Mad Men – “Time Zones”

don

Don Draper in Season 7 of Mad Men

Diving into a new season of Mad Men is always exciting and a little confusing. I’m filled with questions immediately – “What year is it?” “What’s going on with Roger?” “Are they still together?” “Who’s that?” “Why did she say that?” It can be hard to just sit back and enjoy the show, rather than trying to solve every tiny mystery. But as the season unfolds, what’s important becomes clear.

megan-and-don

Megan and Don

This season (the second last, or “first half of the last season” if you’re a lawyer) picks up only two months after the last one left off – not much of a time jump compared to some past seasons. At first, it felt like so much had happened since we’d last seen the characters. But by the end of the episode, I realized they hadn’t progressed as much as I’d thought.

So where is everyone? Don is trying to get his life back together – he’s sober, for now, and pitching ads via Teddy Rumsen. Ironic, given Teddy’s own issues with alcoholism. Megan is pursuing acting in L.A. They’re still married, but it’s obviously not working. Don’s children aren’t seen in this episode – are they even mentioned?

Pete in LA, Bob is in Detroit, and Ken is crumbling under the pressure back in New York. And we see that Peggy did not step into Don’s shoes in his absence – he was replaced by a man named Lou Avery, who doesn’t seem to have the same aggressive, arrogant brilliance that both Don and Peggy possess. He seems easy to get along with. Even before Peggy broke down, alone in her apartment, we could tell she was having a rough go.

One of my favorite storylines this week was Joan’s. Her interactions with Ken were fun to watch. She’s a partner and he’s not, but he’s head of accounts and she wants to be an accounts person. So she let him boss her around a little, and she knew when she was in over her head. A meeting with the new marketing guy from Butler Footwear, who wanted to take their advertising in-house, rattled her. But with a little coaching, she was easily able to turn the tables – because she’s Joan Freaking Harris.

Stray thoughts:

  • Fun guest appearances! Cougar Town‘s Dan Byrd as the confident, MBA-educated marketing guy and Neve Campbell as Don’s charming company on the red-eye back from California. And I don’t know about you, but I recognized Pete’s pretty realtor as Logan Echolls’ cute, short-lived girlfriend Hannah on Veronica Mars.
  • While Don struggles to stay sober, Roger has totally spiraled into a messy, hedonistic lifestyle that he doesn’t even seem to be enjoying.
  • Ken couldn’t toss Joan her misplaced earring because his eye patch messes with his depth perception. Poor guy just can’t win.
  • What’s up with Roger’s daughter? Scientology?  Born-again Christian? Some other weird late 1960s cult?

About Jill

Pop culture junkie and TV aficionado. I write sharp and snarky TV recaps at www.couchtimewithjill.com
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2 Responses to Mad Men – “Time Zones”

  1. 1redowl says:

    Thank you, Jill, for this article. I have been dying to discuss the show.

    I really liked the segments with Joan and I thought that Pete was hilarious as the new “dude” in LA.

    I am having difficulty keeping any interest in Peggy. What is her problem?

    The ending of last season was so poignant with the “knowing look” exchanged between Don and Sally and then “no follow-up”? Where is this terrific young actress and her two brothers?

    Most important, for me, was the absence of Betty and her not so good life at home?

    I LOVE Betty! Possibly one of the best Bitch Characters of all time and she and Don were perfect together.

    Thrilled to see Don’s eye already wandering away from Megan. When is he going to ditch her?

    The Realtor, IMO, will appear again. So like Betty in many ways and she was too good to lose at any time soon.

    Roger – Poor Roger – such a lovable, pathetic guy. His daughter doesn’t interest me at all and your comment about Scientology reminds me why I find it so difficult to watch Peggy. The actress, in “real life” who plays Peggy is a big-time Scientologist.

    I hope that this will be a weekly focus for you.

    Thank You,
    Mary

  2. Dana says:

    Yes, here’s to weekly focus to script television!

    I thought it was a good premiere, they all are a catch up with our characters. I agree, not much has changed. I am not sure Don is sober, he’s just not a drunk. He had champagne on the flight and I thought I saw him with a glass of whiskey but maybe I am mistaken. He asked about booze with Megan (is there any wine left or did the chicken drink it all?).

    No Betty or Sally but with so many characters to cover, not surprising they weren’t in the premiere. Remember this was not a two hour premiere as it was last season (or the season before I thought). We’ll probably see them next week.

    Things at SC&P are bad. No one but Peggy cares about the work. You know what they need? Don Draper.

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