Last night's episode of Mad Men came as a groan and a relief, both of these in connection to Pete Campbell and one I dub the Lane vs. Pete Showdown. I'll go into this observation in a bit.
Between this episode and the previous episode, the women of the office (and house) have really made significantly strong strides in first-wave feminism. Peggy has evolved to have more autonomy, Joan is no longer a victim to her abusive husband but rather a survivor who reigns in the office once again, and even Trudy has not let even the great Don Draper get away from a weekend house party.
The character exchanges in this episode were fantastic. For instance: Pete tells Don he's looking forward to having him for dinner -> surprised Don checks with his secretary who said it was confirmed with Megan -> Don checks with Megan who says she confirmed with Trudy -> Don calls Trudy to cancel but to no avail. It was very interesting to see Don lose control of his weekend, and I think that there was personal growth from that experience.
Lane was on fire this week. It's not a secret that he doesn't know how to handle clients as well as the other partners, but it's good to see he is trying. That's why it is unfair to see Pete and Roger offer him poor advice for how to sign a client. Which will lead to the Lane vs. Pete Showdown. . .
But before we do that, let's look at why Pete Campbell has reached his lowest point yet.
In this episode, Pete has a side-story of taking classes for his drivers' license. He encounters a cute high school senior and before you can say dirty-perve he starts flirting with her. Let's look at the facts: he's married, she's in high school, he's a sleaze.
Let me expound on that third point. So Pete and Roger (with Don) take Lane's client to a whore house, and Pete decides to have a little fun for himself. Again; he's married, he's a sleaze.
Soon after his "business" Pete and Don share a cab ride home, and Pete is unreasonably defensive thinking that Don is judging him for what he did. The interaction between Don and Pete is still bitter, so when Pete tells Don: "remember when we first met? It was so long ago, we have changed so much." No Pete, you're just more sleazy.
Which now brings us to the Lane vs. Pete Showdown!
Lane is frustrated that he lost the account because of poor advice, of which Pete finds hilarious. So, Lane challenges him to a fight in the office. BAM! I'm sure audiences have been waiting four seasons for this to happen. Roger of course has his handful of one-liners scattered throughout the episode, and he doesn't let down here.
The icing on the cake was when Pete goes back to classes, his creepy crush has her interests in a boy more her age.
I think everyone had good positive growth. The strength was the character exchanges that we don't normally see (Ken & Peggy, Lane & Pete, Don & everyone else).