April 1 update: Check out my Week 2 mini recap and quotes: Quotes from ‘Mad Men’ Season 5 Episode 3, ‘Tea Leaves': ‘Who Smells Like Pee?’
April 8 update: Check out my Week 3 recap and quotes: Recap and 15 Quotes from ‘Mad Men’ Season 5 Episode 4, ‘Mystery Date’
Pete Campbell got chubby in the time between “Mad Men” Season 4’s 1965 and Season 5’s
1967 1966. Not quite fat, but there’s a second chin there. Apparently when he’s unhappy, he eats right out of the box. On top of that, he’s balding, as Jane Sterling pointed out on the Season 5 premiere, “A Little Kiss.” And he’s definitely more put-upon than ever. He’s turning into Willy Loman.
Meanwhile, Harry Crane lost weight and all dignity and became a total sleaze. Vulnerable new mom Joan Harris was looking disheveled at home with her baby, but she showed up as her usual glam self toward the end of the premiere and seemed just as lost and confused about the new events as the rest of us. Don Draper got happy (although not as happy as everyone thinks), which does indeed “gall” Peggy Olson, although she denied it. She hasn’t changed one bit. She and Pete — remember their baby fling? — are like sad sack siblings so far this season, although Pete takes the cake. Not only does he look and dress bad, he’s living out in the sticks with one acre and a wife (Trudy!) who doesn’t dress to the nines like she used to, when all he wants is the glam life in the city. Don’s life. But even Don doesn’t always want Don’s life.
On the two-hour Season 5 premiere, Don turned 40 and his WIFE (he married her after all!) / COPYWRITER (she works with Peggy now!) Megan threw him a surprise party. Men aren’t into surprises, Peggy warned Megan smugly and even though the party was a success — complete with Megan’s French “Zoo Be Zoo Be Zoo” (technically it’s “Zou Bisou Bisou”) “burlesque” sex dance that got all the other men crazy — Don just wanted to sleep after, and asked Megan never to embarrass him like that again. So even though he can’t keep his hands off her, their age difference and lack of actually knowing each other is a real issue. (Although she does know that he used to be Dick Whitman.) But there’s nothing like hot, angry makeup sex to solve that problem. We know Don likes to be dominated and it turns out Mary Poppins Megan has a dominatrix tough side.
(Side note: What is it with women and French performances on this show? Remember Joan’s awesome “C’est magnifique” performance on the accordion?)
Roger Sterling is still funny, but even more useless than ever, much to the irritation of Pete and now, Harry, whose job in media actually makes him 10 times more relevant than anyone else in the office. Pete vs. Roger is already officially on. Megan vs. Harry is also on. Apparently Don didn’t like Harry even before Harry dropped a sleaze bomb all over Megan, behind her back. Will anything come of that? Harry is more valuable to the company than Megan, even if he’s much more of an ass than he was during the early seasons. (Why can’t there just be one purely good character? Too much to ask?)
Oh and Peggy vs. Megan is just starting. Glad for this. I love that Peggy and Joan are friends but she’s now battling Megan. Megan feels put-upon by the “cynical” SCDP people who don’t smile, they smirk. Wonder why. Maybe ’cause of the blatant nepotism of Don marrying his secretary then promoting her? She’s much too much of a Pollyanna child for the ad world. Unless she’s just acting, as her friend suggested during the party?
I missed Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and I love how the Season 5 premiere dropped us right into the middle of the action with no hand-holding exposition. There was enough going on to keep the two-hour running time feel action-packed although they really could and should drop the Lane Pryce storyline completely. I don’t need to hear more about his dirty old man ways. His taxi wallet discussion slowed everything down.
I’m definitely interested in seeing the new Joan back in the office, although it sounds like she let Roger completely off the hook when it comes to the baby. He knows it’s his but, although he was happy to see “my baby” in the office (meaning Joan), he also said he was happy that Joan didn’t attend Don’s surprise party. Then he snuck out on his wife Jane (the bloom is way off that rose) to go to Staten Island.
Question: Does anyone actually like their children? Joan seems ready to be away from her child. Pete can’t seem to stand his kid. Peggy still doesn’t seem comfy holding a baby. Weirdly enough, only Don seems to have a good relationship with his children at this point. We didn’t see Betty (aka “Morticia”) but I can only imagine she still can’t stand her children. (Sally Draper’s voice has changed! And she’s getting close to as bossy as Betty.)
At the end of the episode, Megan said she’s not sure the people at the office like her or that she likes them. I’m not sure I like her either and I don’t like that she’s a copywriter now. I also don’t like how much of the two-hour premiere was about Megan. She’s taking over! Thankfully Megan is starting to question whether it’s a good idea that she’s at work. Don wants her at work because he wants her, but — like Roger — he doesn’t care about work. Only Pete and Peggy actually care about work. And that white rug was hideous. It didn’t tie the room together at all.
Read my latest lament at the loss of Sal and Lois the foot crushing secretary here at “We Miss Sal! Mad Men Characters We Want Back For Season 5.”
Catch up on my “Mad Men” archive here.