“Mad Men,” Episode 5, “Signal 30”

It’s about time we had a rock ’em sock ’em Pete Campbell episode.

Vincent Kartheiser dug deep to deliver on the meaty material provided in “Signal 30,” penned by Frank Pierson and Matthew Weiner and helmed by John Slattery. This episode has already gone a long way to making me forget the general ho-hum-ness of the previous week’s seg, “Mystery Date.”

Like the fight scene between Pete and Lane Pryce, “Signal 30” was raw in parts and thoroughly unpredictable. (He left chewing gum where?) It played like a “Mad Men” seg from the screenwriter of “Cool Hand Luke” and “Dog Day Afternoon” – which it was.

Kudos to Slattery, too, for keeping a punchy pace and having the bandwidth to be on screen a lot even while he was directing. It’s a very Roger Sterling thing to do all that and make it look so effortless.

Before dissecting the Pete of it all, let’s hear it for the girls who had important moments in the seg: Trudy, Megan and Joan.

Trudy, as Don now knows, is a force. I think they emphasized her determination to take charge as Mrs. Campbell on the social scene to distinguish her from a Betty type. Trudy clearly has ambition and you get the feeling that she won’t let even a philandering husband derail her plans for her family. She’s already overlooked his transgression once, a few seasons back when Pete pushed himself on the German au pair next door.

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  1. M Prell says:

    I see Trudy as a Nancy Reaganesque character. Driven, intelligent, political, cunning, etc but knowing in her time and world her success is through her husband. She’s not going to be CEO but she’s going to make Pete one. The scene we didn’t see but I would have liked to, is what Trudy had to say when she sees a bloodied and bruised Pete, and what Pete tells her caused it. When will Trudy realize Pete is mediocre and won’t reach the heights she covets? He’s made Roger and now Lane an enemy and at best others tolerate him. He’s Got Don’s flaws but none of his talents, abilities, cunning and saavy. He’s awkward where Don is swave. If Don had wanted to seduce the high school girl in the frivers ed calss he would have succeeded. Pete as just awkward. So, will Pete crash and burn this season or will his sheer determination and ego keep him afloat?

  2. SueB62 says:

    Excellent review.
    This was such a detailed and sad character study of Pete. Vincent Kartheiser was fantastic in the role.
    I don’t know where Pete goes from here. He was utterly devastated by the end of the episode when he said to Don he has “nothing”. And I believe him. It looks good on paper but none of it reaches him. He’s not really respected by anyone. His greatest assets are his wife (who is Lady Macbeth) and his work ethic. But his inability to be the man he wants to be, no matter how hard he tries, is painful to watch.
    Well done Matt Weiner & Frank Pierson. Again, kudos to Kartheiser.

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