go in that direction.

      • Thank you for the comment.

        And for you wick ditman Megan majored in literature and writing while in college. She told that to Don last season in episode 11 Chinese Wall.

    • Techno, I accept completely your theories.

      My additional theory is that as soon as Dr. Faye Miller told Don they could openly date, he realized that as soon as knowledge of their romance swept the advertising industry both of their careers would end, because of suspicion they were feeding each other confidential information.

      Also, as written in Mad Men, Betty has shown no evidence she benefited from her education including her time at Bryn Mawr, whether she graduated after 4 years there or left for whatever reason before graduation. Betty was been written as vapid and not sophisticated in most ways.

      Contrast this with Megan, 8 to 10 years Betty’s junior. Her character is written as 25 when she joined SCDP as a receptionist, which she felt was going to be a faster entry into the exciting field of advertising. Megan is written as having a 4 year university degree and being fluent in American English as well as several forms of French. Megan has never been shown as unsophisticated. Clearly Megan is written as a woman who made excellent use of the educational opportunities. Perhaps having a professor for a father and a translator for a mother better prepared Megan than having a self-made building trade father married to a bored rich neurotic house wife prepared Betty. It could be Betty was taught to “play dumb” while Megan was taught at home to keep her ears open, and not be overly modest about her brains.

      The jury is still out as to Megan’s actual empathy for children. Perhaps she wants to hold off having babies for a few years. It well could be her own parents were mature when they married, while Betty’s mom might have been very young. Also, Betty only has one brother, while Megan is the “baby of her family” without being specific as to her siblings.

      • Also notice how Don was upset at Faye for not being on his team when she refused to point Don in the right direction to who he could contact to drum up business for the firm.

        Notice the first time that Don really paid attention to Megan was the day after their blow-up on this issue.

        What would have happened if Faye had agreed to helping Don then rather than appearing at his apartment right after Don had had sex with Megan to inform him she had done a 180 degree turn?

        Unfortunately for Faye the genie was out of the bottle and there was no way Faye or Don could put that back in.

  22. The BoK crowd always comes through even with an episode that is a bit underwhelming. Everyone is already hitting on all the good stuff I could possibly come up with (and doing a great job of it):

    Happiness and self esteem, friendships, appearance v. reality – lots of the stuff that makes MM tick. With respect to happiness I keep coming back to the line from Faye last season. “It’s about what we want verses what is expected of us.”

    Last week we saw the dark and sinister aspect of our alter egos, dual identify or shadow selves. This week we see the necessary and positive aspects of our alter egos. Don (more accurately Dick) is Superman, Lane reluctantly goes to the World Cup party but finds his alter ego “British self” again.

    Ken literally has an alter ego which provides a creative outlet, self esteem and some extra balance in his life (not unlike the bloggers at BoK!) Pete has no such outlet and merely aspires to be someone he is not and cannot ever be. You can’t copy what and who you are – you have to grow yourself from scratch. As usual Pete wants to do things the easy way and simply BE Don Draper.

    Pete’s real alter ego exists but it is all negative and childish. He is that bratty little boy with the smart mouth who got picked on in high school and whose mouth still gets him into trouble. He is miserable because he doesn’t know who he is and he doesn’t like the persona he copied.

    We know that threes always matter in fiction and Pete is publically humiliated three times in this episode: at the kitchen sink, in driver’s ed class, and, of course, in the fight with Lane. One could say that finding the right spark with the prostitute is also pretty humiliating but that is not in public and that makes all the difference.

    Like Don, we gotta get Pete a new daddy because the old one didn’t teach him a thing. To go back to Faye, Pete is quite adept at mimicking others and doing what is expected, but he has no clue what he really wants because he has no clue who he really is.

    • Pete has a more sinister side to him than Don does.

      Don’s desire in life has only been to impress himself. It is only recently that he has switched his focus on wanting to impress Megan. He has no interest in what the world thinks of him.

      Megan constantly tells Don how great he is in bed and outside of bed culminating with the line in the car in yesterday’s episode, “I can’t believe how much I love you fixing that sink.”

      How many times did Betty tell Don he was great?

      In contrast, Trudy has constantly told Pete how great he is at work but for Pete it doesn’t matter. Trudy’s opinion means little to him. What matters more is how the rest of the world sees him and the recognition others bestow on him along the way. And when anyone gets in the way of his plans, he will backstab them at every opportunity (eg Ken Cosgrove). And his colleagues know he will do this and this is why Joan tells Lane basically that Pete had it coming.

      A poster at BOK compared Pete with Betty. Here is a prediction. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Pete plotting the demise of Lane now (telling Lane’s wife he is having an affair with Joan) as I would not be surprised if Betty sought to break up Don and Megan’s marriage especially if her kids come to love Megan more than her.

  23. I came away from last night’s episode (which I loved) wondering if Pete was clinically depressed. He exhibited so many symptoms, the most obvious of which was the inability to take joy (“Ode to Joy” seemed to stress it) in anything. He was on the surface pleased only with the hi-fi – said he took no credit for his daughter, who had been such a source of pride for him before; wasn’t happy with the idea of a car account, which had been one of the things SCDP wanted – and his happiness with that seemed a little desperate. In fact, Pete’s seemed more than a little desperate in what he wants this season, and when someone reaches a place where nothing makes them happy, that might signal depression.

    • I don’t think he’s lost pride in his daughter, but rather he was being self-effacing and saying that any prettiness or cuteness was from Trudy’s genes, not his. That’s how I took it anyway. Also maybe alluding to the birth itself–Trudy did all the work.

      • I personally find Pete more self-aggrandizing than self-effacing (and he’s really bad at being self-aggrandizing, too – vide the “I just brought in Mohawk Airlines” announcement). You do have a point about his still being proud of his daughter, but he seems not to be getting any satisfaction from that pride. I’m guessing that it’s overcome by his unhappiness at so other many things, but then I think that’s one of the ways depression works.

    • maybe the car account was a sore spot for Pete because he struck out in Driver’s Ed.
      Also pete used to be the young one in the office…the voice of youth. Now he is the old guy who looks like the instructor.

  24. Thank you for your usual fine recap. It’s most impressive that you published here at 3AM and are still commenting. I imagine you sleep hard Monday evenings these days.

    Agreed that this episode was a breather but definitely juicy.

    Like prize fight fans, we were titillated by the fisticuffs – distracted by blood and bruises. Both Pete and Lane have lingering “dissatisfactions” – which grossly understates Pete’s state-of-mind. It’s going to be rough for Pete, I’m afraid.

    Joan showed remarkable self-possession when Lane laid one on her – not rejecting but not reciprocating, either. She then soothed his humiliation – slipping past the unrequited kiss – but giving him a figurative punch on the arm when she stated that everyone in the office has wanted to punch Pete.

    Maybe Ken wants to punch him too, now that Pete has snitched on Ken’s authorial moonlighting. That Ken is an established author is perfectly organic given his S1 story sales. I didn’t believe for a moment that Roger convinced him to stop writing.

    (I wonder though, whether Ken lost a few clients by wining rather than wining and dining. Maybe a good thing that Roger probably has no idea what Ken has been up to professionally)

    Trudy is happy in stark contrast to Pete. She was brilliant in the way she parried Don’s attempt to beg off Saturday in Suburbia.

    Hate to descend into the trivial but: Pete’s “courtesan” remained basic-cable-appropriate using Jag-you-are spotted lingerie.

    Don did not “grow up in a whorehouse”. That was nice improvisation on his part – and it saved SCDP a few bucks.

    Strange to see a happy Don amidst all that dissatisfaction.

    • Joan showed remarkable self-possession when Lane laid one on her – not rejecting but not reciprocating, either. She then soothed his humiliation – slipping past the unrequited kiss – but giving him a figurative punch on the arm when she stated that everyone in the office has wanted to punch Pete.

      I saw the kiss coming when she first came in the room. Actually, I saw it coming in “A Little Kiss” when she cried to him about her loneliness. You’re right, the way she handled it was interesting, and it made me wonder. Did she not pull away because she wanted to placate him? Did she enjoy it, partly because she’s been lonely and now her marriage is over (so almost any man’s kiss would have been welcome), or does she have some interest in Lane particularly? And if she does has some interest, is she resisting it because she’s been down that road before (getting involved with a married man) and she knows it can’t work?

      (I wonder though, whether Ken lost a few clients by wining rather than wining and dining. Maybe a good thing that Roger probably has no idea what Ken has been up to professionally)

      Good point, but Ken told Peggy he had been “mostly” going for drinks rather than dinner. It seems he still has been doing some client dinners but not as many. Most likely he suggested drinks and some clients were fine with that. I’m sure if a client indicated that they wanted to go for dinner, he still would go. In Season 3, Lane made it clear that Ken has a way of making clients feel completely comfortable and like they are lacking for nothing. I’m sure this is still the case.

      • Yes, Lane definitely looked “ready” at Joan’s unexpected visit.

        On two levels I don’t see Joan encouraging Lane’s romantic overtures:

        Though my intuition is hardly reliable here, I don’t get romantic chemistry.

        Far more important for Joan – Lane is a mentor. Her accounting assistance is valid with his imprimature but if he were out of the picture, that part of her work may not be accepted by the firm at large. Also, Lane gives her professional validation. She does not want to risk all that with romance.

      • My read is that Joan was so grateful to Lane for telling her how valued and valuable she was in “A Little Kiss” that she accepted the kiss. She genuinely enjoyed that one moment for what it was, but she then drew a boundary by opening the door. She told Lane she had no regrets and that Lane should not apologize for the kiss, thereby sparing Lane the pain of a negative reaction and giving him meaningful affirmation. Yet, she conveys this lack of regret by steering the conversation to “everyone wanted to hit Pete.” Joan finesses the situation to affirm Lane yet make it clear that an intimate relationship was not in the cards. Tremendous scene, and Jared Harris’s faces told the whole story. I was blown away by Harris’s acting in that scene.

      • In early Mad Men seasons it was Ken who recruited any hookers needed for client meetings. Roger later found and hired one of those.

        Perhaps it was being an account executive with at least 2 major ad agencies between the formation of SCDP at the end of Season 3 and Ken moving to SCDP with some clients late in Season 4, which taught Ken to be more discreet entertaining clients.

        Mad Men has never shown us that Ken was incompetent as an account executive, nor that he shirked responsibility bringing in new accounts while paying close attention to his existing accounts. Then Ken had the chance to marry Cynthia Baker, who he clearly loves deeply. Ken was ethical and refused to take advantage of his almost father-in-law, CFO of Dow Chemical, to help land that account.

        In my opinion, Ken has matured beyond being a pimp to an ethical loving husband and very good account man.

        Meanwhile Pete Campbell is still living off Trudy’s family money, and has show he is willing to pimp out Trudy to get ahead.

        • Yes-I agree that Ken seems more ethical than Pete. He also is more confident and more personable.

          At times we’ve seen Harry, Paul, and Pete all jealous of Ken. In many ways, he has what they want.

  25. The full review is still there. You only need to click on “PressPlay” to read Deborah’s full recap.

    If you want more of a scene-by-scene recap, Deborah always updates the Mad Men “Episode Guide” when she has time.

    As for the other comments–constructive criticism about ads or about the blog in general is welcomed here. Extremely nasty/negative comments are not.


  26. I always enjoy reading your insights, Deborah. Yes, Roger somewhat redeemed himself in this episode. Ideally he’d make a great consultant.

    I saw some subtle shifts in Don and Pete’s relationship last night. The cab ride where Pete accused Don of judging him was interesting. Yes, Don is trying to be a faithful husband, so that’s part of it. But he also seemed to show legitimate concern for Pete. He knows Pete has a great wife and shouldn’t screw it up. He pretty much outright told him, “Don’t throw this away.”

    Then there was the elevator scene. We usually see Don doing everything he can to avoid Pete. But he saw him standing there and said, “Come on.” There was some compassion in the words. It reminded me of Season 2 (when Pete came to Don, after Pete’s father had been killed in the plane crash) and Don helped tell him what to do.

    One minor criticism about the episode: I thought the writing for Megan was a little sloppy, when she said “Cynthia!” at the party. It just didn’t ring true for me. Sure, anyone can make a gaffe (and luckily Cynthia didn’t seem to catch on), but really, Megan couldn’t have figured out Cynthia’s name earlier?? I know the early part of the evening was somewhat separated into women vs. men, but I’m sure there was a moment where Megan could have realistically pulled Trudy aside to whisper in her ear and tell her she forgot Cynthia’s name. Instead, her calling out Cynthia’s name at dinner seemed a bit contrived and made her look stupid.

    • I agree. That made Megan look idiotic. It was sitcom writing.

      • Megan’s blurting of “Cynthia!” was a reminder of her occasional awkwardness. Remember her early days at SCDP, getting tripped up by the AV cart, telling Sally “I do that all the time” when Sally fell while running away from Don’s office?

    • Sitcom or not, I liked it – it was the punch line with two setups:

      To Don – “What’s her name?”

      At the table “Ken and _______”

    • Your comment reminded me that Don says “come on” a lot! Remember when a you tube video was created with Don saying “what” a bunch of times? This season it might be a video with “come on.”

      • Yes, you’re right. He also says “I don’t know if that’s true” a lot (although I recall a couple of other characters also saying it too).

  27. Loved this episode. Way more than the soapy Mystery Date.

    I think people are writing Pete’s obituary way too abruptly. People go through ups and downs on this show and in life.

    • Agreed. Remember last season, when people were predicting Roger’s suicide or death?

      • Yes! Recency bias. They’re doing the same thing now when they talk about Don and his niceness or superhero tendencies. Ups and downs, downs and ups.

  28. Something bothered me watching this episode. An avid MM fan, I could not put my finger on it. Finally, it hit me. The writers have fallen in love with DD’s character and are writing him “like superman”. Don Draper is becoming more and more Draperman ,supernatural powers and all. There was a hint of this in past seasons, but somehow his imperfections and lows gave him a human angele . His new found passion for fideity somehow make his previous adultries Betty’s fault. See? Our Draperman’s a great guy.
    But that’s beside the point, the truth is that for me the mircale of Don is a bit boring. Well, happy married life is sort of like that:) I just found this episode, well, dull.
    Doesn’t mean I won’t be watching next week…..

    • At the moment Don is being very likable and honorable. However, as Deborah mentioned, as viewers we wonder when the other shoe will drop. Megan was worried last week about his history with women and she even mentioned that that couldn’t have been all Betty’s fault. Pete said Don will feel differently when the honeymoon’s over.

      Don is making a great effort right now. Whether he will stay on the straight-and-narrow is something we can’t know for sure. I personally suspect that it won’t last. Partly because of his nature and partly because it is more interesting to see some marital discord and infidelity from time to time. (On television, that is. If we were talking about a real-life couple, I certainly wouldn’t wish it on them!)

    • Don was boring BEFORE because every woman he met you could be sure he would have managed to take her to bed, and he is boring NOW because he’s so happy and contented with Megan… No, I don’t watch Mad Men because of Don, I have to admit :-)

    • It’s instructive to say that while Don is likely to not maintain this identity/tone/mindset for the rest of the season, he’s not Superman at the office. There’s been a shift in Don’s work-life balance, and that’s putting him in a different head space that he’s adjusting to. It’s making him more observational and less of an initiator, which put him in a place to be naturally empathic to what Pete was going through. Don came by his views not as a “converted man” who suddenly believes in moral rectitude; that’s not who or what or WHERE he is right now. Don’s simply in a position to observe more; he’s also not threatened about (or by) anything in the office, with the possible exception of Ginsberg. The fact that he’s not threatened by Pete is giving Don the space/cushion to be empathic, too – that’s important in terms of the power dynamics here.

    • I don’t see his infidelity as Betty’s fault at all. That is a totally incorrect statement. Meghan is not falling for it either.

  29. As much as I love Pete and this episode was really painful to watch, I think that in terms of storytelling seeing him breaking down this season could be gloriously spectacular.

  30. Pete becoming the new Betty? Pshaw. Don either turning a new leaf or just setting himself for a (credit-opening)fall? Phooy.

    The REAL mystery is exactly how did Mrs. Jaguar find the chewing gum? He didn’t give the impression that this was the first time he had done this…even Pete knew to take a shower when he got home. Somewhere along the way, did he not have to take a leak and discover “Hey ho! What do we have here?!” Or did Mrs. Jaguar decide to give him a go-round the moment he walked through the door?

    Just askin”.

    • Funny! I re-watched some scenes on my lunch today and thoguht the exact same thing. How did the wife discover that?

      Still gives me a giggle though.

      • Maybe the radio was playing “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor On the Bedpost Overnight?”.

  31. I’m surprised nobody has mentioned Megan saying it wasn’t possible to have a baby. Or have I misunderstood that line from the car conversation? Is that because she’s on birth control? It felt like a lead-in to future marital problems. That subtle, sly drop of information that will turn into a mountain by the next time we hear it again.

    • It has been mentioned a number of times. There are almost 700 comments in the open thread so it’s easy to miss.

    • We talked about it last night. She’s either on the Pill or having her period.

      • Or an IUD is also a possibility.

        • I did wonder what she meant — birth control, or was there more to it? But I never let MW trick me into thinking I’ve scented out a new plot line. Either it is or it’s not and we’ll find out. No crystal ball predictions from this poster.

  32. It is funny, but I thought that this was a pretty terrific episode and I didn’t expect the negative reactions that I have seen. It got to the core question of MAD MEN (at least to me), “do people really change, or is their apparent growth merely a function of changing circumstances?”

    Pete, as usual, is a great character to explore that theme. He was a truly terrible person for much of the first season. As the years have gone on, he has become more likable. He has often carried the banner for the more admirable side of the youth movement. He says things that other less privileged people might be afraid to say. His marriage to Trudy has tended to be the healthiest of the relationships that we have seen in depth. And yet, Pete has continued to do terrible things when he thinks no one is watching. Most notably when he coerced the Au Pair into having sex with him.

    So, did marriage, fatherhood and business success change Pete, or did they just appear to change him? This episode came rather firmly down in the second category.

    That essentialist vision was reinforced by the Ken and Lane subplot. We met Ken as a mildly detached account man, who had a secret life as a short story writer. The events of the series have not changed that one bit. Even when he is outed and threatened by Roger, Ken simply changes his pen-name and goes on being exactly the same person. Like his robot, Ken really does not seem to have any choice in the matter. Lane is similarly stuck, but with an identity that he would love to change.

    All of this looms pretty large over Don. S4 seems to have “counted” and radically changed his identity. The big question is what happens when the honeymoon is over?

    • Spot-on analysis! Thank you!

    • Great post, Dean.

    • When this series started I often felt a bit of envy for these people and the life and times they lived. At this point I’d be hard pressed to say I envy anyone. Quite a switch for me.

      Maybe the show is going to be bold and explore lassitude and mundane decline for its final years. Mybe there is no turnabout planned.

  33. Another interesting echo is during the lead-up to the fight scene, Lane calls Pete a “grimy little pimp,” harking back to Pete’s father dismissively telling Pete that what he does is “no job for a white man” — a clear dig at the procurement aspect of being an account man.

    • And Pete told Lane that Lane was basically not worth anything to the company (once he fired everyone) which reminded me of when Lane himself told Joan in Ep 1/2 that “he was a sham”. Lane wondering about his worth in this episode and to Joan and then hearing it confirmed by Pete definitely facilitated the fight.

  34. Matt Zoller Seitz quotes Deborah again.

    People are going to start to talk.

    • He’s got a mad crush on me. Also, he’s my publisher at Press Play.

    • The instructive part of the Zoller Seitz piece – a good one – is the parallels between Lane and Pete. I realize what led up to the fight in the office, but I was surprised in a larger context that these two men were the ones that came to blows with each other.

      Pete has been accorded quite a lot of respect by Lane over time. It was a reflection of Pete’s descent into loathing and misery that he so rudely tore apart Lane with his words, thereby spurring the fight. It’s also very noteworthy that Pete said people thought Lane was “a homo” moments after the scene in which John Slattery (as director) showed the camera lingering over Mr. Handsome’s body from Pete’s viewpoint. It is as though something very primal, an “I will express my self-hatred by lashing out at people like myself” emotion, is at work when Pete lashes out at Lane before the fight. There’s a lot more about Lane and Pete to talk about, including certain elements of sexual ambiguity. No, they’re not homosexuals, but their energies are clearly directed toward impressing the MEN in their worlds more than the women. (Lane, after all, had a failed “date” with his Jaguar client.)

      Lots to discuss along these lines…

      • I see it as the two powerless-feeling men taking their frustrations on each other instead of at their superiors whom they both regard as corrupt.

  35. I read the kissing scene between Lane and Joan as “she came back because she changed her mind” and actually excepted the kiss, but put a “little mile” between them so it would not seem like a “pity kiss”. There is a bond between them already outside the office relationship, because they are both gingers.

  36. Minor point, but what does Peggy say in the diner (I’m going to phonetically spell this) – “I’m here trying to go to-maine poisoning??” What is that exactly?

  37. Apologies if you’ve discussed this, but was anyone else surprised that there was no mention made of Joan’s return? Not one word, and nothing about the baby, either. Also, I’ve never seen her look so ravishing as in the closeup when Lane kissed her. The red hair, and the blue dress.

    • Did you miss Joan’s visit to the office in Part 2 of “A Little Kiss”? She came for a visit with the baby, was greeted by a bunch of people (the new receptionist Meredith, Don, Carolyn, Peggy, Pete’s secretary Clara, Lane, etc.) At that time, she told everyone she was planning on returning to work in about three weeks.

      • Which means she was probably already back by Mystery Date, but we didn’t see her at the office–or maybe she took extra time off in anticipation of Greg’s ill-fated visit.

  38. What about the subtext of cars and sex, and the creation of the American Myth?

    Pete hitting on the teenage girl in Driver’s Ed sets us up, and after the dinner party, Don and Megan get it on in the car. But all that is simply window dressing for the set-piece where Don suggests to the Edwin, the Jaguar man, to sell the car as “pornographic”. Then Matt Weiner *immediately* has a Bond girl-eque blonde strut through the background, and we end up in a posh w̶h̶o̶r̶e̶h̶o̶u̶s̶e̶ boudoir where the men, well, pay for sex.

    The (m)ad men thus become trapped by the American Myth they helped create.

  39. And the prostitute Rogers dissapears with is a redhead…

  40. Did anyone else hear the dripping at the end of the episode when Pete was in bed?

    Does that mean Superman didn’t ACTUALLY fix the faucet; everyone only THINKS he did?

    If so, that would fit perfectly with the show’s theme of glossy perception vs. ugly reality.

    • Yes, I heard it, but I hadn’t made the connection. Good one.

    • oh, that’s funny. so Superman wasn’t.

    • I thought the dripping faucet had more to do with the Edgar Allen Poe reference. Roger dismisses Ken as “account man by day, Edgar Allen Poe by night” (theme of secret identities again).

      Then the ending sequence, where our Poe-in-disguise writes (essentially) the life of Pete Campbell, and the secret of his infidelity hidden somewhere in the floorboards of his (tell-tale) heart, but the drip-drip-dropping of the faucet mirrors the tick-tick-tocking of the buried secret, and never lets Pete go.

    • He wasn’t fixing the drip-he was fixing the gusher that occurred when Trudy turned on the water. He said the water supply was turned up too much(from Pete trying to fix the drip and not knowing what he was doing) so he just adjusted the knob to limit the water pressure.

  41. Great episode. I think it is ironically hilarious that the front page quote when I came to read this today is Lane: ” I understand that all men are dizzy and powerless to refuse you, but consider me the incorruptible exception!”

  42. I must have missed something: When did Dick Whitman grow up in a whorehouse? I thought he grew up on Archibald Whitman’s farm, and then with Uncle Mack. I know his real mother was a prostitute, but I don’t recall him growing up in a whorehouse. ??

    • Last night he confessed that to a madam in a NYC whorehouse. When we say grow up, he may not have spent all his formative years there, but enough to know what was going on.

    • I’m a little confused by that myself. I assume it was after his father was killed and he moved to Pennsylvania with Abigail and Uncle Mack.

      • It could be Don just BSing the madame to disarm her after she took him for being gay.

      • John Hamm did a very short interview recently with a magazine (sorry I can’t remember the name of it) where he said we will learn more about Don’s past this season. I’m hoping we’ll learn more about Don “growing up in a whore house”, because I was surprised by that remark too. I personally loved the flash-back episodes from previous seasons.

        • I would like to learn a little more, too. Hopefully important info that will not drive us insane trying to work out the timeline!

          It is possible there is a real story behind Don’s comment, or it is possible he just wanted to get the Madam off his case.

        • Ah! Interesting. He has certainly seemed more open about his past already this season. Perhaps this was then something new we are learning about his past.

    • I took it to mean that he was conceived and maybe born in a whorehouse and that he was always treated as the son of a prostitute. Possibly his father kept going there and he was aware of it

    • his mother was a prostitute, and she died giving birth to him — he was constantly reminded of that fact. In “The Hobo Code” he told the hobo that he was a “whore child”.

    • i wonder if his dad just took him to the whore house a lot when he was growing up and this was the source of the remark.

  43. Pete haters rejoice. Eastwood in Unforgiven said ‘We all got coming kid’, I think this only the beginning for him. Pete needs to put his head down and hide in his office, and just work. No personal conversations, no feelings. He’s been publicly humiliated, no one in that office likes him, he’s only tolerated, so fuck everybody. Work, get a bunch of accounts, and if they want to kiss his ass, or not care, then so be it.

    Pete needs to move away from SCDP. He’s a dead man walking. He will never get the respect he thinks he deserves. That dye has been hammered deep. Pete can not do existentialism well. He will die many deaths until his literal one. I still hurt for him. A lot of humiliations to absorb in a short time. Move on, Pete. I’ll miss you but it’s necessary.

    • You make good points, but Pete seems to have made a career from bouncing back from crushing humiliation. If he was ever going to bolt from the agency, it probably should’ve been when he told Bert Cooper about Don’s double life, and Bert’s response was to shrug and say, “Who cares?”

  44. Summary of lines or situations that were put-downs of Pete Campbell:

    1) DD to Trudy: “Too bad your husband can’t close like that.”

    2) Miss Gunther forsakes Pete for Mr. Hanson.

    3) Trudy tells Pete no guns will be allowed in the house.

    4) Don fixes the faucet instead of Pete

    5) Prostitute asks Pete if he can lift her.

    6) Don puts down Pete for ruining his marriage.

    7) Lane tells Pete he is “a grimy little pimp.”

    8) Pete is knocked down by Lane

    9) Don is off to meet up with his wife for lunch; Don does NOT ask Pete to join him. Pete is alone to vomit in his own s*it.

    10) Pete has to sit through the remainder of the driver’s education course despite his previous emasculation because he never learned how to drive.

    • I dont think #9 is correct. Don held the elevator for Pete and said “come on”. I think you can add that Pete thought that Don was his friend and therefore should have stopped the fight but Don did not

      • Yes held the elevator for him but did NOT ask Pete to join him and his wife for lunch.

        Two possible meanings:

        a) Don wanted the lunch to be intimate.

        b) Don didn’t want Pete to contaminate Megan with his negativity which he expressed in the elevator.

        Either way, Pete became persona non grata to Don even though he held the elevator for him. I think the comment about having nothing to live for changed the tenor of the conversation.

        • Or he was too beat up emotionally and physically and not fit to be out in public

        • That feels like an over-interpretation. He may simply have had special plans with Megan. Or it may be that it wasn’t appropriate to bring an uninvited person with him. Or lunch with Megan may be a euphemism for afternoon delight.

  45. Obscure tidbits from last night’s episode:

    1) Asking Pete why an older man like him was attending driver education

    2) Don Draper is not the only man at SCDP leading a secret life (Ken Cosgrove)

    3) The randomness of events and time speeding up (Future Shock as expressed by Miss Gunther)

    4) Megan knows how to drive; did Don marry her so she could be a designated driver?

    5) The Superman comment when Don takes off his shirt and jacket to fix the faucet.

    6) From Cooper referring to LBJ: “You don’t stop a war before an election.”

    7) Pete saying sarcastically to Don, “I’m NOT as virtuous as you,” when entering the elevator.

    8) The vicarious enjoyment by Lane that England beat Germany in the World Cup because he has felt guilty for not doing more in WWII.

    9) Trudy Campbell is Megan’s new friend according to Don. Could Megan discover Pete in a secret rendezvous and in turn could Pete take his revenge out by telling her about Don’s past?

    10) A little far-fetched that a Jaguar exec would be stupid enough to have gum stuck you know where and either not know about or straighten out the situation before he went home.

    • maybe the Jaguar excec was just really drunk and that is how he missed the gum. Maybe he passed out.

  46. I think the faucet dripping at the fade out was the metaphorical drip, drip Chinese water torture that Pete sees as his marriage/life. Or a ticking time bomb. His.

    • I’m right there with you. I thought it was exactly that—Pete’s the ticking timebomb.

      And no mention of the noose Don doodled at the exec meeting? That thing is burned in the back of my retina…what’s it all about?

  47. “10) A little far-fetched that a Jaguar exec would be stupid enough to have gum stuck you know where and either not know about or straighten out the situation before he went home.”

    Yeah, I didn’t quite buy that one either, nor the resulting fight between Lane and Pete despite its entertainment value for most viewers. Not that I’m against a little mano a mano action, but Lane and Pete going at it like a couple of girls (kicking, scratching, hair-pulling) would have been more credible, and frankly, more amusing/humiliating. Don and Roger (heck, Henry Francis for that matter) look like they would know how to fight. Lane and Pete? Not so much.

    I like the budding Lane/Joan “friendship”, though.

  48. Interesting tidbit.

    When Cynthia tells the party her husband Ken wrote a story note how both Don and Megan are interested in the content of the story and ask questions about it. The definition of simpatico.

    Now imagine Don asking about it and Betty being bored out of her skull while Ken was discussing his writing.

    Just noticed how Pete was sarcastic to Megan when she described why she joined the firm, to do what Don and Peggy do.

    During the fight Don did not offer aid to Pete and after he held the elevator door open for Pete did NOT invite Pete to join Megan and him for lunch. Husbands tend to be touchy about their wives, especially wives who they truly love,

    • I am not sure if Betty would have been bored out of her skull while Ken was discussing his writing. Earlier seasons showed Betty to be quite the reader.

  49. I loved kens story about the robot and the bridge. I wanna see that movie now! And I think Lanes KO of Pete was his best moment since he told his old boss to go f*** himself with “Happy Christmas” and hanging up the phone.

    • Yeah, but a bridge between two planets? Sounded silly to me. I liked his writing in season one a lot better. The story he got published in Harper’s was very evocative. I sounds like he’s going back to that style with his reading of his new piece at the end of the episode.

      • Ken’s story was a key to the Texas sniper incident, according to Cynthia the essence of the massacre was predicted in the robot story. The robot was a maintenance robot, whose only choice was to put in or take out bolts. He chose to take it out and kill everyone. Whitman, the sniper, according to Megan had a brain tumor. What’s the coonnection that Cynthia saw and no one else did, even though Don and Megan tried?

      • You can still have good style even if you write sci-fi

  50. And since its 1966 I hope there is one quick shot of sally Bobby and. Gene watching Batman before seasons end

  51. I know that Pete is bound to be seen as a horrible person (as he has been since early on). But he really is such an interesting character. And his plaid jacket was not half as hideous as Don’s…

    People have talked about the pact between Peggy and Ken, but has anyone been struck by the fact that she is even thinking about leaving the firm (a firm in which she is still so under-appreciated that copywriter with a penis has to be hired to handle Mohawk, although she does get in the end $400 to do the job -well apparently, since it has not been mentioned)?

    I wonder if that, Peggy leaving SCDP, will be the big event of the season.

    • I really question Megan’s taste when she picked out that hideous jacket for Don. Couldn’t she have found a real Madras jacket which were very popular then? I loved them.

      • I would’ve thought young, hip Megan would start picking out more cool and modern threads for Don. That jacket just screamed middle-aged suburbia. But maybe that was the point – she thought it would be perfect for an evening out in the ‘burbs. It would be hilarious to see Don wearing more ridiculous items picked out by Megan though! Hmm, Nehru jacket, perhaps? Don would rather look like an undercover cop, but I’m starting to think he would do anything Megan said.

        • In the 70s it screamed middle age suburbia, it was pretty hip and flashy in ’66. Not “mod,” but fashionable.

  52. The scene between Lane and Joan : she touches his hair, and then he kisses her. Did he think she invited him to do so? Did she?

    • Lane was quite vulnerable at that moment, and Joan was aware of that and felt enough empathy for him that she went to him with ice.

      My guess is that they are both lonely and unhappy in the personal lives, there is a connection between them, and while she didn’t consciously go into the room intending to invite a kiss, she subconsciously was drawn to him enough in the moment to unintentionally do things that overwhelmed a vulnerable Lane.

      She genuinely wanted to support him, and that evolved into something else–somthing not entirely unpleasant for either of them.

      But anything more than the spontaneous, acciental kiss would force them to make scary major decisions neither is ready for.

      I put in my vote for spontaneous and subconscous invitation, and I think both were relieved that Joan knew how to step back from the situation in a way that was not embarassing or humiliating.

  53. 10 words or phrases associated with car crashes or mishaps:

    1) On a collision course

    2) Smashup

    3) Blowout

    4) Run out of gas

    5) Reckless driving

    6) Undue care and attention

    7) Lose control of the wheel

    8) Hit the wall

    9) Run into a ditch

    10) Fail to negotiate a turn

    Didn’t Pete Campbell suffers all these mishaps?

  54. Wow, the anti Pete’s are yukking it up, and having a big ‘ol time. Methinks he’ll be missed when he’s no longer around to kick while he’s down. I’m gonna call it: Pete’s done. Check back on June 10.

    • Please no, I’m going to quit watching if that happens :-(

    • tilden, be careful not to mock other people for having different opinions. That’s how you get in trouble with moderators.

  55. Not mocking. Sad that Pete is now a punching bag. I love debate. I would never disrespect another person here ever.

  56. I know he’s just a character in a show, but I feel really bad for Pete. I’ve known and know people like him in real life. He does seem to have low self-esteem and seems to be pretty depressed. He’s had a lot of change over the past year — job (not really a change, but certainly upheaval), a move, a baby. My husband is always saying that the people to fear most are those who feel they have nothing to lose. Pete did tell Don that he has nothing. Creepy.

    I liked this episode. I was hoping to sometime get a better look at the Campbell’s home and I always enjoy learning more about the other characters. I also adored Trudy’s dresses. Maybe not the most stylish for the time but certainly my taste. I knew I’d have problems with the fashion the farther the story moved from the 50’s.

  57. Last night I rewatched the episode (season two) where Pete’s father died in an American Airlines plane crash. What was really noticeable was how he was walking around like a zombie through the office but not really ever able to express any emotion towards the loss of his father. Pete himself told Duck he has not cried yet. During the entire episode we see no evidence at that.

    I admit I have not watched all the Mad Men episodes so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but here is how I see Pete as opposed to Don:

    1) Pete craves the recognition of his peers at work over compliments from Trudy that he is doing a good job or that she is happy with his ambition.

    Don couldn’t care less on the how the world sees him and only really cares about how one adult sees him, his wife Megan. I stress adult because Don does care what his children think of him.

    Don’s line from the opening of season 4: “My work speaks for itself.”

    2) Pete is willing to be so indiscreet or reckless to display his infidelity in front of Don and Roger. Don always was careful to keep his “private affairs” private. When Pete came over to Don’s apartment and discovered Faye there, that was an exception, not the rule.

    3) Pete is cruel and heartless. Notice his reaction to the news from Peggy that he made her pregnant. And that he did NOT want Peggy promoted to being a junior copywriter working on his Clearasil account.

    4) Pete is willing to play foolish games such as calling in sick when he really wasn’t. Don may be concealing a secret identity but he is usually pretty accountable to where he is going to be during working hours and shows up to work.

    5) Pete wants to be Don, but he lacks the creativity and personality of Don.

    6) Pete is jealous of Megan and he displays it openly. And by doing so he is poisoning the relationship he has with Don. Nobody screws with Don’s wife Pete.

    7) Pete hates Ken Cosgrove because he feels he has always been in competition with him but also because Ken is talented as a writer while Pete at one time had aspiration in that area but did not follow through or lacked the talent. Notice in the last episode both Don and Megan are peppering Ken on what his “robot” story was all about and Pete couldn’t care less.

    8) Lane considered Pete his protege and someone who he could groom for bigger things. Instead Lane saw Pete as biting the hand who was feeding him and being ungrateful for all he had done for Pete.

    From Lane: “I can’t believe I have put in the hours to create the monster you have become.” (said before the fight)

    9) Pete clearly is NOT as sexually attractive to women as Don is to women. And what really pisses Pete off is that Don has now “gotten religion” and has chosen to remain faithful to Megan. While Don kept on being a womanizer, Pete felt he had permission to follow suit. Now Pete sees Don as a hypocrite.

    10) Pete level of self-importance and self-delusion caused him to utter to Don in the elevator, “I don’t have anything.” Realistically Pete still has his well-paying job at the firm, his ability to perform well in his job (he is only in his early 30’s), a house in the suburbs and a wife who loves him and a child.

    Someone should give Pete a good shake and say, “Pete, plenty of Americans would give their right arm to have what you have.”

  58. Upon re-viewing Sunday’s night ep, it all made way more sense.

    I find that I’m so focused on certain characters, their history, historic details, etc….this almost gets in the way some times, to really take in and clearly see the major theme.

    Again, Vincent Kartheiser was exceptional in this. How can such a young actor play disillusion so well, not that young people aren’t disillusioned, and with some regularity….it is a gift. The elevator scene is heartbreaking, Pete being so open with Don. I liked how Sister Don eschewed defensiveness and warned Pete to “count his blessings”, a trope lost on someone who is depressed.

    And you guys, I really, really liked Belle Wattling! HOPE she makes a reappearance, but in an unexpected way. Wouldn’t that be great if she and Pauline could meet up?

  59. The fight between Pete and Lane was something I really didn’t see coming – or Pete’s remarks about Lane, that set things off.

    After Burt Peterson was fired, didn’t Lane split his job between Pete and Ken? Then later, he told Pete that while he helped clients handle problems/issues, Ken made clients feel as if they hadn’t any problems. That seemed to cause some bad blood between Pete and Lane, and also seemed to extend to tensions between Pete and Ken, but after so much time, it seemed as if they were past all that.

    In Signal 30, the issue of Lane’s function/role in the firm came up and really escalated things, but in the last episode of S-3, when the notion of Lane firing Bert, Roger, Don, etc. came up, they thought better of not including Lane in the new firm. I think Don even asked Bert and Roger, “Can you do what he does?” (referring to Lane). The principals realized that Lane would be pivotal in any future success, so he was made a partner. If I remember correctly, they made Pete a junior partner in the new firm, but dangled the prospect of his having his name included on the masthead, to entice him and cinch the deal so he’d come along.

    Given all that, it’s somewhat surprising that a fistfight hadn’t broken out sooner than S-5.

    Another thought – There was a tussle between Ken and Paul in S-1 and that drunken wrestling match between Don and Duck, in S-4, in The Suitcase. Maybe it’s also surprising that there haven’t been even more physical altercations at SC and SCDP.

  60. The theme of S-5 concerns the question: “When will things get back to normal?”

    Now that we’re 4 episodes into this new season, I’m wondering about that myself.

    When we left off at the end of S-4, SCDP had lost its biggest and most important account, Lucky Strike. Weeks went by before Peggy and Ken brought in the Topaz Pantyhose account, though it added more to everybody’s morale level than it added in terms of the firm’s bottom line.

    Thus far this season, we haven’t seen the addition of any new accounts at all. There was a chance that Lane would capture Jaguar, but an errant wad of, perhaps, Clark’s Teaberry gum, dashed all hopes of that ever happening.

    Other than a few scenes relating to the design of some “cents off” coupons by Megan and Peggy, there doesn’t seem to be much activity going on, client-wise.

    A major thing that’s rather out of the ordinary is that Don Draper seems too much like a lovesick teen, to do what a Creative Director does — though, in fairness, he can only dream up an ad strategy and big campaign ideas, if the folks in Accounts are out there, drumming up new business.

    Still, even if he had some new accounts to work with, I wonder if he’s somehow lost his touch. I mean, last time we saw him, he couldn’t create a viable excuse to counter the wishes and social plans of Trudy, a suburban housewife! Every time he tried to get out of going, she (and Megan, for that matter) blocked his objections. Trudy even offered let him run through his whole list of ’em, but then whipped out the ultimate blocking tactic, to simply reschedule the dinner party for some other night.

    Things are definitely not quite normal at SCDP.

    And you just know things are gonna get worse. Between fist fights in the conference room and the low rumble of societal changes in the land and the middle age angst of the partners and, of course, the soon-to-be escalating conflict in Vietnam, all Hell’s about to break loose – all over the damn place.

    It’s no wonder that so many Mad Men viewers are getting antsy and feeling a bit off-kilter.

  61. So random thought that just popped in my head (if it was already covered in a previous comment, I apologize, I can’t keep up!)…
    The episode starts with Pete watching a car crash movie in drivers ed (mine was Red Asphalt), and ends with him “crashing” a Jaguar, walking away bloody and beaten.

  62. Everyone I talked to loved this episode. I adored the episode one, but enjoyed this one even more. It was maybe my favorite since ‘The Suitcase’.

  63. While this wasn’t as “holy cow!” as other Ep5’s may have been in the past, everyone I spoke to all thought it was a really great episode.

    I especially loved the joke about Don & Megan forgetting Cynthia’s name. LOL “Hello you…” “CYNTHIA!!!”

  64. What’s really struck me since “A Little Kiss” are all of the “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and especially “Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There” references thus far this season.

    In “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”Alice goes through a rabbit hole to a fantasy world. She later wakes up and realizes it was a dream. In “Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There”, Alice goes through a mirror into an alternate world where everything is basically the opposite. Near the end of the book Alice wakes up and deduces that her journey to the other side of the mirror was a dream.

    The Looking-glass/mirror/reflection theme is heavy in the S5 promo shots and poster. In the poster we see the other side of the “looking-glass.”

    Here’s the one way mirror

    And here’s Don and Roger

    In “Through the Looking-Glass” Alice has a white kitten and a black kitten. And on the other side of the looking-glass chess is played on a black and white board. The imagery of black and white permeates “A Little Kiss.” From Don’s party (Don and Megan both in black and white), to their apartment, to Megan’s polka dot blouse, to the race issue.

    The theme of chess comes up with Pete and Roger basically playing a chess game of strategy in the office. Also, on the other side of the looking-glass, things are the opposite of what they should be. Mirrors are used in the episode with Don’s shaving, the mirrors in the hall when Sally is walking down it, and the reflection of the Francis house in Don’s car window.

    Also, the first book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” has the theme of playing cards. At both the beginning and end of “A Little Kiss” Pete is playing cards. And when Howard greets Pete he says, “You’re losing your head,” as in the Queen of Heart’s “Off with her head!” During the first scene the references to chronology are innumerable, from vocabulary, to Greenwich, to train schedules, all a possible reference to the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit. And Howards’s, “nothing a little peace/piece (of *ss) wouldn’t fix,” is typical of the homophones of the Alice books.

    But what really struck me is the sequence w/Sally walking down the hall at the beginning of the episode. I thought the music during that scene resembled the music during the fake ending of “The Wheel.” But another poster “Cellophane” noticed that it resembled the music during Betty’s dream.

    In both of Betty dream sequences there are strong references to “Alice in Wonderland.” In the sequence with Betty walking down the street it is the caterpillar. In the sequence where she meets her parents, her father is grinning mysteriously and mentions that Betty is a cat (and thus as her father he’s also a cat), thus he’s the Cheshire Cat.

    Here’s the caterpillar dream sequence music.

    But more importantly, here’s the scene where she meets her parents.

    At about :49 the scene of Betty at the end of the hall is exactly the same as the scene of Sally at the end of the hall.

    And in this scene, Sally is reflected in a mirror, perhaps suggesting the mirroring of the two scenes.

    So there may be a real connection with “Alice in Wonderland”/Betty’s dreams in “The Fog”/Sally’s walk at the beginning of the season.

    In “Tea Leaves,” there’s of course the teas reference to the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Peggy’s interaction w/Ginsberg and her confusion with him are similar to Alice’s reaction to the Mad Hatter. Betty and Joyce have tea together. Harry smokes tea. Betty again has a dream (the table resembling the Hatter’s tea party). There’s the homophone of Don/Dawn. There’s also many chronological terms.

    In “Mystery Date” Don’s dream about Andrea could by analogous to Alice’s adventures in both books being dreams.

    But what really stunned me was “Signal 30” when Roger confronted Ken about his writing. Roger called Ken “Edgar Allen Poe.” Which is the most famous supposed answer to the most famous riddle in the books, “The Mad Hatter’s Riddle.” “The Mad Hatter’s Riddle” is “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” The most famous answer is “Because Poe wrote on both.” Roger calls Ken EAP while leaning on his desk. Also, Lewis Caroll was the the “nom de plume” of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, just as Ben Hargrove is the “nom de plume” of Ken Cosgrove. Then Roger talks about growing a tail. Which could refer to the homophone of the “The Mouse’s Tale (Tail). There’s just too much “Alice in Wonderland” elements in the scene to be coincidence.

    Which makes me wonder about a comment Jon Hamm made during the Paley Center talk. He was talking about filming the scene where he and Betty talk in the kitchen during “Tomorrowland.” And he says,

    “”Is this a weird fakeout? Is [Matthew Weiner] going to cut it like it’s a dream sequence? And the following day be in bed with Betty in the old house. A total mind f*ck. And then going down that weird rabbit hole, and then realize that no, no, this is the natural progression.”

    Hmm… But what weirded me out while watching JH talk was seeing MW squirm uncomfortably next to him. Again, hmm…

    Then there’s the whole “Vanilla Sky” element to the season so far. Other posters as well have found the similarity between Don strangling Andrea and the dream strangulation of Sophia. Interestingly, there seem to be other similarities. The way Sally wakes up in “A Little Kiss” with the alarm is similar to the fake dream opening to “Vanilla Sky.” Also, the scene of Tom Cruise running through an empty Times Square with all the commercial images resembles the images on the towers during the opening credits. And the whole falling man sequence resonates with VS’s ending where the hero jumps off a building to end his lucid dream state.

    Also, in “Tea Leaves” there are two Monet replicas in the restaurant with the Heinz executive. The one behind the exec resembles the Monet painting “Vanilla Sky.” The one behind Don and Megan is “A Woman Reading”

    This could go back to “Alice in Wonderland.” But with “Vanilla Sky,” here’s another reference to being in a dream state, or rather what you’re watching is really a dream.

    The strangulation scene w/Andrea also reminded me of “Black Swan,” both when Nina hallucinates about having sex with Lily and then later when she hallucinates about killing Lily. I didn’t think much about it at first, but then there’s the whole bean ballet in the season opener. And the whole black/white color scheme of LK (black swan/white swan). In “Mystery Date,” Cinderella is a ballet, as well as Sleeping Beauty (Don mentions it as an alternate fairy tale along with Snow White, both fairy tales dealing with sleep). And then in “Signal 30” the madam’s name according to IMDB is Giselle. So serious ballet references.

    Also, “Black Swan” deals extensively w/mirrors and mirrors are a theme in the promo pictures. Furthermore, there is a lesbian theme in “Black Swan.” Interestingly, in “Mystery Date,” Joyce kisses Peggy on the lips and calls her “Pegasus” (a white winged creature).

    But what’s really blown me away is White T Jim B’s guest post “Me and My Shadow.” The post alone was amazing, but what struck me how the idea of the Jungian shadow is also a huge concept in “Black Swan.” Just Google the terms and you’ll see what I mean. Moreover, yet again there’s the idea that what you’re watching isn’t real.

    And finally there’s the S5 promo poster.

    It is in a surrealist style, as per Matt Weiner’s own comments that it’s based on the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico. And surrealist art at it’s core deals with dreams. MW himself says, “this is a dreamlike image … a nonverbal representation of where my head is at and where the show will be … “ So MW himself is giving a dream reference to the season. And then there’s the whole Alice and the looking glass theme. In the promo poster, we see Don on one side of the looking glass/mirror/his reflection in the glass. But we do see the other side of the looking glass and it’s a surrealist dream/the display case.

    Which has led me to ask, on which side of the looking glass has the season been so far? Is everything real? Or are we in a surrealist dream? On the other side of the looking glass in a world of opposites where Don no longer cares about his work, where Joan breaks down and cries, where Betty is warm to her kids, and where Pete has regressed back to S1? In a state of lucid dreaming?

    All I know is if the next episode goes all “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” I’m taking the season so far to be a surrealist dream.

    • I didn’t realize how much I wrote until I saw it posted. Thanks for allowing such a long post!

  65. One of the many great things about BoK is how it goes into how the MM characters view themselves and how they want others to view them.

    I was doing some research on the internet about the movie “Black Swan” since I thought there were similarities to the Andrea strangulation scene. And then I came across this article which talked about Primo Levi’s short story “The Mirror Maker” from the eponymous collection.

    In TMM, the protagonist Timoteo creates a small mirror (“metamir”) which when applied to the forehead of a person will show he viewer what that person thinks of them. On his girlfriend’s forehead, Timoteo sees an unflattering image and they break up. On his mother’s forehead he sees himself as a sixteen year old boy. And on the forehead of a girl named Emma, he sees himself as the perfect man and she becomes his girlfriend.

    So in the end Timoteo is drawn to the woman who sees him the way he wants to see himself. This struck a chord with the Pete and the prostitute scene. The prostitute turns herself into a type of “metamir.” As the housewife she makes Pete see himself as the man of the house. As the naïve girl, she makes Pete see himself as the older man in control. And as the woman who desires him and sees him as “the man,” she makes Pete see himself as “the man,” or Don. As the prostitute is changing roles, Pete is in front of a mirror. I doubt that’s coincidence.

    Also, until I read Deb’s review with the clip of Roger and Lane I didn’t see Roger as a type of human “metamir,” but an adjustable meatmir. Roger basically reflects back to the client what they want to see, someone who understands them.

    And then there’s Megan. Many others have mentioned that the reason Don fell for her is because she saw him the way he wanted to see himself, she reflected back the image Don wanted to see of himself.

    Primo Levi is of course knows for his writings on the Holocaust and for being a survivor of it. Interestingly, MW introduces Ginsberg’s father (or father figure) who might be a Holocaust survivor.

    What also struck me is this quote I found from the essay “The Struggle for Life” from “The Mirror Maker.”

    Here’s the quote

    “We might . . . observe that while it is disagreeable to be judged, and it is humiliating and debilitating to be continually “sub judice,” to expect to elude all judgment is unnatural and dangerous. “

    It struck a chord since Don is viciously against being judged. In the pilot, Don says, “And do you know what happiness is? …It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.” In other words, non judgment. In “Mountain King” Don sees the Judgment card and says it must be bad. In “The Suitcase” Don snipes at Peggy not to judge him.

    But after his rebirth of sorts in “Summer Man” Don finally begins to judge himself. He admits he has a drinking problem and no control over his thoughts. He calls himself straight up lazy as a teenager and admits that he once thought he was perfect and that he was wrong.

    But conversely, Primo Levi seems to write against absolute judgment in “The Drowned and the Saved” (to my understanding). Which could lead to the quote on Ginsberg’s portfolio, “Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged.”

  66. AMC is now re-broadcasting Signal 30. What I missed the first time around.

    I notice now Pete is always the first one to call out Lane with a cheap comment or sarcasm. Mocking Lane’s English accent shows Pete believes he is culturally superior to Lane as well.

    Lane’s belief he will get along with Edwin Baker of Jaguar and thus secure the Jaguar account because they are both originally from Britain. As it turns out Edwin would rather deal with strangers who don’t know him or are not that familiar with his background.

    The phrase “back to the salt mines” to get back to the driver education course after a break portends or indicates the routine, drudgery and lack of purpose in Pete’s life.

    Lane is clearly a fish out of water in sales and not skilled in knowing what to say to secure the sale as he entertains Edwin on a one-on-one dinner. This reminds me of Clint Eastwood’s line in one of the Dirty Harry movies, “A man has got to know his limitations.”

    Cynthia indicates she or Ken were not born to wealthy parents–live in Queens among “the working class” as Ken puts it.

    Pete Campbell’s unsolicited response to Megan’s assertion that she saw an opportunity in SCDP that “it’s the truth” is a cutting comment and something that Don would have picked up on. You don’t insult another man’s wife and get away with it.

    Pete continues his digs at Lane by recommending he practice his putting without balancing the comment that Lane is good at what he does. It’s like putting a pitcher down because he is not a good hitter.

    In contrast later in the episode Joan tells Lane is unique in his role at the firm.

    I find it interesting Don is more tolerant of Ken’s writing activities while Roger calls Ken on the carpet and tells him to cease and desist from his writing activities.

    “Even in this place you are doing better than us.” Roger Sterling in whorehouse

    Clearly Roger is jealous of Don having a happy marriage which he feels he does not deserve.

    Why do I feel I’m riding with a nun? You of all people.” “Wait till your honeymoon is over? (Pete)

    Clearly Pete is unhappy that Don has “gotten religion.”

    Could Pete’s bitterness about Don’s newfound lifestyle cause Pete to try to bring Don down a peg? Is this Julius Caesar played out in an ad agency? Et tu, Brute? Or could Pete become another Iago as in Othello and insinuate to Don that Megan is cheating on him?

    Pete personally insults Lane by calling him a “homo”. Lane calls Pete a monster and a grimy little pimp, a sign he feels his time and energy he invested in Pete has been wasted. Why did it descend to fisticuffs? Because Pete added insult to injury by venturing into the territory of Lane’s manhood instead of trying to explain that Edwin wanted it and that they were only trying to fulfill his needs which he felt Lane would not be able to meet.

    “I’m NOT as virtuous as you.” Pete tells Don. I notice that Don does not reach over to give Pete a hug in the elevator after he tells Don he now has nothing and Don remains impassive and does not ask Pete to join him and Megan for lunch. This reminds of the expression “you made your bed, now lie in it.” Or that Pete has gone too far and burned his bridges at least as far as Don is concerned.

    In conclusion there is one main difference between Don’s previous descent into the abyss in season four and Pete’s current descent. Don never tried to take anyone with him, while Pete it appears is dedicated to taking everyone down with him. If he can’t be happy, nobody else deserves to be happy either. Pete may take his backstabbing to an entirely new level in future episodes and become a very nasty fellow. Or he could do the unthinkable and commit a criminal act. Pete is now a ship without a rudder.

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