After a heartbreakingly long hiatus, AMC's "Mad Men" came back to us last night with a two-hour premiere which was fairly low-key, but set up several plot points for the future.
The four-time Emmy winner has been anticipated eagerly by fans since the last season wrapped up in October of 2010, with everyone wanting to know if Don would go through with marrying his secretary, Megan, after an especially tender moment he shared with ex-wife Betty. Joan, who was pregnant at the end of last season, was keeping a huge secret; her baby was fathered by none other than office bigwig Roger Sterling--with whom she had a long-standing affair--rather than her husband.
Those subjects and more were explored last night, much to the delight of anyone who has watched and loved the show since it's early days. There were also a few new avenues to discover, such as Pete's newfound unhappiness with suburban life and the loveless, cruel marriage shared by Sterling and Jane, which mirrors the relationship he had with Mona, his previous wife. Also brought into the show's storyline was the civil rights movement, which began to spark protests during the year the episode was set in (1966) and led to Sterling Cooper Draper Price running an ad in the paper stating that they were an equal opportunity employer to get back at a rival ad company who got themselves into hot water regarding protesters.
Here's an update on some of the major characters.
- Don Draper
Newly married and living in a plush, hip pad in the city, Don is starting over with Megan while doing the weekend warrior thing with his three kids. While happiness has never been something that says in his life very long, he may well find it with Megan, a pretty young thing who is a million times more relaxed than Betty ever was about...well, anything. However, we can't forget the wise words of one of Don's jilted ladies from last season, spoken after she find out he had dumped her for Megan: "I hope she knows you only like the beginnings of things."
- Roger Sterling
Poor Rog. He's getting old, he fathered a baby he can't take credit for, and his wife hates his guts. On top of all that, his accounts aren't as successful as they used to be, meaning his position within the top tier of the company is precarious. His drunken, skirt-chasing antics aren't as amusing as they used to be to his co-workers, either. One can only assume his relationship with Jane will be a focal point within his story this season...or perhaps he'll decide to make waves where Joan and their baby are concerned?
- Peter Campbell
Pete's a man of the 'burbs now, living out the old fashioned dream with his wife and newborn baby girl. But motherhood has taken a toll on his wife Trudy, who used to be impeccably dressed and was at Pete's side as soon as he snapped his fingers. Now that he's not the center of attention, he's taking it out on the guys at work, demanding a bigger office where he can host potential clients and doing his usual whining about how he works harder than anyone else. A short but funny scene in last night's premiere had him and Peggy--who share a secret child that Pete doesn't acknowledge--awkwardly trying to figure out what to do with Joan's baby while she visits the office.
- Peggy Olsen
One of the hardest working people in the office, Peggy is still trying hard to prove she's worthy of the same respect the men get around the office. She also has to deal with Megan, who moved right up the corporate ladder once she married Don and is working in the creative department. It can't be easy working with the boss's wife, especially when she didn't earn her position.
- Joan Holloway
Joan--my personal favorite character on the show--has a lot on her plate right now. Not only is she a new mother, she's doing everything on her own since her doctor husband was shipped off in the service, and being away from the office is leaving her with feelings of inadequacy. At SCDP, she's a big deal, the woman who knows where everything is, what everyone is doing, and what everyone will be doing tomorrow. But at home, she's just a new mom trying to adjust. After SCDP ran their ad in the newspaper (which was meant more as a dig to their rival than as a want ad), she fears they will replace her if she doesn't make it known she wants to come back to her old job, and visits the office with the baby, which leads to a rather awkward encounter with Roger. After a meeting with Lane, however, her integral role at the office is made clear, and a touching moment is shared when they both realize how lonely they are.
- Betty Draper
Betty wasn't in the premiere episode because of a pregnancy while the show was filming, and because of maternity leave she may not be featured much this season. But hopefully the writers will update us on her character, because Betty truly is one of the biggest bitches you love to hate.
While there weren't any huge, dramatic events in the premiere--which creator Matthew Weiner says was intentional--there was certainly enough juicy material to keep us fans satisfied until next week, and for the writers to draw upon for some excellent story lines.
"I'm not going to amp the story up to an unrealistic level," Weiner told NPR. "I'm not going to like, you know, start off with a fire in the agency and say who survived. But I did want to give at least something extra. So that, first of all, was the decision to make a two-hour premiere."
Fans took to Twitter to give their reactions on the episode.
#MadMen season premiere spoilers. First thing I gotta do when I get home is watch!Kinda hard not checking the Internet and running into
Want more Mad Men before next week? Check out the 8-bit game version: