'Mad Men' Season 5 premiere: Don Draper, living the dream?
When we left Don Draper and "Mad Men" 17 months ago he had just announced to his co-workers and his ex-wife that he was engaged to his 20-something secretary Megan Calvet. And for 17 months the viewing public wondered where we would find Don after the show's hiatus. Creator Matthew Weiner is notorious for secrecy, jumping the show ahead in time and delivering surprises.
We landed in 1966, by the way, but the biggest surprise in Sunday's (March 25) Season 5 opening episode is that Draper (played by the pitch perfect Jon Hamm) actually did follow through on his plan to marry Megan ( Jessica Pare) and the two are set up in relative domestic bliss in a swank, spacious apartment with plenty of room for Don's visiting kids and surprise parties for "old man" (at 40) Draper.
The two-hour episode played out like a feature film, encapsulating the tao of Don Draper -- the line he walks between who he is and who he wants to be. And, at least based on what we've seen there's a major shift afoot for Don in Season 5: he's ready to try happiness. Even if it means white-knuckling it through that surprise party and doing something that Betty ( January Jones) never would have been down for -- a nooner on the living room floor.
More important takeaways from the season opener:
-- Jones didn't appear in the premiere. All viewers got was a reference to Betty and her husband, Henry Francis, as "Morticia and Lurch."
-- Megan actually has an interior life. She's a looker, but she's got brains, too. And the fact that she's married to the boss-man and getting special treatment isn't lost on her. We think she may have more surprises in store for us this season than just a sexy "Zooby Zooby Zoo" serenade and a penchant for doing housework in black lingerie.
-- Roger Sterling vs. Pete Campbell: The friction has moved to a new level. Pete is striving to become Roger and, it turns out, Roger -- without Lucky Strike -- is adrift.
-- Speaking of Pete, has he also become the Don Draper of yesteryear -- slogging out to the suburbs to his wife, Trudy (Alison Brie), who now dares to be seen in public wearing a robe? He and his commuting buddies school each other on how to avoid going home at all. So, again, Pete is finding that he doesn't like the life he thought he wanted.
-- Lane Pryce continues his exploration of the U.S. and himself. No chocolate bunny in the season opener, but he did come dangerously close to phone sex.
-- Once Peggy embodies the women's movement for this show. The torch has been passed to Joan who now needs to break new ground since she's realizing that although she loves being a mom, she may like being the lynchpin of Sterling Cooper Draper Price a little bit more.
-- The civil rights issue has finally come home to roost. Thanks to a "joke" ad placed in the paper claiming to be an equal opportunity employer, SCDP finds itself awash in black job applicants. The partners can't turn back now, so expected an integrated office soon.