“I know that cooler heads should prevail. But am I the only one who wants to see this?”
No, Roger Sterling, you are not the only person whose blood started pumping over the prospect of Lane Pryce — proper Brit, former-but-not-current patron of prostitutes — and Pete Campbell — weasely adulterer, desirer of driver’s ed students — throwing down their blazers, tucking in their ties and putting up their dukes to go mano a mano in a boxing classic that shall henceforth be known as the Rumble in the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Conference Room.
Here’s how it went down. If it helps, read the following fight summary in your best Howard Cosell voice. Because people, I’m just telling like it is.
Enter Lane Pryce, a man who lacks the alcoholically lubricated charms of Roger Sterling and, despite some coaching from the silver-foxy master of deal closing, couldn’t quite seal a business relationship with his new friend at Jaguar. After allowing his colleagues to step in and take the up-for-fun Edwin to dinner and, later, unbeknownst to Lane, a high-clas brothel, Pryce burst into the partners meeting, nostrils flaring with rage at his co-workers upon realizing they engaged in such distasteful behavior. (Was he truly appalled, or just expressing latent anger that he’s so much more repressed than his fellow “Mad Men”? Look no further than his attempt to mack on Joan — something I made very clear just three recaps ago that I really did not want to happen — for the answer.)
“It was Edwin’s idea,” Pete noted, prompting a “He would never!” from Lane.
“He didn’t ask you because he thinks you’re a homo,” Pete said.
Oh, Pete. In 2012, you would quite rightly get escorted immediately to HR for saying that. In 1966, all you just get is an exasperated look from Don Draper, who has suddenly became Mr. High and Mighty because he’s married to a younger woman who sings sexy French songs to him.
“I can’t believe the hours I’ve put in to helping you become the monster you’ve become,” Lane retorted.
Pete: “I was doing my job.”
Lane: “It was my account!”
I think it might be on, you guys.
Pete: “Your account? You have no idea what you’re doing. In fact, as far as I can tell, our need for you disappeared the day after you fired us.”
Oh. Sterling Cooper Snap.
Lane: “Mr. Campbell, you and I are going to address that insult.”
Pete: “Are you kidding me?”
Lane: “No. You’re a grimy little pimp.” Whoa!
“As soon as I raise my hands, I warn you, it shall be too late to run.”
Oh, it is SO oooooon.
Indeed, it was SO ooooon, with some lame punches thrown on both sides (Pete, did you really need to go for the kidneys on punch two?), Pete Campbell getting his second nosebleed of the season and Pryce ultimately knocking out Campbell with two solid punches to the face.
Now, given Pete’s behavior during this episode — his reprehensible comments toward Lane, his decision to cheat on his wife and sleep with a prostitute, his blatantly pathetic attempt to become the Don Draper of seasons one through three — it was tempting to feel really happy upon seeing him smacked decisively in the face.
But he looked so throughly broken at the end of the episode, so destroyed — “I have nothing, Don,” he said in the elevator, his face swollen and his eyes filling with tears — that it was hard not to feel a little bad for him. (Vincent Kartheiser’s performance deserves much of the credit for generating Pete emphathy here.) He and Lane may have been rivals in this episode, but really, they’re both sad men struggling with marital challenges and insecurities that prevent them from gaining the kind of respect they crave at work.
They shouldn’t be boxing, really. They should be acknowledging that they’re brothers in exceedingly depressed arms.
Honestly, there was only one man in this episode that was unequivocally admirable, and it wasn’t Don, even though he looks admittedly hot while fixing a kitchen sink.
It was Ken Cosgrove, who, like Don, also knows a little something about living a double life. He’s still cultivating his fiction-writing talents, writing sci-fi stories about robots and planets and collapsing bridges under the nom de plume Ben Hargrove.
Unfortunately, his secret was revealed to Roger, who made it clear Ken could not continue with his hobby. Why? No good reason, other than Roger probably doesn’t want anyone to succeed in publishing since he clearly didn’t.
But Kenny Cosgrove didn’t let that stop him. He didn’t put up a fuss. He didn’t call anyone names or start any office brawls. He just told Roger he understood, then quietly went home, gave himself a new pen name and started writing a story inspired by Pete’s seven-foot-long hi-fi console.
That’s because Ken Cosgrove is a smart, level-headed ad guy, and Dave Algonquin (nom de plume No. 2) is an insightful author who can see into men’s souls. And both of them know exactly when the best thing to do is mind your own business, throw no punches, maintain your privacy and just do what brings you bliss.