“The Collaborators” featured one moment “Mad Men” fans have been waiting six seasons for: Trudy (Alison Brie) finally had a reason to confront Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) about his cheating ways. And in typical “Mad Men” fashion, the confrontation wasn’t about hurt feelings but about wounded pride.
Trudy knew Pete was cheating — of course she did, she let him have the apartment — but he crossed a line sleeping with a neighbor (ace guest star Collette Wolfe as Brenda) and now he has to pay the price. She doesn’t want a divorce, but she doesn’t want him around either. He’ll be sleeping in the city unless Trudy demands otherwise and that’s that.
We also got a follow-up to last season’s indecent proposal storyline with the return of slimy Jaguar executive Herb Rennet (Gary Basaraba) and fleshed out a bit more about Don’s past when his stepmother Abigail (Brynn Horrocks) “took up” with Uncle Mack (Morgan Rusler) in a brothel.
[Note: In the spirit of showrunner Matthew Weiner’s comment that this season is about Dr. Arnold Rosen telling Don, “People will do anything to alleviate their anxiety,” we’ll track the happiness of key characters over the course of the season.]
The “Mad Men” happiness index, week two:
1) Roger (last week, #9): Last week’s existential despair is completely absent in Roger’s two brief scenes this week, but he does misattribute a Winston Churchill quote to his late mother.
2) Cosgrove (last week, #6): Sure, Kenny suffered the disappointment of losing a shot at the Heinz ketchup account out of Don’s loyalty to Heinz beans man Raymond Geiger (John Sloman), but otherwise things were pretty peachy for good ol’ Cosgrove this week.
3) Bob Benson (unranked last week): This smug little brown-noser could really use a punch in the face (preferably from Ken Cosgrove). But you can’t deny he’s relatively happy, at least in the slow but steady way he’s making progress at SCDP. The only reason he’s not ranked above Cosgrove is because he doesn’t deserve it.
4) Sylvia (unranked last week): Fooling around with Don Draper doesn’t have to be complicated. Sylvia’s Catholic guilt kept popping up again and again — when she unexpectedly found herself comforting Megan and Don walked in; when she found herself alone with Don at what was supposed to be a double dinner date — but Don knew exactly how to ease her stress. And it’s clear she’s enjoying the affair. (“We can’t fall in love. It won’t be so French anymore.”)
5) Peggy (last week, #2): Peggy has discovered not everyone is comfortable with a woman taking charge, and maybe she doesn’t know how to best treat those working under her. The practical joke her subordinates played with the Quest feminine hygiene powder (“kills overly critical bacteria; target professional woman and other Olsons”) knocked her down a few rungs. And she’s not exactly thrilled with Ted asking her to go after Heinz ketchup because of the SCDP gossip Stan shared with her. (“He’s not your friend, he’s the enemy,” Ted reminds her. Uh oh.)
6) Joan (last week, #3): We’re still waiting for a proper Joan showcase but her tete-a-tete with sleazebag Herb proved that she’s not entirely at peace with how she landed her partnership. “I know there’s a part of you that’s glad to see me,” he said with a leer. “I know there’s a part of you you haven’t seen in years,” she shot back. Then she poured herself a stiff drink in Don’s office.
7) Trudy (unranked last week): Trudy had reason to be royally pissed at Pete for his stupidity and even though she can’t be happy her marriage is crumbling, we’re happy for her stance. “I refuse to be a failure,” she seethed at him. “I don’t care what you want anymore, this is how it’s going to work. You will be here only when I tell you to be here. I’m drawing a 50 mile radius around this house and if you so much as open your fly to urinate I will destroy you.”
8) Megan (last week, #1): Everything seemed golden for Mrs. Draper last week, but the revelation that she suffered a miscarriage threw all that out the window. She doesn’t know how to tell Don. She fired their maid with no warning. But what’s making her feel extra terrible? She’s not entirely sure that losing an unplanned pregnancy was a bad thing.
9) Don (last week, #10): Don did a better job of hiding his misery behind a mask of confidence this week, whether he was smoothly reassuring Sylvia about their affair or slickly humiliating Herb during a Jaguar ad meeting. Don’s righteous anger at not giving in to Herb’s every whim (“We just keep saying yes, no matter what, because we didn’t say no in the first place”) shows he’s still angry about what his colleagues put Joan through and gave him something to focus his attention on as a distraction from his mess of a personal life.
He’s cheating again — and this woman literally lives one floor down and considers herself friends with his wife. Megan had a miscarriage. He’s finding himself haunted by the memory of living in a brothel and watching his stepmother give herself to a “family friend.” When he goes home at night, he doesn’t even want to walk through the door.
10) Pete (last week, #4): At least Don still has a home to go. Pete finally crossed the line with Trudy and he’s exiled to the city until further notice. She won’t even set him free with a divorce (which Pete could probably handle better than the current arrangement). When Pete snaps at Bob Benson (“It’s all about what it looks like, isn’t it?”), it’s clear Trudy hit him where it hurts.
Look back at the week one “Mad Men” happiness index.