The Only Mad Men Recap You’ll Ever Need, Episode 5
Oh, no. Pete, Pete, Pete. I was really starting to get behind you, and feel like you’d become the bigger man we used to see glimpses of in earlier seasons in between your unsuccessful conniving, but no. From the opening moments of you lusting after a clearly underage girl, it was a certainty that you’d slipped back into your toad-like ways. Why? Trudy is so beautiful, and charming, and she even managed to get Don to come to what looked like a fun little dinner party. And even though she’s still in those outdated puffy dresses while the mod city women are coming in their svelte little cocktail dresses, you guys are the perfect team, when you’re not too busy sabotaging yourself. How wonderful you three looked holding your angelic little baby. We knew that this was going to be a rough episode for Pete from the get-go, and it didn’t disappoint.
Watching Lane have fun in the pub was surprisingly adorable, and as an ex-pat myself, I can attest to how much fun you have when back in a bar of your countrymates, even if you don’t particularly care for what you’re watching on the TV. I’ve always appreciated Lane, and his relative success at remaining an above-board guy while working in the moral equivalent of a fetid swamp. His attempts at coaxing his fellow Brit into drunkenly attesting to some personal demons over dinner and drinks were charming, if a bit stiff. Lane is nothing of not foppishly consistent.
As much as he’s proven himself to be a colossal turd at every opportunity, it was kind of nice to see Roger prove himself useful, and display his expertise that used to be so crucial to the company (at least when it was still SC). You see the most minuscule flashes of the dapper, almost endearing person he used to be, and it’s kind of wonderful. His little locker-room boost speech with Lane was the stuff that you can tell once made him the man he still feels like he is.
Why do I suddenly like Don? I am still unconvinced that Megan is much of a match for him, though I do admit she’s growing on me, and she seems to be able to self-deprecate and be down-to-earth as much as Don is completely incapable of it. So golf clap for that. But what really gets to me is his determination to stay faithful to her, to love her for who she is, and to appreciate what he has. (And who didn’t swoon, at least slightly, when he went all Bear Grylls and fixed that sink?) But when he was waiting for the other three lotharios in that slimy high-rise Bunny Ranch, it felt so strange to see him not even tempted by the myriad women who, beyond wanting to make a dollar, were genuinely interested in him. Though it was hard to watch him silently judge Pete on the way home, given that for the past four years Don’s own crotch had become something of a truck stop motel, there was a great deal of sadness to it. Pete is starting to hate himself again, and especially with Don suddenly the picture of marital satisfaction, it couldn’t have been easy to take.
I love Ken. I have always loved Ken, even when he was a bit of an overgrown Boy’s Club member in the first season. His love for writing is so adorable, as is his loyalty to Peggy and his general good nature towards everyone around him. When Cynthia goes on about him (and his vague story) glowingly, it’s hard not to feel the same smack of pride for the work that must have been, to some degree, thankless. He clearly wins whatever awards there were to win in this episode, especially with the little reading at the end.
I am not sure which made me laugh harder, the revelation that Jaguar Man’s wife discovered gum in his pubes, or that Lane finally lost it with Pete’s smarmy comments and challenged him to an actual fight (which he clearly won). It was only a matter of time, with all that frustrating testosterone bubbling in that office like so much boiling water. There is only so much frustrated politesse that indignant middle-aged manhood can take, you know. (Though did anyone else notice Cooper rubbing Sterling shoulders? Aww!) That fight was just so strange to watch, though, even more so with Lane’s incredibly inappropriate kiss with Joan afterward (that Joan handled like a pro, it should be said). It’s always uncomfortable watching the misguided expulsion of testosterone these men go through occasionally, though this may have taken the cake.
Some of you may hate Pete, and I understand that, but it’s hard for me to watch him suffer. Even though he has nothing to complain about in theory, clearly he is so unfulfilled by his life out in the suburbs with a wife who is, to some degree, stuck in the past. Though she is wonderful and does everything she can to help him, he clearly (as evidenced by that little audition he made the escort go through) wants something more. And yes, he’s shooting himself in the foot, and he has no one to blame but himself. But watching him in that elevator, it was hard not to feel something for him. And you can tell that Don, with his heart which had recently grown three sizes, felt it, too. I hope Pete gets better, and learns to be happy with himself without having to step on everyone else to get there.
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