“I have nothing, Don,” says Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) at the end of Sunday’s (April 15) “Mad Men” episode, “Signal 30.” Though that’s not precisely true. Pete has a wife and a young baby, in whom he’s utterly disinterested. He’s got a new stereo big enough for Wilt Chamberlain to sleep in. He’s got a rifle. He’s possibly got a case of the clap — after all, he is sleeping with hookers. And when he utters the words above, he’s got a bruised and bloodied face thanks to a workplace fist fight with Lane Pryce (Jared Harris.)
And the fact that this episode — like the Drivers Ed movie Pete watched — was called “Signal 30” (see it below), the police radio code for death, means we finally need to talk about whether or not Pete Campbell is going to make it through Season 5 of “Mad Men” or whether — as has been predicted and foreshadowed — going to leap out of a window (metaphorically or literally).
When the episode begins, Pete’s watching that drivers ed fright reel: gory car crash porn designed to scare new drivers out of driving drunk and taking other undue chances. And unlike his horrified fellow students, Pete laughs at the carnage. In a later scene, when Don and Megan and Ken Cosgrove and his wife Cynthia(!) get together for a couples dinner, Pete talks about having a rifle. Hmm.
He’s also practically catatonic when led into a prostitute’s boudoir, only becoming aroused (just enough) when she gets submissive and calls him a “king.” He’s also insulting one of the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce partners to the point of recklessness, calling Lane a “homo” in a partner meeting which leads to fisticuffs (and his ultimate humiliation) in the conference room.
And then there’s the whole leaky kitchen faucet thing. Which was dripping with symbolism. The fact that Pete couldn’t fix it speaks volumes.
The theory has been advanced that Season 5 has been rife with clues that someone — most likely Pete — is going to die. After watching this episode, it’s looking like a lock.
More interesting stuff:
— Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) is back in the office and gets an unsolicited lip lock from Lane after his fight. She deflects nicely. There’s a building relationship there, but it’s purely platonic. Sorry Lane.
— Last week the episode was set against the backdrop of the Richard Speck Chicago nurse murders. This time around, it was the tragedy at the University of Texas when, on Aug. 1, 1966 Charles S. Whitman (who shares a last name with Don — real name Dick Whitman) killed 16 people and wounded 32 others in a shooting rampage after murdering his wife and mother in their homes. Message to you, Trudy: Get out of Cos Cob!
— During one of the partner meetings, Don (Jon Hamm) is scribbling a noose. Another sign that the Grim Reaper is hovering over SCDP. It would be creepy anyway, but let’s not forget the fact that Don’s younger brother, Adam Whitman, hanged himself in a hotel room in Season 1’s “Indian Summer.”
— On the way home from the Campbell soiree, a drunk Don is all over Megan (Jessica Par�) and asks her to pull over so they can “Make a baby.” Megan replies: “That’s not possible.” We’ll stash that little offhanded remark away to pull out again at some future point. We just think it’s worth noting that she said it.
— Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) is still writing and we’re going to go ahead and guess that “The Man with the Miniature Orchestra” doesn’t end well.
— We LOVED Megan’s yellow and navy Chevron dress.
Bonus: Here’s that movie Pete was watching in Driver’s Ed — “Signal 30”: