Mad Men. S07 E01 Time Zones
by Erin Alkire
Mad Men fans got what they had been waiting 9 months and 27 days for: season 7’s premiere. Season 6 left us hanging with the image of Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka) staring blankly at the house in which Don was raised. Throughout the show’s seasons, we’ve seen only glimpses of Don’s past through triggered flashbacks. I personally believe this is the most captivating plotline, and I hoped to see more of it with this premiere.
Unfortunately, Time Zones did not give us more adolescent Don (or should I say Dick Whitman?), but it did shed light on how the lives have changed for our favorite characters. The 15-second teaser trailer that was released by AMC gave us a slow-motion Don exiting a plane surrounded by blue skies.
Fast-forward to the premiere: the time is January 1969. Don is still on mandatory paid leave from the Sterling Cooper & Partners. He is living bi-coastal as he lives in New York and visits Megan in Los Angeles. Don finds the perfect opportunity to fly west for a visit when he hears Ted is coming to work in New York for a few days. Peggy tries to steer clear of Ted after he broke her heart by choosing his family over her, and she isn’t enjoying the new boss since he doesn’t seem to appreciate her.
Megan seems to have a bright acting future ahead of her even after leaving her show in New York when she gets a callback for a spot on an up-and-coming show. Pete is a full-blown California yuppie, but at least he seems happy. (Does anyone else root for Pete as much as I do?) Joan steps up and fills in for Ken in an important meeting with the new Head of Marketing for Butler Footwear, Wayne Barnes. Ken is overwhelmed with his responsibility of being Head of Accounts. Roger meets with his daughter, Margaret, and she forgives him for all the way he’s wronged her over the years.
The episode was strangely calm. I expected torrential downpour and received a sprinkling. Sure, there is tension between Megan and Don, Roger and Margaret, Ted and Peggy, but nothing significant happened. Yet. Mad Men’s writers are setting the stage for something catastrophic. I like how Bonnie Stiernberg over at Paste Magazine cited Megan’s slurred line, “Everyone says they can tell where the fire starts,” as she asks Don not to flick cigarette ashes from her California balcony. I absolutely agree that an inferno is what we will get if we keep coming back for more.
One plotline I’m eager to see play out is that of Roger and Joan. I feel there is unfinished business between the former lovers. Joan must be hard to get what she wants out of her career, but I think she will let Roger more and more into their son, Kevin’s, life. Speaking of a career, I also cannot wait to see Joan continue to kick butt as a partner because she is much more than a glorified secretary.
Another looming question is whether or not Don will be allowed to return to Sterling Cooper & Partners. If the other partners feel he is no longer able to do his job with the charm he once did, Don’s life will change drastically. Will he move to Los Angeles to be with Megan and start over? I’m not sure, but I bet an Old Fashioned that Don will not leave the agency without a fight or some sort of ruckus made.
What we do know is that Don is on the cusp of change or at least he seems to be. He has acknowledged that his drinking is an issue. We seem him try to kick the habit cold turkey with shaky hands. His flashbacks are longer, more vivid. They show us more of his pitiful home life (if you can call a whore house a ‘home), which is the reason why Don is how he is.
I predict us viewers are going to get exactly what we want from this season: more of Dick Whitman. But the question is, “How? In what way? Will Don be spilling his guts like he did in the conference room while pitching to Hershey?” I will not guess specifics on all that, but I will say that this season of Mad Men will be sweet.
Let us know what you thought of this episode in the comments below.