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Pete Campbell Gets His Ass Whooped on #MadMen–Finally

After five years of seeing Mad Men‘s Pete Campbell slink around like a car wreck waiting to happen, Don Draper‘s MadMen pilot prediction of a Pete Campbell that no one will like is coming to be and tonight’s episode–Season 5’s “Signal 30”–was where it all came to be with Pete looking like he’d been in a car wreck after a mad-capped fist fight with Lane Pryce. It’s clear, with the dripping faucet, that Pete has become bored in the suburbs. A point driven home by Draper who tells Megan that “Saturday night in the suburbs? That’s when you really want to blow your brains out.”

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Pete Campbell preparing to get his ass-whooped--AMC MadMen

Observations about Signal 30:

  • Peggy, who had Pete’s baby after Season One trists clearly wasn’t phased nor upset in the least about Pete getting the shit kicked out of him. (Have you noticed someone says “shit” in every MadMen episode? Do said Bullshit at the dinner table, and Megan talked about Pete had scared it out of her by talking about all the car wreck statistics.)
  • What will the story be to Trudy explaining it all? Quoting Joan from season one, “He’ll have his own excuse.”
  • For those who recently have been hoping on Twitter that there’ll be a Lane/Joan thing, I think it was made pretty clear that’s not going to happen.
  • Pete thinks the people he works with are his friends. Do you regard people you work with as your friend? What about clients?
  • After Lane kisses a comforting Joan, she tells him “a lot of people around here have wanted to …” (I thought she was going to say, “kiss me,”) but she went on to talk about Pete getting his clock cleaned
  • Pete’s now hitting on Jenny Gunther, a high school girl. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, comes to mind. Have you noticed Pete’s strays all have been with blondes? Regardless, he’s become Don Draper of old. Last week we saw Peggy has become Roger Sterling.
  • In episode 2 of this year, Roger threatened to take Pete out and whoop his ass. Pete backed down but was more than ready to take on Lane. Either way it would have come down to a much-needed ass-whooping.
  • Don told Megan driving home that he wanted to “make a baby.” Megan hasn’t said anything about wanting one of her own.
  • For a firm where new business isn’t happening, you’d think they’d be a little bit more excited about bringing in Jaguar.
  • Ken Cosgrove’s ending where he’s clearly going ahead with his writing is poetic.
  • It’s funny that Don can handle most women, but between Trudy and Megan, he’s powerless.
  • The girl from the driver’s course talks about how her parents don’t want her going off to college elsewhere because of crazy men and yet she’s standing in their home town talking to Pete who’s circling around her like a pedophile.
  • Didn’t you just hope that Lane would have stood up while eating steak with the man from Jaguar and put that hunk of beef over his crotch like he did last year when he and Don went out on a lark?!?
  • Have you noticed that even in a tight, someone got Lane to spring loose the funds to put name plates on all the office doors? There are three names on Peggy, Ginsberg and that other clown’s office.  (How is it that guy gets away with the things he says?)

At the beginning of the show I was wondering why the whole visit to the Campbell house. It was awkward. Don and Megan couldn’t even remember the name of Ken Cosgrove’s wife, Cynthia.

The ultimate irony of this episode is to show how confused Pete Campbell really is, especially in his regard for Don.  He was clearly excited about having risen enough in stature that Don Draper would come to his house.  They even remark about how Don has “the big stick” when it comes to conversations, etc.  But when it comes down to Don giving Pete real-world advice, Pete’s very put out about it.  Pete can clearly see he’s in the wrong spot, but also clearly doesn’t want Don to be the one to ‘splain it to him.

As the show ended, when Pete was boo hooing to Don Draper, almost in tears that he has “nothing,” it became clear, as Don said to Pete as he was getting out of the cab from the Jaguar dinner/whorehouse run, that Pete has a lot and that he’s throwing it away.

What started as a slow and “where is this going episode” arrived at home in short order.  It was really one of the best Mad Men in the five-year series.  It’ll also be interested to see if there’s an uptick of ass-whoopings in corporate America this week with people finally singling out the ends of their patience with the Pete Campbells of the world.

And now, as a bonus, the Signal 30 Driver’s Ed Video:


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