Mad Med 5.05 – Signal 30

“Oh honey. You’ve had such a hard day.”
“Nope.”
“This is my first time and I’m kind of nervous.”
“Nope.”
“You’re my king.”
“Okay.”

Pete Campbell wants more than what he has. He’s looking at women who aren’t his wife, and hates his country home far away from the bustle of the city. You know what else he hates? That kitchen tap that’s drip-drip-dripping just like his life is dripping away. That’s why he needs to fix it RIGHT NOW, even if it is in the middle of the night. That problem, at least, he can solve.

Lane’s wife wants to go to a local pub filled with ex-pats to watch football on the telly – real football, not that American crap. He reluctantly agrees just to shut her up, promising to pretend to have a good time. Of course, sometimes wives know their husbands better than they know themselves, and he really does have a good time. He even gets a business lead from his new football BFF. Things are starting to look for aimlessly drifting Lane.

Yay, Joan is back to work! I forgot for a second that she’s a glorified secretary and not a superhero, which is her job in my feverish imagination. She’s heading the partners’ meeting, which is summed up by Don’s bored doodle of a noose. Hee! It’s business as usual as the boys fight in the school yard, sniping and yipping at each other when Lane announces his potential new business, Pete poo-pooing it and Roger trying to horn in on the action before they even have the account. Lane hugs the lead to his bosom and won’t let anyone else play with it.

After the meeting Pete invites Don and Megan to his place for dinner and drinks by order of his wife. Don would rather poke hot needles in his eyes, but when he tells Megan to cancel, she smartly tells him to cancel his own damn ass if he wants to – and sweetens it with a smooch. Megan: feminist wondergirl in the making Y/Y?

Peggy is irked to no end when she bumps into Ken Cosgrove in a cafe with a potential client, only to be shut down from even an introduction. Damn, it’s because she’s a woman, isn’t it?? Actually, it’s because the guy was an editor, and Ken is in talks to publish a swack of his fanfiction science fiction short stories that he’s written under a pen name: “Ben Cosgrove”. Snort!

Roger actually lets down his smarmy facade for five minutes to give Lane some much needed advice on how to land an account. He tells Lane to try to find a shared problem between him and his client so they can connect – and not to drink much, which means Roger was only acting drunk all these years or didn’t take his own good advice. I like to think that this is the first time in a long time he actually feels useful.

Don tries to cancel the evening with a phone call to Trudy, only to find out she’s a steamroller when it comes to ambitious clawing up the social ladder. Unless he or Megan dies in the meanwhile, they’re going to be at Pete’s on Saturday night. Maybe even if they die – she’ll just prop them up for the the meal.

Pete is taking driver’s ed so he can finally get his driver’s license and drive in to work instead of take the train. in-between gory Signal 30 accident films that warn of the dangers of not playing by society’s rules (hey, is that you, foreshadowing?), he talks to a sweet, tender young thing not even in college yet (!) who reminds him of a time when he wasn’t married and harried and the question of who’s going to drive to the botanical gardens is the most pressing issue of the day. I get it, but come on! Right out of high school, Pete? Eek.

Don’s not putting on a freaking jacket for Pete’s dinner party – his business suit will do just fine because believe you me, for Don this is all business. Megan is still young and optimistic enough to think they might actually have a good time. I have a feeling her expectations won’t be met quite as enthusiastically as Lane’s wife’s were.

Pete’s showing off his new seven foot long penis stereo when Don and Megan arrive. She’s talked him into that dinner jacket after all and my, aren’t they…garish. It’s a damn shame the lovely 60s clothes had to give way to the butt-ugly 70s clothes. Pete’s is so over-the-top thrilled that Don deigned to show up at Pete’s humble abode it’s to the point I’m embarrassed for him. Especially when Don is only too human; when he can’t remember one of the wives’ name he greets her with “Hello…you.” Ha!

Lane’s at the important client restaurant date, sweating bullets as he tries to find something in common (hopefully bad) with the Jaguar exec so they can bond. No can do – the man’s practically blissed out, his life is just that perfect. Perfect wife, perfect job, perfect gentleman. Waiter! Another round, please OMG.

They’re finishing up eating at the dinner party, where the drinks are flowing freely and so are the minutiae of the personal lives of this group who only really know each other by the faces they put on as they get on the elevator at work. They talk about living in the country, and Don is quick to chime in that outhouses in the winter are nothing to be nostalgic over. The conversation turns sombre as Mad Men once again uses a real-life tragedy to tie their plot threads together, this time the Dick Whitmore (“Whitman”, Don corrects. No surprise there, as Whitman is his real last name) bell tower massacre. That leads to Ken Cosgrove’s wife Cynthia (Cynthia!!) bragging about a short story that Ken wrote, about a little robot who had no free will but still managed to find a way to kill everybody who did. Not that that was a metaphor for the firm or anything. Nah. Ken is embarrassed and maybe even ashamed of his writing, but he shouldn’t be. It’s not like it’s Twilight fanfiction, am I right?

The girls go to get dessert when the tap that Pete “fixed” earlier explodes. Pete flaps his arms like a chicken and scurries off to get the toolbox, while Don springs into action, taking off his jacket (but unfortunately not his wifebeater) and fixing the leak to the admiring applause of the women. Even Ken’s a little turned on. All the hubbub wakes the baby, which gives everyone a chance to coo over him even though he’s a screaming banshee. You can practically hear all the ovaries ovulating in the room.

On the drive home, Don (!) is so turned on by the thought of having another baby and Megan is so turned on by the thought of Don fixing that sink like he’s MoFoing Captain America that they can’t even wait to get home to attack each other. They just pull over on the side of the road – see, there are advantages to living in the country after all.

The next day at work, Pete and Roger break it to Lane that his amateurish effort with the Jag guy (not David James Elliott) wasn’t quite good enough, and they plan to have another dinner where they can do the schmoozing and Lane can hand him the pen to sign on the dotted line. Lane’s disappointed but tries to keep a stiff upper lip and all that, chap.

The next driver’s ed class, Pete is eager to see his young ingenue who claims to be hung over from drinking an entire bottle of…vanilla extract. Watch out we got a badass over here! ::hands:: Pete is continuing on his insidious quest to get inside her panties when a boy from her high school comes in and mistakes Pete for the instructor. Ouch! He watches them with growing disappointment as they pal it up, feeling old and worn out and so very tired.

They should have brought those bibs to the whorehouse.

Serious business.

Don, Pete, and Roger take the Jag guy to a lobster house, where they try to sell him on the “Jaguars = porn” pitch. Yes, yes, whatever. He doesn’t care about the ads so much as the naughtiness these fellows might bring his way. Oh ho, so the perfect gentleman isn’t so perfect after all. Roger takes them to his favourite local whorehouse. All of them are quick to abandon their marital vows – all Pete wants is for someone to worship him, even if it takes fifty bucks to get them to do it. Don doesn’t want to end up murdering one of these girls and hiding her under his bed, so he spends his time talking to the madame about how he grew up in a whorehouse, and she’s so charmed she buys him everything he wants to drink. Don Draper: Even Hookers Give it to Him For Free.

On the way home, the cab ride with Pete and Don is painfully quiet. At least until Pete explodes with his own guilt and tells Don he has no beeswax judging Pete after all the slutty moves Don has made over the years. Don doesn’t give a shit what Pete does – but he does warn him that it’s only too easy to lose what you didn’t realize you had until it’s gone. Or something like that, they’re both drunk. Pete slinks home and tries his best to shower off his shame and triumph, likely with Irish Spring soap.

The next day Roger takes time out of his unbusy schedule to give Ken hell for trying to sell stories instead of concentrating on the agency. Ken apologizes, to which Roger replies, “Let me tell you, when this job is good is satisfies every need. Believe me – I remember.” Poor miserable Roger.

It’s the best partners meeting ever when Lane finds out that the Jag guy’s wife found gum in his pubes (LOL) the night before and he blamed the agency for corrupting him and they lost the entire god damn account. Pete scoffs at Lane’s outrage, telling him right out that the client thinks Lane’s “a homo”, Lane has no idea what he’s doing and Pete doesn’t know why they even keep him around. Lane’s had more than enough of Pete, calling him a grimy little pimp and rolling up his sleeves to give Pete a pounding. It’s clash of the titans with these two city boys, prancing and swinging like chorus girls while Joan and Peggy listen in from outside. Lane may be a fop, but he’s still got a hard left hook, and soon enough Pete’s on his back on the floor. As Roger says after Lane stalks out in victory, “I don’t know about you two, but I had Lane.”

I know Sherlock Holmes, and you sir are no Sherlock Holmes

Joan, who remembers well how nice Lane was to her before she came back to work, comes to comfort him with a bucket of ice and some advice. “If they’ve tried to make you feel different than them…you are. That’s a good thing.” He’s overcome with desire and gratitude for Joan (aren’t we all), and kisses her. She’s careful not to push him away and crush his poor heart, but when he’s done she immediately goes and opens his office door so this is a more public meeting. He’s truly sorry, but she tells him everyone wanted to do that to Pete, so there’s that.

Peggy’s excitedly tells Ken about Lane decking Pete, and he’s way glad, because he’s sure Pete told Roger about Ken’s writerly aspirations. He informs Peggy that from now on he’s going to forget about all that fantasy nonsense and concentrate on real life…because that’s worked out so well for his bosses.

After spending the morning sulking and drinking in his office, Pete heads home. He shares the elevator with Don, and the second the doors close, Pete rips into him for not doing more to help him in the fight. “Why were we even having a fight at work? This is an office. We’re supposed to be friends.” How Pete can believe that after the things he said to Lane is beyond me, but so be it. Don wisely keeps silent – no need to kick a man when he’s down. Regardless, Pete starts to cry and whispers, “I have nothing, Don.” Good lord, now I want to punch him, too. First world problems, Pete. First world problems. Heh, I’m probably supposed to be analyzing the angst of the American male instead of making fun of it. Sorry.

We find Ken Cosgrove in bed that night, scribbling away because there’s a need in him that won’t let him stop writing, giving him a reason to live that maybe, just maybe, work at the ad agency can’t give him. And there’s Pete at driver’s ed, watching with a mixture of envy and hatred as the now-boyfriend of the ingenue runs his hand under her skirt during another Signal 30 film, the drip, drip, drip of the sink echoing ever more loudly in his brain. Next week: Pete in the bell tower with his gopher rifle? Stay tuned.

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  • Strtmyorange

    Jeebus! The misery that abounds in that office! I’d try to drink my feelings too were I in their shoes!! This is why I’m glad Ken continued writing; he’s trying to live a fulfilling life. I like the way his character has developed in the last two seasons. And Joan, Joan, Joan…my hero. I’m so glad she’s back at the firm. She’s amazing.

  • I’m not sure what these people want! They have good jobs, a roof over their head, people who love or a reasonable facsimile thereof them, some challenges to keep them motivated…what is the problem?! What they need is a zombie outbreak. THAT would get their minds off how miserable they all are.

    I love how Lane knows Joan could do his job – and she could, too.