local_max: (Default)
[personal profile] local_max
Hi gang, so the End of an Era-ness of the Mad Men finale compels me to write, but I've been struggling with gathering my thoughts on what I want to say. So I guess I will *hopefully* write multiple posts, but we'll see. Series spoilers, obviously. I think it makes sense to divide by character, so here I'm going to talk a little bit about the ending for Peter Campbell.

There are lots of funny things about where Pete ended up, but probably the funniest is that Pete had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to his perfect dream job. Peter Campbell was ambition personified, and has been frustrated for most of the series run that he will never have Don Draper charisma; whether he’s currently resenting or worshiping Don, he is always frustrated by the recognition that no matter how hard he tries, he can only get so far; his attempts to get ahead send him running in circles. He’s a decent accounts man, but he wants to be a great one, and no amount of effort seems to get him to the exact level he wants. And then, of course, when he gets his dream job, it has basically nothing to do with him: Duck pushes him into a job that Pete gets mostly on the basis of his breeding. Pete is disgusted abstractly by injustice except when it benefits him, and deep down Pete would really rather believe he earned whatever he gets, rather than inheriting it or having it fall in his lap. He can lie to himself with the best of them, but at some point that he doesn’t actually *deserve* what he has is going to come knocking.

In “The Milk and Honey Route,” Pete made the link between career and family; why, he asks his brother, are people always rushing to what they don’t have instead of what they have? He lost Trudy because he kept looking and could never tie himself down, and now he might be losing his cushy, relatively good McCann job, where he’s started doing well already, for what else is out there. And when he stops looking, he…gets the Learjet job, outside the bustle of the city, in a way that does not even burn his current bridges. That’s what not looking gets him! But I think Pete also knows not just that he didn’t initially want this job, but that he didn’t “deserve” it in the traditional sense. Being willing to “settle” at McCann is actually just a trial run for being willing, at long last, to commit fully to Trudy. And that he accepts a gift from on high (or from the other place, it being Duck Phillips who arranges this for him) is a willingness to accept luck. It’s a good job, which Pete didn’t really earn or even look for, so why is this a happy ending? Because, I think, Pete realizes that work is not everything, and so he doesn’t have to sabotage himself in order to pave his own way somewhere. Work can be used in the service of keeping what he has, rather than “earning” something new.

Pete appears in the final montage, as befitting one of the show’s central characters. His one speaking scene is earlier; Pete arrives at Peggy’s office, interrupted briefly by Harry having a final-episode cameo. The scene immediately follows Joan telling Richard, “I want you so badly right now!” The doomed, non-starter Peggy/Pete relationship has been gestured to every now and then throughout the series, in smaller and smaller ways as the memory of their time together grows further apart. Even though Pete is the one who is actually leaving town, it’s Peggy who breaks off their proximate engagement, which basically repeats their dynamic in the first two seasons: Pete is the married man (or, in “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” soon-to-be-wed man), who has an actual reason not to be with Peggy, but in a subtle way it’s Peggy who ultimately makes the choice to shut the relationship down before it gets going, sending their child (and the product of their love) away and telling Pete, a year later, that she could have had him but chose otherwise. Peggy cares about him, but pulls away, and even in their last chance to spend time together she makes work her priority over him.

I rewatched the first few episodes of the show before writing this, and in “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” I really do think that the thing that Peggy responds to in Pete is his vulnerability and neediness; she sees in him someone who, like herself, doesn’t really know what they are doing, and wants to be loved. Pete’s desire to be cared for by someone, for real, was somewhat a product of the artificial, near-arranged, business “her dad’s loaded” nature of his initial match with Trudy, which he hadn’t really expected would blossom so soon into genuine (as genuine as it could get for Pete) love. Peggy and Pete both needed to pretend in order to fit in—Peggy making a move on Don because Joan all but told her she’d be fired without it, Pete moving into sexual assault territory at the bachelor party with the woman who joined him because that’s how you impress a woman and your male friends besides—and then together they could briefly be ill-fitting, not pretending, or at least not pretending the way they usually did. But Peggy has found a way to make her career work, and Pete’s marriage unexpectedly became a posthumous success. It’s different now.

But still: Pete gives Peggy a gift, before he leaves. It’s this scene that makes me think Pete might actually be all right in his new life in Kansas, that black-and-white land away from the colour and magic of an Oz.

PEGGY: I just wanted to say that I’m very happy for you. And everyone’s gonna miss you who doesn’t hate you for getting that big job.
PETE: Hell, you’re doing fine. Keep it up, you’ll be a creative director by 1980.
PEGGY: God, that sounds like a long time.
PETE: I’m telling you. It will happen. They just have to get used to the idea. Someday, people are going to brag that they worked with you.
PEGGY: (embarrassed) What am I supposed to say to that?
PETE: I don’t know. No one’s ever said it to me.
PEGGY: (smiles) A thing like that.


Aw. And yet he says it without anger, or sadness. It’s like Pete, while going away, is admitting that Peggy has achieved something, creatively and in her career, that he never has; that try as he might, he will never attain that It factor that Don had and now Peggy has, and he may only be able to fall up the corporate ladder partly because of his connections and luck rather than some kind of inner something that marks him as remarkable. He’s not remarkable, not in that way, and never will be, and he knows that now. And yet, Trudy still loves him, somehow, and that’s what matters; he can be happy with his own frustrating apparent mediocrity and charisma vacuum, while telling Peggy that he sees her. Peggy is thankful, a little ashamed that she can’t quite tell Pete that she admires him the way he does her, but she also means it when she says “everyone” will miss him, and I think regrets that she’s cancelling their last day together, even if rearranging her work schedule would feel a little too much like reopening old…somethings.

His other gift is the cactus which he (re)gifts to Peggy:

PETE: Do you want it? I have a five-year-old.

Later,

PETE: I’ll be back. That thing better be alive.

The last shot of the scene has Peggy, somewhat sadly, holding the cactus over her stomach—over her womb. Pete’s “gift” of a tiny life to Peggy serves as a reminder of the life that they made who is out in the world, another reference to the big theme running of abandoned children running through this episode (Stephanie), season (Diana) and series (Don, as both parent and child). Peggy and Pete’s child was a topic in “Time & Life,” when Peggy dealt with children all episode and Pete, seeing Peggy with a child, couldn’t help but go talk to her about the ending of SC&P, and Peggy eventually talked openly to Stan about what had happened and about her ambivalence about that child loosed in the world, to adoption. I think the cactus as a symbol here is appropriately bittersweet. It is prickly, painful, difficult to touch directly…and yet, a cactus is the ultimate symbol of life flourishing with even the smallest amount of nurturance. In entrusting the cactus to single, childless Peggy, I think Pete is entrusting to her a final token of their might-have-been love, a small possibility which has long-gone…and yet there is something in their connection that endures, no matter how little they give to it. It also suggests that maybe wherever their child is, the child will be okay, one of many contradictory messages the final episode (and series has as a whole) about abandoned children. A thing like that. And after he walks out the door, Peggy looks down at his parting gift, and gently laughs. And the scene cuts to Sally Draper, the ultimate cactus thriving from the barest hints of nurturance in an emotional desert.

Date: 2015-05-28 11:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sunclouds33.livejournal.com
This is great. I thought maybe I should have done this. I have Roger-thoughts. I said in a post that my reaction was kind of a mess- partly because the finale was just too big to be contained in a lump post. You're such a great writer (well all the time) that IMO, these character-posts are a great way to clearly organize your brilliant thoughts.

He’s a decent accounts man, but he wants to be a great one, and no amount of effort seems to get him to the exact level he wants

Hmm, it's tricky to judge Pete. IMO, he *is* great at getting important clients and fighting for them against Creative while (after S2 for Don and S3 for Peggy) actually having a good, professional relationship with the preemo Creatives (Don and Peggy). Which is basically his job description. He strategizes for business cannily. Then, he puts legit time into thinking about what work they're asking for and what they want. He doesn't just wine and dine- he sits and ponders helping Nixon while getting more billings from Sea Corp laxatives at the same time. He doesn't just get the television account- he thinks about selling to black people.

Pete doesn't have Roger's utter charm or Ken's (alleged- not a fan) good old boy affability. However, I've never seen those minuses materialize into Pete failing to attract business or keep clients happy where Roger and Ken could do either. IMO, Pete still attracts and holds onto more business. It would probably be different if Roger and Ken took the job more seriously and applied their different forms of charm to the task at hand...but they don't. So, as far as I'm concerned, Pete's the best account guy on the show, especially from S3 on.

In fact, I don't think it's a lack of charm and charisma that even holds Pete back. Charm aside, Pete does bring in business. His professional failings are that his raw ambition and suck-up-as-a-way-to-success makes him unable to really stand up to clients and show some backbone. Like, Pete going along with Herb's strategy to turn Jaguar into a cheap used car and cut down their national campaign which would have cut into billings. Or Pete's OTT "My dad dying two days ago on an AA flight is how I know I want to advertise for AA." There, are instances where he didn't correctly manage expectations and manipulate the British who really controlled Jaguar to undermine the untenable Herb or he turned off American Airlines which led to the stand-up. Stuff like that costs business.

However, Pete's inability to turn a work lunch into a bender like Roger may deprive the client of an opportunity for a much better time. They may gravitate to the charismatic Roger. However, I never see it hurt any version of SC. After all, most of the businessmen who make solid products DID largely come to New York to sell more stuff. Pete really cares about that more than Ken and Roger.
Edited Date: 2015-05-28 11:07 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-05-28 11:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sunclouds33.livejournal.com
However, all of this isn't to disagree. When Peggy and especially, Don are ON, they feel like the Platonic ideals of Creatives. Bert Cooper actually doesn't do very much- but you always get the impression that you're listening to a brilliant legend who knows business like his heart-beat...who is just understandably dotty and eccentric like old, rich men can be. Pete never really has that. Even when Pete is doing well, he's still behaving in a mildly off-putting way even when his job description as CHARM as the first word. Pete is a canny strategist and that makes him good at his job but IMO, he doesn't have Don's out-of-this-world instincts on how to maneuver through business and sink competitors and suddenly create mergers and sabotage other agencies' bottom lines through subterfuge. However, IMO, Pete is consistently the best account guy that we see, even if none of the account guys are so perfect.

Being willing to “settle” at McCann is actually just a trial run for being willing, at long last, to commit fully to Trudy. And that he accepts a gift from on high (or from the other place, it being Duck Phillips who arranges this for him) is a willingness to accept luck. It’s a good job, which Pete didn’t really earn or even look for, so why is this a happy ending? Because, I think, Pete realizes that work is not everything, and so he doesn’t have to sabotage himself in order to pave his own way somewhere. Work can be used in the service of keeping what he has, rather than “earning” something new.

Really well said. I really like the point that we can query Pete's fidelity to Trudy if he can't stick with McCann. IMO, all of the characters who got "apparently happy" endings (i.e. all of the regulars, except the Francis household) got an ending that's a nod to how the beatific, advertising-perfect final picture is FOR REAL and is a harbringer for better things to come or it all stems out of a story where they repeated past flaws and mistakes and just because they're on some crest in their final picture doesn't mean that it'll last because they are still inclined to repeat mistakes. I mean, we've seen picture-perfect self-actualizing high points for Don, Pete, Trudy, Joan, Roger, Peggy that turn to crap. *I'm* pretty optimistic all around (and frankly, kind of optimistic about the Draper kids despite the point-blank horrible loss of Betty)- except for Roger.

I mean, one of the elements of Pete's "redemption" from his surface-villainy weasel S1 self was that he betrayed Duck to Don at the end of S2 and refused to jump ship from SC for Duck in S3. We all marveled at the surprising loyalty and streets-smarts about having Duck's number right along side that Pete surprised people by being a slowly better husband to Trudy. However, here's Pete jumping ship from McCann on Duck's instructions. And I always found Pete's love of New York one of the many endearing details about Pete- so he's abandoning that too. However, I'm optimistic for the following reasons within the context that DUCK, Abandoner of Chancey, Unplugger of the TV Reporting on the Kennedy Assassination, Guy Who Called Peggy a Whore Who Killed 12 in Okinawa offered this sudden job to Pete: (1) Pete is going to Wichita- where the Dikeman legacy will necessarily mean less than NY. I bet most people in Wichita don't even know from Dikeman; (2) Pete isn't jumping in with Duck. Pete still knows who Duck is. He's just taking an opportunity that Duck came up with; (3) Given that McCann gave its blessing, it's not jumping ship.
Edited Date: 2015-05-28 11:08 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-05-28 11:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sunclouds33.livejournal.com
Peggy making a move on Don because Joan all but told her she’d be fired without it

Correct me if I'm being too literal, but I don't think Joan was really telling Peggy that she'd be fired if she didn't make a move on Don. IMO, Joan (and the switchboard girls) were instructing Peggy to make herself appealing to Don, always ready with Rye and Aspirin and dressed like a lovely decoration for his side of his office. However, Joan was really instructing Peggy to find a single rising star to really make the right moves and end up in the country and not have to go to work at all. There was some intimation that Peggy should be, at least, OK with Don making a move if he does. "Most of the time they're looking for something between a mother and a waitress...and the rest of the time, well..." However, Joan didn't think that would be a problem for Peggy because Joan's line in S1 was that Don was so handsome that he goes out of the office for his affairs instead of needing to rely on his office power to manipulate sex (and then deal with the fallout). I mean, I think Joan does develop issues with hanky panky and anger at the office's morality that she didn't have in S1. However, she's not pleased when people besides her engage in office hanky panky whether it's natch Roger/Jane, punishing Don with Ms. Blankenship for Allison, her contempt tinged with "I'm irritable that, as Office Manager, I served as dating service for the Most Eligible Bachelor" for Don and Megan.

IMO, that read of Joan played into why Peggy hit on Don and then, slept with Pete. There's an early hopelessness to Peggy that she can't imagine ever REALLY making the right moves and ending up in the suburbs with a rising star husband. Actually, I think Peggy's mother and sister did compliment Peggy's appearance as a young girl. However, they're extremely homely and totally don't get good looks so Peggy doesn't really believe them there. In my head canon, Peggy's real claim to fame is that she knows, based on terrific school marks and performance at Ms. Deavers Secretarial School, that she's an industrious worker who will do well at work (even if breaking the glass ceiling and copy writing was beyond her wildest dreams.)

IMO, Peggy actually knew that she really screwed up by letting Pete into Don's office.

Don: First of all, Peggy, I'm your boss, not your boyfriend. Second of all, you ever let Pete Campbell go through my trash again, and you won't be able to find a job selling sandwiches in Penn Station.
Peggy: He said he left his fountain pen in here. I didn't know. I hope you don't think I'm that kind of girl.
Don: Of course not. Go home. Put your curlers in. We'll get a fresh start tomorrow.


Peggy's immediate admission and EM's tone is someone who knew that she made a rookie mistake of discretion right Pete (likely gleefully and slimily) walked out of Don's office with papers instead of a pen. So yeah, I think Peggy hit on Don straight away, well, partly for the obvious reasons that women hit on Don, because he's her boss, because he defended her to Pete, because while Peggy can't imagine making it into the boy's club, she is visibly drawn to powerful men celebrating important business victories that make their business chug along and Don as the king-star of the whole celebration. However, the key element is that Peggy feels that she screwed up professionally and she wants to make up for that guilt with sex since she certainly doesn't have another avenue to eke a huge success to immediately make up for her lack of discretion and streets smarts. (Like how, Don can completely screw up the Rachel Menken meeting but then pull "It's toasted" and WIN the day because there's always another important pitch.)

Date: 2015-05-28 11:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sunclouds33.livejournal.com
I agree that Peggy was drawn to Pete's shared neediness and shared feelings of rejection. However, there's some shame and self-punishment. Peggy couldn't take pride that she's "not that kind of girl" who'd betray her boss because she has a weird thing for Pete who sexually harassed her and would sell out Don, who defended her and is actually evidently the most powerful guy in the office anyway. Because at first glance, that's what Peggy thinks she looks like and she wants to punish herself that. Peggy trades sex- but it's because professional disappointments and failures really get to her like nothing else, including preserving a rep for (in Peggy's mind) the unlikely chance of marrying an available SC gentleman.

Wow, this was a comment spam. Respond to whatever you want. I'm just...in one of those moods.
Edited Date: 2015-05-28 11:10 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-05-29 12:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
Yeah. She's also spinning somewhat from Don's rejection. IMO, she didn't really *want* to sleep with Don, which is not to say that she was wholly against the idea, so much as going along, expecting that that was The Way Things Were Done, and she was a little shocked at her own faux pas. Not only did Don refuse her advances, the "I'm your boss, not your boyfriend" suggests something very dismissive. I think that in the 21st century, boyfriend feels less of a childish term than it plays to my ears coming from the 1960's; something about it makes it sound like Don is implying that Peggy is a gawky teenager looking for a boy to tell her she's pretty and to make her feel good about herself. This plays into his next statement about Peggy's big mistake about letting Pete in -- which, interestingly, Don didn't seem necessarily to be about to say until after she made a move on him. "That kind of girl" is not just a promiscuous girl or a social climber, but also a high schooler whose head is filled with notions of boys rather than the series requirements of being a professional adult.

Meanwhile, though, I think that the insults did get to her. "What are you, Amish?" Pete and Joan both commented on her legs, hidden away, and they both indicated that her attire was somehow lacking. Meanwhile, she knows that she is not a Joan-style knockout, for the reasons that you have mentioned, and doesn't really think she can be. I think that Don's easy rejection of her also plays into her feelings of lack of worth in her body and herself.

I think that the neediness and vulnerability she sees in Pete is also, somehow, related to that -- because she saw Don chastising Pete, too. Don is the adult, and Peggy and Pete are children, who have failed, to different degrees, to impress him. The Don-Peggy-Pete family unit probably finds its ultimate expression in the Burger Chef scene in 7.0, and those two are the most consistently played off as Don's professional quasi-protege(e)s. And they were both hit by Don in this episode -- and both are stinging from their inability to be what they are supposed to be at the office. While Peggy wasn't there to witness it, Don even makes a failed-seduction joke about Pete -- "I don't want to wake up pregnant" -- refusing Pete's hand gesture. Which is, of course, funny, given Peggy's plight.... Anyway, that Pete's tone and behaviour is much different when he's drunk helps confirm for her that his earlier frat boy stuff was performative, and underneath he's, well, not actually more decent, but at least different.

What's interesting about Pete is that as he is *about* to get married, he is also the only real opportunity Peggy has to sleep with someone at the office who is currently unmarried, and yet who will in a few days be married and thus ostensibly off the market. More to the point, there is plausible reason to think that this really will be a one-night stand. If Peggy started sleeping with a married man at the office, then obviously the bonds of matrimony aren't iron-clad, and with someone else it's permanent as well. It really does seem like her and Pete might only have sex once. I get the impression in the next few episodes, too, that Peggy is semi-consciously choosing to fixate on Pete, who as a newlywed is off the market, because it is somehow easier to have a doomed, star-crossed love which can never be satisfied than to face the possibility of a messy office romance which will go nowhere, or of making a move on someone else and being rejected again.

Date: 2015-05-29 12:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
You are definitely right. I was exaggerating what Joan was saying here. I guess I was more indicating that Joan seemed to heavily imply that it was very important to make oneself available for sex, and indeed that this is a big part of what being a secretary means. However, I agree with your analysis here. I don't think I thought directly about how trying to find a way to make up for letting Pete steal from Don's office factored into Peggy's move here. I do think that Peggy was somewhat wondering if this was going to be expected of her early on -- which is not really just about what Joan said, but about the general tenor of the office, the way the other men in the office treated her, Don's mysterious aloofness which suggested which maybe he must be like the other men but wanting her to make the move so he has less personal liability (I don't mean liability in the legal sense, just in the personal sense of, if she makes the move then he can keep his conscience clear through rationalization).

I rewatched the scene in question. So, Peggy went to the door right after Pete said "I still think he was right." It's still a little while after the other boys have left. So it may be that Peggy was listening to a bit of the exchange, as well, and nervously entered because she couldn't bear to do nothing while her mistake was talked about. I hadn't really thought of the idea that Peggy might be hitting on him for that reason, but it makes sense to me.

Either way, the scene basically comes down to Peggy attempting to adapt to what she sees as the fundamental order of things at SC. In a lot of ways, I think it goes to suggest exactly how much codes of conduct are genuinely situation-dependent. Peggy is actually not all *that* opposed to having sex to get ahead at this stage of the narrative, and Don is attractive enough, and it is normalized away from pure prostitution because it is part of the job rather than something separate. The first day in a new environment also has something of a dramatic arc; the way Peggy had men gawking at her openly from all directions, with Pete as the worst of the lot, and yet that Don remained the gentle protector, has a fairy tale resonance that seems to end with her giving the fair knight his reward. After the first day is over, the bewildering aspects of the new location start to settle in, and she "discovers" that she is allowed a certain amount more "self-respect" at the job than she thought on the first day. Though, it also remains that the fact that she went straight for Don and was turned down suggests that she has ambitions; she actually does want to be close to where the action is.

Date: 2015-05-29 01:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sunclouds33.livejournal.com
I agree with your Smoke Gets In Your Eyes comments. Yup, Peggy didn't really want to sleep with Don, so much as felt that felt that she needed to and thought it would hardly be *unpleasant* work. I mean, I think there's a romantic!Don/Peggy bent through the series, primarily on how they both get jealous of the other's "replacement" partner. Don finding a "She has the same spark" creative in Megan...who's a graceful fashion plate model-type. Peggy finding what some would tout as Good!Don in Ted. However, I'm undecided whether that's straight-up UST or just a resentment at being replaced as respected colleagues/friends. Regardless, Smoke Gets... is the foundation but it predates the key reasons to see Don/Peggy closeness of any stripe.

I think that the neediness and vulnerability she sees in Pete is also, somehow, related to that -- because she saw Don chastising Pete, too. Don is the adult, and Peggy and Pete are children, who have failed, to different degrees, to impress him.

Yup. And yet, there is a part of Peggy that likes Don chastising Pete right from the Pilot.

Don: Can you go out there and entertain [Campbell]?
Peggy: I know it's my first day and I don't want to seem uncooperative, but do I have to?
Don: I see your point.
**Unspoken bonding moment** Hee!

I really agree that's there's a dramatic arc to the first ep where all of the other men are louses to Peggy and Don was the "gentle protector." The first ep also sign-posts that Don is our "hero" and Peggy is our heroine, even before we know a lot about them. Weiner manipulated 21st expectations in the Pilot to imply that Don is a free agent, swinging bachelor who is doing everything that he's supposed as a leading man and having a compelling romance with a sexay Beatnik and potential UST with the most likable female characters in the Pilot (Peggy and Rachel)...right up until the end which smashes that to smithereens and shows that Don isn't doing what he should be doing.

This plays into his next statement about Peggy's big mistake about letting Pete in -- which, interestingly, Don didn't seem necessarily to be about to say until after she made a move on him.

I agree that Don, interestingly, didn't necessarily intend on chastising Peggy for letting Pete in until he was tied up with slapping down her advance. Some it is because Don ended up acing the Lucky Strike meeting and Pete made an ass of himself with the "death wish" comment. Don just couldn't get mad with perfect results like that. Peggy's faux pas worked out to Don's benefit.

Moreover, I do think Don's management style is to just file away small mistakes and faux pas in his head and then, pull the trigger and fire if the employee is somehow untenable or keep his judgment of an employee's abilities to himself to know how to slap them down with surgical precision when they get too big for their britches. I don't think Don knew enough about new girl Peggy to reprimand her with the verbal firepower that Don likes to employ until Peggy hit on him.

Date: 2015-05-29 03:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
It's weird that my mind went there, but I'm thinking of the episode of Seinfeld where George dated "the female Jerry," and wondered if maybe what he really wanted was everything he got from his friendship with Jerry, but also to have sex with him/her. I think that there is some understated element of that to Don/Megan and especially Peggy/Ted. However, without the gender element and the presumptive heterosexuality of the leads, it's ambiguous why a Don/Peggy hookup would be taboo; the age/position difference is present in both Don/Megan and Ted/Peggy. It's worth noting that Peggy's anger over the ending of her and Ted gets piled onto Don -- and some of that is Peggy just placing all her Ted-anger onto a local, and convenient, target, so that she doesn't have to fume with Ted-anger all the time, but a lot of it really is that she is personally angry at Don, whom she ultimately has stronger feelings about than she does Ted. The frustration that Peggy feels at the merger and being sent back to being under Don's wing, and then having Ted taken from her "by Don" (partially by Don), does have to do with a confusing nexus of emotions about her feelings for Don, desire to escape from Don's mentorship, the similarity of Ted and Don in terms of position in relation to her and so on. Even in the finale, Peggy/Don and Peggy's romantic life are tied together, since it's Peggy/Don which pushes her to calling Stan back and sets the proper emotional tenor for her to be open to his declaration, which, more on that when/if I write about Peggy, ha.

I do think a case can be made that a lot of Peggy's attraction to Ted *was* that she missed Don. Maybe Pete, too. And I think that romantic/sexual attachment can sometimes come out to force connection when it is a different kind of connection that is desired all the more, especially in this show. However, I don't think that Peggy is primarily attracted to Don romantically/sexually. And I think that elements of Peggy in Don/Megan are fairly small -- except insofar as Don's initial attempt to make Megan a copywriter *does* seem to be Don trying to make Megan a little more into Peggy briefly. They are very attracted to each other -- but it stays platonic, I think, because they sort of recognize that there is something else that binds them together, which is very specifically nonromantic. The mentor/protegee aspect of things does come to dominate, and I think that after a few years it would feel incestuous to be together.

One of the things of interest in the ~Don as white knight~ story that the first episode is that, when we find out that Don is married, his Midge affair and budding thing with Rachel mark him as a womanizer of a different sort. One moment that stands out is Don "apologizing" for Pete's fraternity house behaviour, and Pete giving his "what gives?" face in response. In "New Amsterdam," Pete sees Don lay on the charm with Rachel, and indicates that he's heard about it but never seen it up close. So part of the frustration of Pete is that Don criticizes his womanizing, but it's really apparently only because Don is a level higher. And indeed, Pete's frat house sexism is disgusting and Don is right to call him out on it -- but he loses much of the high ground given that Don loves-and-leaves and seems to have a trail of broken hearts in his wake. It becomes something like Oppenheimer chastising a trigger-happy army private (well, maybe not that extreme, but you know what I mean hopefully) -- Don is right about Pete's crassness, but he knows this partly because he's graduated to a higher level of sophistication in the same "art."

Date: 2015-05-29 04:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sunclouds33.livejournal.com
I LOVE the Seinfeld reference. I've been reading about MM way more than I ever had in the last week. I came across this Abigail Nussbaum discussing MM and Breaking Bad that I believe you referenced but said it had spoilers when I was mid-way through BB. I encountered a great comment below comparing MM's "It will shock you how much this never happened" ethos with Seinfeld's "no hugging, no leaning" unsentimentality. The comment had some stuff wrong with it- but I'm really seeing a MM and Seinfeld connection in the hard-headed practicality about the need to observe basic rules in etiquette and life-operation even if it doesn't yield some Enlightenment Cosmic Cookie.

I will didactically note the age difference between Don and Peggy, in some ways, is actually a more striking, powerful taboo because big-age-differences between Peggy/Ted and Don/Megan are part and parcel of why those ships were colossal failures that pretty much solely created unhappiness and bitterness for a lot of people. Yup, it's not a taboo because 1960s Mad Men DO seek out younger women but the record indicates it should be a taboo. Betty/Henry is the only good representative of big-age-differences out of four main May-December ships (adding in Roger/Jane). And as much I think Betty and Henry found happiness with each other, that kind of relationship was rapidly becoming a dinosaur in the late '60s.

I do agree with your analysis about Peggy's issues with Don in S6 vis a vis her relationship with Ted. I also agree that Don was first slept with Megan after she expressed an interest in copywriting and the how the business works- and Don really pushed Megan to be a copywriter to make her more like Peggy. The show slightly alludes to how Megan is a poor substitute for Peggy. Peggy knew that Don would hate a surprise birthday party; Megan disregarded Peggy's subtle warnings and threw the party. But then again, Megan regained Don's interest by turning the fight over the surprise party into dom/sub role-play and the after-glow into Little Girl Lost "I just wanted to make you happy." And Don WAS into the Zou Bisou Bisou song. Which again, hammers the other way, that's there's a sexual dynamic in Don/Peggy that's lacking.

And yup, in the finale, there's a clear line between the Peggy/Don call and Peggy getting her "end-game" romance. However, on Don's side, Don made three phone calls in the series finale to the most important women in his life. (Stephanie was there in person to recall Anna Draper- even though Stephanie is no substitute and pointedly says that she's not his family and runs off.) However, you could argue that Don called his *real* ex-wife of legitimate lasting importance (i.e. not Megan) and his daughter. But then, Don called Peggy to continue the confusion. Is Peggy Don's "work wife" or his protege-bordering-on-daughter? Peggy is kind of in the middle. I do the connection between Sally and Peggy is stronger- since Don called Betty to complain about her custody plans while Don's been calling Sally to keep in touch and called Peggy to say goodbye.

On the Don v. Pete on womanizing, S1 Pete *aggressively* flirts with women who don't seem to want his attention but are required to stand there and take it because it's the work place (Hildy, Peggy according to Don's perceptions in Smoke Gets...) or they're sitting at Pete's table (the Auotmat girl in Smoke Gets...). IMO, that's Don's main issue with how Pete treated Peggy. Early in the series, by contrast, Don operated that he may be cheating, but every woman who he flirted and had sex with clearly wanted it because they were hot for him and certainly not that women felt they couldn't leave and just had to take the touching and comments or they'd lose their job or be in danger. And there's big truth to that.

Date: 2015-05-29 04:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sunclouds33.livejournal.com
However but then, Don went to Rachel upset about Roger's heart attack and then, put the moves on her. Rachel was in a tough spot where while she genuinely wanted to sleep with Don, she also genuinely made a firm commitment to not sleep with a married non-Jew who she likes but doesn't fully trust. Those instincts were close but the tie-breaker that pushed Rachel was that she didn't want to be mean and throw Don out. It's grayer in Don's case as opposed as quite black in Pete's case- but bottom line, Don benefited here and other times in the series because a woman didn't feel she could say no to sex with him because he's the boss (Allison) and she's already been bought and paid for even though she and he didn't know that when she accepted the money (Diana) or Don's reputation is aided because Faye turned down Don's overly forward aggressive-COMPANY-Christmas-party come on to Faye (who is outside counsel paid by SCDP) until Don could come back with a better proposal for a real relationship.

Date: 2015-05-28 11:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
I just finished rewatching "New Amsterdam" before this comment! I was thinking in my post that I have a very hard time exactly stating what it is that Pete is missing that he more or less accepts as his lot in life. "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and "Marriage of Figaro" have some Pete material, and in fact both have Pete-*POV* scenes, which is before, say, Joan or Roger have any POV scenes (only really appearing to us through Don or Peggy's eyes). Still, it's "NA" that very thoroughly establishes the characters' business baseline. His father tells him that he's done nothing with his name (echoed by Don in the finale about his "stolen" name); Pete finds his father's condescension frustrating, given the radical double-standards for Pete as for Bud from his POV, and given that his family lost the large portion of their money a long time ago. His father refuses to help him directly, but he can't turn away the "help"/ownership of Trudy's parents or, ultimately, of Don -- at least according to Roger's "Don saved you" version of events. He's bought and paid for, and also knows that whatever he has is based on the "goodwill" of those around him, and the remnants of the value of his Campbell-Dykeman name. WHAT ABOUT HIS IDEAS? The backbone of America! Direct marketing! A few episodes will have Pete's desire to keep up with the Cosgroves with his epic bear story. Pete *wants* to be a creative genius; and he wants to be attractive and charismatic.

IMO, and I'm going to try to keep track on a rewatch, Pete doesn't entirely seem to believe that Trudy's love for him "counts," the way, say, impressing a high school girl at a driving test would count as evidence of his value to him. I have some inkling that it has to do with the idea that maybe he and Trudy were a quasi-arranged marriage? That there were business reasons behind the match, back in the day, and that Trudy can't really love him as a result. Or it might just be that he always wants more.

Anyway, I think you're right. I think the problem is not that Pete is a poor accounts man, it is that accounts is a crappy job. Roger gets away looking cool most of the time largely because he's a partner and because he's got endless wit -- not because he's good at his job, which is something that gets drilled in. I have little doubt that Pete will do a good job at Learjet. However, there is very little glamour in being a suck-up who is good at keeping clients. It is hard to point to any work he has done and feel proud. It is hard for him to imagine being told years from now that people talked about him in hushed, admiring tones.

The irony is that part of the reason Don dislikes him so much early on is that he sees Pete as an empty suit with nothing of interest to say or do. However, Pete actually is substance over style, in terms of the bottom line of keeping the company going. Or, maybe more particularly, Pete actually gets into the "boring stuff" of...actually keeping accounts, and maintaining them, when there is no immediate "THIS IS WHY I TOOK THIS JOB!" payoff.

Date: 2015-05-29 12:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sunclouds33.livejournal.com
I agree with everything in this comment. I think it's possible Pete came to SC looking for a Creative job and instead, got Accounts based on his name. Pete: In fact, I used to carry around a notebook and a pen just to keep track. Direct marketing, I thought of that, turned out it already existed, but I arrived at it independently, and then I come to this place, and you people tell me that I'm good with people, which is strange, because I'd never heard that before.

This quote and Pete's shenanigans makes it appear like Pete intended on being an Idea Man and got forced into Glad Hander. It had to stink. Maybe I've verging on Personal Canon here, but Pete really took a chance befitting an artist. He could have gone to business school at his Ivy League school (I think Dartmouth) or his parents probably would have put him through law school- and got a job that they'd approve of so he could be on Bud's level. Pete had a genuine "artistic" rebellion by going into advertising and he's kept down in his "corporate shill" elegant ghetto within SC. Pete suffers the rebellion disapproval of his parents with the "Wining, dining, whoring? No job for a white man" but with the office obligations to be the most staid, prep school guy who sucks up to businessmen and stays within the confines of Don's creative direction with little change to offer his own input. Because Pete may have "artistic temprement without being an artist" but "the world cannot support that many ballerinas" to borrow from Megan's own story of artistic rebellion v. risk.

I agree that there's little glamor in being an Accounts Man and it doesn't create an artistic/pop culture legacy like Creative. Roger's glamor partly comes from how much he gives no fucks about his job because it's his sterling-gold birthright. Roger seldom seems like a corporate shill...because shilling takes work as much as because of Roger's wit and charisma. However in the rare points where Roger feels his back to wall, he humiliates himself as much and obviously and comes off as small as Pete- see danger points in their relationship with Lucky Strike. With a possible exception of Roger selling SC 2.0 to McCann in S7, because he felt threatened by Cutler's aggressive plans for the agency and designs to destroy Don and small because of Bert Cooper's dismissive remarks about his leadership qualities. However while that's one of Roger's most shiny moments, there is a certain ease to just...selling your business which Pete couldn't do as a junior partner as much as Pete was also on Don's side (though not with...love? as Roger) and also actually stood up to Cutler's maneuvering more strongly over the course of S7.

I will say that *I* thought Pete was an empty suit until near the end of S1 with the Sea Corp laxative commercials preempting Kennedy commercials strategy. I remember being super surprised at the ingenuity and feeling that it was perhaps a fluke. I guess I should give him more credit for the "backbone of America" idea which seems cliched now- but was probably clever in 1960. Pete was surprising me with genuine positive points to his character, right at the same rate as Don. IMO, Pete grew a lot past his resentments about being an Account Man and chose, to make the best of his seemingly poor circumstances- being an Account Man, being more beholden to Don, being married to Trudy, being the least favorite son back home.

The other "bright young men" at SC also thought Pete was a particularly slimy empty suit.

Paul: Account management. Where prep schoolers skip arm-in-arm, "Wizard of Oz" style, joined together by their lack of skill and their love of mirrors. Account executives are all good at something, although it's never advertising. Submitted for your approval, one Peter Campbell. A man who recently discovered that the only place for his hand is in your pocket.
Edited Date: 2015-05-29 12:22 am (UTC)

Date: 2015-05-29 12:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
Yay! Yeah, I agree with this. It is hilarious and pathetic to think of it -- but yes, Pete definitely could have become a lawyer, but wanted to have glamour, and then got stuck in the least glamourous job, disrespected at large. Disrespected by everybody except Trudy! Whose taste Pete almost reflexively distrusts as a result. Doesn't want to be part of a club that would have him as a member, etc.

I agree about Roger. It's worth noting that Roger ends up falling into many of the same traps as Pete -- with Sterling's Gold being one of the biggest ones. Pete only wrote a bad short story; Roger wrote a whole book, which is pretty much regarded as terrible by everyone.
Edited Date: 2015-05-29 03:24 am (UTC)

Date: 2015-05-29 12:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ever-neutral.livejournal.com
I WAS NOT READY FOR THIS POST

He can lie to himself with the best of them, but at some point that he doesn’t actually *deserve* what he has is going to come knocking.

Cue rejection of Pete’s daughter from fancy school headmaster dude (or whoever he was - I don’t care), right?! The Campbell name is just as much a curse as it is a blessing, apparently.

Because, I think, Pete realizes that work is not everything, and so he doesn’t have to sabotage himself in order to pave his own way somewhere. Work can be used in the service of keeping what he has, rather than “earning” something new.

YASSSSSSSSSSS. That’s what I found satisfying about the finale — everyone (… sans Betty /o\ /o\ /o\) gets exactly what they need, as opposed to what they think they want.

The scene immediately follows Joan telling Richard, “I want you so badly right now!”

{{{SHARP INTAKE OF BREATH}}}

Also, how much did you love Pete telling Trudy “I’ve never loved anyone but you - ever”? I mean, I believe he believes it, and he does love Trudy in a really real and non-fantasy way, BUT ALSO O MY GOD.

and in “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” I really do think that the thing that Peggy responds to in Pete is his vulnerability and neediness; she sees in him someone who, like herself, doesn’t really know what they are doing, and wants to be loved.

Yes yes yes. And whereas that makes Peggy feel for Pete, it makes him both attracted and repulsed - he feels like he can be himself with her but he also looks down on her because that is, well, what he’s expected to do, BUT HE ALSO feels threatened by her becoming someone he CAN’T look down on because that’ll mean she’s TOO GOOD FOR HIM - until something changes in season two and Peggy being too good for him actually becomes the reason he loves her, because he’s in love with the better version of HIMSELF.

PEGGY: (embarrassed) What am I supposed to say to that?
PETE: I don’t know. No one’s ever said it to me.


 photo crycry.gif

but she also means it when she says “everyone” will miss him, and I think regrets that she’s cancelling their last day together, even if rearranging her work schedule would feel a little too much like reopening old…somethings.

Which is pretty much the reason she’s avoided spending too much time with him ALL THESE YEARS, right? (I do respect the show for going the realistic route with Peggy/Pete, truly.)

It is prickly, painful, difficult to touch directly…and yet, a cactus is the ultimate symbol of life flourishing with even the smallest amount of nurturance... t also suggests that maybe wherever their child is, the child will be okay, one of many contradictory messages the final episode (and series has as a whole) about abandoned children.

 photo harrycrying.gif

READING THIS POST WAS SUCH A MISTAKE

I mean, I was wanting to add something insightful to that but I’m mostly catatonic on the floor now so bye.

Date: 2015-06-02 05:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
READING YOUR COMMENT WAS THE MISTAKE

I'm actually doing a rewatch now from s1 and the Pete/Peggy feels are too much. The scene of Pete describing his fantasy of killing a deer with a knife and a woman cooking it for him at a cabin and him wiping the blood on his knee and Peggy saying that would be wonderful is the most beautifully perverse thing I have seen -- perverse because, like, they get off on the absurd gender essentialism BECAUSE of their persistent inability to fit gender standards, and the fantasy is so bizarrely childlike, and that somehow helps too. Then Peggy, flush with her Belle Jolie copy going over well, dances happily and asks Pete to join her, and "I don't like you this way," because he only relates to Peggy being a sad outcast with no apparent talent, as you say. WHAT. WHY DOES NO ONE LIKE MY BEAR STORY :(:(:( I'm so looking forward to reacquainting myself with the turns the story takes in s2, culminating in that s2 finale scene (the "I could have had you" D:), and also the development of Pete/Trudy.

Also Pete tries to flirt with the woman he is returning a chip and dip wedding present to because she gets distracted by flirting with a fellow alumnus passing through the store who plays tennis and he fails so badly, HE IS SO PATHETIC I AM PRETTY SURE I AM SUPPOSED TO HAVE DIFFERENT EMOTIONS BECAUSE OF HIM

Pete says "A thing like that" about Ken's story being published and Peggy's copy being accepted. NO ONE EVER SAYS IT TO HIM UNTIL PEGGY <3

And yes the Campbell name doesn't count either but ancestral grudges follow him around. BECAUSE THE KING ORDERED IT

I think Pete is sincere when he tells Trudy he never loved anyone else, but he is also...always sincere, even when he says contradictory things? Like he is always the anti-Don in that respect -- he so easily believes what he is saying, but comes across as inauthentic because there is a weird emotional shallowness or something, whereas Don struggles so hard to believe anything but can turn the charm on automatically to convince others. Which...I think he does genuinely love Trudy on a way he never loved before. He isn't fooling himself exactly, but he sort of is. I think maybe he lacks the emotional intelligence to reconcile it all? Though he is also much more emotionallh aware than he was at the start of the series -- and his scene with Peggy in the finale and with his brother talking about why they desire looking elsewhere really sell that for me, like he can handle complexity more now or something?
Edited Date: 2015-06-02 05:44 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-06-03 04:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ever-neutral.livejournal.com
I DID NOT ASK FOR THE RETURN OF THE FEELS

Then Peggy, flush with her Belle Jolie copy going over well, dances happily and asks Pete to join her, and "I don't like you this way," because he only relates to Peggy being a sad outcast with no apparent talent, as you say.

lakjdsjvldjowije;kdsjd!!! I mean, there is also the Issues with Women part where Pete is threatened by Peggy being sensual and assertive towards him, but yeah, it becomes a crucial part of their relationship that Pete envies Peggy for being able to do what he can't. By declaring his love at the end of S2, after she's ~made it, it's like he's hoping she can hoist him into the ~winners' circle~ along with her.

LISTEN, PETE CAMPBELL IS THE TRASH FAVE TO RULE THEM ALL (excepting perhaps Gaius Baltar)

Pete says "A thing like that" about Ken's story being published and Peggy's copy being accepted. NO ONE EVER SAYS IT TO HIM UNTIL PEGGY <3

DON'T

And lol yes to Pete's contradictory sincerity. It only matters that he loves only Trudy now, ergo it doesn't matter that he did love someone else once. And in a way he is right that he's never loved anyone else, because he was never with Peggy in a legit reciprocal way, and he really has matured enough to know that obsessing over the unattainable is no good and that's not the kind of person he wants to be anymore. But being the best version of himself in the present requires a certain cheapening of the person he used to be. So it's not just that he loved Peggy futilely and missed his shot, it's that he NEVER LOVED HER AT ALL. And that's the only way he can live with it. < / 3 < /3 < /3

Date: 2015-06-03 10:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
also now I just passed the point where Pete punches Ken out for being gross about Peggy's appearance. O. M. G. I have forgotten how much of a jerk Ken is in season 1. If Pete is akin to Gaius Baltar, maybe Ken, who eventually gets an eyepatch, is Saul Tigh. HAHA ACTUALLY THEY HAVE NO OTHER QUALITIES IN COMMON BUT OMG, THAT EYEPATCH

also Jim Hobart tried to tempt Don to come to McCann Erickson by getting Betty to do modeling for Coca-Cola ads, THIS SHOW HAS SUCH FORESHADOWING I CAN'T, also Betty shoots her neighbour's birds with a BB gun at the end, DID I DREAM THAT.

Betty/Pete parallels because they play with BB guns

I am a mess and will respond at a later time
Edited Date: 2015-06-03 10:40 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-06-04 05:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ever-neutral.livejournal.com
If Pete is akin to Gaius Baltar, maybe Ken, who eventually gets an eyepatch, is Saul Tigh. HAHA ACTUALLY THEY HAVE NO OTHER QUALITIES IN COMMON BUT OMG, THAT EYEPATCH

This is why we are friends.

BETTY/PETE PARALLELS TO FOREVER, RIGHT?? Can't believe they never interacted or had a tawdry affair. (We were all thinking it.)

Date: 2015-05-29 07:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pocochina.livejournal.com
This was a great read. I'm tapped out of Mad Men thoughts at the moment but I enjoyed yours.

Profile

local_max: (Default)
local_max

March 2017

S M T W T F S
   1234
56789 1011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031 

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 27th, 2017 02:42 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios