Mad Men is back… finally… after an excruciatingly long hiatus of 17 months. It’d been so long I could barely remember where we left off. Thankfully, they provided a (very brief) “Previously on AMC’s Mad Men” clip. In case you forgot, Joan was knocked up, Don was a hot drunken mess but proposed to his secretary Megan, Betty impetuously fired Carla, and Sally was getting all kinds of difficult.
If the theme of the upcoming season could be summed up in one line of dialogue, it might be Roger’s toast to Don where he said “The only thing worse than not getting what you want is watching someone else get it.” Mad Men underscores the situation that persists even today for many: everyone looks fabulous but no one is happy.
There was too much in this episode to cover in a recap so I’m just touching on the highlights. A few things happened during the hiatus :
- Don and Megan became Mr. and Mrs. Draper. We don’t get any details on the wedding but we do find out that Peggy still hasn’t gotten them a gift which may be a clue that they eloped. We may never know.
- Pete and Trudy moved to the “Don & Betty Draper Model Home somewhere in the suburbs. They have a baby now and Trudy exists entirely in adorable housecoats and almost no makeup.
- Joan had a baby!
All of which led to a few things happening in this episode titled “Little Kisses”:
The New Drapers live in my dream apartment. And during the few minutes where they aren’t in various stages of undress and/or getting ready to hump in the hallway, Megan is planning to throw a swingin’ 60s surprise party in their swingin’ 60s pad for Don’s 40th birthday. If 40-year old men love anything , they love being reminded that they are 40. In front of their co-workers. While their sexy wife does a sexy song and dance to either the most annoying or the catchiest song to ever exist. Zou Bisou Bisou!
Despite Megan’s assertion that “everyone would leave the party and have sex,” she definitely wasn’t getting any since Don was annoyed, tired, and just wanted to sleep. We begin to see the tiny fractures in their relationship.
A few tiny asides: We do find out that Megan knows about Dick Whitman and that she remains perky even after a long night of entertaining. We also find out Don is cranky when he’s tired. Wait, we already knew that.
Home Pete is
obviously thrilled not even remotely good at hiding his suburban dissatisfaction. He is also apparently so busy landing accounts for Sterling Cooper Draper and Pryce that he hadn’t even thought of working late to avoid this new bleak existence until another white, suburban male on the commuter train suggested it to him.
Work Pete throws more temper tantrums than usual and berates people more than I remember. He has definitely brought in a lot of new accounts (to hear him talk, he brought them all in) but I am not sure demanding to trade offices with Senior Partner, Roger, was the way to go. Of course, I disagree with Pete on almost every single thing so I’m not the best judge.
There is a pretty funny exchange between Harry and Roger where Harry thinks he is getting fired (for his completely piggish and inexcusable comments in the break room about what he’d do to Megan while Megan is standing behind him) . Roger actually just wants Harry to trade offices with bratty Pete. Considering that Harry thought he was getting fired a moment ago, he hardly protests at all. Naturally a window office wasn’t good enough for Pete though and he pouts. He wanted Roger’s office. I would totally be tempted to punch Vincent Kartheiser in the junk if I saw him because Pete is such a tool. But then I’d kiss him because he plays a tool so skillfully!
Ahem. Back to the show…
Meanwhile, Joan is home raising her and Roger’s love-child. Her clueless husband, the doctor, is still in Vietnam and her mom (the real estate agent from American Horror Story!) is visiting for a while to help with the baby and make an already emotional, post-partum Joan feel as insecure as humanly possible. Joan goes in to the office, thinking that she was being replaced, and in a rare, vulnerable moment cries in Lane’s office. She feels valued after all! And that’s all a sleep-deprived, for all intents and purposes single mom needs. To feel important and needed. Because rocking your baby to sleep in an elevator is the opposite of her glamourous job of office
Back at the office, there are more secretaries than I remember and they are all “imbeciles” according to Lane. I can’t keep track of all of them yet, but there was a goofy one for Don, a Clara for Pete, and an airhead at the reception desk. I miss Miss Blakenship. Joan will come back and get that ship in shape I am sure. The only question is will Roger figure out he is the baby daddy or is he still operating under the assumption that Joan had an abortion? And will Joan and Don find themselves in a compromising situation as hinted at more than once this episode?
The biggest surprise to me was that Megan is already more multi-dimensional than I expected. There is Megan, the hot and ready-to-go wife of Don; Megan, the outgoing, hip entertainer; Megan, the young, liberated woman conflicted about being an executive’s wife. Megan, the idealist who thinks everyone is so cynical at the office.
There is quite a bit of work-related tension around Mr. and Mrs. Draper. She is mocked by practically everyone, both directly and indirectly. She begins to question her place at SCDP. More importantly, she begins to question her marriage. She doesn’t like the people Don works with, and we find out, neither does Don particularly.
We also find out Megan is (possibly) a closet dominatrix as evidenced by their fight where she is cleaning house in her bra and panties. Don chastises her to put on clothes but she refuses. She continues to furiously clean and sternly says things like “No. Don’t touch me. I don’t want you. You’re old. You don’t deserve me. You can watch from over there.” Which of course causes Don to immediately get on top of her, and Megan to wrap her legs around him. It ends in the following, paraphrased, post-coital discussion.
Megan – young, idealistic, foolish Megan – looking at the aftermath of the party: “I think we should just replace the carpet.”
Don – the voice of reason and/or experience: “White carpet only looks good in magazines. I’ve shot a lot of ads and we have to have 5 or 6 on hand.”
Megan: “I thought you wanted it. Why did you let me get it?”
Don: “I wanted you to get what you wanted.”
I feel like there is a metaphor in there somewhere.
Next week, I hope we see Betty and more crazy Sally. Thoughts? Did I miss something important? Callouts? Was the wait worth it?