It’s been a few months: Don and Megan are together and living in the city, with a fantastic mod apartment in which it would seem Sally’s taken to Megan like a little lesbian. Roger’s as aimless and sad as ever, and Pete’s found new reserves of the whiny ambition that powers him. Joan’s taken some time off after giving birth to Roger’s baby while she awaits her husband’s return from the War and her drunkenly helpful mother’s eventual absence, but all she can think about is whether any of them at SCDP can survive without her special touch.
Both hours of tonight’s long awaited premiere center around the lead-up and eventual fallout from two events: A racist prank at rival agency Y&R, where they drop water balloons on protesters, and Don Draper’s 40th birthday party. In the former case, the junior partners at SCDP decide to run an ad touting themselves as an Equal Opportunity Employer — not in the Want Ads, but in the regular advertising — as a way of selling themselves as progressive. Which, by the way, they all have decided to be, in that particularly stuttery way of the mid-1960s where they’ve bought into civil rights but still find themselves stepping in giant puddles of Flannery O’Connor every few minutes.
We spend the first two acts getting into the status quo at the firm, which mostly involves Nader jokes, Peter in charge of the art department and possibly a big-fish airline client, continued financial worries for SCDP, and some awesome new secretaries. Stan Rizzo is thankfully still around, and along those lines we get some rather lovely surprises regarding Megan: First of all, she’s moved into Creative, like she wanted. Secondly, she and Peggy get along famously. And third? She knows all about Dick Whitman, totally gets it, and just wants Don to be happy. Even if that means throwing him his Don Draper birthday party, six months after the fact, in their home — and against Peggy’s advice.