Mad Men 404: “The Rejected”

Did Pete become a man in this episode? Like, a grown man, not a man-child?

He finds out he’s an expectant father and the ripple effect is that he acts maturely with his wife, his father-in-law, his bosses, Peggy and even his nemesis, Ken Cosgrove. Does anyone else think Pete cut a deal with Ken to give him Clearasil in exchange for something else? (Note: yes, he did. Ken works for the Guyer agency and Pete says “I kicked Clearasil to Guyer.”) Or maybe Pete’s satisfaction comes only in the form of him feeding Ken his crumbs. Either way, it was fun to watch Pete and Ken trade back-handed compliments and and startling to watch Pete strong-arm his father-in-law into giving him more ad accounts. My take on this scene is that Pete feels like he did his duty — he’s given his in-laws the grandchild they’ve been bitching about for 5 years — so now he gets something in return. Plus, he had nothing to lose: Clearasil is dead, the milk is dry, so there’s no more sucking on the teat; might as well buy a new cow. Or, rather, demand a new farm.

The Pete-Peggy moments were amazing. I love when Mad Men uses theme music to underscore a scene, as it’s done quite sparingly, and it’s perhaps never been used more poignantly than to accent that look between Pete and Peggy through the glass door. Peggy leaving with her young Greenwich Village friends and Pete stuck with the old suits from Greenwich, Connecticut. (As Elisabeth Moss says in this behind the scenes featurette: “Peggy is getting younger and Pete is getting older.”)

Peggy is Canal St. and Pete is East 84th and never the twain shall mix — except this time, for the first time in three years of watching and analyzing this show, I actually thought that they may have made a great couple. How much they could have taught one another, helped one another grow. Maybe it could have worked out (after Peggy’s battle-axe mom recovered from the heart attack brought on by her daughter getting married pregnant, of course). Alas, it will never be. But I’m proud of Pete for turning his withering glance into a smile, if only for a second.

Another relationship ended in a new understanding for both parties: Don and his (now former) secretary Allison. Allison really threw Don with her exclamation “You’re not a good person.” Don might be catching on to everyone else’s realization: he’s just not very likable any more. That famous Draper charm has wilted. The promise of Don “holstering up his guns” at the close of the season premiere has turned out to be yet another facade. And now, with Allison and with the old couple in the hallway that loves pears, he is truly affected. This isn’t the Don that throws clients out of the office or punches Jimmy Barrett. This is the wounded and confused Don. We  know that the revelation about Anna’s cancer still has an impact, and this was referenced with a letter from Anna containing an old photo of the pair. More comparisons of the past with the present, the young and old. The successful and the rejected.

On the bright side, Peggy rocked this episode. As hinted at in previous seasons, she is continuing her creep towards becoming a bohemian in the downtown art scene. There’s no hesitation now to smoke the pot and there’s perhaps even some curiosity to kiss the girls (although it may just be the excitement of making a new friend who brings none of the baggage of her work world).

How ’bout that lesbian lothario (lotharia?) who’s making the rounds with Peggy and the willowy secretary, huh? Both of her targets seem to like the attention, by the way. She’s like the 60s version of Shane from The L Word (for all two of you who will get that ref).

“The Rejected” is my favorite episode so far this season; it is certainly the most impressive. There was a lot of humor, pathos, a ton of levels and some incredible dialogue from start to finish. I had been noting that Matt Weiner wasn’t taking co-credit on the writing duties with every episode as he has done in the past, but this time, he did. And I think the episode was the better for it; his crisp dialogue and thematic consistency was on display from start to finish. And if I’m not mistaken, this episode was also the first directed by a cast member: John Slattery. (A funny moment came in the opening scene when Don told Lee Garner, Jr. on the phone that they were avoiding low angles in their commercials and John Hamm was being shot from a low angle.)

Some of my favorite lines:

“Jeannie had her uterus removed, some kind of cyst or something.”

“We had nude models in college. You always knew the guy who had the best drawing would get her.”

“Another Campbell.  That’s what the world needs.”

“He doesn’t own your vagina.” “No, but he’s renting it.”

“Art in advertising? Why would anyone do that after Warhol?”

“Dr. Miller is here to see you. It’s a she.”

The lesbian hipster and her ridiculous photographer friend were intriguing new characters but the best newbie this week, hands down: Miss Blankenship! What World War I trench did they dig her out of? Was this Joan’s doing, the “enough is enough” hire?

I have to say, though, that I can sympathize with her role of being the new admin in an office, not knowing anyone’s name or status in the company. I worked a lot of temp jobs in my day and was thrust into many an office with no clue who anyone was. I had many a moment like this:

ME: “Laura Bates is on the phone for you, do you want me to take a message?”

BOSS: “That’s my wife.”


ME: “Mr. Spumato called, you were on the other line so I took a message.”

BOSS: “He’s the CEO of the company. Call him back.

ME: “What extension is he?”

Yeah, temping sucks. They don’t even let you grab a drink from the boss’ wet bar.


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1 Comment

Filed under AMC, Mad Men

One response to “Mad Men 404: “The Rejected”

  1. Nice review, Dan. I liked the episode for many of the reasons you mentioned, and so far I’m loving Season 4 more than Season 3.

    I offered up a little synopsis on what’s ailing Don Draper, in keeping with my side job. 🙂 Since you’re a fellow fan, I thought you might want to read it:

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