Pete Campbell

Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser): The man of the hour. (Michael Yarish/AMC / April 16, 2012)

"I can't believe I have to explain that I was doing my job to a man who just pulled his pants up on the world" -- Pete Campbell

Five seasons in, we know this much about Pete Campbell: He's entitled, he's never happy, he can verge on super-creepy and he lives for impressing Don.

And he has always deserved a good punch. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Lane Pryce for finally doing the deed.

I can't remember the last time we had such a Pete-centric episode (maybe when his father died? Still, it wasn't the focus). And here we had one where the writers managed to fill us with contempt for Pete but also feel sorry him. Vincent Kartheiser -- Emmy nominee? This one was a classic.

Pete is a boy who has never become a man. He doesn't even know what man he wants to become or is capable of becoming.

We get to see Pete in multiple disparate places. He's for some reason taking a drivers ed class in a high school (maybe so he can learn to drive away when the baby cries or Trudy speaks?), where he's flirting creepily with a recent high school grad. Nothing says budding romance like exchanging longing looks while watching a violent drivers safety video!

When he's not flirting with a girl who's maybe 18, he's playing happy husband and going through the motions of planning a dinner party with his wife. On the guest list: Ken and Cynthia Cosgrove (in a funny moment, no one can remember Cynthia's name, but I couldn't either) and Don and Megan Draper. Don, shockingly, tries to get out of the date.

"Saturday night in the suburbs. That's when you want to blow your brains out," says Don, reverting back to his old ways of not wanting to do things normal (or, to him, boring) people do.

Somehow Megan convinces him to attend (she's powerful, that Megan) what may be the saddest dinner party ever. Not just because the couples talk about sniper Charles Whitman's recent shooting spree at the University of Texas at Austin (that places this episode in early August 1966), but because of the painful lengths Pete goes to in order to convey his fake happiness.

It was almost as scary as the collection of plaid blazers every guy wore.

He shows off his gigantic stereo to Ken and Don. "It's 7 feet long! Wilt Chamberlain can lie down in there!" He says stuff like "Dessert, yes. I'm having too much fun for coffee!" and "A frig in the garage! That's a good idea!"

When he wakes up his daughter after breaking the sink, he says, in what appears to be a statement only directed at Don, that "I take no credit for her at all." Yuck.

We never get to really see if Trudy Campbell really believes her husband is happy -- I would imagine she has some sort of clue he's not -- but this was a painful display of dishonesty.

And all of this comes right after he asks drivers ed object of affection out on a date, where, in his fantasy, Pete and almost-college freshman will walk around without a care in the world.

Oh, Pete gets creepier. Lane is having trouble landing a deal with a representative from Jaguar. Turns out Lane is, well, nice and normal, while the Jaguar guy is kind of a freak. He wants "more fun" than Lane had to offer, so Roger offers to take him to a "party at a friend's house."

Or a friend who owns a high-end brothel, where Jaguar guy immediately finds a lady. It's interesting to see Don there, acting un-Don-like, refusing the company of a random woman for the night (the madam even approaches and offers a male prostitute, if he's in to that). Roger finds himself a red-haired Joan stand-in.

Even Pete gets some action. "You any good at this or not?" Pete asks her. Nice.

She goes through some "sexy" scenarios. The horny housewife? Doesn't do it for him. The virgin? No. What it takes is the woman calling him "the king." Of course.

My favorite moment of this episode, and there were many great moments, was the Don-Pete stand-off in the cab after the party. New Virtuous Family Man Don silently judges Pete's action in his Don way: acting standoffish and disapproving with a mere dismissive glance.