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Monday, April 16, 2012

Mad Men: Signal 30

Posted by Jacob Schraer on Mon, Apr 16, 2012 at 1:29 PM

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I can barely do a recap. I feel like we're in a special era of Mad Men where the showrunners are so familiar with the characters that they can spit out hilarious episodes like last night's intuitively and without batting an eye. I am loving this season and I can't believe that the various blogs and message boards I lurk on are full of petty gripes and complaints about it. Then again, my friends keep telling me that I should stop looking to the internet for rational, informed commentary.

UNLESS IT'S IN THIS AWESOME COLUMN! Spoilers down below.

Signal 30 is one of those gruesome videos you watch in driver's ed, the Red Asphalt of the 60's. The episode was a litany of small disasters. It was also felt like an old episode of Mad Men, full of suburban angst, thwarted ambitions, office shenanigans, and male idiocy.

And it all focused on Pete! My favorite dude. Pete's come a long way since being the villain of Season 1, but really he hasn't changed a bit. He's still dissatisfied with his wife, hated around the office, and full of himself. The only difference is that now he's the cornerstone of the firm. He thinks he's Don, and while he is very capable at his job, he'll never have Don's charisma or confidence. That's why Pete can't lash out at his coworkers without them taking exception.

There is another difference, a very significant one. Don may be Pete's only real friend in the office. An exchange like the one they have in the taxi cab would have been inconceivable in Mad Men's early years. There's a lot less bullshit in their relationship these days. Maybe it's not friendship, but it's definitely grudging respect.

Lane continues to struggle with irrelevance and boredom. He puts on a brave show (and a silly hat) to root for the England in the World Cup, and as a result gets SCDP a meeting with Jaguar. Too inept and awkward to make any head way with his new friend though, the congnoscente of the firm wine and dine the man, then take him to a whorehouse, at his insistence. But because a prostitute leaves some CHEWING GUM IN HIS PUBIC HAIR his wife finds out, who calls Lane's wife in a huff, and they lose the account.

And so we arrive at the moment everyone has been waiting for since Pete dressed down Peggy in the very first episode. Lane kicks Pete's ass in a fist fight that was one of the most hilarious things I've ever seen on this show. The internet died for a moment, and then was reborn.

I've skipped a lot so let's go to bullet points.

—The dinner scene was excellent! When Don whipped off his shirt and fixed the Campbell's sink it turned me ON.

—Also, CYNTHIA. I won't be calling her Alex Mack anymore!

—Also, Plaid Party! I like the guys in they're jazzy sport coats. The 70's closer then the 50's now.

—Ken's science fiction is a little Vonnegut-esque. It's a fun subplot. Pretty sure it was Pete who tattled on his side career to Roger. But it's worth it because Pete is his new little muse.

—Speaking of Ken, him and Peggy apparently have a "pact" to leave the firm together.

—Joan was back with little fanfare. Her wedding ring was in place.

The New York Times recap taught me that the writer of tonight's episode, Frank Pierson, also wrote Dog Day Afternoon.

—John Slattery is a little heavy handed of a director but he gets the job done.

—Everyone is dissatisfied, unhappy, or flat out miserable, except for Don, the king of despair. Something doesn't feel right about that. The tension is killing me.

What do you got Blogtown?

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