Season 7, episode 1
At the end of Mad Men season six, Don Draper’s recklessness had finally gotten the best of him, and his fellow ad agency partners put him on a forced sabbatical. What would become of him, and all our other favourite characters as the show geared up for a final season?
In typical Mad Men fashion most information was revealed slowly and obliquely through the course of the episode. The episode was set in January of 1969 – two months after the end of season six.
Don: As an uber glamorous Megan greets Don from her convertible; we slowly learn the state of their relationship after its breakdown at the end of last season. The sleek stylised meeting is classic Mad Men – the beautiful façade at odds with the difficult reality. Since the season six finale, Megan has moved out to L.A without Don. Have they reached a kind of impasse? They regard one another fondly, but things remain awkward (This became very obvious with the stilted and clumsy sexual encounter they share). As Don returns to New York, he has an aeroplane encounter with … Neve Campbell?!? This plane rendezvous gives us a first insight into Don’s mental state: he resists his new ‘friend’s’ overtures to sleep with him and expresses regret for his infidelities. Although he flirts, he looks as though he has gained genuine self-awareness. Judging from the state of play during episode one, nothing will be straightforward for Don moving ahead – and would we expect anything less?
Peggy: Peggy is taking Don’s place as the brilliant/jaded creative powerhouse at Sterling Cooper & partners. She is struggling to win over her new creative director, Lou Avery. His malmsey, ‘square’ approach is at odds with the creative dynamism encouraged by Don. Her new boss appears to be indifferent to her attempts at brilliance, casually telling her ‘I guess I’m immune to your charms.’ – ouch! Her only recourse is to dispense shrill, shrieking missives at anyone that crosses her (Teddy Chaough & Julio, the boy at her door). Suddenly, having everything she wanted: independence and a successful career, she is left feeling empty and powerless – how very Don.
Joan: In a theme carried on from last season, Joan is continuing to try and connive her way into more responsibility at the SC&P. As she single-handedly tries keep the Webber’s shoes account for the firm – she thinks laterally and engages the advice of an economics professor – before intimidating the executive into staying with the firm. It’s great to see Joan really give it to the executive, she is still fighting against the sexism of them men who continually under-estimate her. Ken’s comment to her – “You know there’s a hierarchy?” Priceless.
Roger: Roger seems has embraced his own preposterousness and taken up the free-love edict of the late ‘60’s. (I counted four women lying on his floor when he took the phone call from his daughter). At his lunch with Margaret she said she forgave him for his lifetime of misdeeds, (seeming to have embraced the kind new age spirituality that would grow popular in the 1970’s). He resented the implication he had done anything wrong – ever, and promptly returned home to his bed with a new woman – and another man?!? Having taken his own ‘pleasure at all costs’ philosophy to it’s ridiculous conclusion, it seems that his relationship with Margaret is becoming central to his fate as the show draws to its conclusion.
Pete Campbell has adopted the Californian lifestyle, replete with tan and plaid golf pants. The West Coast has seemingly loosened him up from his usual stiff wasp formality. That man-hug he gave Don was ridiculous.
Megan’s house in the Canyon had a serious Sharon Tate/ Manson family vibe. This would make sense given how Mad Men aficionados have spotted Megan/Tate connection for some years, seen here. Given that the Manson family murdered Sharon Tate in August on 1969, that would put it square with the timeline of this final season.
On the Neve Campbell cameo – perhaps it wasn’t a cameo at all, should we expect her to appear again in a totally random unexpected way?
Freddy’s killer pitch was totally done by Don!
Ken Cosgrove’s eye patch!
Patrick Magee is a young Melbourne writer currently completing a post-graduate degree in film direction.