Mad Men: Everyone Hates Pete

It is nearly impossible to write a spoiler-free anything about this week’s Mad Men.

Because all I can keep giggling about is that someone, finally, punched Pete Campbell in the face.

Repeatedly.

Most of Pete’s co-workers, and anyone who has ever watched a single episode, have wanted to do this for years.

But the fact that it was Lane — slightly dazed British nebbish that he is, squared off against him like a mustachioed black and white lithiograph — made it all the better.

Pete Campbell.

Weasel. Irresponsible father. Narcissist. Pot-stirrer. Suck-up. Philanderer. Smirker. Creep.

His list of crimes is probably no worse than the bad people he works with.

But Pete was always different. Because there was nothing to redeem him.

Don wanted to be better than he was. Roger had his charm and certain kind of wisdom, which we’re seeing more of. Even Joan’s crappy husband chose to serve his country. (Granted, it was for all the wrong reasons. But still. Not an easy thing.)

But Pete was a greasy little egg roll made up of entitlement and next to no talent, wrapped up in ambition and deep fried.

I was hoping Roger would take a swing at him, too.

I doubt much more will progress with JoLane, aside from that flush-of-battle kiss in Lane’s office.

Although Roger and Lane competing for her affections would lend a certain hilarity to the show.

But it feels a little too much like Frasier and Sam Malone fighting over Diane.

Don, on the other hand, is totally throwing me for a loop.

He agrees to trudge out to the suburbs for a Saturday night dinner at the Campbell’s, which he’d never have done while with Betty. He drops a “Whitman” reference during dinner. Talks about growing up on a farm. Fixes a leaking sink. And not only sits out a night of ‘client entertainment’, but tells the house madame that he grew up in a whorehouse. Then treats Pete with more class than the little jerk deserves.

I’d always thought Don Draper most interesting when he was running from something, when he poured his energy into burying his past. This person he’s become — Dick Draper or Don Whitman, take your pick — is more nuanced than old Don.

His ability to surprise us with his behavior is increasing, but his ability to surprise his clients with his work is declining.

That pre-whorehouse Jaguar pitch was easy, expected and bad.

Consider Ken Cosgrove and Roger Sterling as the bookends of a career.

Ken, doing the job but not fully committing, trying to pursue something else on the side. Roger, trying to convince himself that he still serves a purpose around the agency. That his job, when it was good, was really good.

You can imagine the middle part. The giving up of the dream. The commitment to the job. The hours. The stress. The almost-acceptance that you did the right thing. The drinking.

Roger, telling Ken, to stop all this writing business and concentrate on the job he has was one of those moments that could break your heart.

Until you hear his steady, boyish voice over, reading a new passage he’d written, as we close in on him in bed, writing, with his wife beside him.

Ken Cosgrove. The show’s only true gentleman.

No wonder he’s a background character.

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