March 26th, 2012
11:30 AM ET
Editor's Note: The following post contains spoilers for the March 25 episode of AMC's "Mad Men."
The fifth season of AMC's "Mad Men" is officially underway, and spoiler alert: it was a total downer.
But that's not to say that it wasn't also completely terrific. Some of us might have even staged an impromptu conga line through our living rooms in celebration.
As with many season premieres, we were put through the old "Hey! Remember this storyline?" rigmarole, and since the gang at SCDP has been MIA for so long, we were in definite need of an FYI.
Don and Megan had settled into married life in a new apartment in the city with Sally, Bobby v. 4.0 and baby Gene. There was an alarming lack of Betty in the premiere, and we only saw a glimpse of her life as Mrs. Henry Francis when Don returned the kids. The Francis home loomed ominously in the darkness like some 19th century New England convent school for wayward debutantes.
Joan, meanwhile, was busy balancing single parenthood with the misguided intentions of her pot-stirring, maintenance man-wooing, maybe-alcoholic mother, who was in town to help out while Dr. Rapist (still in the picture, sorry folks) was, I dunno, up to something horrible at Fort Dix.
Pete continued to carry out his life sentence in the wood-paneled prison in the suburbs he shares with Trudy while struggling to assert himself at the firm during the day. He was eventually rewarded with a new office while Harry was sent packing to Support Beam Estates.
Layne fantasized about a liaison with a working class gal named Delores, and Peggy had undertaken the thankless task of trying to choreograph a ballet for a can of beans.
Yep. That was the extent of Peggy's plot this week. You owe us, writers.
The episode centered on Don's 40th birthday and the surprise party Megan was advised not to throw for him. Remember when 40 was about the age your loved ones started to think about wishing you well and shoving you out to sea on an ice floe? Don likely would have chosen that as a preferable alternative had he known what awaited him at the apartment.
The celebration was truly a smorgasbord of WTF. If your eyes managed to survive the assault by the myriad loud patterns in attendance, you'd have found a little bit of everything – sailors, a jazz band, a black guy with a speaking role, Harry in a shaggy fur vest. The only things missing were the Crème de Menthe water cooler and an accidental maiming.
Megan commemorated the occasion by performing an ancient French Canadian ritual that required her to eschew pants and serenade her significant other. Had I paid more attention in high school French class, I probably could have told you what she sang. Regardless, it was something with a lot of Z's that I think had to do with kissing.
The takeaway from the party was that aside from co-workers, lovers and clients, Don doesn't have any true friends. He was mortified by the whole affair and later admonished Megan for celebrating a birthday that was nothing more than an aspect of Dick Whitman's lifelong masquerade as Don Draper. “Nobody loves Dick Whitman," she replied, delivering an unintentionally harsh blow as viewers in living rooms across the country bellowed "DAAAAAMN" out of sympathy for Don.
At the firm, the gang found itself confronted with the decade’s civil rights struggle thanks in part to a string of events that began with the mean-spirited hijinks of a couple of knuckleheads at competing firm Young & Rubicam.
In what was intended to be an act of good-natured ribbing, Roger bought ad space in the newspaper’s help wanted section stating that SCDP was an Equal Opportunity Employer. As a result, their waiting room was quickly filled to capacity with black men and women looking for work.
The ad also sent Joan into a panic thinking she was finished at the firm, so she put on her postpartum best and rolled into the office with baby Kevin in tow.
As further proof that babies don’t belong in the workplace, little Kevin’s arrival created considerable awkwardness for everyone – for Joan, for the other ladies in the office and especially for me when Don complimented Joan’s bust line from down the hall. BUXOM. That was the word he used. Shudder.
So it looks like the days of the racially insensitive workplace bon mot might be behind us, but the sexual harassment? The harassment stays in the picture.
What did you think? Was Sunday's premiere worth the 17-month wait?
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