Mad Men, Season 5

Rory Gilmore Is Not the Girl For Pete
Talking television.
May 7 2012 11:28 AM

Mad Men, Season 5

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Rory Gilmore is not the girl for Pete Campbell.

Mad Men (Season 5)
Beth Dawes (Alexis Bledel) and Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser)

Michael Yarish/AMC.

See Slate's interview with Alexis Bledel about this episode.

Julia Turner Julia Turner

Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast.

Oh, Pete. I’m afraid I can’t defend his lovesick attachment to Beth, his train buddy’s wife. If Pete is determined to have an affair, this woman is a more palatable prospect than the bobby-soxer from driver’s ed. And Pete relates to Beth’s loneliness—she’s lost, and sad, and caroming around a big Connecticut house too. But it is jarring to see Alexis Bledel in the role. As much as I loved her on Gilmore Girls, her character here felt false, like a young girl broadly pantomiming suburban ennui. It made me appreciate anew January Jones’ formidable talents. Even the dialogue—including that post-coital conversation about the immersive beauty of Vincent Kartheiser’s eyes—made her seem miscast.

(Bledel’s character on Gilmore, however, was not unlike the one Alison Brie, Pete’s wife Trudy, plays on Community—high-strung good girl with a screw loose—so maybe he has a type?)

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As for Megan’s departure from SCDP, I liked how it unsettled the ranks. Her acting ambitions befuddle Peggy and Don because they can’t fathom a gig better than advertising. (“My dream was indoor plumbing,” Don tells Roger.)

But Don isn’t just unsettled because advertising no longer seems as cool as it did before Megan spurned it. So far, Megan has been Don’s ticket to modernity. He was an enlightened man of the '60s, content to have a working spouse with ambitions of her own. She made him feel young, part of the new order. He’s been able to have the idea of an independent partner without actually having one, since all of Megan’s work at SCDP served to further his own business success. Now that she’s actually out the door to lie on the floor in the dark with a bunch of artists, he feels old: home alone, discovering he can’t keep up with the Beatles.

What did you two make of Joan’s prediction that she just wants to be a wife and mother? Will Megan stick with the acting game?

And how about Pete’s casual mention of the suicide coverage on his life insurance policy? Add that to the heaping pile of suicide foreshadowing so far this season. Now that Roger is back to his sprightly, unflappable self—merrily passing clients he’s lured in along to Pete—who’s our top candidate to off him- or herself before the season’s out?

Foggy heart,

Julia