“Mad Men” Recap: 404, “The Rejected”
Since the beginning of this season, most viewers have been pleased with the focus on the psychology of our anti-hero, the question of “Who is Don Draper?,” but a vocal portion of the fan base has complained that simply not enough attention is being paid to the business of advertising, and that some characters such as Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) have been missing in action. In the case of “The Rejected,” Pete is back in full force, but Roger Sterling takes a back seat, mainly because John Slattery directed the piece, but the mechanics of the advertising business get a front seat. The peculiar phenomenon of the focus group is something we’ve seen before on “Mad Men,” but not as a kind of Skinner Box in which questions about facial treatments are met with emotional meltdowns.
“The Rejected” begins with Don and Roger on conference call with Lucky Strike problem child Lee Garner Jr., and they’re going over some of the new restrictions that are in place for cigarette advertisements and brainstorming ideas to replace images of, say, teenagers smoking. Don is unusually distracted during the call, even for this season, and is relying on Allison (Alexa Alemmani) to give him cues to say vague things like “We’ll do our best” when his name is mentioned. In the middle of the call, he asks her one of those double-meaning questions posed by corrupt bosses: “Why is this bottle empty?” On the face of it, this is a stupid query that merits Allison’s actual response: “You drank it all.” What the boss really means is, “This bottle should never be empty. I should never be able to feel the lightness of a Jameson bottle emptied of its elixir. Ergo, get thee to the package store or no more $100 Christmas bonuses for you.”
Don is also bluffing his way through a conversation with Peggy (Elizabeth Moss) over her Pond’s Cold Cream concepts — he clearly has not looked at either of them. Faye Miller (Cara Buono) asks Don for some 18 to 25-year-old women from the secretarial pool and Don tells her, “Help yourself” — just as he does, I suppose. Meanwhile, Lane (Jared Harris) and Roger buttonhole Pete in the hallway to tell him he must cast off the Clearasil account he got from his father-in-law because the Pond’s people see it as a direct conflict. Don tires of Garner taking precious time away from him being in his cups and claims he sees a fire down by Radio City and stops the call, perhaps because SCDP are regularly called in as an auxiliary volunteer firefighting squad in midtown.
Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) lets Pete know he’s having lunch with Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton), and tells him he should come, too. Considering that the old British regime put Pete and Kenny in direct competition, getting the two of them into a booth with drinks should be like shoving a ferret and a weasel into the same tube sock. Meanwhile, Peggy has a new friend in the building, Joyce Ramsey (Zosia Mamet, and yes, she is the daughter of David Mamet). She works at Life Magazine, she loves nude photography and would probably love Peggy as a female nude.
Pete meets his daddy-in-law at a bar, ostensibly to discuss Clearasil, but that doesn’t happen: he finds out that Trudie (Alison Brie) is with child and — Yikes! — hasn’t even told Petey yet. There is much stammering from Dad and Pete generally looks like he’s been slapped in the face with a flounder, but he’s happy, and he blows off the bad news, since it’s champagne all around and a bonus of $1,000 if it’s a boy, $500 if it’s a girl. Yes, the mid-’60s were a bit like feudal China. So Trudie is apoplectic when Pete gets home, because daddy called to warn her, but Pete is a happy boy. Tomorrow night, Yankee Pot Roast!
The focus group begins, and Faye runs the thing like she’s one of the girls, not like she holds a doctorate in psychology. Things are fine when the front office receptionist Megan is going on about her “French extraction” and how she does what her mother does with her facial ministrations — splash tepid water on her face, pat with her fingers and smile longingly at herself — but then one of the homelier secretaries, Dottie, starts talking about how taking care of her face never amounted to much, since her boyfriend left her high and dry with cold cream on her face a year ago after not really noticing her. Allison pipes up with “Sometimes it’s worse when they notice” — a comment that will certainly sting on the other side of the two-way mirror — and everything goes straight to Hell. Allison is weeping with big, body-wrenching sobs and has to leave the room. Peggy tries to console her, but then when Allison takes her sympathy for empathy, thinking that Don must have treated Peggy the same way when she worked as his receptionist, Peggy goes full-on cobra on her: “Your problem is not my problem, and honestly, you should get over it.”
On a personal/professional note, your StaticBlogger has been on Don’s side of the glass during a focus group, and while Faye insists that crying is a standard occurrence at these things, mainly what I saw were comments like, “Why did they review that CD? I don’t like music” and “I don’t eat that stuff” and “Why don’t you show what’s coming on the TV?” and “Can I have more of them chips?” No crying on their side. Plenty on my side.
So then we cut to Ferret vs. Weasel, and Cosgrove goes off on Pete for badmouthing him. Pete does his dishonest best to deny it, but finally owns up and apologizes to his moral equal, and it’s all good times, with jokes at the expense of the mentally disabled and everything.
Don returns to his office to find Allison, still very upset, and she tells Don she wants to move on, that there’s a job at a magazine where she could work for a woman. She asks Don for a letter of recommendation, and he’s got a ripping good idea: why doesn’t Allison just write her own damn letter of recommendation, with all of her “sparkling” great work denoted in beautiful courier type, and he’ll just sign it? This is, of course, insulting, because Don won’t even semi-literally lift a finger for a woman that he has literally screwed over. And she responds by throwing a bauble at him, breaking the glass in a couple of picture frames, and running out. Afterwards, Don hits the bottle hard, like he’s trying to prime a fuel pump, and Peggy’s looking over the wall as he self-medicates.
Life magazine girl shows up in the front lobby to tell Peggy about a party downtown, which is bound to have reefer and hippies. “It starts at nine. I’ll be there at 10,” she says, leeringly. Megan calls her pretentious, and Peggy agrees, approvingly. Meanwhile at Pete’s apartment, there is much rejoicing at the announcement of Campbellspawn, and Pete immediately starts playing extreme hardball with Trudie’s dad, telling him, “I’m done auditioning,” telling him he’s got to drop Clearasil and, as a bonus, he wants the account for all of Dad’s Vicks holdings, including Formula 44, the cough drops, the inhaler, and Vapo-Rub and everything else. Dad calls him a “son-of-a-bitch,” to which Pete, one of the most self-aware characters in “Mad Men,” just gives a hilarious shrug.
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
- 17340Oklahoma baseball: Joe Simpson 'thrilled' that Sunny Golloway left OU
- 17005OKC Central: Architectural "Worsts"
- 13213Classen School of Advanced Studies valedictorian disappears while hiking with family in Ecuador
- 11218Oklahoma storms: Profile of Life: Megan and Case Futrell
- 9481Was Special Treatment Given in Oklahoma Vice Mayor DUI Traffic Stop?
- 7832Live blog: "The Voice" Season 4 live finale
- 7484Two teacher programs at Oklahoma universities called ineffective
- 7128Red meat might be delicious, but not as nutritious
- 7070Oklahoma State football: Mike Gundy lifts Wes Lunt restrictions, but too late
- 6266Train engineer's vision problems led to deadly Oklahoma wreck, NTSB rules
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients