Mad Men: Season 5, Episode 5

Signal 30 (15 Apr. 2012)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama
8.9
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Ratings: 8.9/10 from 720 users  
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While Lane needs some help closing with a potential new client, Peter begins to crack under the pressure of both his home life and work life.

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Title: Signal 30 (15 Apr 2012)

Signal 30 (15 Apr 2012) on IMDb 8.9/10

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Betty Francis (credit only)
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Harry Crane (credit only)
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Storyline

Lane is trying to break ties with his homeland. That doesn't stop Rebecca from making friends for her and Lane with the Bakers, compatriots from England. Lane does however feel that he can take advantage of this friendship with Edwin Baker by bringing his company's business, Jaguar, into SCDP, as Jaguar is trying to enter the US market. Despite being the sole Brit in the office and thus the logical choice in his own mind to deal with a fellow Brit, Lane has no experience in account management. The process of Lane learning how to become an account manager and him being the reason SCDP gets Jaguar's almost seemingly surefire account makes Lane evaluate his professional life. Meanwhile, Pete is feeling restless in his marriage, one result from which is eying a high school senior in his driver's education class. Life at work is different as he feels he is gaining more power in the office. A small measure of that office power is being able to convince a reluctant Don and Megan to attend a ... Written by Huggo

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15 April 2012 (USA)  »

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Ranks with the several best episodes best far.
22 April 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Warning: The following review unavoidably alludes to story elements involving Pete Campbell while underscoring the remarkable unity of the episode as a result of scriptwriting, acting and, perhaps above all, John Slattery's direction. Ultimately, the spectator is enabled to feel both strongly "about" and "with" Pete, thanks to filmmaking that is as fluid and subjective as it objective and cinematic. The non-contextual specifics of the review will make little sense to the reader who has not already seen the episode.

Both thematically and formally this is one of the most layered and complex yet satisfying episodes to date. If John Slattery was responsible for a lion's share of choreographing the set scenes and managing the editing as well as the scripting (both the plotting and the numerous humorous one-liners--the asides about "guns and varmints" resonating with the 2012 Republican Presidential debates or Bertram Cooper's "It's medieval" doing the same for viewers of "Pulp Fiction"), he hit this one out of the park. Viewers may differ about which of many emotions emerges as the dominant one--howls of laughter ("I had Lane," Roger says after the altercation); scenes of gratifying vindication (when our favorite villain gets what he deserves); disturbing self-recognition as the camera unveils that same villain's internal conflict- -a newly married man's discovery of the disparity between his actual age and his pubescent sexual identity.

If women do not appear to have a central role in this episode, their voice, though marginalized, registers strength, dignity and composure. They serve as a foil to Pete's adolescent, regressive obsessions; they collaborate with greater efficiency and effectiveness than their male counterparts; Joan's calm and deliberative administrations leave Lane looking no less childish and confused than the conceited, immature overreacher he has just vanquished.

Unifying the entire episode is the face of Pete Campbell: framed in patronizing smugness one moment; in the pose of an insecure, tentative coward the next; then, a bloodied and humiliated, scapegoating bully; then a voyeuristic and fantasizing adulterer; finally, a soundly defeated putative Romeo and Rocky, undone in the first role by a bulked-up high school youth and in the second by a bespectacled awkward Brit who had been the object of his patronizing smugness.

The camera and lighting allow us to see Pete on the outside and from the inside. It films Pete's face from every angle, even cutting from Pete's face to Pete's face (!). And just when we come to see Pete as a "grimy pimp" (Lane's description) and applauding his humiliation, we simultaneously come to feel sympathy toward his character. We see him as a tormented overreacher suddenly confronted with a sexual identify that is 15 years behind his actual age.  

The episode ranges from broad comedy to smaller yet significant moments, such as Don's wife refusing the order to cancel dinner at Pete's and redirecting Don's assignment to the person who gave it (a harbinger of the imminent war not just between the sexes but the generations).

"Mad Men" continues to be remarkable in its generating excitement without the usual formulaic, sensational television plotting.  And its one of the few shows where the camera stays STILL long enough for the viewer to actually see something worth looking at! This may be the closest television drama has come to realizing the strengths that Andre Bazin, in "What Is Cinema," found in the singular "realism" of American filmmaking. (it's NOT a series of disorienting shock edits endlessly enticing viewers with the same stories and shots that can be found on the pages of "The National Enquirer.')


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