After the high drama of “Mystery Date,” Mad Men keeps the heat on with “Signal 30.” Desperate for new clients, Lane tries to secure Jaguar, via an acquaintance of his. Pete’s unhappiness with his life and marriage takes a turn for the worse, while power struggles at SDCP come to a head.

The Players

Director: John Slattery

Writers: Frank Pierson and Matthew Weiner

Cast: Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Jessica Pare, Alison Brie, Christina Hendricks, Robert Morse, Jared Harris

The Plot:

Lane brings in the possibility of new business, Jaguar, by way of an old friend of his (to Pete’s chagrin) while Roger offers some unsolicited advice regarding the project.  Lane then fails at his first attempt at seducing Jaguar to sign, but Don and company take the Jaguar rep for a second spin and entertain him with booze and women to seal the deal. At modern day brothel, Pete ends up sleeping with a prostitute while the Jaguar man is entertained.  Meanwhile, Pete and Trudy host a dinner party, which Don tries to get out of but succumbs to. Trudy tries to show how perfect their life in the country is, but it’s obvious that all is not well.

The Good:

  • Rousing Roger: Roger actually steps up for a change and is helpful in his exchange with Lane, instead of being the lazy, incompetent boozehound of the last few seasons.
  • Pouty Pete: Pete’s deteriorating happiness in his marriage begins to intensify. He finds living in the suburbs a bore and finds himself crushing on a teenage girl in his driving class. It seems as though he is searching for youth in his life that no longer exists.
  • Leakage: The symbolism of the leak in the Campbell’s home was a good one for Pete’s marriage; a slow leak building up until it finally explodes. It will be interesting to see how the marriages survives- or won’t as the seasons moves on.
  • Fight On: The fight scene between Lane and Peter was absolutely hysterical. Lane may look innocent but he packs quite a punch. In the end the British brawler took out the Yankee loudmouth who called Lane a “homo” and told him he couldn’t close a deal with his own friend.
  • Joan’s Comfort: Joan offers comfort to Lane after the fight by telling Lane it’s a good thing he’s not like Don and co; he returns the kind words with an unsolicited kiss. Hints of a future fling perhaps?

The Bad:

  • Costume Overload: During the dinner party scene, the plaid and patterns and color schemes of the Campbell’s household had me feeling woozy. I know it was the style of the time, but my god, was it garish.
  • Ken the Pen: Ken Cosgrove’s sudden second foray into writing seems to come out of nowhere, as far as plotlines go, and as a rabid Mad Men viewer, I have to say I really am uninterested to see where this goes. Even worse though, Roger is discouraging his pursuits.
  • Women Workers: I scowled as the women all got up to clear the dishes during the dinner party: some things never change.
  • Pervy Pete: Pete’s misconduct made me aware of the smarmy, annoying Pete from earlier seasons (including the affair with Peggy) that we all loved to hate. Pete had done such a good job of making me forget that behavior. Well, he’s back. In fact, he’s becoming the next Don Draper.

Overall:

When Lane Pryce tries on the hat of an account man for the day, he fails miserably because he doesn’t know how to “entertain” in the way that certain clients demand. But as Joan astutely points out, this is no failing of his. It’s an important lesson to take away. Pete’s unhappiness gives us a new storyline to focus on for the rest of the season, and we are ambivalent whether to feel sorry for him or whether to feel he deserves it. An episode with a lot going on, “Signal 30” gave the Mad Men faithful a lot to think about.

Rating: 9/10

Mad Men airs on Sunday nights on AMC.

What did you think of the episode?