I find it difficult to transition from writing about a show that's fraught with problems and zombies and horrible characters to a show full of brilliant characters and a plot that stays, frankly, well ahead of my lady brain. I can see almost every move before it happens on The Walking Dead. Two hours into Season 5 of Mad Men, and I have no idea where Matthew Weiner and company are taking us.
And I like it that way.
But it is much easier (and in many ways more fun) to write about a show that drives me crazy with its stupidity and ridiculousness (See also: Blood, True). So, with the return of Mad Men, I'm a happier TV watcher, but a more frustrated recapper.
Enough about me and my VERY IMPORTANT problems.
This season kicks off several months later. Many of the characters are in different places, some literally and some figuratively. Don and his new wife, Megan, are living in a tony new apartment. Morticia and Lurch (AKA Betty and Henry) are living in a big victorian mansion. Pete's out in the suburbs with a post-partem depressing Trudy. And Joan's a mom to a baby boy named Kevin.
And here are the points I'd like to highlight, in no particular order:
- The civil rights movement is happening down on Madison Avenue, but the Good Ol' Boys Club is still in charge. I find it interesting to think about how far we haven't come since 1968. We're still trying to legislate what a woman can and should do with her body. And we're (well, some of us with low reading comprehension are) still ascribing a lower value to people of color.
- I swear my grandparents had the same yellow sheets as Sally Draper.
- Don's new shaving brush is made from badger tale. Honey badger still don't care.
- Pete wishes Trudy would just get over her baby blues already. At least he has a good plan for dealing with it, namely coming home on a later and later train every night. That'll help. Nothing a stay-at-home-mom loves more than an absentee father.
- Bert Cooper is just kind of floating around aimlessly, which is how we like our Bert Cooper.
- There was a lot of filler in this episode, was there not? All the Harry stuff felt like it could've been left on the floor. Also, when did Harry become so unsavory?
- While the men in this episode are focused on playing pranks and comparing the sizes of their...offices...the ladies are poised to take charge. SCDP is falling apart without the unflappable Joan Harris. Megan is working hard designing coupons. And Peggy, who, a few seasons ago, would've completely shunned Megan, is taking her role as mentor seriously. Don't get too comfortable in that office, Pete.
- Don has become nearly obsolete. He shows up late for work. He doesn't offer suggestions in the Heinz meeting. He cares more about ogling his wife's body (in the privacy of his office, not at surprise birthday parties in front of everyone) than he does about his job. Don's day has passed, or is passing. The young folks are the new ideas men, Michael.
- Has Jared Harris always suffered from Keira Knightley mouth?
- I know a lot of people don't like Megan, for some reason, but I think she's pretty great. I'm sure everyone at SCDP thought she'd leave work after marrying Don, but she hasn't. And though she says she's there because she wants to be around Don, I don't think that's the whole story. She's taking a lot of pride in her work, and I don't think she has any interest in becoming the new Jane Sterling.
- Was anyone else kind of annoyed that Megan gave in to Don at the end, soiling their white rug even further? I thought it was kind of refreshing that she had turned the sexual dominance table on him, and I would've liked to have seen Don walk away unsatisfied for once. Alas, no one can say "no" to Don Draper.
- Apollo the plumber is the new Saul Goldman. "When you need Apollo, you call Apollo."
- I'm not quite sure where the Lane/wallet thing is headed. Did he keep the picture? Is he going to start stalking Delores and murder her in the heat of passion? Probably, right?
- No one wants to hold your baby, Joan. I loved the awkwardness between Pete and Peggy. Imagine if they were raising a child together. That kid would have more problems than Sally and Glen combined.
- Looks like SCDP is about to diversify. I look forward to seeing how their new hire works out. Will they lose business or gain business because of it?
What did you think of the first episode of Mad Men, Season 5?