No, but he's renting it. - Peggy Olson
The themes of Mad Men are generally about loss, change and a miserable existence which are rarely funny but tonight's episode "The Rejected" was infused with some much needed humor. Cleverly directed by the funniest guy in the room, John Slattery aka Roger Sterling, the script by Keith Huff & Matthew Weiner comes alive with great character expressions and zinging one-liners. One would expect nothing less, right?
The episode was basically Pete and Peggy centric but all the characters had some face time and made lasting impressions. All the way from Allison's meltdown through our first glimpse into the burgeoning hippie world to Bert Cooper's blue socks making an appearance. This episode was a big bowl of awesomeness especially if you notice all the hilarious subtleties. It takes place the week of February 21st, 1965 since Peggy mentions Malcolm X's murder just took place. What I would have given to see a Valentine's Day Mad Men show! But I digress . . .
Let's take the episode characters one-by-one:
Peggy the blossoming beatnik poet is up first.
Right off the bat Peggy is putting a focus group of 18-25 year-olds from the SCDP secretarial pool together for Doc Faye Miller to dissect and boil down the real reason why young girls should use Pond's Cold Cream. Why subject them to all of this embarrassing psycho-babble when Freddy already knows they will buy anything to help them just get married? As Peggy wistfully watches the group she tries on Doc Miller's wedding ring and of course Don notices which only proves Freddy correct.
Peggy then meets Life magazine assistant photo editor Joyce in the elevator and doesn't realize that she is way too interested in nude pics of women and with Peggy's body. Joyce flirts with her and it seems like we should know she's a lesbian because she doesn't pluck her eyebrows, wears little make-up and has a tightly pulled back ponytail. Ok, it works. She's a lesbian.
Later, Joyce invites Peggy out to a party while circling the receptionist Megan's desk. We now get a glimpse into the new and fun world of 60's Andy Warhol influenced hippie movement, Mad Men style! A guy in a bear suit walks by; pot is smoked with a big roach clip; guys named Davey Kellogg wear open Nehru jackets (showing his hairless chest) while making really bad art films; really cool leather jacketed people named Abe try to impress girls by telling them they've been arrested and lesbian Joyce says she hungry when she goes to kiss Peggy. All and all another great night in the Village. The police break up the party and as Joyce and Peggy run through the produce market giggling a new friendship and way of life for Peggy is found. Me thinks that Peggy will like this new lifestyle way too much and become a poet of sorts. You watch!
Elizabeth Moss does a great job in this episode, especially with her scenes with Pete. When she finds out that his wife Trudy is pregnant you can really see a full range of emotions on her face. Longing, humiliation, sadness, and regret are all there. Regardless, the connection between the two is undeniable. They would make an electric couple no doubt.
The slick blue suit wearing Pete Campbell was in full on kick-butt mode. When he has to drop the bomb to his father-in-law that SCDP has to drop the Clearasil account because Pond's doesn't like them he goes into survival mode. First he meets up with daddy and fumbles the speech but then finds out Trudy is "with child." With his patented blank look he confronts Trudy and seems very pleased with himself. I guess all those fertility treatments worked! Lane is his typical fake British self when he hears the news and Joey the art dude refuses to chip in for some champagne while sneering; "I would get Trudy soooo pregnant." This is all news to Peggy of course and she confronts him in her usual curt way. She knows that he knows that he got her preggers and she is not going to let him forget it!
Emboldened by his lunch with the ever clueless and happy-go-lucky Ken Cosgrove (he's back!), Pete gets an evil idea. He's gonna strong-arm his father-in-law in giving him all of P&G's (Vick's Chemical) business; the inhalers, cough drops, Vapor Rub and Formula 44. Somehow he gets it and it's worth 6 million which is more than the 2 million from Pond's. His father-in-law calls him a SOB and he shrugs all while channeling LBJ by saying to Roger, Lane and Don that he's "turned chicken shit into chicken salad". Score one for the slickster Pete!
Psychologist Faye Miller is a woman on a mission. She uses her manipulative skills to full impact in that focus group by asking questions that make the secretaries cry. Doesn't seem that hard though. Even Freddy was surprised how quickly it took! Predictably, Don's secretary Allison is in on the group and when the questions get too emotional she runs out of the room as she knows Don is watching. Later Doc Faye and Don get into a psychological ideology fight and Don proves once again he's the smartest guy in the room. Wonder how long it will take for the Doc to make a move on him? She already is curious because of his walk-out when she was getting psych profiles but she couldn't handle the real Don Draper that's for sure. He knows this so I'm sure he'll try and resist her Sharon Stone-like advances. Now that would be a great mind game!
Ah, the magic charm of Don Draper makes all the women go gooey and dorky Allison is no exception. First she breaks down and goes into his office to cry and then when he tries to be his usual gruff self she confronts him about their drunken one-night stand. Typically Don has been downplaying it by simply treating it like it never happened but that's not good enough for her. She obviously fell in love with him because previously she tried to get him to open up about the picture Anna sent and now she brings up the hoop-de-dooh they had. Don apologizes and says they are both adults. Wrong!! Has he not worked with her long enough to know she is an awkward child? Allison tries to appeal to his sense of chivalry by suggesting she leave the company but Don hardly protests. In fact, he tells her to write up her own recommendation letter and he'll sign it. This is not what Allison expects at all so she hurls a glass ball at the wall and says he's not a good person before storming out. Duh!! The last laugh is on Don though as Joan resurrects the old secretary Mrs. Blankenship from the mothballs and installs her as his new Girl Friday. Oh the fun that will be had by all!
Some random thoughts . . .
Lee Garner Jr. just needs to go away! The classic Howard Hawks type conversation in the beginning was amazing. No using athletes or teenagers to promote cigarettes. Check. They can still use sports like bowling or horse racing though, just as long as the jockey and not the horse is smoking! Too funny. But the best part is that SCDP is billing Lucky Strike for all the work the company does for other clients and why not?
Turns out that Harry really, really likes Puerto Rican girls with red rags on their heads and pointy nipples. Who knew?? Love how he still hangs with Ken and goes to the opera with him.
The focus group set up by Peggy and Doc Faye was crazy weird. The secretaries were pretty hilarious when describing their routines. We get introduced to the statuesque and orange wearing SCDP receptionist Megan. It was like watching a train-wreck when she said she was of "French Extraction" and described her mother's face washing routine. Those weird Frenchies!! And what was with one of the girls wearing what looked exactly like a sofa covering? The best one was the secretary with the weird hair-do with pointy ears. Very bizarre indeed. Just getting to see and hear Freddy's reactions was good enough for me though.
I wanna see Pete Campbell's closet. In the morning does he think, hmmm, should I wear the shiny blue suit or the shiny blue suit?
The way Pete treats his father-in-law is classic. Clearly he hates him but just needs him around for the Clearasil account.
So Trudy is having a baby. Hmm, somehow I think something bad will happen. Their back and forth was pretty funny though. There is no way he can pick her up and spin her around and it's great how he tries to find another word for conflict because he thinks she's too stupid. The actress Alison Brie is also on the NBC show "Community" and she does such a great job on both of these shows. Will be interesting to see which direction they go with her on Mad Men. I'm thinking she will have a miscarriage.
Kind of a let down that the show started with "Brief Nudity" disclaimer and then just showed some artsy B&W pictures for a moment. Upsetting.
Liked the revelation that Allison and probably the whole office thinks the reason that Peggy got a "coveted" copyrighter job is because she slept with Don. Ouch, that hurts. Everyone knows she got it because she slept with Pete!! Just kidding.
I hope that this means Ken Cosgrove will be joining SCDP soon. I miss his clueless and fun-loving ways. He leads a charmed life and the agency needs that for sure!
A creeping Peggy looking out over the wall into Don's office has gotta be the single most funniest moment on the show, ever!! Although Bert Cooper sitting in the lobby with Megan chomping on an apple with feet up and his shoes off (in blue sock no less) while Joyce is asking out Peggy is a close second.
We all know Joan runs the entire agency and now Don experiences her full-force when she gets even with a philandering Don by giving him the very old-school Mrs. Blankenship for a secretary. That's pure genius.
It's great that all the lesbians and hippie slackers love Megan and just wanna go look at her. Do they know she only uses water to wash her face? French Extraction style!?
Who knew that banging your head into something was an effective stress dealing technique even in the 60's?
Anyone else feel that the poignant music playing accompanying the longing looks Pete and Peggy threw at each other doesn't bode well for Pete's marriage? How about the look Don gives the old neighbors as they ask about pears? Telling or just John Slattery's sense of humor?
Best Exchange Hands Down:
Joyce kisses Peggy and says: "I'm hungry"
Peggy: "I have a boyfriend"
Joyce: "He doesn't own your vagina!"
Peggy: "No, but he's renting it."
"The jockey smokes the cigarette." - Roger
"How the hell did this get so sad, so fast?" - Freddy
"I think my strategy was right, they just wanna get married." - Freddy
"Every time you jump to conclusion Tom, it makes me respect you less." Pete to his father-in-law.
This was another great episode in the new stellar season of Mad Men. Something tells me that there won't be this much humor in future episodes so I fully enjoyed it as a sparkling example of what this show could accomplish when it tries new things. It boggles my mind that more people aren't watching this show (2.2 million for last week) I just hope that the writers continue to push the envelope and give us few fans more exceptional episodes and seasons like this. They've already established S&M, cursing and semi-nudity so what's left, murder?? I can't wait!
-- Janaki Cedanna
Editors Note: Just a reminder, I've been informed that all of the Fodder sites including my very own Mad Men Fodder will be shut down effective 9/1/10 due to economic reasons. I will be doing my weekly reviews right up to the end but not after 8/29. It's been a pleasure to write my thoughts on this show and I hope you will still follow me on Twitter @madmenfodder.
Here's a sneak preview scene for next weeks episode; "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" Enjoy!