In Christmas Waltz, Pete knew Edwin Baker would “self-destruct” and has been sniffing around Jaguar waiting for it. I love that a character crashes who was introduced in Signal 30—an episode that gets its title from a film showing “spectacular” crashes.
But why did Pete know that Edwin would self-destruct? I mean, all the fellow wanted was to go to a brothel, which is a normal part of doing business in the culture of 1960s Madison Avenue—it’s not the first time we’ve seen our guys provide a prostitute for a client (1.04 New Amsterdam and 2.04 Three Sundays are two previous examples), nor was it hard for Roger to come up with a place. Why, then, pick on Edwin?
In a word, wrecklessness. Indiscretion. In 2.09 Six Month Leave, Roger talked about breaking the code, of “conduct unbefitting.” Get as drunk as you want to (and Roger starts the day drunk in Christmas Waltz, but that’s another story), visit prostitutes, but don’t get caught and don’t interfere with the normal flow of business.
“Bazooka Joe” was indiscreet. He didn’t shower off the evidence. He didn’t mark a clear line of separation between “boys will be boys” and putting up a good front.
I have two thoughts about that. First, Pete’s always been a bit of a prig; he was about Freddy Rumsen, and he is about Roger, his own recent misbehavior notwithstanding. Surely he’d notice a thing like Edwin’s lack of control.
Second, Edwin is something of a symbol for Lane, who is also crashing and burning. He’s an Englishman who has spent his life constrained by English manners and mores, and in America he is suddenly too free. Edwin has self-destructed, and that could be a harbinger of what happens to Englishmen who get to cozy with their American lifestyles.