Mad Men s5e5: Signal 30

“Look, 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.”

“Brave words for a man on his second time round..”

“Yeah, and if I had met her first, I would have known not to throw it away.”

Strap in, kiddos.. this is a good one. Lane tries his hand as an account man and fails miserably, but ends up punching the shit out of Pete. Kenny’s still writing, and this time it’s bizarre sci-fi! Don might actually be happy with his life, and the now-suburbanite Pete’s yearning for more as usual during his driver’s ed classes.

Now, it’s no secret that Pete has idolised Don since day one. The gorgeous wife and house in ‘the country’, kids and all the accompanying junk, suavely banging around and doing whatever it is that Men(TM) do.. Pete admires him, wants to be him. But when he eventually tries on the swinging dick Don of yore, he feels totally dead inside. Is that all there is?

image courtesy of Lesbohemia

On the other hand, Don glimpses his former life via Cos Cob Casa Campbell and feels claustrophobic as hell leading up to and during the Saturday night dinner party. Don’s more casual references to his past are enlightening– the horseshit remark to Kenny, etc. Maybe he’s finally starting to accept who he is now that he’s been honest from the getgo with Megan and she didn’t run for the hills.

Kenny’s wife Cynthia blows up his spot at said dinner party, outing him as a writer (still!); a point that Pete blabs to Roger later on. Proud as ever, Cynthia describes his story about a bridge between two planets, and how all it takes is one bolt being removed by a sassy robot to fuck it all to hell. Sort of sounds like Megan to Don in the office and at home, in life.

Megan bridges the Don to the Dick, and it seems like they work pretty well together and he knows it. He appears to be a different man now that he’s not married to Betty, on his way to ever improving and self-awareness. Megan’s sunny disposition certainly helps. Don implies as much to Pete in the post-Jaguar hooker party cab; he knows what he’s got with Megan is special and isn’t aiming to send it all to hell like he did with his first marriage to Betty.

Plus, he’s always liked Trudy (and this is saying a lot as Don doesn’t really like anybody), and everything looks so picturesque on the surface, so seeing Pete gleefully follow a ~lady~ to her private room must have been a little jarring. He can see that Trudy’s a rare lady, and that Pete could easily fuck it up and not even begin to fathom what he’s lost.

And let’s be real, anything less than too many high-fives putting Pete in the hospital was going to be disappointing with his mentality, so he took Don’s silence as some sort of quiet disapproval. I mean, the whole conversation and Pete’s over the top offense at Don’s lull was entirely based on his own projections. All Don did was say he hoped Pete didn’t keep making the same mistakes that he did, which is entirely valid. He even did that Man(TM) thing and absolved Roger from banging around-related guilt by saying “he’s miserable”, as if that’s some sort of excuse, but eh.

image courtesy of BurnThisMedia

Let’s backtrack for a hot second and yap about Lane and his shit. His wife Rebecca is still unhappy being in Manhattan, pining for Crown & Country, bringing reticent Lane to a British pub to watch the World Cup. And hey, England won in 1966! So it’s not all bad. Striking up conversation with her friends, he stumbles into a potential Big Deal Account with Jaguar cars (and the secretly enormously dirty old man Edwin). For a smaller agency like SCDP, having a car makes them a major player on Madison Ave.

Edwin is hesitant to really open up, and thus Lane fucks it up on their business dinner. Pete, Roger, and Don try to set it straight with lobsters and a casual visit to a classy whorehouse, at Edwin’s creepy “I LIKE PARTIES” open door. Don sits it out, casually referencing his upbringing to the madame of the house. Big stride for him not being so deeply ashamed of his impoverished childhood, I guess.

image courtesy of IMDB

As Pete’s the guy who’s always wanting, his lady of choice runs through a couple of scenarios before landing on him being her King. He’s always wanted more of what someone else has no matter what it is, and shit he plainly can’t have like that naive teenager in his driver’s ed class. Besides being entirely creepy, an age appropriate (and smokin’ hot) dude pops in and sweeps her away anyway. Another blow to his fragile masculinity, on top of when Don deftly swooped in to fix the exploding sink at casa Campbell, to the ladies’ applause.

The true crown jewel of this episode is the partners meeting. That absurd hooker party blows up in Lane’s face in the form of CHEWING GUM [left] ON [Edwin’s] PUBIS, and he challenges Pete to a fucking fist fight in the conference room.. and proceeds to kick Pete’s ass.

Talk about a literal blow to Pete’s manliness, good godDAMN. Just as Lane struggles to feel relevant at SCDP in the day to day, Pete also wants to mean more in life. In the elevator, Pete tearfully admits to Don that he feels he has nothing. To see someone who is that cocky on the reg be reduced to this crying, bruised mess reminds us that everyone’s got their own shit going on below the surface.

Thanks to Pete ratting out Kenny’s writing to Roger (who predictably was less than pleased with Ken’s attentions being divided), he’s gotta come up with a new pen name. Kenny’s final scene with the monologue overlay gave off a sense of hope, in a way; deffo glad he’s sticking with the writing and finding that meaning in his life.

While Kenny and Pete have always have been at odds in the office (even though Pete is winning account-wise at work), Kenny is absolutely more fulfilled than Pete is at home which of course means a lot more in the long run. It’s something that Pete hasn’t found yet, because he’s missing the damned forest for the trees. So natch, he tries to undermine Kenny’s other professional pursuits. Woof.

I guess it was only a matter of time before Pete got punched in the mouth at that office.

The Man with the Miniature Orchestra, by Dave Algonquin.

There were phrases of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony that still made Coe cry.
He always thought it had to do with the circumstances of the composition itself; 
He imagined Beethoven, deaf and soul-sick, his heart broken, scribbling furiously while death stood in the doorway clipping his nails.
Still, Coe thought, it might have been living in the country that was making him cry..
it was killing him with its silence and loneliness.
Making everything ordinary too beautiful to bear.

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Mad Men s2e7: The Gold Violin

“Like the song says, Enjoy yourself — it’s later than you think.”

Don is pondering buying a new car from Breaking Bad’s Elliott at the Caddy dealership. Seeing a guy like Don Draper walk into a Cadillac dealership must spell out ‘instant sale’ to salesman Wayne. From his outward appearance — impeccably tailored suit, polished shoes, not a hair out of place — Don is a guy who wants the whole world to regard him highly, and what better way to do that than with the ultimate status symbol of a Cadillac?

doncadillac

image courtesy of Pinterest

Flashback to the 1950s when Don was a bright-eyed used car salesman with big hair and a frumpy suit and tie. He hasn’t yet mastered sales, as he can’t quite close the current deal. A mystery blonde comes to see him and asks for him by name, appears puzzled that it’s this guy in front of her. She then reveals that she knows he’s not Don Draper.

G A S P

Back to the Cadillac dealership, Don has second thoughts and splits. Does he deserve a Cadillac? Wayne is peeved and surprised.

Because of how much Don impressed the Martinson coffee guys with Kurt and Smitty’s youthful jingle and his pitch, Cooper has let him know the door has opened for him to sit on the board at the Museum of Early American Folk Art, to be among “the few people that get to decide what will happen in our world.” In so many words, Don has arrived. And now he needs to act the part, fancy Cadillac in tow.

Now, here’s the rub with ‘Making It In America(TM)’; you’ve got to keep it up, with intense fervour. Shiny, top of the line new car every few years, perfect partner, marriage, and immaculate home.. and well-behaved kids who don’t jam Play-Doh in the nice leather seats of the Cadillac. The higher you climb that mountain, more people will be hanging out at every single goddamned precipice to knock you down.

And, we’re back to the Cadillac dealership. Don confidently buys that Caddy! At the same time, Jimmy Barrett is ringing the Draper house to let Betty know they’re invited to a big shindig for Grin and Barrett being picked up. To top it off, Betty is pleased that Don bought the car. He deserves it since he works so hard.

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image courtesy of Butterfly Mind

Word on the street is that Cooper’s got a Rothko painting in his office, which is generally off limits. After hours, Jane sneaks Kenny, Sal and Harry into the office. Sal notices Ken’s depth when he’s talking about the painting; how it evokes a feeling, it’s nothing super concrete or obvious. It just is. Kenny notices Sal isn’t like everyone else in the office, and gives him a new story to read.

Somehow Joan hears about their painting escapade, and sacks Jane on the spot. Joan feels as though she’s being replaced with a younger, sassier version of herself, and she’s pissed off. On her way out, Jane cleverly pops by Roger’s office to say goodbye and gets un-fired, remembering his attraction to her. Magical.

The truth about the Rothko is revealed! Harry meets with Cooper to go over some media numbers, and Cooper’s brief explanation is pretty in line with what we know about him.

“People buy things to realise their aspirations, it’s the foundation of our business. Between you me and the lamp post, that thing should double in value by next Christmas.”

Sal and Kitty have Kenny over for dinner that weekend, and it’s awkward as hell. Sal pretty much ignores his wife to pay attention to Ken, yapping about the story he wrote. He’s like a teenager with a crush, and Kitty tries her best to include herself. It’s actually pretty sad, watching as Kitty feels alone in her own home.

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image courtesy of Popsugar

Kenny’s story is inspired by a piece he saw at The Met. The Gold Violin itself is meant to illustrate that in some cases no matter how lovely and perfect something looks, it simply cannot work. It’s a status symbol, it’s gorgeous and stunning and flawfree, but ultimately worthless. Take a gander at Betty and Don, or Sal and Kitty for that matter.

The Draper family takes the new Cadillac out for a Sunday picnic, and leave behind an hysterical amount of trash in the process. Don launches a beer can to see how far he can throw it! Ha. The Draper picnic is a beautiful scene that glosses over the complete disorder and mess that is that family.

trashpicnic

image courtesy of Salient

And then you see Betty and Don breezily leaving a pile of fucking ruination behind, a heap of literal garbage in their apathetic wake. It’s a jarring dénouement to what looks to be a wholesome, pristine family activity.

It’s party time! These scenes are uncomfortable as all hell. Jimmy spots Betty, they make small talk and then shit gets mad real.

bettyandjimmy

image courtesy of Popcritics

After they’ve had a few, he cuts to the chase. “What do you think happened between the two of them?” Though simultaneously offended and mortified, Betty hears what Jimmy is saying. He plants the seed and confirms her nagging suspicion that Don is unfaithful to her. After all, they both know how to read the people they’ve married, and see how neither seem to be bothered that their respective spouses are nowhere in sight.

At the coat check, Don is getting ready to split and Jimmy delivers some shrill realness. Whether he’s pissed he doesn’t actually have a shot with Betty or that Don and Bobbie had a few bangs, we’ll never know.

Jimmy: “You know what I like about you? Nothing! But it’s okay. You got me everything I wanted. What did you get? Bobbie? Lots of people have had that.”

Don: “Excuse me?”

Jimmy: “Please. I laugh at you. I go home at night and I laugh at you.”

Don: “I don’t know what you think happened.”

Jimmy: “You. You wanna step out, fine. Go to a whore. You don’t screw another man’s wife. You’re garbage. And you know it.”

Don looks completely disgusted and offended, but also like he’s about to cry. He knows deep down that Jimmy ain’t wrong about him being garbage. As much as Don is a human dumpster fire who can be so incredibly antagonistic at times, I feel for him in this scene. Even though he excels at compartmentalising his life — keeping being the best bang in the city separate from being adored by his kids, has a great job but also fucks around — he can’t quite grasp that American Dream he’s scratching at. He’s flawed, like all of us, and he knows it.

Don and Betty drive home in stunned silence.

And natch, Betty voms in the new Cadillac.