Perhaps the theme of “The Rejected” was that sometimes advertising goes too far or it goes just far enough to reveal our true faces. Of course, this is not the advertising of yesterday. This is not the kind which made Don famous and talked about the health benefits of cigarettes. No, this is the advertising of Peggy’s Western Union and of Dr. Faye Miller’s psychology. It pushes buttons people didn’t know they had. Or perhaps more importantly, things they thought they’d buried.
Of course, when their true hearts are revealed, they all want to put them away and keep them private. Nothing signals this more than Don being protective of the photo of him and Anna, which arrived in the mail that day.
Faye puts together a test group of single women in the typing pool to talk about Pond’s Cold Cream. About their beauty rituals. Faye takes off her uniform and changes into a sweater set to be just one of the girls. She’s cold, icy, and blonde, which makes her basically Don’s type. Though far more deft in her manipulations than Betty ever was.
When Faye tries to lead the girls into a discussion about their make-up rituals (Peggy’s idea), they end up talking instead about the men in their lives (Freddy’s pitch). One girl, Dottie breaks down in tears about how she’s just not good enough. On the other end of the table, Allison becomes more upset, glaring at Don through the one-way mirror as she knows he’s there. Eventually, she’s in tears and runs out of the experiment. Faye swiftly turns the situation back to the focus group by saying that if Allison wanted them to comfort her, she’d stay.
Peggy, who still has a heart, stops playing with Faye’s engagement ring and runs after Allison. When they’re alone in Don’s office, Allison says to Peggy what everyone else has been thinking about Peggy. That Peggy got her copywriting job because she slept with Don. Peggy goes from sympathy, to disbelief, to outright rage at Allison quickly. Of course, we know that Peggy never had sex with Don, but it cut Peggy to the bone to really find out what everyone else thinks.
Peggy’s mood is not helped much when she finds out that Trudy’s pregnant as everyone in the office passes around a “congratulations” card for Pete and Trudy. Once again, she and Pete shares that knowledge of their secret. And, for the first time, I thought Pete was very mature in not begrudging Peggy to sign the card or join the men at the firm to celebrate both the acquisition of Pete’s father-in-law’s entire company as a client and the baby news.
Of course, Peggy consoles herself by making new friends with a bunch of young adults her age in the art scene. Compared to the other worlds she runs in (work and her family), they are truly more like Peggy: same age, career/passion-driven, no children, and no one but themselves to be responsible for. Peggy has a knack for finding the most interesting and happening people out there.
I love Peggy’s new friend Joyce, photo assistant editor for Life. I knew she was a lesbian hitting on Peggy instantly. I love Peggy rebuffing her advances, but being cool about it. Peggy from Season 1 never would’ve done that. No, instead, she would’ve been quoting Leviticus and running the other way. Joyce definitely brings out the awesome in Peggy since we got the line about Mark renting Peggy’s vagina.
Plus, the fabulous art scene that got raided by the police was too perfect. I’ll admit that I’m not overly fond of the 1960s, but if there was something I could go back and experience, it would be the NYC art scene. (All those calling Peggy’s new friends beatniks or hippies, go read some history. Not the same thing.) Peggy kissing the guy in the closet was just great to add to her fun night out. She’s definitely not a shy girl anymore.
We also see big changes in Pete. For once, I don’t feel like Trudy had to take care of Pete like a mother. If she were in another time, Trudy would be a formidable business woman running her father’s company. Pete’s life certainly goes better when he works as a team with his wife. It’s also nice to see a man who’s genuinely happy to become a father and doesn’t see it as a burden or just part of marriage. As much as I hate Pete, he and Trudy are rather adorable together.
Joan also shows a little of her heart. She’s clearly used to being the queen bee of these focus groups, and a little stung that she’s too married (read: too old) to be a participant. Also she’s extremely pissed at Don for peeing on the floor with Allison. Joan runs a tight ship. Miss Blankenship is completely Don’s punishment for running off a good secretary who could put up with him. I rather hope the producers start a running gag about Don’s ever-changing secretaries, a la Murphy Brown.
And then we have Don. Don who loves and hates that people, specifically Allison, are not like him. He needs her to forget about their night together because he can’t handle it. I love it when Allison calls Don out on his shit and throws a glass ball(?) at him. Allison is rather correct when she calls Don an alcoholic and that there’s a whole class of men like him who hide behind cultural norms. And she was right in being insulted that he couldn’t even make the effort to write a recommendation letter for her himself.
Plus, it did give us the awesome scene of Peggy peaking over the fold into Don’s office and watching him drink. I hope this is not the last time she pulls that trick.