This week’s episode of Mad Men was all about trials. Some of our favorite advertising folk were tried this week by the blowing winds of change, the new state of things, and those who couldn’t hack it, ended up as the episodes title suggests, rejected.
The State Vs. Allision
After sleeping with Don and learning that it’s not going to lead to marriage and babies, Allison finally looses her shit when she’s made to participate in a focus group for Ponds, knowing that Don is looking at her through the one-way mirror. When Peggy goes to check on her, Allision assumes that Peggy must’ve also banged Don and been rejected, how else could she be a copywriter? When Peggy realizes this, she freaks out like Scientologist-learning-about-Xenu, mad.
"My problem is not your problem, and honestly, I think you should get over it," Peggy says.
Allison quits and asks for a recommendation letter from Don. When he tells her to write it up herself on his stationary, she throws a paper weight at his head and storms out of the office.
The Verdict: The world has changed since season 1. No longer does a secretary need to hump the boss and have his babies. Also, everybody hates writing recommendation letters, always.
The State Vs. Pete
Kenny, Harry and Cosgrove sit down to dinner and the waiter can’t tell them apart. "Those gonnifs at ABC are screwing me again," says Harry. Pete has found out that he’s having a baby, Ken is engaged, Harry is always looking for a better job to support his family. Trudy, Pete’s wife is finally pregnant and Pete feels like he has his balls back, so he demands Trudy’s father give him all his business, and he concedes.
The Verdict: Ken, Harry and most importantly Pete have adapted well to the way things have changed. In fact, there’s a name for what they’ve become, it starts with a Y and rhymes with "guppy."
Side Note: Allison Brie, who plays Trudy seemed completely unattractive in Season 1 with those big weird hats and lady-suits. Now, after playing the sexy nerd in Community, she seems totally hot, anyone else notices this?
The State Vs. Peggy
Peggy once thought that she needed to land a husband at the office and have his baby, so she had sex with Pete and got pregnant. But, instead of crying over spilled baby, she swept her bastard under the rug, like Don did his identity, and went on with her life. This week, she meets a lesbian photo editor and hangs out with her and friends who happen to look like the gang from Scooby Doo. For a moment, we think she’s going to start making out with David Mamet’s daughter, Zosia Mamet, but she goes the other way, making out with a writer in closet at a Yippie party while cops are raiding the place. With all the fun she’s having, you’d think she’d be relieved not to be playing housewife to Pete Campbell in yuppie hell, but a brief shared look between the two of them points to uncertainty.
The Verdict: Sure, Peggy’s succeeding, but is she happy? Both her and Pete bang their heads in frustration during this episode. Things aren’t so cut and dry with this one.
The State Vs. Don Draper
This season began with a reporter doing a story on Don that turned out less than flattering. This episode began with Don lighting one cigarette off the other as they talked about the new laws about cigarette advertising: no teens, no athletes, etc. Don’s smoking seems to represent that he’s still clutching onto the old. The new Don is having a bit of trouble coping with the changing world. Don’s sleeping around sloppily, being rejected by women and worst of all a woman in the office is standing up to him. When the psychology lady first came on the show, we thought, "They’re going to do it." Now, she’s become a threat. The darkness of Don’s home-life has boiled over into his work life and women are throwing paper weights at his head.
The Verdict: We’ve talked in this column about "new Don" and "old Don" but maybe that’s not quite right. Perhaps "new Don" is merely, Dick Whitman, and the changing world, the one that’s writing stories about Don and taking away the status-based advantages that Don deceived his way into getting, is turning Don Draper back into Dick Whitman. The worst part is that Don knows that it’s happening and figuring out how to stop it the biggest challenge he’s faced thus far.
The episode ends in Don’s dark apartment with an old couple, nagging about pears. Don is living right beside his greatest fear.
"A new idea is something they don’t know yet, so it’s not going to come up as an option. You can’t tell how people are going to behave, based on how they have behaved," Don says.
So far this season we’ve been expecting Don Draper and getting something else. Our characters are living in the in a time period rich with change. This episode was the calm before the storm. The answer my friend is blowing in the wind. It will be interesting in the coming episodes to see who runs for shelter and who builds windmills.