Mad Men Recap: A Bloody Good Time

Mad Men Season 5This week’s Mad Men opened in a driver’s ed classroom as Pete and some other students watched gory footage of auto accidents. The scene was an apt set-up for a John Slattery-directed episode in which the life of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s youngest partner was much like a car crash itself: bloody, likely to injure innocent bystanders, and yet mesmerizing in its horror. But Pete’s existential crisis was our Sunday evening entertainment, so let’s hit the gas on this puppy!

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Buckle up | Pete’s suburban ennui, which became a thing a few episodes back, hasn’t dissipated in the slightest. When he wasn’t trying to put the moves on Jenny, a high school senior in his driving class (Manhattan-born Pete never needed a license before moving out to Cos Cob, CT, you see), he was obsessing about fixing his dripping kitchen faucet or pressuring Don to come to a dinner party. Draper implored Megan to send their regrets, and even called Trudy himself, but hell hath no fury like a ’60s housewife with a deviled egg platter, so the Drapers eventually found themselves at Casa Campbell with Ken and his wife, um… Cynthia! (Don and Megan’s uncertainty about Mrs. Cosgrove’s first name made for a fun running gag throughout the evening — but not as much fun as I had trying to pick which of the men’s jackets was the most egregious. Yeah yeah, I know, the Mad Men wardrobe is better researched than most doctoral theses, and my dad probably has each of those styles, plus two that are even worse, at the back of his closet. Whatevs. In the end, I went with Ken’s kinda-like-blue-flannel-pajamas look. Thoughts?) When the kitchen faucet unexpectedly turned into a fountain after the meal, Don stripped to his tee shirt and had it fixed before Pete could do much of anything, revealing that the success young Campbell thought he’d made earlier was a mere illusion.

That’s not a stick shift | As Megan drove a drunk Don home, they chatted about how cute Pete’s daughter was and how much Don really didn’t miss suburbia. Or rather, Don playfully pawed at Megan until she pulled over so they could “make a baby” — his words, surprisingly — and she relented only because “Pete scared the s–t out of me with those car accident statistics, and I can’t believe how much I loved watching you fix that sink.” Hey, kids on this show have been conceived after much less.

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Read the manual | After Ken acted all squirrelly when she ran into him and an older man at a luncheonette, Peggy demanded to know what was up. Ken confessed that the man was a literary agent who might be interested in publishing some of his sci-fi short stories under the name “Ben Hargrove.” But because the topic also came up at the Campbells’ dinner, Pete snitched to Roger, who basically told Ken to kill his inner Philip K. Dick and focus on SCDP business. Though Ken agreed, we later saw him scribbling away at a new story, written by one Dave Algonquin and inspired by Pete’s state-of-the-art record player.

Road rage can kill | Lane’s social outing with some fellow Brits resulted in some important new business for SCDP: One of those Brits was Edwin Baker, a Jaguar exec who indicated that the luxury car company was looking for a new ad firm. But when the Lane-led business dinner was unsuccessful (“Come on, Lane couldn’t close a car door,” Pete moaned), Roger, Don, and Pete took Baker out for the night of fun (a.k.a. visit to a whorehouse) he really wanted. As Roger, Pete, and their potential client took compliant beauties to a back room, Don (Don!) chose to stay at the bar, making pleasant conversation with the madam and keeping his hands off the merchandise. Let’s just pause for a moment and acknowledge this, a possible first: Don Draper as the most moral man in the room? It was a state of affairs that was not lost on Pete, who railed against his co-worker as they rode home together in a cab. But Don wasn’t having any of it. “I’m just trying to tell you, because I am who I am and I’ve been where I’ve been, that you don’t get another chance at what you have,” he said, adding that if Megan had been his first wife, she would’ve been his only wife. And you just know that somewhere, Betty sighed and opened up a fresh box of Bugles.

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The main event | Pete was still sulking the next morning when Lane busts into the partners’ meeting to say that the Jaguar account was dead (and please try to imagine this next part yelled in an English accent) “He was caught with chewing gum in his pubis!” The partners’ laughter, and a jibe at Lane’s sexuality from Pete, further infuriated the Brit, who challenged Pete to fisticuffs right there in the conference room. If you watch this episode again, I implore you to notice Don’s hilarious facial expressions throughout this scene. Nice work there, Jon Hamm. Pete and Lane faced off, both looking like the Notre Dame mascot, and though Pete got the first blow, Lane drew first blood and knocked Pete to the floor. Later, Joan soothed Lane’s swollen hand and bruised ego and got a rather lusty kiss in return while Pete rode the elevator down with Don. “I have nothing, Don,” he whispered, tears rolling down his face, and we later saw him back in Driver’s Ed, watching Jenny get, shall we say, driven manually by Suburgatory‘s Parker Young as the cautionary tale from which the episode took its name rolled on.

What did you think of this week’s Mad Men? Did you ever think you’d see the day Don would turn down sex? Were you as uncomfortable as I was when Pete kept asking Jenny to go to the botanical gardens with him? And would you pay for a collection of Ken’s sci-fi tales? Sound off in the comments! —Kimberly Roots

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43 Comments
  1. realitycheck says:

    Pete is going to break and may end up killing his family, then himself.. this was a pretty sad tale this week.

    • leslie schetter says:

      I think you may be right, he talked about his rifle and then a story about a mass family killing was discussed at dinner. Might be foretelling of things to come…..

      • susela says:

        Except that it would be unusual of Weiner to telegraph something so explicitly. There will be some twist to the story of gun that we won’t see coming.

      • Britta Unfiltered says:

        I can’t really see Weiner doing something that over the top. He likes to keep the show super subtle. The rifle and the story of the mass killing were most likely metaphors that Pete is going to kill his family in much more emotional ways than literal ways.

  2. niks says:

    It was a great episode. Jared Harris is such an under reated actor. His works on both Mad Men and Fringe is fantastic. The only thing missing was a bit more of Peggy, but I am sure that we will see a major storyline for her soon enough.

    • kiki says:

      I don’t know if you saw the preview for next week but it looks pretty Peggy centric. And if you pause the preview where it looks like Peggy is in her bedroom and she is wearing a tank top, in the mirror it looks like Stan in shirtless…..the conotation was pretty strong but you never know with Weiner, it could be something totally different.

  3. Fan says:

    Science fiction was extremely popular in the mid 1960’s. I was Sally’s age at the time and read a ton of it. I was surprised at the end when Ken changed to a different genre.

  4. jdanknich says:

    Best episode of the new season so far. I really wonder if Pete is heading toward a suicide attempt. It was wonderful to see Lane beat the snot out of Pete, too. It’s about time someone did.

  5. Nicole says:

    For years I have thought that Pete would do something foolish with that shotgun in his office (which was refererenced last night), I think it is coming closer and closer.

  6. bad kevin says:

    Talk about Mad Men’s version of Fight Club. Sort of.

  7. susela says:

    When Don said he wanted to “make a baby,” Megan replied “that’s not possible.” Sounds like she’s on he pill and would prefer a career over motherhood. But Don might be thinking she’ll work only until she gets pregnant. I see a clash coming.

    • davej says:

      susela, I thought that Megan’s comment meant she COULDN’T have a baby.

      Loved seeing Pete get the snot knocked out of him.

      I agree with another post that it would have made more sense for Roger to tell Cosgrove to either continue writing under his own name or take some of those sci-fi ideas and try to pitch an ad campaign to a toy company or something like that.

      • me too. i thought she meant that she was actually unable to have kids.

        • kjess says:

          Me too! I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought this. It’s a storyline I’d like to see play out. She thought marrying an older guy was “safe” because she wouldn’t have to worry about not being able to have kids, but now he wants them…

  8. jewess says:

    I love Roger, I just cracked up last week when he had that cigarette in his mouth and was looking at the baby (his)

  9. who challenged Pete to fisticuffs right there in the conference room. If you watch this episode again

  10. Jen says:

    Great episode. Lane shouting about the chewing gum in the pubis was priceless. He was so indignant.

  11. i loved when joan said it was about time someone punched pete, the whole office has been wanting to do it for a long time. pete is always trying to be like don and now that he finally is, he realizes it isn’t what he thought it would be. he thought don had it all– the beautiful wife, kids, great career, women on the side, everyone loved him. now that he had all of that, he’s not happy. this won’t end well at all for pete! pete was so rude to lane saying he was useless once he fired him. he does so much for them and nobody even appreciates him.

  12. katiefans says:

    Another depressing episode. I miss the days when watching Mad Men was fun.

  13. M3rc Nate says:

    Was i the only one that noticed the “Whitman” pronunciation correction from Don at the dinner table when they brought up the Marine who killed all the pregnant women? Isnt Don’s real last name Whitman?

  14. Britta Unfiltered says:

    Pete cheated on Trudy! He is dead to me!! But…I loved this episode. Jared Harris was great. I think him kicking Pete’s a$$ might be my favorite Mad Men scene this season so far. And then to make a move on Joan! Lane, you bad boy. He really is becoming one of the most interesting characters on the show to me. I like the chemistry between Joan and Lane, but she’ll always be Roger’s girl to me. Joan and Roger challenge each other like no one else can.

    What is going on with January Jones that we’ve basically only seen her in 1 out of 4 episodes this season?

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      January Jones was pregnant/on maternity leave, so they only used her as absolutely needed.

    • Jessica H says:

      Well, it’s not like it’s the first time Pete has cheated on Trudy. He slept with Peggy when they were engaged and I think after they were married.

  15. Nero theTVFiddler says:

    An outstanding episode – very sad episode, but strong stuff nonetheless. That dinner at the Campbells, with Don looking quite uncomfortable in that sport jacket, reminded me of how uncomfortable he looked at that Palm Springs dinner {‘Jet Set’, 2.11} in a polo shirt. Never quite in his element – always the outsider.

    Could there be a mutiny at SCDP before season end? The younger employees – Pete, Ken, Peggy … they are looking for someone (Don?) for some guidance (or protection in the case of Pete), but none is forthcoming. Don may well have already ‘ moved-on’ – his head and heart somewhere else. Remember, this is the agency Don put together himself, brick-by-brick, in the final episode of season 3. And now, it is beginning to crumble around him, perhaps due to [his] neglect? Would the old Don have allowed that fight to take place in the office between Lane and Pete? Now, he’s seems paralyzed to do anything beyond holding onto Megan. That may be noble, but no agency/company can survive neglect.

    How long before Ken finds something better at another agency, and takes Peggy with him? Any chance Pete would stay at SCDP without the younger talent at the agency? If they find a benefactor with money, could a ‘CCO agency’ be far off? Pete isn’t going to get a gun – he’s going to find another job. Ken is going to keep writing – if SCDP doesn’t like it, he’ll find another job. The key, core talent will leave. Talent always finds work.

    That drip, drip, drip sound the characters are hearing at the Campbells and at the end of episode 5 may not just be the kitchen faucet … they may need to take a look at the SCDP plumbing soon. As Matt W has stated, when things get bad, “it’s every man for himself.”

  16. jennab says:

    Agreed with other posters, outstanding ep, need to re-watch on demand. LOVED Jared Harris, more than that, how Joan got up, simply opened the door, and returned to sit next to him as if nothing happened after he smooched her. Classic!

  17. Winter says:

    I wonder if his Dave Algonquin story is less sci-fi and more John Updike suburban ennui.

  18. Brenda Glospie says:

    I thought the episode was boring and I am beginning to think the sharks are circling the tank…for waiting 17 months, I am truly disappointed in the season so far. It almost seems that the writers are out of fresh ideas.

  19. Winter says:

    Another subtle little dialogue point

    Pete accuses Lane of not being able to “close a door”.

    Joan, after Lane kisses her, makes a point of opening the door to maintain propriety.

  20. Jeff42 says:

    From where I sit, the show has lost much altitude since returning. I’ve found many of the scenes campy and cringeworthy: execs dropping water balloons on civil rights protesters, women reacting erotically to the Richard Speck murders, and the contrived and silly fight scene. I’m far more engaged by AMC’s The Killing than I am Mad Men.

    • JAO says:

      I don’t think it’s too campy … Everything in the balloon scene really happened, written almost verbatim from an article on Page 1 of The Times on May 28, 1966. The fight scene felt true to character (a similar thing happened at the Ad Agency I worked at in the 70s) … yes the Speck scene was uncomfortable but again … they were all acting like voyeurs.

  21. Sarabi says:

    Don’s jacket was the most horrendous by far!