Just when you thought this season’s “Mad Men” couldn’t get any more … out there than last week’s choke-tacular “Mystery Date,” comes tonight’s episode, “Signal 30.”
The title refers to the blood-and-guts-filled, 1960s-era drivers education movie that pompous little ad man Pete sees in preparation for getting his drivers license in time for life in the ‘burbs. But tonight’s episode had mayhem all the way through.
Let’s start with Pete (Vincent Kartheiser), who can be an awfully hard character to take. I take that back. Pete is almost impossible to like, with his grasping, career-climbing ways and pissy attitude. So it was kind of fun to see him squirming and taking his licks — literally — tonight.
First there was Pete’s attempts to seduce the high school girl in his class, only to be outdone by … a high school boy, who ends up feeling up the object of Pete’s jailbait leanings. All the while, Pete watches, frustrated, from one row back in the classroom.
Then there’s Roger and Pete’s partaking of hookers at a high-class whorehouse. That unlikely twosome and Don take Lane’s client, a Jaguar executive, to a brothel. Don — still living the honeymoon life with “zoobie zoobie” Megan — sits at the bar and behaves himself while Pete, Roger and the Jag guy plunge into the beds of what would appear to be high-class 1960s Manhattan call girls.
Then there’s Pete’s comeuppance at the hands of Brit Lane Pryce (Jared Harris, who is just wonderful). When the Jaguar exec’s infidelity is discovered by his wife the account goes up in smoke and Lane throws down on Pete.
The resulting fight, right in the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce offices, shows Lane delivering unto Pete a sound thrashing and is bookended by great quips from Roger: “I suppose cooler heads should prevail, but I want to watch this” and “I had Lane.”
Pete showing off his wall-length cabinet record player to visitors to his home.
This season’s daring “Mad Men” fashion experience continues as Don becomes the latest wearer of a crazy plaid sportscoat.
This season’s desperation level is high. Roger’s a mess, Pete’s trying to pick up schoolgirls, Lane’s fixation on the wallet a few episodes ago and, tonight, Lane’s passionate move on Joan.
Ad man Ken’s second career as a science fiction writer. Ken’s proud wife brags about it, prompting Roger to tell him to knock it off, saying that a career in advertising is satisfying enough when things are going well.
“I remember that,” Roger says before stalking out.