Mad Men's latest, "The Rejected,"
may not have been a major episode, but it was a lot of fun. After last week's small cast, it was nice to see almost everyone back. (No sign of Betty, and that was okay with me.) In fact, even Ken Cosgrove returned...as we knew he would since the actor's name is in the credits. Still not clear how he's going to figure in the rest of this season--will he be joining Cooper Sterling or fighting them?
The title may explicitly refer to a bunch of nude photos (which they warned us about before the show started), but there were plenty of people feeling rejected before the show ended.
As the show starts, Don and Roger are taking a call from their monster client, Lucky Strikes, to keep them happy. Secretary Allison is there, helping. It's a funny scene, but we also know that Cooper Sterling is still on the edge.
Dr. Faye is planning a focus group. We've seen them in earlier seasons. They're trying to figure out how to sell Ponds--Peggy's new way, about indulgence, or Freddy's old way, about getting a guy. Meanwhile, Ponds wants the agency to drop Clearasil, the account Pete brought in through his father-in-law. (I'm not going to mention every rejection that comes along--you can note them yourself). BTW. roger uses the phrase "wild hare" which CC spells "wild hair." I admit most people spell it this way today, but this is back in the 60s, when they probably got it right.
We get to see Pete's office, which has a post right in the middle--he's got obstructed view seating. It's good for beating your head against, though. Harry invites him to lunch with his old nemesis, Ken (who's married well). Harry notes they're all coming up together, and should keep up. Good point, actually. Harry may be the least talented, but he'll do fine.
Peggy meets Joyce in the elevator. She's the one who works at Life
magazine where the photos of rejected. They hit it off.
Pete meets his father-in-law and before he can spill the bad news about Clearasil, his new dad tells him his wife (played by the beautiful Alison Brie) is pregnant. Surprising, since I thought she was barren. But what did they know back then? He goes home and his wife is worried he found out, but he's too happy. Pete, the privileged, uptight WASP has always been one of the most obnoxious characters on the show, but they seem to be humanizing him.
Back at the office, the focus group of young, single secretary's meet. Meanwhile, Don, Freddy and Peggy watch secretly from Joan's office. The doctor does an excellent job being just one of the girls, and soon they're breaking down and telling secrets. Turns out Freddy is right--they mainly seem to want to get married. Even Peggy fingers Faye's wedding ring (she left it behind so she could be accepted). But the real tension comes from Allison, Don's secretary. They slept together and he's been acting like nothing happened. (Fans of the show seem more down on Don about this than anything else he's ever done.) Will she tell? While Don and Peggy watch?
Pete tells Lane the good news, who, after a poor response, offers him his heartiest congratulations.
Back at the focus group, Allison breaks down and walks out. Peggy follows her. When they meet, Allison assumes Peggy had an affair with Don. She might have, accept back then Don didn't screw his secretaries. Now he's a drunk, as Allison notes, and so can just conveniently forget everything. Peggy is surprised by news of the affair, and probably a little unhappy that Don would do it. She doesn't react well.
The doctor thinks it went well, at least. They get shooed out of Joan's office to all talk. Back at the original Cooper Sterling the secret watching room was its own place, no need to leave.
Pete, Harry and Ken have lunch. Harry says "gonef" and Pete has no idea what he means. Pete may be a Wasp, but if he wants to make it in the future, he better learn some Yiddish. Ken is pissed at Pete for talkikng behind his back, but they make up. Ken actually went to McCann for a while, the agency that filled everyone with horror last season. Turns out they were right. Ken hated it, and thought they were all idiots.
Ken's getting married. Pete's having a kid. They're all moving up in the world. Ken notes the people at Pete's agency are "slaves to creative," but better a slave to a Don Draper than a Roger Sterling.
Allison has it out with Don. It was possible the show would just drop this, but that's not how it works. (Things can be forgotten on Mad Men
, but they never go away.) She feels she has to leave and asks Don to write a letter of recommendation. He says write whatever you want and I'll sign it. Allison, who I guess just wanted Don to say something nice about her--to acknowledge here--throws something at him. (Someone once asked me to write a recommendation and I told them to do just want Don said. Hope they weren't mad.) Allison storms out. Now the office has a pretty good idea what's going on. Joan comes in for a second and is willing to help Allison come back, but that's not going to happen. (I love scenes with Joan and Don, which are few and far between. They're to two most professionally competent people on the show, not to mention probably the sexiest. They're probably too alike to be together, in fact.)
Joyce invites Peggy to some sort of artistic happening in the Village. Hey, it's the mid-60s, we're in the Andy Warhol Factory era. In fact, Andy Warhol gets name-checked on the show, as does Malcolm X (whose death is simply not the same deal as JFK's or MLK's--only after the fact did his fame or notoriety rise, mostly due to his autobiography).
Pete meets his in-laws for dinner. Time to tell dad (who's been screwing up this week) about Clearasil. Pete's wife Trudy was going to say it, actually, but Pete makes a play for all the business his dad represents, considering he's done such a great job for Clearasil. It works, and suddenly young Pete is a rainmaker.
Don the drunk drinks in his office, late at night. If he can't pretend to be a family man, who is he?
At the Happening, Peggy smokes some marijuana and fends off Joyce, whom we sort of already knew was a Lesbian. She smokes some marijuana, which we've seen Peggy do before. Always willing to try new things.
Joyce tells Peggy her boyfriend (who's pretty dull, I might add) doesn't own her vagina. Maybe she'd say that, but it sounds more like a feminist in the 70s at least.
In his depressing apartment, Don tries to type an apology to Allison, but stops after "Right now my life is very." Yeah, we've all felt that way.
Back at the party, Peggy watches films projected on the wall--sort of a Bruce Conner
thing. She meets the artist who wants nothing to do with advertising. Don had similar trouble with beatniks in 1960. Ah, filthy lucre. The place is raided--for dirty movies? Peggy hides with a goofy crusading journalist. Does this couple have a future? Hiding from the cops in a New York party is a bonding experience.
Don comes into work and his new "girl" is old Miss Blankenship. She's essentially a comic character, with accent and without finesse. (She introduces Dr. Faye Miller on the intercom, nothing "it's a she.")
Peggy finds out about Trudy's pregnancy. She goes to congratulate Pete. (He thinks it's about getting the Clearasil account.) She doesn't know how to feel. (Or maybe I don't know what to think.) She had Pete's baby and gave it away. Could she have been with him? Is this a glimpse of a world she's missing? She goes back to her office and beats her head on the table, just like Pete beat his head against his post. (Maybe it's just Elisabeth Moss thinking about how she divorced Fred Armisen
Dr. Miller comes to Don's office and we have what I thought was the most intriguing scene of the show. Faye suggests a strategy of linking Pond's Cold Cream to matrimony. Don doesn't want to, but Faye says she can't change the true. Don gets mad, saying no one knows what the truth is. People can change their minds, especially if you sell them something in a new way. You can't predict the future based on focus groups where people talk about their past. In fact, should they even be delving into private lives.
Don is standing up for what he does here. He wants imaginative campaigns, and wants to be in the forefront of what's going on. Admirable, in a way. But he was also shaken by the experiment forcing Allison out of the agency. Furthermore, can he go on ignoring research forever? In the past, he'd come up with an idea and then sell it to the client. It was his specialty. Is his style of advertising becoming outmoded?
Peggy goes out the lunch with her hip (or goofy) new young friends. She passes Pete, hanging out with the old guard, in suits. (Pete says "we're waiting on Don." There's no way a Wasp in the 1960s would say that in the 1960s. You don't wait on
people--that's what waiters do.) Peggy and Joyce stare at each other through the glass door. They both have a future, but where is it leading? Do their friends indicate a different path? It wasn't that long ago Pete thought Peggy was the perfect girl for him. Does he still feel that way.
Poor Don goes back to his apartment, alone, while an old people argue about pears in the hallway. And we're done for the week.
Good show, though I do feel we're a bit into mid-season drift. Nothing much happened regarding the overall status of Don or Betty or Cooper Sterling. But this isn't that sort of show, is it? Just watching characters be themselves is a large part of what it's about.