Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review: Mad Men "The Rejected"

Non Spoiler Review:
We get some older story threads picked up as Pete gets some family news and is forced into making a tough choice that pits him against his father-in-law. We also get to see what's been happening with Ken Cosgrove, and Don's dalliance with Allison comes back to bite him in the ass. Meanwhile, Peggy expands her circle of friends and ponders the direction she's charted for her life.

Not as much seemed to be happening in this episode as previous ones, and this ultimately felt like it was setting up a few more things to pay off later, but it was enjoyable to see the characters interact and deal with the various bits of news. Peggy and Don's relationship continues to fascinate, and we got some more insight into Faye and Allison, while Pete and Trudy received some much-needed focus. Despite the sadness of many of the characters, this is one of the funniest episodes this season.

Spoilers Now!
Everyone seems to suffer some manner of rejection here, as the title suggests. We have the obvious focus on Peggy, who meets Joyce, who works in her building for Life Magazine and the two strike up a friendship. They go to a Warhol-esque warehouse party which eventually gets raided, but Peggy makes some new friends out of it (and makes out with one of them) and manages to establish enough of a coolness factor to get everyone to like her.

Pete has to drop Clearasil due to a conflict of interest, but before he can tell his father-in-law, the other reveals Trudy is pregnant, which comes as a shock for Pete. So while everyone is celebrating, Pete manages to use that as a hammer to heavy-hand his father into giving SCDP the whole shebang of accounts he's been after from him, bringing $6 million to the company. Daddy-in-law is thoroughly pissed, but Pete shrugs it off.

And speaking of the pregnancy, it looks like Trudy and Pete are finally starting a family. The news affects Peggy more than she thought, as she faces the choice she made in giving up the happy married life that so many of the other secretaries are looking for. 

Ken hasn't been up to too much since last season. He's getting married and has apparently moved through a couple of firms. McCann was horrible to work for. While he and Bob have lunch, he confronts Pete about all his backstabbing and name-calling. It did seem like an odd scene, unless it pays off later. There really was no need to bring Ken back just for that little talk.

Faye holds a Cold Cream focus group that includes the secretaries (including Allison). Faye is all about deception, dressing down like the secretaries so she's accepted, removing her wedding ring, and doing all sorts of things that make her one of the girls. But she and Peggy are no longer one of the girls, as Peggy sits behind the mirror with the men. Peggy fits right in these days. It's Freddie who is the joke, sitting between her and Don and acting all old-fashioned with his tedious comments. They watch Faye gain the girls' trust and have them confessing all their insecurities about the men in their lives. Once Allison starts talking, Don starts squirming.

The girls in the group confess how their men are never satisfied with them, and one of the girls breaks down about being dumped, which prompts Allison to have a meltdown and leave the room. Peggy goes after (much like how Joan used to handle things), and Allison tries to commiserate with her, assuming that Peggy slept with Don to get a promotion. Peggy is horribly offended, of course, and leaves. Don goes to talk to Allison who states it was all a mistake. She had the hope of finding a husband at the firm, but realizes she can't work there any longer. She asks for a reference for a magazine that has a female boss. Don, classily says her work has been impeccable and why doesn't she write anything she wants and he'll sign it. She throws a paperweight at him and storms out.

The commotion draws the attention of Joan and Peggy, which results in a hilarious moment  as we watch Peggy peering over the partition of their offices at Don as he pours himself a drink. Don lingers at the office before going home to attempt to drunkenly type an apology to Allison, but finds he can't finish it.

Peggy heads off to lunch with her new hipster friends, while the stodgy partners and businessmen head off to their own meeting, divided by the glass office walls. Through the glass, she shares a glance with Pete, and both briefly contemplate what their lives might have been like had they made different choices.

What Worked:
How does Peggy attract all these homosexuals? I was surprised she handles Joyce's come-on so casually, given she's from a pretty conservative background. But she certainly fits into the hipster lifestyle here, and it's hard to imagine the dowdy Peg we saw walk into Sterling Cooper in season one.

Peggy wistfully tries on Faye's ring, which Don notices. Now that Pete will have his own child, her connection with him has been diminished, and she's faced with reflecting on the choice she made to give up the baby rather than have a marriage. It's ultimately the right choice for her, as she fits in so well with her new company and would likely never have tolerated Pete for very long. Her new boyfriend seems very similar to him, and Peggy has already shown how readily she will search out her own fun while he's not around.

What Didn't Work:
The return of Ken Cosgrove was rather ho-hum. Considering he's in the season cast photo, he should be showing up later to at least justify this appearance.

It's 1965, and Catholic Peggy can wittily throw off a pass by another girl? That stretched things a little bit.

Best Line: Peggy when hit on by her new friend Joyce: "I have a boyfriend."
Joyce: "He doesn't own your vagina."
Peggy: "No, but he's renting it."

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