Mad Men: It's Finally Back
AMC's hit drama opens to warm welcome after 17-month hiatus.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: March 27th, 2012
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't yet seen the first episode of this season's Mad Men, we're going to advise you stop reading now, as this is chock-full of spoilers.
If you're like this writer, you spent your Sunday night wearing '60s-esque clothes and drinking Old Fashioneds, hanging onto every word of the Mad Men season 5 premiere. So now that we've seen what we were waiting for for nearly a year and a half, let's quickly discuss some of the finer points of the episode.
The season opened with blatant racism, with members of a rival ad agency throwing bags of water down at protesters on the street. This turned into a major plot point for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, which later ran a newspaper ad saying they were an "equal opportunity employer," which led to handfuls of black applicants showing up to the reception area, looking for a job. It'll be interesting to see if SCDP actually hires a black secretary, especially given Lane Pryce's fondness for black women.
But race issues aside, the rest of the episode was focused on the characters and what they have been up to since we last saw them.
Don and his secretary Megan have indeed gotten married (ugh), and Megan has since been promoted to something in the creative department—no longer just a secretary who was sleeping with her boss. Peggy's annoyance at the marriage and at Megan are extremely noticeable, as is Pete Campbell's growing dissatisfaction with his small office and unrecognized accomplishments. Pete also whines about his home life and how bored he is living in the suburbs with Trudy and their new baby girl, Tammy. Roger and Jane are still married, though it looks like it's on the outs, and Joan has had her baby, a boy named Kevin, who we are led to assume is actually Roger's baby, not her husband, Greg's.
Diving a little deeper: Don and Megan. It's revealed to us that Don actually told Megan about Dick Whitman, which is pretty shocking since they barely know each other. It made us wonder whether she plans on using this information for her personal gain later on, as many of her actions have seemed calculated and manipulative–for example, handling Don's children really well in season four, but being dismissive to them this time around. Megan throws Don a surprise birthday party, an ill-informed move, as even Peggy makes an "oh no, don't do that" face at the prospect of it, telling Megan, "Don hates surprises." At the party, Megan performs a rather embarrassing rendition of "Zou Bisou Bisou," which is all anyone can talk about, both onscreen and off. The cringe-faces everyone at the party makes are good enough, but then to have most of the people in the office mock it—even better.
But the couple seems odd to us; their in-office interactions are less than professional, and after a heated conversation with Peggy, Megan goes home early and rage-cleans in her underwear, which leads to a super bizarre scene as Don tackles her while she's "cleaning."
Her protest of "You can't have this!" suggests a bit of a rape overtone, but remembering Don's previous experiences with asking hookers to slap him, it's easier to hope that he's just got a dominant/submissive thing going on. Either way, we can't see this couple lasting too long.
Peggy's mounting frustration also surfaces, both when in a meeting, Don doesn't back up her ideas, and when making a not-so-nice comment about Megan at the party, to which Megan takes great offense and calls Peggy out for at work. Peggy then apologizes to Don, since Megan dismissed her apology, an act that only makes us feel like Peggy is talking to Megan's father, not her husband. She's still with Abe, though, so that's pretty great. Who else loved him telling Trudy that he's a journalist for newspapers she "probably hasn't seen?"
Pete Campbell and Trudy: they present themselves as the American Dream—making their way modestly yet comfortably, but it's clear that Pete's becoming increasingly bored. He makes note that there was a time when Trudy "wouldn't leave the house in a robe," and gets unsolicited advice from colleagues about how to safely coordinate an affair—Pete, don't do it! He dreams wistfully about moving back to the city, as Trudy points out that Don and Megan's apartment is so loud that they could hear traffic even over the music, to which Pete sighs and replies, "I know." What's going to happen with them? We don't think Pete is the womanizing type, mostly because he seems too timid, but it's always a possibility on this show.
As for Roger and Jane...oh, Roger and Jane. It's safe to say most of us didn't like this pairing from the get-go, mainly because of how insufferable Jane is, but this episode showed off the couple's mutual animosity. Best lines: When Megan is singing to Don, Roger asks, "Why don't you sing like that?" to which Jane replies, "Why don't you look like that?" BURN! And let's not forget Roger's toast to Don, regarding Megan: "The only thing worse than not getting what you want, is watching someone else get it." Ouch! The look on Jane's face with that one was priceless. Be careful, Roger—hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Lane Pryce finds a wallet in a cab, and, to counter suspicions that he wasn't as racist as everyone else on the show, keeps it rather than giving it to the black cab driver. Pryce is only attracted to black women as a fetish, and views black people the same way the other workers do. He then finds a photo in the wallet, and keeps it, but not before trying to set up an affair with the woman in the photo. Creepy, Lane, real creepy. Luckily the person who picks up the wallet is not the woman in the photo.
And Joan. Joanie Joanie Joanie. We love Joan Harris. Her take-no-prisoners attitude with her ultra-sexist, ultra-mean mother is classic, and it's nice to see her grapple with the idea that her entire life shouldn't necessarily be consumed by one aspect of it (her son/husband). Interestingly, when she visits the office, Roger comes down the hallway proclaiming, "There's my baby!" We're not sure if he actually knows it's his kid, or if it really is his kid, or if he was just being playful. Either way, dramarama. Hopefully we'll find out more about this situation, but it'll be good for Joan to get back to work.
What did you guys think of this episode? It was so nice to finally have everyone back after so long, but it was a pretty thick episode, with issues like racism, post-partum depression and the struggle between being a stay-at-home mom vs. having a career, workplace jealousy, and new relationships touched on. One more thing, though: where the heck were Betty and Henry and the kids? More of them, please, and soon!