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Mad Men Review: Down For the Count

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The down and out life of Pete Campbell was interesting to witness during "Signal 30," especially when comparing it to how content Don Draper was at this given point in time. It is best summed up by the words of Ben Hargrove...

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.

I'm not sure which combination of living in the suburbs, growing tired of his wife, an increased work load or simply wanting to be like the ad men he has watched over the years forced Pete into this type of behavior... but I'm glad it has happened.

The Pryces

Without his downward spiral, we never would have been able to watch Lane knock him the heck out. How great was that fight scene in the conference room? Between Roger aggressively wanting to see the fight and later claiming he had money on Lane, Don quietly closing the blinds and Pete actually hitting the floor, it was the most entertaining scene of the episode.

It was Pete's moment of shame and defense in the cab that had me most intrigued, though. He was angry at Don, or was he embarrassed? He was just having himself a good time at what Don calls a "whore house." Mr. Draper of all people should have no right to look down on him, Pete thought.

Unlike the audience, which has known of Pete's unhappiness for a while, Don though Pete was quite happy with Trudy, which is why he was giving him stern looks in the cab. Don gives Pete advice – don’t ruin a good thing – which is something Don thinks that he has.

That question of "is cheating just a part of Don, or was it Betty who forced him to it?" was answered by the man himself. He claimed that if he had met Megan first things would have been very different, but do we believe him? He's off to a very good start, and I want to buy that he is not going to cheat on her, but only time will tell. Can a tiger change his stripes?

Meanwhile, Lane was starting to feel as worthless at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce as Bert Cooper actually is. After failing to succeed in his dinner with the Jaguar guy, he found out that Pete and the boys ruined everything by taking the man to the whore house. His frustrations led to the beat down of Pete Campbell, but taking it all out with his fists didn't help the cause.

When given a bucket of ice by Joanie, and being told that he was indeed important to the company, Lane went in for a big smooch on Joan. Way to go, Lane. Get yours, my man. Sadly for him, it was just another rejection.  ortunately, though, Joan was great in acting like nothing even happened. I'm sure he was still humiliated, but a move like that could have made things a lot worse for Lane.

"Signal 30" also gave us a deeper look into Ken Cosgrove's short story writing, a dinner party in which Megan hilariously blurted out Ken's wife's name, Ryan from Suburgatory stealing Pete's prospective mistress right out from under him and Lane Pryce pretending to love him some football at a pub.

What did you all think of the episode? Did you like that the hour centered mostly on Pete? Can you blame Lane for knocking Campbell to the ground? Has Don changed? And wouldn't you like to get your hands on a short story by Ben Hargrove?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (74 Votes)

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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Pete's my favorite character and I loved this hour of television. It was so sad to see him so devastated. Excellent work by Vincent Kartheiser.

Beverly brooks

I have never like Pete and now he is playing a Don Draper want to be which I really don't like. He is so full of himself. I love the fightscene. Felt sorry for Lane and how the rest think so little of him. I don't like the Megan character and feel she is wrong for Don. I miss Betty and her perfectness.

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I meant to say - I didn't see the remark as meaning everything was Betty's fault. And as for Pete - reminded me of a Grateful Dead song, Fire on the Mountain: "The mercies of business, I wish it for you, and more than just ashes when your dreams come true." (I really did run too long before.)

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I'm a big Megan fan. And I don't see the remark about "if I'd married her, maybe I wouldn't have ... " whatever. I think Don married Betty because she represented something he wanted, a higher, better place than where he was brought up. I don't think he meant her harm, but it wasn't really love. It was want. And the wanting never stopped. Betty was somebody who has always been acting a part. Perfect daughter, perfect wife, perfect mother - no, not like perfect mothers of today, but making certain her children look and act the way they should. She's lost when she doesn't know which part she's supposed to play, and she has no idea why she's so unhappy. I don't know if Megan is actually "love," but it's the closest thing he's known, I think. It was spontaneous, at least. Not calculated. And she is something new - she represents some of what's coming. She doesn't think like Betty. She isn't playing a part. I think she's intending to play for real. Pete - sorry for going on so long, but I just watched it - There's a Grateful Dead song, Fire on the Mountain, with these lines: "The mercies of business, I wish it for you, and more than just ashes when your dreams come true."

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I liked this episode, too -- not as much as 'Mystery Date', but still... pretty dang awesome. The Pete Campbell storyline is just brilliant, and so is the actor. It's like watching a Cheever story write itself (which apparently is what Ken Cosgrove is doing in the last scene). Love the dynamic between all the office mates: Pete, Ken, Peggy, Lane, even poor emasculated Roger. But for me one of the most intriguing ongoing plotlines is the unfolding of Don and Meghan's marriage, and finding out if their relationship isn't much more of a freak show than it appears. I, too, miss the "old" Don -- though I think I saw a bit of him on "new" Don's face as he avidly drew the conference room drapes before the fight scene. It's interesting to hear viewers speculate on whether or not Don's earlier womanizing was Betty's "fault" and if he'll be faithful in his new marriage. Lots of folks want to believe he's changed. I don't know what the show's writers think about these things, but in real life, behavior like that doesn't change overnight. If we were talking about a drunken fling, or a bad decision made at a rocky moment in a marriage ... hey, it happens, and with some help, it can be resolved. But Don's level of mirthless cheating? It was positively Herculean! Olympian! World-record shattering! And, may I add, pretty much unrelated to Betty. Please Mad Men writers, please, acknowlege human nature and keep this storyline interesting! And make Meghan into exactly the wife that Don has earned :)

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"I know cooler heads should prevail, but am I the only one who wants to see this?"
Bravo! Kudos! Well played Roger!
The fight scene, absolutely the best in a long time.
Frankly I find the show pretty boring except for the occasional, infrequent brilliance. This series is like panning for gold. Buckets and buckets of tedious mud, dashed hope after dashed hope, then maybe, just maybe, payoff! However the infrequency of actual gems makes it easy to forget to watch the show in the first place.
BTW did they have to pay poor Alison Brie extra to wear those 30 layers of petticoats? Those skirts were darn near horizontal.

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"Chewing gum in his pubis!" I was rolling on the floor. I was captivated by this episode. The characters are so rich that it is just delicious to watch them.
And Don's sport coat... Can't believe Megan got him to wear it. But this one was about Pete. His trophy wife, his dissatisfaction, his wandering eye at driving school, his choice of scenario in the "whorehouse", he wanted to be treated like a king. And for heavens' sake, he still has the gun. To shoot gophers...right.
Love it all.

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I'm shocked at how many people don't like this season. They're getting into great areas; race, serial killers/ more violence in the news, focusing on other characters, and not all Don Don Don. The storylines could go anywhere at this point. And Betty was a whining bore, to me. I first thought Don and Megan were contrived but now I like how it's playing itself into a sexy marriage. Who knows if that'll last. I thought Sunday's episode was fantastic! It was primarily about Pete, and they seemed to be reaching for the high art; bracketing the show with the sound of dripping water, just like the dripping ineffective personality of Pete; using Beethoven music, Ben's lofty literature, Don ripping off his shirt to fix the faucet that Pete tried to repair, and then ending with a hilarious and fun denouement, the big fight! It seemed like they were characters in a grand Opera with sex, infidelity, sadness, humor, drama and violence all in one hour of entertainment

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To my mind the series so far has been a huge and disappointing departure to how it last was. There were a number of directions it could have taken from the last scene of the last season when Don was left in bed contemplating his spontaneous decision to marry Megan. Unfortunately so far it hasn't gone anywhere interesting. Peggy's sassy dialogues with Roger in the last episode are so forced and serve only to give the "Peggy fans" some cheap titters. The fight was pantomime, and had a point that could have been made much better if the writers were doing their jobs. The socio-analysis of men indulging in mid-life crises has been done before, is jaded and is a cop out. Last night's show ending with Pete leering over a young boy sticking his hand up the girl's skirt was trying to be something, but was unnecessary (not because I am a prude) and plain odd. Where is the meat? There could be another season in this because there is money to be made. But unless this show takes a sharp turn, shows the adventurousness of plot, the classiness and originality of it's writing that has made it so compelling, I can see it leaving behind a regrettable legacy.

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I'm not liking don this season. Since when would he come to work together with his wife, then meet her for lunch, let her drive the car, let her tell him what he wears..etc. Also, I was disappointed they didn't even address that strangulation dream don had last time. Also, I was waiting to see if lane went to the mistresses house of the man whose wallet he found and ended up keeping her picture in his wallet..or maybe have lanes wife find the pic. I also think Megan and Peggy will have to come to blows and don will have to pick a side...maybe redefining who he really is... Just some thoughts.

Mad Men Season 5 Episode 4 Quotes

Megan: You should slow down.
Don: I'm timing this for when we arrive. I wanna hit the doorbell with my chin.

Lane: England won the World Cup.
Roger: Cup of what?

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