Ever the thoughtful writer, Ken Cosgrove’s short story voiceover that ends this episode concludes with a line like “all the beauty was too difficult to bear,” a theme that describes both the subterranean crises that brought on the social unrest of the sixties and the suffering of Pete Campbell.
It’s true that everyone in the office and the audience has been waiting for someone to punch out the glib, preening Pete, the one whose family is some major botanical garden benefactor but has never been rich in spirit or in many cases, decency. But because of the layered way he’s been written, I’ve come around on Pete over the years, especially in episodes like these, when it’s clear he’s always been treading water and now finds himself drowning under the weight of his perfect life.
That’s the thing about water that makes it such a great motif; it’s a force both placid and powerful. A little dripping faucet can explode with too much pressure, much like our beloved Mad Men characters.
Here, Pete (who despite blue blood bonafides seems to be raised by wolves) again searches for a father figure in Don. And Don not only disapproves when Pete beds the prostitute who guesses correctly (on the third try) that his turn on is to have a servant/underling to his “king,” but Don also doesn’t come in and stop Lane from beating the crap out of him. Again and again in the show we’ve seen instances in which Pete looks to Don for fatherly advice. Remember how Pete sought out Don after his real dad’s death in the American Airlines plane crash that starts Season Two? Don shuns him and he goes right to Duck Phillips, who he then pimps out his father’s death to to get an account. Now, after being humiliated in the workplace where he shined, the young account man feels he has nothing.
It’s mayhem on Mad Men, indeed. Between those car wreck scenes we’re shown in Pete’s driving class, and the news of Charles Whitman’s cold-blooded rampage from the University of Texas tower, and fashion changing from suits to madras sport coats, the teenager was right: “Things seem so random all of a sudden, and time feels like it’s speeding up.”
Megan’s power over Don is ever evident. Megan has the power to stand up to Don about going to dinner parties, and to make Don change into a ridiculous madras sport coat. I guess they all had sport coats on cause it’s “the country.”
While Roger knows he’s a “professor emeritus” at the firm, his unsolicited advice session with Lane showed the silver fox actually DOES KNOW SOMETHING about being an account man. That was an excellent “Sterling Method,” ordering a scotch on the rocks but only drinking it until it’s clear while waiting for your client to tell you all his problems…
Speaking of problems, interesting to put a man with mommy issues who had a whore for a mom in a whore house. Thought they could have done more with that.
Stay away from the vanilla extract, ladies,
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