Before we get to the highlight of the evening, let’s give props to Jon Hamm for a far superior directorial outing (“Tea Leaves” was arguably last season’s weakest episode). It started a little slow (Peggy’s getting no respect at work, Don’s whoring it up with Sylvia, and Pete has a quickie that, to him, is of little consequence).
Then things start to happen. Megan shares the saga of her miscarriage with Sylvia (and does anyone else think that Sylvia’s kind but critical reaction foreshadows a new kind of crisis for Don should he not cool it with this lady?). Herb from Jaguar reappears and drives Joan to drink (and however much of a douche Don was in this episode, kudos for sabotaging the jerk in front of the Jaguar higher-ups). Pete’s afternoon delight comes back to bite him in the form of a battered wife with a bloodied nose. And that’s when Trudy starts to get wind of what Pete has done. And that’s what leads to the best moment of the night.
Trudy Campbell has always held a special place in the Mad Men universe and in my heart. I shouldn’t have liked Pete’s too-cheerful, poor little rich girl wife, especially in the beginning when it seemed like Peggy and Pete were being primed as the show’s ultimate love story (that ship has long sailed!). Maybe it’s Trudy’s ever-optimistic outlook or Alison Brie’s charming portrayal, but Trudy is far from the caricature she could have been. In Brie’s hands she is a bright and loyal individual whom Pete has not been worthy of for quite some time. So when the shit hits the fan, when she shows him the door in her own unique style, it’s a thing of utter beauty. For a split second, Pete almost seems relieved to have an out of the marriage that has dissatisfied him for so long. But Trudy’s playing a different game. Whether or not she knows Pete for the dog he has been for years or she’s finally wising up is besides the point. Pete is about to endure an entirely different kind of hell than the ones he’s known in Cos Cob. Trudy is not Betty, and Pete doesn’t get to pull a Don and start over (possibly for the best considering how well that’s currently working out). He will keep his distance and appear on Trudy’s arm when the situation requires his presence. Or as the lady herself puts it, “I’m drawing a 50-mile radius around this house, and if you so much as open your fly to urinate, I will destroy you.” And she ain’t fooling. I’m sure that Don’s own fraternization with a neighbor will yield its own horrific consequences. But for now, Pete truly has nothing, and while I have moments of sympathy for the man, he currently deserves every dose of Trudy’s bitter medicine.