But tonight's 'Signal 30' episode was a prime example of why I find Vincent Kartheiser's performance as Campbell breathtakingly brilliant and why I'm more interested in Pete's ending come season seven rather than the conclusions of Don, Peggy or Roger.
Pete has moved to the suburbs and he's got it all. The perfect wife (give Trudy her own spinoff show!), the perfect kid and the best sound-system money can buy in 1966. He's got the life he always envied and dreamt of, the life that Don had at the start of season one. The problem is, just like his hero Don, he isn't happy with it all. He still wants more.
A dripping tap opened and closed the episode, a tap which Pete thought he could fix with his manly tool kit. Sadly for Pete, he's plumbing skills aren't up there with his snivelling skills and the tap bursts open during a house party. Luckily, Don is on hand to strip off to his vest ("he's just like Superman") and show Pete how a real man does it in front of his party guests.
This wasn't the only humiliation for Pete. He also got snubbed by a cute girl at his college driving classes and got the crap beaten out of his face by Lane Pryce in a hilarious office boxing bout, which probably has to rate alongside 'the lawnmower scene' and the death of Miss Blankenship as one of Mad Men's most brilliantly funny moments.
We've seen Pete's desperation and hunger for power throughout his battles with Roger in season five. But clearly bored of besting his fellow account manager, he's now hit the self-destruct button, willing to look for bedroom thrills and risk insulting his closest allies (Lane) in the SCDP empire.
Pete's dalliance in a whorehouse sinks him lower than Don in the moral scales (well, for the time being anyway) and it is the young upstart's confusion and frustration at Don which really encapsulates everything that is brilliant about the character and Kartheiser's performance. Pete looks up to Don as a role model, but he also (at least I believe) knows that most of Don's behaviour is morally reprehensible.
He wants the best of Don, but the best of Don is all surface and no feeling. Pete's realising that the best job, the best office, the wife and kids, aren't what make Don Draper Don Draper. The lure of Don for Pete, and all us viewers, is the free spirit (if you're being generous) and the bad boy (if you're not) vibe.
Pete likes the idea of being Lord of the Manor and the big boss man (see his sexual turn-on in the whorehouse), but he doesn't actually know what it involves and he definitely doesn't know what it takes to get there.
Elsewhere, Lane also found himself in a slump. Despite an England World Cup win (a lovely reference for all English football and Mad Men fans - thank you Matthew Weiner) and his impressive right hook to the chops of Pete, Lane has found himself at a loose end in SCDP. Roger, Don and Pete manage to lose his potential new client after an unfortunate chewing gum incident in a whorehouse and he suddenly feels like a spare part in the company. "What do I actually do here?" he whimpered at Joan.
Lane's isolation and confusion in many ways should draw him together with Pete (there are many parallels), but they've been pushed further apart. Pete's gone looking for help from Don, but achieves nothing but a cold stand-off in the lift, while Lane has fallen into the bosom of comfort that is Joan. All in all, not a bad week for Jared Harris, who got to win a fight and share a sneaky kiss with Christina Hendricks. We can't imagine he complained when the script came in.
Compounding this episode's status as one of the greatest in the show's rich history was the welcome extra helping of Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton). Too often a bit-part player, Ken is very much the light to Don and Pete's shade. A man who knows that there is life outside the office, a man who opts out of partying for novel writing and a man who manages to keep out of office politics and power-brokering deals at SCDP.
Roger's word of warning to Ken about his writing career was a moment of genuinely touching sadness. Amid the darkness of Pete's crumbling lifestyle and the great humour of the boardroom brawl, Ken's desire to create something for himself beyond the world of advertising ("who grows up wanting to work in advertising?") feels almost inspirational for viewers next to the cycle of deceit and bad behaviour from the rest of SCDP's male employees.
So more Ken in the future please. And more Pete. And more office boxing.
Mad Men airs on Sunday nights on AMC in the US. It follows in the UK on Tuesdays at 9pm on Sky Atlantic.
What did you think to this week's episode? Share your verdict on 'Signal 30' below!