Monday, August 16, 2010

Mad Men – “The Rejected”

Joyce Ramsay (Zosia Mamet) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) get high and look at some art.
Photo Credit: AMC
Review by Paul Steven Brown

‘Mad Men’
Season 4 – Episode 4
“The Rejected”

‘Mad Men’ has dropped the holiday themes that permeated the first three episodes of the season as we begin to really move into the thick of things. Don is still drinking, but with Allison’s very open display of frustration at his behavior towards her, he may now finally start to turn things around. I’m not saying it’s going to happen soon, but his attempt at typing her a letter about the hard time he’s having was directed at himself as much as her.

Financially, things are still hairy for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, but there are is some potentially good developments coming down the pipe. Of course, this is at the expense of Pete Campbell’s relationship with his father-in-law, but business is business. Trudy’s pregnancy is probably the only thing enabling the two men to actually occupy the same room.

Due to her quick moves up the corporate ladder, I sometimes forget how young Peggy actually is. She’s only in her mid-20s, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that she would finally start hanging out with a bunch of people her own age. This also provides a window to the growing ‘60s counter-culture at that time.

This was certainly one of the more theme heavy episodes of ‘Mad Men’. This one is called “The Rejected” which is a very appropriate title. Don rejects Allison, or at least any acknowledgement of her feelings about the fact that they slept together. He also rejects Dr. Faye’s recommendation for the Ponds campaign. Don was rejected by Betty. Pete has to reject his father-in-law’s Clearasil account due to a conflict with Ponds. Ken Cosgrove finally makes an appearance after not being invited to join SCDP at the end of the last season. Peggy’s new friend Joyce is carrying rejected photos from Life magazine when they initially meet.

However, the most painfully rejection that we are reminded of is Peggy’s heart at the hands of Pete from the first season and her giving up their child for adoption. When she finds out that Pete and Trudy are having a baby, she’s obviously hurt by the notion, yet she puts on a brave face and even congratulates him. The sequence near the end of the episode intensifies the separation between these two people, despite their working so close together. Peggy waits for the elevator with her young, hip new friends, while Pete shakes hands with the old boys in suits, on the other side of the glass doors in the lobby of SCDP. It’s wonderfully shot in slow motion and great choice by director John Slattery, who we all know as Roger Sterling.

Now that we’ve finally seen what’s going on in the Campbell household, I feel like we’re finally into the season proper. We have a pretty good understanding where the principal characters are in their lives now and things internal and external can begin to really evolve. Still, we’ve gone two episodes without an appearance by Betty, but I’m not too upset about that.

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