First, a caveat: I’ve never tried my hand at recapping a show as smart and complex as Mad Men, and I’ve certainly never before tried to recap anything that was two hours long, so I hope you’ll bear with me for the next 3500 or so words, most of which I wrote in the middle of the night and during my third viewing of last night’s episode. On a side note, why couldn’t I write this much, this quickly in college? I would have had so much more time for beer pong.

Anyway, the episode. After waiting nearly a year and a half for Mad Men to return, it did so with a sprawling, two-hour episode that set the tone for the season to come – Roger is sick of Jane and everyone else is sick of Roger, Joan had her baby, Don and Megan got married, Megan’s now a copywriter. I haven’t quite figured out what year in which this season is taking place yet (1967?), but let’s get to it, shall we?

Matthew Weiner, that magnificent bastard who both writes my favorite show on television and whose overwhelming narcissism kept it off the air for 17 months, started off season five by scaring the ever-loving shit out of me. I’m sure that was his intent, and I’m also sure that I’m the only idiot who fell for it, but when we landed squarely in the offices of Y&R with a bunch of anonymous ad execs, dropping makeshift water balloons on the civil rights protestors below, I was sure that Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce had collapsed and we were going to have to get to know and occasionally love a whole new set of awful people, this time with extra racism.

As it turns out, that wasn’t the case, but Weiner didn’t let us know that quite yet. First we had to make a stop at Don and Megan’s resplendent new apartment, which was decorated immaculately in late-60s modernism and had plenty of room for Sally and New Bobby, who were visiting in advance of Don’s 40th birthday. We learned a few things: Don and Megan are married, Don’s still not all that sure about how to parent his kids and the kids, particularly Sally, still don’t seem to know quite what to make of their dad and Megan. It’s good to know that no one’s gotten any more functional since we last saw them.

Speaking of dysfunction: PETE! If you remember, Trudy popped out a kid at the end of last season, and somehow, the poor thing’s inherited ambition hasn’t suffocated it (her?) yet. Because Trudy gets what Trudy wants, our first Pete sighting was on a train in to work from Greenwich, where he now lives. When a Train Buddy sat down and asked him about his kid, Pete merely complained that Trudy doesn’t get fully put together to leave the house anymore because he has no real thoughts about his child. Pete also refuses to learn to drive, as though it’s his one final protest against becoming a suburban dad. In a way, Pete’s character is so cluelessly and consistently cold that I can’t help but like him. Not to mention that over the course of several seasons, he’s become great at his job.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Joan, who has had her baby (we know it’s a boy because we saw his balls, up close and personal) and has taken maternity leave from the office to welcome the baby home. Because Gregg’s still in Vietnam (and not dead, which was my personal bet), Joan’s maybe-alcoholic mom has come to town to help with the baby. After taking the kid of a walk, she returned to lecture Joan about what will happen when Gregg returns from the war, which I don’t personally think will happen. Either way, Joan made her feelings about her husband “allowing” her to work well known; no one puts Joanie in a corner.

After we had done the necessary out-of-the-office catching up, we went straight back to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, where business seemed to be steadily growing in spite of Roger Sterling. Instead of signing new accounts, Roger shuffles around the office, paying his secretary to pay attention to him and flirting with Pete’s so that he can horn in on his meetings. Roger has no skills other than being a silver fox and inheriting things, and sadly, the former doesn’t bring in new clients and he’s fresh out of the latter.

Because some things never change, Don and Megan arrived to work late, but they did confirm that Megan’s marriage has indeed afforded her a promotion from secretary to copywriter. She’s under Peggy’s purview now, and although Peggy seems to like her as a person (as evidenced by their gleeful gossiping while planning the guest list for Don’s surprise party), she seems uneasy with directing her as an employee. Considering that Megan’s her boss’ wife, I guess it’s an understandable unease. Still, Megan’s not an idiot and seems to want to do well, so I suppose it could be worse. Jane Sterling, she’s not.

If you remember back to the end of season four, the beans and sauces division of Heinz had agreed to come in to hear pitches if SCDP was still around in six to eight months, and as it turns out, Heinz made good on that promise. Peggy was in charge of pitching what was very seriously called a Bean Ballet commercial, which she seemed to genuinely think was a great idea.

Even if you did not see last night’s episode of Mad Men, I’m sure you can read the words “Bean Ballet” and know that whatever followed was an unmitigated catastrophe masquerading as a prospective TV commercial. To the Heinz execs’ credit, they also seemed to understand what Peggy didn’t – dancing beans probably don’t sell any beans. Instead, they just make people cock their heads at the television like confused Golden Retrievers.

Not even a Don appearance halfway through the meeting could save the pitch, a fact which Peggy seemed to resent. As smart as she is, Peggy’s used to Don swanning in and saving the day because he can’t bear to fail, and by extension, he can’t bear for his people to fail. Now that Megan’s in the picture, Don’s not as prickly or as ruthless, which means that he’s not as inclined to shove an idea down a client’s throat. Megan’s upsetting the Don-Peggy ecosystem, and Peggy is not pleased about it.

That’s not the only place that the office is off-kilter, though. After walking in on Roger trying to usurp his meeting with Mohawk Airlines and then getting drunk after sending him home, Pete then ran face-first into the always-hilarious column that blocks the entrance to his office. After losing some of his already alcohol-thinned blood and listening to Ken Cosgrove’s endless cheerfulness, Pete decided that a power play was needed. More on that later.

First, before any Peteschemes could come to fruition, we had to have some scheming from Megan, the show’s resident French-Canadian sociopath. In what seemed to be more of an attempt to reposition herself at work than do something nice for Don (no one who’s ever met Don Draper would mistake him for the kind of person who would enjoy surprise parties), Megan’s birthday party for Don was a surprise. Well, it was almost a surprise – when the pair came home, they found Jane and Roger outside the door of their apartment, bickering over whether or not they should knock or just go inside.

Roger tried to play it off by saying that he was just, you know, in the neighborhood with a bottle of booze and decided to stop by, and if there ever were a person who just walks around constantly carrying a bottle of alcohol, it’s probably Roger. Still, Don knew what was up and, at the very least, he had an opportunity to get over he surface-level irritation and put on his best happy face for the people inside.

Oh, and the people inside. Never has there been a party as awkward as Don’s 40th birthday party. Not even Carrie’s prom. Not only did Peggy bring her corporation-hating boyfriend who made awkward jokes about his ass and the carpet, but she DANCED. Does Peggy Olson of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, strike you as an accomplished and graceful dancer? No, she doesn’t. Because she isn’t.

A few more drinks deep, Peggy then got mouthy with Don and Megan about the Bean Ballet. Thankfully, Peggy didn’t actually perform any portion of the Bean Ballet, but it seemed like that eventuality was only moments away. Improbably, something even more vicariously embarrassing happened.

It was present time for the birthday boy, but instead of a pair of Hermes cufflinks, Megan did perhaps the most horrifying thing that you can even imagine – she got up and did a song with the house band. She did it in French! Well, it was mostly comprised of “zoobee zoobee zoo,” words that I believe are as much gibberish in French as they are in English, despite the fact that I don’t speak a lick of French. (Ok, I know that the name of the song is actually “Zou Bisou Bisou,” but I swear that’s not what she was saying. Maybe it’s her eight extra teeth that screw up her pronunciation.)

Actually, saying that Megan merely ‘sang’ the song doesn’t even begin to explain what happened. Megan, in a black, bell-sleeved mini dress, got up on stage and coquetted her way around like the 25-year-old wannabe-actress she is instead of the suburban executive’s wife that Betty was, and although Mrs. Francis didn’t appear in this episode, you could almost feel her rolling her eyes.

When the song was over, Don did a good job of looking happy despite the fact that he was as embarrassed as we all were, perhaps even more – as Peggy said later, you could practically watch Don’s soul leave his body. Roger then got up to make a toast to birthday boy Don and throw some shade at his own not-as-fun-as-he-wanted second wife in the process. While she was standing right there next to him, no less. “The only thing worse than not getting what you want…is someone else getting it.” Yeouch. That’s shady even for Roger.

Of course, what we all knew was confirmed once the party was over and the guests had left. Don had hated the entire evening and he was perhaps starting to hate what he had gotten himself into with Wife 2.0, and he made that very clear to Megan and went to bed by himself. Megan went to drink on their terrace, and despite my vociferous urgings for her to jump and save us all the trouble, she stayed firmly on solid ground. For a moment there, I thought she might really do it, and then my hopes were dashed. When Don woke up the next morning without her next to him in bed, I thought for sure that she was being cleaned up off the sidewalk at that very moment.

Except Megan wasn’t. She had simply gone in to work early to start Phase 2 of the Megan scheming. Before we can get into that, though, we have to visit a few of the show’s other characters, including the episode’s other schemer (and member of the Mad Men Scheming Hall of Fame), Pete. He called a partner’s meeting on his laughably tiny couch in his cramped, dark, awkwardly support-beamed office and made a power play for Roger’s cushy corner space. In response, Roger offered to fist fight for his office and then stomped out (there was a lot of stomping in this episode), but it was clear that the rest of the partners realized that Pete’s the most important account man at SCDP, even if he’s not a senior partner. We’ll call it a tentative win for Pete, which would later turn into a moderate win.

Important for Pete’s eventual victory was the bumbling horndoggery of Harry, who Megan caught talking about her birthday dance in the break room with Stan. Usually I think the whole, “Uh oh, the person who I’m talking about is standing right behind me” TV trope is cliched and boring, but Harry talks more shit than perhaps anyone on the face of the planet, and if anyone were to be caught in the act, it would be him. Because of a miscommunication with Roger (and an $1100 bribe)(Yes, Roger Sterling carries around $1100 in 1960s money, you know, just in case. Like a boss.), Harry ended up guiltily giving up his sunny, spacious office to Pete as a result.

Around that same time, Lane was making a strange phone call to the owner of a wallet that he had found in a cab that morning. I can’t exactly pin down Lane, who appears to have left his Black Bunny girlfriend in order to grudgingly reunite with his strident harpy of a wife. I’m not entirely sure why he insisted on taking the wallet instead of turning it over to the cabby in the first place, and I’m extra unsure of why he ended up having near-phone sex with the woman who answered the wallet-owner’s phone.

Who was that woman, anyway? She said he was the man’s “girl,” but not his secretary or wife. So she was…a hooker? A hooker with tenure? Can hookers get tenured? I have no idea, but Lane seemed to find her irresistible, so much so that he more or less offered to come over and give her a good rogering right there, sight unseen. Maybe he’s utterly intoxicated by the mere idea of sex with anyone other than his frigid wife that even the sound of a throaty female voice sends him over the edge? Who knows, but the endgame is that it’s the dude who picks up the wallet instead of the girl on the phone who said she would come, probably because she’s tenured hooker and is chained up in his sex dungeon somewhere, only allowed to answer phone calls. Probably.

Back to the real characters: JOANIE! Joan’s mom sucks, you guys. She’s like that mom who’s not really abusive or awful, so you can’t REALLY complain about her, but she’s old-fashioned and totally undermines your confidence just for funsies. She saw the joke want ad that SCDP had put in the paper advertising itself as an “equal-opportunity employer” in order to poke fun at Y&R’s racist water balloons, but Joan’s mom used it to convince her that the firm was trying to replace her while she was out on leave.

Naturally, what followed was Joan’s grand, unannounced return to the office. She came in with her baby and her giant stroller, and for anyone who’s inclined to complain about stroller traffic in their neighborhood, just imagine if all the moms had giant 1960s prams that look like miniature hearses. Suddenly a Bugaboo seems totally reasonable by comparison, even with those giant off-road wheels. (No, never mind, the giant off-road wheels will always be annoying.)

While Joan and Lane talked finance and then had a bit of an adorably emotional moment in Lane’s office, which included Lane doing an awkward dance of which I shall provide a GIF for your viewing enjoyment, Joan’s baby, name unknown, bounced around outside. Roger nearly ashed a cigarette on it, Peggy tried to avoid the handoff but still ended up with it, Pete was forced to push it around in the pram for a little while despite the fact that he wasn’t wearing a skirt. By the time Joan was done, the front door receptionist who hadn’t known who Joan was when she came in was holding it, like they were playing hot potato and she had won. Or lost? I don’t know the rules of hot potato.

Meanwhile, Peggy felt so bad about upsetting Megan and inspiring the well-coordinated fit that resulted in her stomping off home that she went and apologized to Don. Naturally, Don went stomping home after her and found Megan at home, cleaning up the apartment in lacy black underthings. She commanded him to sit and watch her but not touch, which was not at all what actually happened.

At first I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on, but then it became clear that the two of them have some weird you-can’t-have-me-you-old-man sex game thing going on, which I suppose is not that surprising when you consider that Don is a guy who used to (maybe still does?) pay a prostitute to slap him. Remember at the beginning of the episode, when he asked her to open her blouse in his office? She called him a dirty old man then, too.

After the deed was done, Megan had the only believable sex hair that I’ve ever seen on television. I can’t entirely decide if Megan’s a sociopath or if she’s just a nice girl caught up with Don’s psychological issues, but based on the expertly crafted fit she threw to get Peggy to send her home, I’m guessing it’s the former. Her nearly-naked cleaning spree was too wild-eyed and perfect for her to still be clinging to the shreds of sanity that attracted Don last season, not to mention Zoobee Zoobee Zoo.

The episode could have easily ended there, but a few more loose ends needed to be tied up, starting with Pete and Roger. Pete was furious that Roger had kicked Harry out instead of offering up the office he felt he deserved, but that didn’t mean that Pete didn’t accept the upgrade. He did so with one more barb, though – he had his secretary pencil in a huge (fake) meeting on Staten Island for 6 a.m. the next day and instructed her to let Roger look at the calendar all he wanted. Sure enough, Roger took the bait like a dog when you pretend to throw a tennis ball but really hide it behind your back. He might be quick with the one-liners, but he’s not necessarily quick any other way. Roger is, however, clearly sick of his second wife.

And then, of course, there was the matter of the fake ad that SCDP had placed in the paper, trumpeting themselves as an equal-opportunity employer. Because this is the 1960s and rich, middle-aged white men aren’t particularly concerned with anyone but themselves (not that that’s changed so much in 50 years), what the partners saw as a “harmless” joke actually turned into a front office full of young black men and women, waiting patiently to apply for jobs.

After a bit of hemming and hawing (and an embarrassing, racist, perfectly timed delivery to the front office from Y&R), Lane went out into the lobby and did the only halfway decent thing to do – he pretended like SCDP was actually looking to hire secretaries and he collected the women’s resumes. My guess is that Lane, who we know is at least a bit forward-thinking on race, actually intends to hire someone. Mad Men has been criticized in the past for not paying due attention to the era’s enormous race issues, but based on how commentary on civil rights bookended this very high-profile episode, it seems as though one of the defining issues of the 60s isn’t on the back burner any longer.

Some miscellaneous thoughts:

-Pete’s continued redemption as a businessman is one of my favorite long-run story arcs of the series. He may be an overly ambitious, bird-chested, uptight snob (not to mention a maid-rapist), but Pete has a fantastic sense for business and more and more, his presence seems to be what ensures the future prosperity of SCDP.

-Joan’s husband has to die in Vietnam. I don’t really see any endgame for him other than that, and Joan as a single mother would be fascinating. Plus, the real story of Joan is how things don’t work out exactly how she planned, ever, and Gregg’s death would fit into what we know about her character perfectly.

-Who gets divorced first, Roger and Jane or Don and Megan? How long before Don cheats? My guesses are Roger and Jane and three episodes, respectively.

-Is it just me, or is this show drawing some major parallels between having an infant and marrying someone who’s barely an adult?

All GIFs are shamelessly stolen from Gifulmination, my personal favorite source for hilarious dancing pictures.

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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • gpc

    Great recap Amanda.  I found this entire episode very anti-climactic, but I guess that is probably to be expected as it is the season premiere.  Just a few observations on my part.  (1) I found it so strange why Sally woke to an alarm – on a weekend at her father’s? That little girl gives me the creeps.  (2)  I loved it after Megan’s dance to Don when Roger quipped to Jane “Why can’t you dance like that?” and Jane just as quickly quipped back “Why don’t you look like him?” – you go Jane!  (3) Lastly, I so hoped too that Megan was going to jump off that balcony.  I also can’t figure out if she is a sociopath or just lost and caught up in Don’s storm.  I am leaning towards sociopath – she planned that whole emotional interchange with Peggy in order to go home.  I am just not buying her plea as to why doesn’t anyone smile and why are they all so cynical.

    • Reality Junkie

      It really didn’t seem to me that Megan planned that interaction with Peggy. She seemed to even be holding back a little. I think she was pissed about what Peggy said at the party and the fact that she inferred Megan wasn’t working as hard as she (Peggy) was. It began when Megan honestly complimented Joan and then Peggy said she didn;t agree that Joan looked good at 9 months…Megan couldn’t have planned that/

  • Reality Junkie

    Great recap, Amanda!
    I’m very curious about your feelings toward Megan…even going so far as to (probably jokingly) refer to her as a sociopath. I never picked up on anything like that, and in fact have seen her as a genuinely kind and earnest person. Now there is no denying that throwing Don a surprise party, and the dance on top of it, was a boneheaded move that doesn’t seem likely. Other than that, though, I’m not sure why you dislike her so much? I suspect I’m missing something, so please do explain!

    Did anyone else wonder where the hell Sunday went? The party was Saturday night, and Monday morning Don and Megan still aren’t sleeping together and walk into work angry. While that may be explained by saying they slept all day or one of them went into the office or they simply didn’t speak, the fact that the apartment is still completely filthy makes no sense. Who would go a day and a half before cleaning up that mess?

    And Joan’s baby’s name is Kevin. (Really, “Kevin”, ugh).

    • Kitty

      Baby’s name is Kevin and it is a great name. Seriously who can have a problem with Kevin. Wow

      To me too Megan seemed like nice and innocent, but very naive.  I suspect she will go down in the path of Don’s destruction. She has no chance. He maybe dapper and handsome, but he is a mess.

      • Reality Junkie

        I have known a couple of Kevins who were real jerks…I guess it has jaded my opinion! I meant no offense to anyone.

      • Purse mommie

        Oh she will definitely be a casualty of Dick Whitman.  Megan lashed out at Peggy because she was a safe person her real anger was with Harry in my opinion.  You wanna know if it was calculated?  Don’s response when Peggy said she probably wants to be alone and Don said you don’t know her at all. 

    • AmandaMull

      I really liked Megan all of last season until the finale, when it seemed like she was hovering over Don like a fresh kill after he got off the phone with Dr. Faye. There’s more to her than meets the eye. Don dislikes simple, sweet, uncomplicated women, after all – he got bored with Betty because she was the perfect housewife and his affairs were all with women who were smart and ambitious and maybe a little nuts. If Megan weren’t wielding some kind of inner power over him, I don’t think he’d have given her the time of day, let alone married her.

      And now, it’s not that I dislike her at all – like all the other people on Mad Men, I think she’s a really interesting character that has both good and bad qualities – but that I don’t think her intentions are going to turn out well for anyone involved, including Peggy. Her little fit to get sent home read as totally contrived to me, which I think was more or less proven by how well she predicted Don’s reaction to it. She was already in her lingerie and waiting for him at home, even though he hadn’t seen her storm out and they hadn’t talked about it prior. She knew exactly what she was doing, and I think that those powers could easily be used for evil when such a powerful person is being manipulated.

      As for calling her a sociopath…I think that there are probably a number of people on this show who could be accurately described that way. That what makes them fascinating. Sociopaths aren’t necessarily violent, but there’s a cold calculation that goes on with people like Megan. And perhaps Don, for that matter. Pete really wants to be a sociopath, but I don’t think he is. 

      • Reality Junkie

        I certainly have to agree with how she relished Don’s breakup with Faye (while we are talking about that, wasn’t Faye’s reaction some of the best acting…I felt every nuance of how she responded to him on that phone call was heart-wrenchingly spot-on)!
        And now that you bring it up, it did seem planned that she was waiting for Don and had sent the housekeeper home. At first I thought she had just taken her dress off and thrown on her robe, but your explanation seems more logical when it’s all put together. Food for thought. That’s why I love chatting about this show with people who love it as much as I do. I guess we will see what happens, probably sooner than later!
        I also have been predicting that Gregg gets killed and Roger leaves Jane to be with Joan (if Joan hasn’t completely lost every shred of rrespect for him, that is). It looks like that marriage is not long for this world, regardless, so it will be interesting to see if Joan blows Roger off if/when he finally decides he wants to marry her.

  • laura james

    Great Re-cap!  Didn’t realize just how much I had missed Mad Men until I started watching last night’s season premiere!  The if the Jewelry in last night’s episode is a preview of what’s to come this season just may have the best jewelry we’ve seen yet!

  • cca.

    I loved this episode. Pretty good reintroduction to every character. It was quite entertaining. And I will continue singing Zou Bisou Bisou for a while. Sometimes you gotta keep things spicy for your boo! 

  • Janie22341

    Colors fade, temples crumble, empires fall, but wise words endure.

  • Lady_Jane

    Great review!  I was cracking up over “Roger tried to play it off by saying that he was just, you know, in the neighborhood with a bottle of booze and decided to stop by, and if there ever were a person who just walks around constantly carrying a bottle of alcohol, it’s probably Roger.” 

    Kevin was a very popular name in that day so it is fitting that Joan would name her baby that.  If I heard correctly is Pete’s baby named Tammy?  Another name of that era. 

    I too was hoping Megan would jump off the balcony.  I also loved when Roger told Jane to shut up after she asked what time it was before the fake meeting Pete set up. 

    Also one minor mistake in the review…wasn’t it Lane who said he saw Don’s soul leave his body, not Peggy? 

    I hope Megan is gone after this season….Don is much more interesting with a parade of women and us wondering “who is next”

    • Lady_Jane

      Oh one more thing….Peggy danced on the show a few times.  Remember in season one where she was at the bar with the rest of the office doing the twist and Pete commented that he did not like it when she acted like that.   Think there were a couple of other times too.  But it did seem odd at Don’s party

  • Cheryleliz

    Great recap Amanda! My favorite LOL line… “no one puts Joanie in a corner”.
    I missed psycho-mom Betty. 

    • CarefreeTee

      I liked the re-cap but wonder why no mention of Megan’s comment (in the bedroom after the party) to Don about no one loving Dick (his other identity). When did that come out in the open between them?

      • AmandaMull

        There was a lot of exposition in this episode to fill us in on the goings-on between last season and now, and for whatever reason, I wasn’t particularly surprised that Don had told Megan about his past. He seems to be totally under her spell, so the fact that she knew seemed entirely in line with their relationship dynamic.

    • Blaine

      Totally missed Betty too!!  I miss her iciness, frigidity, and the offhand manner in which she treats her children.  I had mothers on my block who were just like that with their kids – today child protective services would have been all over it.  It’s good for people to remember that back then, not every mother was Doris Day.

      • TLo

        I remember a couple of episodes though where Betty came out as a loving mom.  When the next door neighbor threatened to shoot Sandy the dog (where is Sandy?) after the dog went after the pigeons.  Betty went out with a gun and shot a few of his birds.  Also in one episode Betty was putting lipstick on Sally and they both seemed to be really enjoying it.

      • Purse mommie

        Uhh while I loved when Betty shot the birds, it showed she is a complete unhinged psyco

  • cakegirl

    I thought the comment Megan’s friend made at the party was very telling, “Megan is a great actress.” Also, did you notice how horrified she looked around Joan’s baby? Very different from the caring babysitter of last season. I think Don has no idea how much he got played!

  • SBM

    One thing that redeems Pete is that he seems to be the most forward-thinking about race and civil rights issues. In previous episodes, he was unique in pointing out the importance of the African-American customer. And he’s the only one who doesn’t laugh off the civil rights protest.   

    • Cynthiaisabella

      Good point about Pete.  People seem to think that Lane is more progressive as well, but he put the cab driver’s job in jeopardy, rather than trust him to return a wallet that was left in HIS cab.  He dated an African American woman, but she was more of a sex object to him and a feeble act of rebellion.  I do think that Lane is the most likely candidate to change, though… 

    • I agree SBM.  Pete is a businessman pure and simple and race should not be a factor in his opinion.  I think Pete’s position is “if it don’t make dollars it don’t make sense”

  • Megan reminds me of Claudine Longet. ;)

    Thanks for the recap; you pointed out many things I missed. Also, at the beginning, Megan demonstrates no affection for the kids, does not make them breakfast and just has black coffee. Looks like the maternal act from last season was just that.

    Also, the dresses were a little short for 66-67; they get shorter by 68-69. There was no pantyhose, that I recall then, and it looks like Megan is not wearing garters under her shortie black dress.

  • Mary s

    Not you too. This has to be one of the most offensive silly, rainbow eye silly shows ever, “yes lets all pretend that lynchings, domestic violence, drunk driving, alcoholism and domestic terrorism and all that was this period in history was all fun and games and everyone who counts had a great time” between this and the help, I’m waiting for a comedy set in the slave holding south.

    • I think that’s a very surface-level reading of Mad Men, and likely from someone who hasn’t watched the series (just a guess – those kinds of assumptions are what also kept me from watching it for so long). The show is highly critical of all of the things you mention, particularly the era’s attitude toward women and alcohol. It looks like this season is going to focus a lot on the 1960s and how it affected race in America. The clueless white men are not painted in a particularly affectionate light.

      On the other hand, some of the most interesting characters – Peggy in particular – are women. She’s young, ambitious in the workplace, uninterested in traditional relationships with men and becoming more and more liberal and critical of the world around her. A large part of Pete’s redemption as a character has been his ability to think forward, and even though he’s not what you’d call “progressive,” you can see that the light has gone on inside his head that things are changing. 

      Mad Men is a show that generally tends to follow the writer’s edict of “show, don’t tell,” which means that unless you really watch it (and for me, I got a lot of the subtlety only on the second and third time through the series), it’s easy to overlook the enormous amount of criticism that’s built in to the series.

      • The truth is Madmen shows how many White Americans felt, for them this time was fun and happy for THEM.  Many didn’t care about race relations only just keeping up the status quo  

    • Tam

      All of those issues have been pervasive throughout our history.  Do you watch any  TV at all?  If so how do you come to terms with all the issues that are still going on today and yet there are comedy’s and and drama’s on that don’t mention these problems and if they do they glorify them.

    • Reality Junkie

      Can we not enjoy a story about fictional people for the pure entertainment value? The fact is, the show is by all accounts a very accurate portrayal of how a certain group of people behaved during that era. It in no way glamourizes them- in fact, it does just the opposite. How you go from there to a “comedy about slavery” is one gigantic leap.

      • Reality Junkie

        I should’ve said it doesn’t “glorify” them….it does, perhaps, make them look glamorous…wrong word choice.

    • withgypsyeyes

      As someone who has studied gender and cultural studies at a univeristy level, I think you’ve totally missed the mark. Mad Men is a very subtle show, and you need to watch it all intently to get a lot of the nuances. It doesnt beat you over the head with a moral message but it highlights the social injustices in an ironic and poignant way – it tries to lead us through the changes in the way people of the era did, while at the same time poinying out how wrong or absurd those values appear to a modern audience (and showing how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go).

  • Kells

    As always, Roger’s one-liners were my favorite part of the episode in which not a ton happened (I’m hoping to set up the season???). Best lines of the show:

    Roger (to Jane): “Why don’t you sing with an accent?”
    Jane: “Why don’t you look like him?”

    Great recap! It should get very interesting to see how the show handles the issues, like race, it appears to be setting us up for!

    • Laurie

       I think that Megan not only planned the exchange with Peggy, but also the fact that Peggy would go to Don and thus inspire him to go chasing after Megan.  Why else would she be prepared in sexy underthings, having sent the maid home, ready for this whole sex game at home?  I think things could get very interesting with her character, as much as I kind of wanted to see her jump off the balcony too.

  • TLo

    It seemed to me like Megan had a problem with Joan of some sort.  What is that about?

    • Cynthiaisabella

      If Megan is still working at the office when Joan returns, I can only imagine the diabolical scheming that she will need to employ to undermine Joan’s hardwon authority at SCDP.  There can only be on Queen Bee, after all.

    • Reality Junkie

      I think there is going to be a revelation of something that happened in the last seven months between Joan and Don and/or Megan. Don and Joan seemed to be very, very happy to see one another, and Megan clearly tried to dodge Joan when she showed up at the office. Also, Joan’s mention of “Mrs. Draper invited me to the surprise party” and Joan’s mother mentioning that Megan wouldn’t want Joan around. I think Megan is jealous of Joan and perhaps suspects that they had an affair. Maybe Megan has done the math and thinks the baby might be Don’s? Lots of possibilities, and this show has a way of revealing back stories as time moves forward.

  • Cynthiaisabella

    Nice recap.  My guess is that Megan may have a bit of a “past” as well, considering her acting skills and talent for the S & M schtick.  I think Joan’s baby is named Doug, although I was too worried that Roger would burn the baby with his cigarette to be certain I heard his name correctly.  Would love to see a scene when Roger dies of Joan’s son being added to the will:  he is the only male heir, after all.  Imagine the fit that Jane (if she’s not already out of the picture) and Roger’s daughter will throw. Glad to hear that you were cringing with embarrassment watching Megan create a spectacle of herself at Don’s party.  The new Don who doesn’t care about work is boring, to say the least.  I’m waiting for him to run off to an EST seminar (although they didn’t happen until 1971), which will only add to the sadness of his mid-life crisis.  Praying we don’t see Don meditating and getting in touch with his true potential.

    • Cynthiaisabella

      Kevin – Why did I think it was Doug? 

      • Reality Junkie

        Because when Roger is holding him he asks Joan if “Doug” liked his presents! The selfish SOB can’t even remember his own son’s name!

  • Linn

    I agree that Megan is a total schemer and extremely crafty.  Remember last season when they were all out in California and she stopped by Don’s room ostensibly to see if he needed anything before she went out with her friend?  She knew she looked sexy and more importantly, knew Don would notice.  And notice, he did.

    She also knew he was struggling to deal with his children and well, what do you know?, Megan just loves kids, especially Don’s kids.  How bout that?  Remember the scene with the spilled milkshake and Don’s looking at Megan and the kids from a distance.  How perfect they looked together!  You knew he was thinking that.

    I was confused by Megan’s insistence on the surprise party for Don and cringed when she was singing and dancing for him, knowing he was hating it, but then I realized that she must have known that part of being desirable is the _perception_ of being desirable.  If all the men around Don desire Megan, doesn’t that make her more desirable to him as well? 

    I think she’s going to surprise us by how well she manipulates Don in coming episodes.  She may be able to keep him interested for a longer stretch than we all initially guessed.

    • Good observation Linn.  I think she is like the “new girl” otherwise known as Drunk ass Jane, looking for a husband

  • suz

    Panty hose came into being just about that time….so it’s possible…

    • suz

      This makes no sense… was supposed to be a reply to an earlier observation about panty hose

  • suz

    Notes from a bygone era:  The devil is in the details, and they’ve really nailed the details.  I especially loved the scene with Don and the three kids in the front seat of the car.  The front seats of those cars were like giant sofas, and back in the day, no one much thought about passenger safety.

    Now to clarify…..I worked at Y&R around 1970….and maybe the “account” side was racist and/or idiotic, but on the “creative” side we were busy marching and protesting for every righteous cause,,,,so in reality, during that water bomb scene, there were probably Y&R people down on the street as well.

    The other thing I am noticing…..I don’t remember women being as fatuous as they are portrayed here, and I certainly don’t remember men being such drunken jack-asses as we’re seeing.  Granted it makes for a good TV show, but I just want to point out people really weren’t that different….and damn, the fashion was fun. 

    • Aimes

       Did nobody else pick up on the face to face almost kiss between Joan and Lane on his office couch?  I think that may be going somewhere or am I wrong? 

      • DanaPam

        I think Joan’s husband will die in Vietnam and she will end up with Lane.  The chemistry between the two was exciting.  Roger is an old has-been washed up drunk.  

    • Suzy

      I too love the attention to detail.  I clearly remember riding in the front seat–no seat belts for anyone!  

      One detail about Pete’s move to Greenwich, however, is wrong:  He’s on an a.m. train heading to NYC, (scene where the jaded suburban guy shares his tale of suburban marital hell), the guy says he saw Trudy drop Pete at the station.  The conductor then announces that Greenwich is the next stop.  We know from a later scene that Pete lives close enough to walk home from the station.  So, either they live further north than Greenwich (unlikely since Trudy is “in love w/Greenwich” and probably wouldn’t have settled for less), or this is one of the few details that MW got wrong–or bent in order to establish Pete’s new situation.  As an ardent MM fan, (and NYC commuter), it’s a detail that I had to note!        

      • You know, I noticed that too and couldn’t really figure out what to make of it. At first I thought Pete was headed home, but then the workday started. Were Pete and Trudy not able to afford Greenwich proper and had to move one stop further out, like they had to move a little further north in the Upper East Side than they had preferred? Did MW just need a reason to say Greenwich and establish that Trudy got her way and Pete’s in the suburbs? I honestly don’t know.

    • Apparently the “water balloon” scene from Y&R is something that actually happened at the firm in 1966:

      I don’t doubt that many attitudes had changed by 1970, particularly on the part of the creatives in your office. Creatives tend to be more progressive than average, I’ve found. 

      • Reality Junkie

        Yes indeed! Having worked in advertising for a newspaper for twenty-some years, I can vouch for the fact that “creatives” are unequivocally more “progressive” (liberal) individuals as compared to the general population!

  • withgypsyeyes

    Your interpretation of the season premiere (and the characters) is very different to mine, but that’s still interesting. I think I give Megan a lot mroe credit than you do and see her role in Don’s life/the whole matrix of events quite differently.  Wasn’t it Pryce that commented on “Dom’s soul leaving his body’ though?

  • Bella

    Great recap. It was actually Lane who said You could see Don’s soul leave his body. I loved the moment between Joanie and Lane. Then the moment with Lane with Joanie’s baby. He acted very loving towards the baby versus Roger (who I am also sick of).

  • suz

    …and, how about the reference to Ralph Nader.  My gawd, he’s be agitating for a long time!

  • Reality Junkie

    Random thought: it would have been interesting to see Sal Romano’s wife (Kitty?) perform a “Zou Bisou” for Sal at his birthday party! Like Don, he would have had to mask his general discomfort and feign approval….but for completely different reasons!
    I do miss Sal- he was so very likeable and funny- I hope he comes back someday!

  • scrapnatya

    My favorite part of this episode was Peggy and Pete standing in front of the baby carriage. Oh, what might have been! Awkward!

     I think that Megan has Don hook, line and sinker for now. It’s only a matter of time  before Don is back to his dirty dog ways. Unless Megan will end up cheating on him?
    Betty’s new house is a mansion…  “Tell Lurch and Mortica I say hello!”I loved how funny Roger was this episode (the dancing and singing was too funny…”Bonjour!” Unfortunately, he belongs nowhere now. Not at home and not in the office. He doesn’t even have a secretary.I agree that Joanie’s husband is never coming back. Maybe she’ll end up with Roger or just be his mistress again.Great recap. I look forward to Sunday’s episode and your thoughts after.

  • Kemilia

    Great recap, you did a very good job on an intricate TV show. (took me until yesterday to finish the 2 hours). And I’m glad you mentioned Megan’s teeth–that girl needed some braces. One of the teeth looks like it’s ready to escape her mouth.

  • blaine101

    argh posted to wrong recap!!!