Crash and Burn

 Posted by on May 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm  Season 5
May 242012

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.


  36 Responses to “Crash and Burn”

  1. Europeans have often been distrustful of American “freedom.” D.H. Lawrence sneered at it, saying “the least free souls go West and shout of freedom.”(Hmm, is that Layne?) Kafka and Dostoyevsky imagined America as a place of fearful chaos.

    I wonder if the scene in Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency where Layne tells Don he has been reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was even more portentious than we thought. True, one of the seminal American books, but what is the scene he cites?: The one where Tom and Huck go to their own funeral (!)

    (It suddenly occurs to me that Don, who tells Layne “that’s a good one” when told of his reading material, would definitely be the one to understand Tom Sawyer, and even more so Huck Finn: Poor country boys, without mothers, and Huck with a father who beats and terrorizes him. Huck eventually escapes into the wider world, where he uses an assumed name: Tom Sawyer.)

    • I’m always amused by this because in british stuff, people go to america, but americans want to be in europe (france, particularly — unless, like in friends or sex and the city, the show demands an american ending). I often wonder where french people go?

      As someone poor who wants to live somewhere else i know the real answer isn’t where, but what? Sure, you could move to another country, town, neighbourhood, but you’d still be you, you’d still be poor, there’s no fresh starts. what i need is an opportunity, something to massively shift the options

      • that idea of ‘circumnavigating the globe” for the purpose of art, study, benevolence, is explored in emerson’s ‘self-reliance,” yet emerson points out that ‘travelling is a fool’s paradise” if a man believes that travel with will help him find “somewhat more than he knows.” unless a man is happy in himself, he can not find true happiness anywhere.

  2. Edwin could also be a symbol for Pete himself: I found it ironic that he made fun of Edwin “self-destructing” while “Signal 30” (the episode with Edwin) was really all about his own descent.

  3. In several episodes, there has been reference to having a car account or an airline account as being the sign that an agency has come of age and is one of the big boys.

    Yet to my knowledge, no episode has mentioned this goal with respect to a beer account.
    Sure SC tried for Heineken, but not as a coming of age account any more than the Relaxicisor account meant you were an up and coming agency.

  4. Great post. Makes me realize ALL the Brits have been portrayed (to quote St. John Powell) with a “lack of character!”. Layne’s dad, Mr. Hooker, Edwin, the overconfident Guy MacKendrick, The evil Mr. Ford and now our beloved Lane all have deep and profound flaws. Rebecca may be the only reasonable one of the lot. Sure everyone on MM does but MW seems to always dispense karma on the Brits while the Americans get off for the most part without moral consequences.

    • Maybe Americans have longer term karma…

    • St. John Powell might say that Pryce Senior’s brutality and dominance in the service of putting Lane back to the straight and narrow path of “what is expected” is evidence of great character – not it’s lack. POV sure makes a difference. I didn’t get that Mr. Price enjoyed his display dominance – but rather it was done with serious intent – not so much with pleasure or malice.

      Of course Guy MacKendrick was Sinjin’s boy’s – no character flaw there (too few lines, anyway). Sterling thought he was a “born account man”. We think he’s arrogant – but that is common in a leader.

      Rebecca is trapped in the same role as so many wives – unfulfilled, bored, and in her case, displaced and homesick. My impression is that she’s flawed – but I admit, except for pining that New York is not London, not much comes to mind.

  5. I love the “crash and burn” – Signal 30 echo. Didn’t catch that at all. As much of a hypocrite as Pete is when it comes to pointing out indiscrete behavior we have to admit that Pete has proven to be a good choice for the SCDP team. He is taking care of business this season AND feeling shittier than ever!

    • I think Pete is CONSTANTLY on the prowl for business. He knew of Mohawk’s financial troubles and combined that with the “they dumped me” mentality to go after business. So he thought Edwin was an idiot — and really, he was rather bafoonish plus the chewing gum debacle — it makes sense to me that this was one of his trap lines he’d keep an eye on.

      Personally I think it has less to do with Pete being priggish about the prostitute and more to do with him seeing Edwin as an idiot.

      Of course Pete is blind to his OWN idiotic behavior but that’s a different story.

    • There is another echo between the two episodes. Don said to Pete in the last episode that “you told me to stop you” or something like this referring to when Pete is involved in a situation that might get out of hand. Don is referencing his elevator conversation with Pete after he got beat up in by Lane in Signal 30.

  6. Edwin and Lane could be a symbol of England crashing and burning under the Labor Government of the 1960’s. It was in the 1960’s the British pound was seriously devalued.

    From Wikipedia:

    In 1966, the Wilson government brought in exchange controls, preventing their subjects from taking more than 50 pounds out of the country. That restriction was not lifted until 1979.

    Then on Nov 18, 1967 the British pound was devalued 14.3% to $2.40 US.

    • Could also be the reason the British tax people were even more diligent in collecting taxes not paid or following up on delinquent accounts.

      • maybe megan should have had don listen to ‘taxman.’ i wonder what that would have cost m.w.

  7. Joan had an affair with Roger for how many years, off and on? Maybe 10? And apparently, either before or after she became involved with Roger, she also saw Paul, but broke it off with him because of his “big mouth.” Now, Paul wasn’t married and Roger was, which may be why Roger had more motivation to not spread it around (although certainly Cooper knew, and probably Don also). But Roger knows how to keep things under his hat (with the exception of Jane) and Pete probably thinks he’s good at covering things up because he’s had to do that with the Peggybaby. But then, he’s had Peggy’s help with that one. (Can you imagine what would have happened if Pete had known Peggy was pregnant? That is, if anybody had known?)

    Pete probably knows better than to let Trudy see him naked without a shower first, which means he can cover up a one-night stand or a dalliance with a prostitute. And he can’t be fired; even when he technically could have been fired, his job was safe because of his class privilege. So he probably smugly thinks what happened to Edwin couldn’t happen to him. But he can’t have casual “side dish” affairs; he falls in love. And that’s probably going to cost him much more than the chewing gum cost Edwin.

    • The chickens will come home to roost for Pete. Trudy is NOT stupid.

      Imho, there is too much talk about Pete killing himself and NOT enough attention given to a possible breakup of his marriage.

      • Agreed!! I was REALLY hoping this would be the season where TRUDY has an affair, not because affairs are actually she answer, but because I believe the hardworking, childrearing, incredibly intelligent and beautiful woman that is Trudy deserves some cathartic balance a-la Betty’s satisfying one-nighter with the man from the bar. Perhaps getting-back-through-cheating has been done to its own hilt since our sudden introduction to Beth and Howard, but…I really want to see Trudy fulfilled in some way, and I was saddened to begin the season with the knowledge that their marriage had disintegrated, when we’d left it off in such a state of strength.

      • “too much talk about Pete killing himself”

        I’ll second that – one suicide in the series is enough. Plus that one did dramatic duty in that it served to torture Dick Whitman.

      • I have to think a showdown is coming between those two. Trudy will tell Pete to get his head out of his butt, or don’t come home. And he’ll probably do it, if only to hang on to Vick’s.

    • Gawd I’d totally forgotten about Joan seeing Kinsey – boy was he punching above his weight! Now he’s a recruiting tool for the Hare Krishna and even they can’t stand him. The exchange about Harry managing to have a vision already was hilarious. I was never a Kinsey fan but I have to admit I felt a little sorry for the guy

  8. I don’t think any of the lead characters will self-destruct but reading the tea leaves I do see significant changes for them in the 6th season.

    I predict Pete will no longer be married starting the new season and Peggy will be no longer with Abe.

    As to Roger, I see him married for the 3rd time perhaps not at the beginning of the next season but certainly by the end.

    I see Joan taking Don’s advice and not telling her new boyfriend about Kevin until she has gone all the way. And yes, Joan could have remarried sometime in the next season.

    As for Don and Megan I have no clue where their relationship is headed or where each character is headed but I don’t see them crashing and burning.

  9. This season will end in gruesome fashion. I’ve been fearing it. The beating of the sexual violence drum (Don’s dream, Speck) has not been emphasized for nothing. One of the ladies might be in for some mayhem. Peggy (NO!!!), Megan, Betts even, could be in trouble. We’ve speculated about some character’s death endlessly. Pete? Roger? Now, Lane? Could it be one the ladies who will leave us? It would be immensely painful.
    It’s 99.999% probable that I’m way wrong. So forget this nonsense I just wrote.

  10. Oh, Tilden,

    Good to know I’m not the only one who is fearful about how this season might end, but like you, I sure hope that I’m wrong (as usual)! 🙂

  11. Drinking game: Have a shot every time a Basketcase fears that someone will die at season’s end.

  12. Sorry ruthie, but you would have liver damage just from tilden’s predictions! (As you always say tilden…I kid because I love.)

    As tk and I surmised on an earlier threat…. this could be the season of the first true MM cliffhanger. If that’s the case, I believe that a major character or more could be left in peril over the off season. However, I just don’t see MW killing a major character before the end of Season 6 if at all. If that happens, then part of the last season would be about dealing with the loss of Roger… Pete….Betty…????.

    • Well, if Betty dies and Dona and Megan become suddenly a family of five, then Megan would have the perfect excuse for not continuing in acting. It could be the “I gave up my career for the sake of my family”.

    • I hope there is no cliffhanger! who knows how long we’ll need to wait for season ! I can see them killing someone off, there are a lot of characters and they bring in plenty of new ones

      • If a major character is killed…Betty would be my first guess (I don’t consider Yoda Bert a major character.)

        Huge impact on the kids….Megan… and Don (I don’t think he has gotten totally past his desire to prove himself worth of her.)

        But, if someone dies; my guess is a minor character…Jane, Greg, Stan, Abe, or Trudy (I hope not, but Pete as a single dad is something to think about).

      • If you watch most TV series after about 5 seasons on the air you begin to see a major change in the lead characters to keep the show fresh. It’s just the way it is.

        It really is surprsing actually that there have been only 2 featured characters added to MM since the beginning–Lane Pryce in season two and Megan in season four. All the others are the original characters: Don, Peggy, Joan, Pete, Bert, Betty and Roger.

        Imho a lot of change is bound to happen in season six in the way of new characters. In the with the new and out with the old. Art imitates life.

        • Mary Tyler Moore Show won four best comedy Emmy’s in seven seasons and only two minor characters were added. Taxi three best Emmy’s in five seasons– one character added. MASH never would have added any characters if the actors hadn’t walked away. Sopranos had no major characters added, a lot of minor ones.
          There’s no need for new blood in make believe world if what you start with is transcendent. Really what new MM character merits a long term story arc besides Ginzo? Stan? No. Don’t get me started on Megan.

          • Yes…this is not like the old days when shows produced 25 to 35 episodes per year. We are in the home stretch of Season 5 and only on episode 63.

            With no more than 29 episodes left, there’s not alot of development that can happen with heretofore minor or unknown characters. Unless MW virtually abandons some major ones, which he certainly wouldn’t…. do….. oh….nevermind.

    • Grey Goose on the rocks is my poison. I just saw the DD and our Joanie bar scene for the who knows how manyeth(ha!) time. Its official: this is my favorite all time scene. Evah. It saved S5 for me. Now, I’ll buy the blu-ray.

    • I’ve been thinking (hoping?) that all of the references to violent deaths–as well as open elevator shafts and that gun that is still in Pete’s office–are about the death of the 1950’s-early 1960’s society and a transition to even more violence and uncertainty. As of last week’s episode, I also wondered if the agency would survive…but that would be too repetitive…so at this moment, I’ve become very worried that Lane is going to be that falling man….

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