Hey guys! I'm Adam Bryant, and I will be watching and recapping
Mad Men with you this season. I know we're a week behind, so I've jotted down some quick thoughts on the first episode, but will be more thorough with the remaining episodes of the season.
As for the season premiere, I'm sure many of you were like me, hungry for resolutions to some of last season's cliff-hangers. Namely: Peggy's baby. Alas, we've jumped to Valentine's Day 1962, Peggy is back down to her pre-birth figure, and she's not hiding any baby bottles in her desk drawer. While the guys in the office do hint that Peggy perhaps did have a child (they suggest it was Don's, no less), Pete Campbell (the baby's unknowing father) squashes the conversation reminding them that they had agreed her time off was spent at fat camp.
Despite the cracks that keep coming, Peggy has become comfortable in her new role as junior copywriter. Sure, she still plays secretary to most of the boys in the meetings, but she is quick to scold Draper's new secretary for perhaps being a little to willing to divulge secrets of Don's personal life. Peggy takes her down a notch, showing a new kind of courage that we didn't see last season That courage is rivaled only by her dedication to succeed, which she does by coming up with copy for Mohawk Airlines in Don's office, after he convinces her that people who believe sex sells also believe a monkey could do her work. She responds by coming up with a slogan that she can "put in her book."
While Don is pleased with her work, he seems a little unpleased by everything else, especially the notion that he has been asked by Roger (now healthy and back at it following his second heart attack) to possibly hire some younger talent at the request of Duck Phillips who hopes these changes will bring in a coffee client. Don resists "dangling a Pepsi out the window and hoping to hook a stroller," believing the new generation "doesn't know anything, especially that they are young." His frustration also comes out as during one of his usual whimsical moments of advertising brilliance, he finishes his sentence with blah, blah, blah. My favorite example of his distaste for "youth" came when, in the elevator with a lady and two younger men, one of whom insists on talking crudely about a recent conquest, Don chooses to focus on the direspect shown to the lady by the offending man not removing his hat. Don snatches the hat off his head and thrusts into his chest, shutting him up and definitely sending a message. Loved it.
Don's problems aren't just at work. He's also been told by his doctor that he has high blood pressure, and has been advised to slow down his lifestyle (and cut down on the booze and cigarettes). Plus, during his romantic Valentine's night with Betty at the Savoy Hotel, Don finds himself unable to perform. Though Betty clearly tries to downplay it to Don ("We had too much to drink") and Francine ("We had no time for TV," referring to Jackie O's televised tour of the White House), she is obviously upset, and quickly overrides Don's room service orders by taking the phone and ordering herself.
Betty got stronger and stronger last season, and I can't help but wonder if her new-found edgy independence is because she confronted Don for calling her therapist behind her back. We know she confessed fake concerns about him cheating to her therapist as revenge, but did he perhaps come clean in the months that we've missed? Is she holding that over him? A few of her more brutal lines of the night were in reference to her kids, comparing them at once with horse manure ("What's the difference?") and then using the threat of death to keep her daughter from wanting to ride (Remember what happened to the girl on
Gone with the Wind?). Betty also asserted herself with the tow-truck driver who came along to help her when the car broke down. In a scene that made me very uncomfortable at first, Betty manipulates and "bargains" to talk the mechanic down from $9 to the $3 and change she has in her wallet. She's bold and makes her decisions for herself ("I don't want my husband to know about this"), but she also uses her sexuality as a weapon, which I thought was going to end disastrously. Instead, it ended only with a repaired fan belt and a thank you, ma'am.
Other happenings around the office include Sterling Cooper's first Xerox machine (which ends up sharing an office with "Miss Olson", Harry's wife becoming pregnant, Pete dealing with the affect such news has on his wannabe-mom wife Trudy (and eating a box of chocolates, his gift to his wife), and Joan taunting Roger (she'd show him her "Valentine" heart on her "way out") with her boyfriend. Plus, Don comes across Frank O'Hara's book
Meditations in an Emergenc and though the bar patron he sees reading it suggests he "doesn't think you'd like it," Don gives it a try, and then mails a copy to someone.
And a few questions: How is it possible that Don is only 36? I find it a little unrealistic that he is in his position at that age. What's with Sal's new lady friend? (Though while watching the White House TV coverage, he did quickly ask "Where's her husband?") And of course, where in the world is Peggy's baby? Of course, she didn't seem to want to keep it at the end of last season, but I assume we would at least get to know where the tyke ended up. And, of course, who did Don sent the book to?
This episode had tons of lines to love, but I will single out two here. First Roger's "They say when you start drinking alone you're an alcoholic. Really trying to avoid that" just restored the fact that Roger is back to his old self in every way. I also loved Don's "Quit writing for the writers" line, reminding Paul Kinsey that advertising has to be as clear and useful as it is cute.
Overall, I thought this episode (as the show always has been) was great. It was a little bit too much of a "reset" episode, and didn't advance the plot very much, but I was still satisfied. How about you - What did you think of the premiere? Who do you think Don sent the book to? What do you make of Peggy's baby vanishing act? I look forward to hearing from you all season!
Hey guys Im Adam Bryant and I will be watching and recapping Mad Men with you this season I know were a week behind so Ive jotted down some quick thoughts on the first episode but will be more thorough with the remaining episodes of the season As for the season premiere Im sure many of you were like me hungry for resolutions to some of last seasons cliff-hangers Namely Peggys baby Alas weve jumped to Valentines Day 1962 Peggy is back down to her pre-birth figure and shes not hiding any baby bottles in her desk drawer While the guys in the office do hint that Peggy perhaps did have a child they suggest it was Dons no less Pete Campbell the babys unknowing father squashes the conversation reminding them that they had agreed her time off was spent at fat campDespite the cracks that keep coming Peggy has become comfortable in her new role as junior copywriter Sure she still plays secretary to most of the boys in the meetings but she is quick to scold