*May 6 update* read about Pete’s latest problems in my Episode 8 recap.
I love the irony of “Ode to Joy” playing through the credits of “Mad Men” Season 5 Episode 5, “Signal 30.” Pete Campbell was feeling the opposite of joy, despite playing Beethoven’s 9th symphony at his dinner party.
Pete is sad. Pathetic. But I feel sorry for him. I’ve always had complicated feelings about Pete, but after he took advantage of that German au pair (should we call it rape?) I thought he crossed the line so far that I couldn’t do anything but hate him. I also hated the writers for doing that to Pete since I was enjoying the back-and-forth of disliking him one week and empathizing with him the next. I never wanted him to become a “villain.” He’s too complicated for that.
This season, Pete is living in the suburbs and dealing with the usual suburban ennui. His wife Trudy is in her element — showing power and strength where Pete has none — but Pete is just frustrated. He slept with a prostitute as part of “work” for a Jaguar client but it barely feels like cheating because it was all about placating his sad little ego, which was bruised after he was rejected by a teenage girl who thought she had gotten drunk on vanilla extract. (Talk about sad!)
There were so many great quotes on Episode 5, most having to do with Pete and Lane, two uncool guys dealing with their lack of manly virility in different ways.
Here’s one of my favorites:
Lane [to Pete]: “I can’t believe the hours I have put into helping you become the monster you’ve become.”
And here’s a great exchange between Don and Pete:
Pete: “I have it all. Wait till your honeymoon’s over.”
Don: “Look, I’m just tying to tell you — because I am who I am and I’ve been who I’ve been — that you don’t get another chance at what you have.”
Pete: “Brave words for a man on his second time ’round.”
Don: “Yeah, and if I met her first I would’ve known not to throw it away.”