Mad Men, Season 5

Whither Kenny Cosgrove?
Talking television.
May 29 2012 12:31 PM

Mad Men, Season 5

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Whither Kenny Cosgrove?

Mad Men (Season 5)
Ken Cosgrove, abandoned

Michael Yarish/AMC.

Patrick, I can think of one high-profile example of a person throwing money in another person’s face. But it only serves to reinforce your point that the gesture is an assertion of power and contempt. Otherwise, why shoot up the club?

John Swansburg John Swansburg

John Swansburg is Slate's deputy editor.

At the risk of overanalyzing Don’s gesture, one last point about the money toss. There was another insult embedded within it, I think. Before throwing the bills, Don says “You want to go to Paris? Here” (or words to that effect). But this wasn’t about Peggy wanting a trip to Paris on the company dime. It was about acknowledging her conference-call coup, about ownership of an idea, and about her authority at SCDP. That Don made it a fight over a travel perk only made the slight sting that much more. You’re right, Patrick, that ultimately there was a number for Peggy: $19k. But the other thing she wrote on that pad was “Copy Chief”: It wasn’t just the money, it was the authority that comes with that title.

As the president of the Kenny Cosgrove fan club, I was glad to see him briskly follow Peggy out of Don’s office and make an effort at consoling his colleague. (Earlier, I’d also loved the silent standing ovation he gave Peggy during her Chevalier Blanc freestyle.) I guess I should be glad Peggy was having none of it—had she honored the Olson-Cosgrove pact, she’d have taken Kenny with her to Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough, and I’d be mourning his departure from the firm yet again. I wonder why Peggy decided in the end not to bring Kenny with her, per their deal. Perhaps she recognized that in order to truly start again on her own terms, she couldn’t have someone along for the ride who knew her when she was just a secretary, even if he had later become a confidant and cheerleader for her work.

Despite his sweetness toward Peggy, Cosgrove didn’t emerge from this episode with his reputation fully intact. He’s less comfortable with Herb-from-Jaguar’s quid pro quo, and makes some effort to protect Joan (“You like redheads. I know some redheads”), but ultimately he doesn’t exactly object to the idea of prostituting Ms. Harris for the sake of the account. “Well, we wanted to be in the car business,” he says to Pete with some resignation, but not enough.

Julia, what did you make of the Megan plot this week? Is she a beautiful woman that can’t be owned? She stood up yet again for her freedom and for her career choice when Don balked at the idea of her sojourn in Boston. But she looked mighty objectified in that audition.

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