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Mad Men is back and it has been far too long. Picking up not long after the events of “Tomorrowland,” the year is 1966, the civil rights movement is in full swing and our good friends at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce are still trying to get back into the swing of things.
The show slowly unfolds in its opening act, setting the scene for the new season, but sex is certainly in the air. Don and Megan can’t keep their hands off one another and they are enjoying their fancy new apartment with the kids still trying to settle into their new family. Things seem to be going swimmingly in Don’s personal life, and he is as happy as he's ever been on the show. But is this good for Don Draper to be “Don Draper”?
Peggy thinks he might be losing his edge. Don is certainly becoming a “we,” leaving the office as frequently as when he was at his rock bottom, and he clearly isn’t ready to sever from his Dick Whitman past. Don was surprisingly not at the forefront this week, but the message for the character this week seemed to be that he is happy, having lots of sex, and can even weather the bumps in his new marriage. I think Peggy’s concerns of Don losing his edge could be valid though. Only time will tell.
So if Don isn’t the lead this week, who is? Well, the show takes full advantage of its ensemble and really gets the ball rolling at Don’s surprise 40th birthday party. Megan planned it, and hopes to make quite an impression with everyone. She certainly does that, though not the way she intended. After putting on a sultry French song and dance, she gains a lot of attention from the guests and must deal with the fallout both at work and home. At home we have known Don for years, Megan has known him for mere months, and the reaction we anticipate from Don is the one we get (he isn’t happy) and it doesn’t help that she is trying to put Dick Whitman in the past for good. Megan’s sense of entitlement and smug attitude toward her co-workers’ issues with the party is a swift and seemingly out of character turn for her.
Being pissed at Harry is one thing, but talking down to Peggy, her superior, is something a not-married-to-Don-Draper Megan would never do. And where did this sexuality come from her? She seemed like a good old fashioned type of girl last season, but this marriage has brought out a sexual side of Megan I certainly didn’t see coming. Megan seems to work well with Don though, and that sexual attitude isn’t hurting the constantly sex starved Don Draper. It will be curious to see what kind of trouble that sense of entitlement gets her into around the office though.
Joan has had her baby, and her life away from SCDP seems to be going OK for the time being. Her mom is helping out and the baby doesn’t sleep that much. But Joan’s biggest concern seems to be that she might be getting ousted, due to a joke advertisement by Don and Roger. It’s great to see Joan hasn’t lost her desire and drive to be at the office, and it was even better to see how much Lane misses/needs her. The baby getting passed around the office when Joan visits is one of the comedic highlights of the episode, including everyone’s reaction to it. Peggy doesn’t want anything to do with it, the secretaries love it, Pete doesn’t wear a skirt, and Joan describing the baby as “loud, fussy, and needing constant attention” as Roger holds him is a great nod to his biological father. Though, please no more baby butt shots!
Pete is certainly in a mood this week and it all has to do with Roger. Trudy and he are (mostly) happily moved out to Greenwich, he is making friends on the train ride in, but his office will just not do. From the pole to having to hunt down his secretary, Pete is pissed, and his lingering rivalry with Roger has him gunning for his office. Featuring a great gag with the partners crammed on Pete’s couch, he lays out a pretty convincing argument as to why he should be in a bigger office. Roger saves his own ass by unintentionally taking advantage of Harry’s gaffe with Megan and forcing him to trade offices with Pete. A room with a view gives Pete the peace of mind he has been looking for and it was nice to see all shades of Pete Campbell this week. I did really enjoy him sticking it to Roger in the end with that fake appointment.
Speaking of Roger; what an episode for John Slattery. Sure, Roger gets all the great lines, but he was firing on all cylinders this week. Sterling seems to be about as board and aimless as Cooper (who didn’t really quit, yay!) but he gets to throw out one liners and bust everyone’s balls as he does it. Harassing his secretary for working too much with Don, making fun of Megan’s French song and dance and a plentiful amount of one liners gave him a lot of the laughs this week. Though Pete continues to get the best of him and I don’t see him making up any ground any time soon; figurehead is all Roger seems to be at the time.
The firm still isn’t hiring and business still hasn’t picked up, but SCDP seems to be getting along OK for the time being. The episode wasn’t the show's best season opener, but it did a good job of laying the groundwork as to where some of these characters might be heading. All of the set up seemed to do its job quite well, with a weird sub-plot with Lane being the only oddity of the group (I imagine this will lead to infidelity, but he seemed quite happily giggling with his wife at Don’s party). As solid as an episode with this anticipation could probably get, I can’t wait to see where the season takes us and what Betty is doing in her new house as she was MIA this week. It’s good to have these characters back in our lives, welcome back Mad Men.
-Morticia and Lurch, ha.
-"or a mask or something."
-"Let your conciseness be your guide."
-Bert's back! But even more out of the loop.
-What is Roger's game here with Pete and trying to take his accounts?
-"He's kind and patient." Has Don lost his edge?
-Lane's giggle was amazing!
-"I thought there were going to be girls here?"
-Harry Crane, dud.
-"Did she buy you a pony?"
-"Why don't you look like him?"
-"I've been forty for half a year."
-Wow, an all time great Roger moment, "Bonjour" "Kiss-ass" and that dance, got me rolling.
-Delores is going to be trouble for Lane.
-"Doesn't speak French, doesn't like me." Roger’s line of the night?
-"Has anyone seen this baby walking next to you?"
-Lane is so sweet, but can be so creepy too.
-"I saw his soul leave his body."
-I love weasel Pete sometimes.
This was a long 2 hour premiere this week so I promise it won’t be so long next week. Until then…