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October 7, 2015

'Mad Men' - 'The Rejected' Recap

by Bob Sassone, posted Aug 16th 2010 1:03AM
Mad Men
(Season 4, Episode 4) "How the hell did this get so sad so fast?" - Freddie

Several years ago, when I was trying to find any way I could to make ends meet, I participated in a lot of market research groups. I'd go and listen to a market research expert talk to us about some product in a board room in front of a giant window and microphones, much like the scene tonight with the expert talking to the SCDP women about Pond's Cold Cream. And something Don said absolutely rings true, that people in these groups will say anything -- "blah blah blah, just to be heard," as Don said.

Not that I ever did anything like that, of course (cough). But this episode made me flashback to those days.

I can point out a few instances of characters being "rejected" in this episode (besides Joyce's envelope saying that): Don being rejected by Allison when he wanted her to write her own reference, Joyce getting rejected when she wanted to make out with Peggy, Joan being rejected for the focus group, Pete being rejected when the Clearasil account goes away. Of course, I think that most episodes of 'Mad Men' have elements of rejection in them, so the rejection didn't really stand out in any particular way, but I understand where they were saying.

This was really the first episode where I had this horrible feeling that Don was going to be the guy falling off of the building that we see in the opening credits. I don't know if that's supposed to be a preview of something that will happen in the show itself -- perhaps in the series finale -- or just a cool, symbolic way to open every episode, but with Don not being able to do much right and his having problems with women and his divorce and Anna dying of cancer and Allison quitting, he's not having a good season four.

And his drinking now has a sad edge to it. It's not just the retro, relaxing thing we've grown accustomed to on this show.

And there are lots of things changing in the 'Mad Men' world. This was an episode that truly felt sixties-ish. Or should I say, mid-sixties-ish. Where the first few seasons were all about it still kinda looking and feeling like the '50s, this season is showing us how the '60s changed everything: Jan and Dean songs, more pot smoking, Vietnam, civil rights, and now in this episode Peggy getting involved with new, younger friends who go to parties attended by pretentious ARTISTES that love Warhol and abhor advertising. I can't stand people who don't like advertising, and really wished Peggy had kicked the guy in the groin when he dumped on her career.

There was a fantastic moment when Pete was in the lobby with the "older" group while Peggy was near the elevators with her new younger friends and she and Pete shared a silent look. Really well done. I'm glad they broached the subject of Pete and Peggy's baby in the subtle way they did (now that Trudy is finally pregnant with her own child), and I wonder if this scene was meant to signify that Pete and Peggy are over and their lives are different now.

Of course, everyone's life is different now.

More thoughts:

- I love how Pete's office is crowded and odd-shaped, with a post that's in the way. It somehow fits.

- After Pete had his talk with his father-in-law, he asked Trudy if they had any ice. Earlier Don asked the girls in the office had any ice. Any reason for that?

- Speaking of Pete, he continues to impress with his surprising cleverness. I think any other show would have played the scene between Pete and his father-in-law, when he finally told him that SCDP had to drop Clearasil, in a predictable way, with Pete apologizing and acting sheepish. Instead, the writers had Pete play a bit on the FIL's guilt and had Pete approach the situation a bit cockier, a bit greedier. Don't underestimate Pete. Having the FIL call him a son-of-a-bitch to end the scene (with Pete saying nothing but giving a little shrug) is something a lot of shows wouldn't have done.

- I actually believe that Pete was being sincere when he apologized to Ken.

- LOL moment #1: Peggy looking over the wall into Don's office.

- LOL moment #2: Cooper in the background on the couch, eating an apple, reading a magazine. I love how they never explained it or had him do anything else in the episode. This episode was directed by John Slattery, and you can see a lot of scenes where they just seem like something he would come up with.

- The above quote by Freddy rings true, there were plenty of sad moments in this episode. But wasn't it also one of the funnier episodes too? Even the scene with Allison throwing stuff at Don -- which was sad because Allison has been so hurt by Don and she's leaving SCDP -- was funny in its own way, the way Don reacted to it and the way Peggy and Joan both stuck their heads out of their offices to see what the hell was going on. And even after Peggy found out that Pete and Trudy were going to have a baby, a rather serious moment, she was shown in her office comically banging her head on her desk. Slattery again probably.

- Blankenship could be Don's most entertaining secretary yet. And one that he won't sleep with (though in fairness to Don, Allison was wrong when she assumed that he slept with his other secretaries).

- If anyone knows what the deal was with the "pears" discussion at the end, let me know?


"Either of you ladies bring any ice with you?" - Don

"Bowling is a sport." - Roger, to Lee

"If it's a boy, a $1000. If it's a girl, $500." - Pete's father-in-law

"My father-in-law's a bus driver. The only place he can take me is to the moon." - Harry

"You didn't call me an all-American idiot who fell into everything?" - Ken, to Pete

"Well now, that should take the sting out of this!" - Lane, about Pete being a dad

"That's not what I'm embarrassed about. This actually happened." - Allison, to Don

"I don't say this easily, but you're not a good person!" - Allison, to Don

"Would you be open to Allison returning in a few days?" - Joan
"If that's what she wants." - Don
"Really?" - Joan
"No." - Don

"Every time you jump to conclusions Tom, you make me respect you less." - Pete, to his father-in-law

"I'm done auditioning." - Pete, to his father-in-law

"You look swelegant!" - Joyce, to Peggy

"I have a boyfriend." - Peggy
"Yeah, but he doesn't own your vagina." - Joyce
"No, but he's renting it." - Peggy

"Allison, I'm very sorry. Right now my life is very " - Don's letter to Allison

"Art in advertising? Why would anyone do that after Warhol?" - Davey, about advertising

"Sorry, for somebody to sell their soul they have to have one." - Abe, to Peggy, about Davey

"As the President would say, I turned chickenshit into chicken salad." - Pete

"Yes. You ever read the stuff between the ads?" - Joey, to Peggy, after she asked him if he knew who Malcolm X was

"It has nothing to do with what I do, and it's nobody's business!" - Don, to Faye

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October 28 2010 at 4:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Of course the deliciously ironic thing about the downtown scene was that Andy Warhol got his start in New York drawing shoes -- for advertisements! Loved that!


August 16 2010 at 8:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The pears could also allude to "the pairs" vis a vis all of the pairs that rejected each other.

August 16 2010 at 9:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think the pears comment had more to do with how the old lady said "we'll discuss it inside", ie not in front of the neighbors. This harks back to what Don said to Dr Miller about people not wanting to talk about themselves, by which he means of course that *he* doesn't want to talk about himself. The fact that they are so old is indicative of how this is an old-fashioned notion, and how if SCDP want to move forward, they have to embrace a modern approach. This was reinforced over and again, especially with that last scene at the foyer of the agency between Peggy and Pete. Anyway, that's my two cents!

August 16 2010 at 8:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If I remember correctly, one of the previews for season 4 showed Peggy and Pete making out... so I think you're wrong about them officially being done.

August 16 2010 at 3:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved the way Alison's parting words to Don called back his words to Peggy when she was in the hospital after having the baby. "This never happened. It will shock you how much this never happened." Don has lived his life by that credo, trying to stay one step ahead of all the things that "never happened," but now all of it is coming home to roost. Consequences can be a bitch.

August 16 2010 at 2:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought the "pears" conversation had more to do with the couple and their relationship as a foil to Don's life. A couple, absorbed in minutiae, who have managed to stay together for the long haul, something Don isn't likely to experience (growing old with someone).

It made me wonder if Don hadn't rejected Dick Whitman all those years ago or if Anna wasn't dying, if Don might not have been the one asking about pears 40 years hence.

LOVED the shared glance between Peggy and Pete at the end. Again, these characters speaking volumes without any dialogue.

August 16 2010 at 1:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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