*Full spoilers for each episode herein!
Mad Men is ostensibly Don Draper‘s story, but arguments can be made that it’s really about other characters- Peggy Olsen being a prime candidate. Season 5 felt like Pete Campbell‘s turn. This season he’s gone from being likeable yet annoying (his basic day-to-day state) to downright scumbag (the whole Joan/Jaguar affair) with the finale allowing Vincent Kartheiser to stretch his acting chops and drag poor Pete back up into likeable territory- albeit feeling very sorry for him at the same time. Even though he has a wife and baby at home, you can’t help but occasionally hope his affair with another man’s wife turns out for the better as her affections seem to be the only time life throws him a bone (yes, most of his problems are of his own doing but sometimes you need a leg up, no matter the cost). Maybe its just a damsel in distress reaction with Pete Campbell cast in the unlikely role as her rescuer making me feel that way towards him, but who would have guessed there was a shittier husband out there than Pete himself? Kartheiser does a wonderful line in wounded puppy-dog eyes and when he visits his affair in hospital, post her ECT, you can’t help but feel for the character and their stolen afternoons she will never remember. Meanwhile Trudy, Pete’s wife, suggests that maybe it is time he gets an apartment in the city. Pete Campbell- the living embodiment of “you can have it all, you just can’t have it all at once”? Oh well, Karma is a bitch.
Elsewhere, Don’s guilt over Lane’s death manifests as a severe toothache. This psychosomatic reaction compounds when he starts hallucinating his long dead brother- another victim of suicide that was partly Don’s fault. His day improves post-dentist when he runs into Peggy and admits to himself that proteges (and his wife by extension) all go on to bigger and better things- a realisation that may have set him up for the cliffhanger: propositioned to alone at the bar by a beautiful young thing. Will he take her up on that offer now that Megan’s film career is on its was to success? Has he learnt anything this season or will the old demons drag him back into a life of sin? This is Don Draper, what do you think…
Rated: 4 train fights out of 5