Mad Men Season 5 Premiere Impressions

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After a very lengthy hiatus all of us Mad Men fans (we number in the tens!) were treated to a double dose with this past Sunday’s premier episode.  Suffice it to say, much like most early season episodes of Mad Men, there were lots of good things set up that will most likely end up playing a significant role this season.

  • Civil Rights Movement is coming to a head.  It will probably end up playing out in the background or on the edges but clearly Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce (SCDP from now on) will be effected.  The foolish joke ad aimed towards Y&R (a rival agency) will force their hands and it should be interesting to see if we get a real African-American character on the show (there have been peripheral relationship characters on the show).  This also might effect Joan’s return to the agency, regardless of what Lane says.  Speaking of Lane why was he did he not trust the African-American cabby?  Was he not just dating an African-American last season?
  • The Y&R joke points to a larger under current that the show’s season might take on: maturation.  It is no surprise that Don’s recent attitude swing from only thinking about work to only wanting Megan (I’ll comment on this later) plays right into this.  With Pete and Peggy seemingly more mature than their bosses in Don and Roger (Pete even tells them both how stupid the idea was after the fact) we’ll see if Don continues to try and act like someone in their early-20s (Don has been toying with this idea throughout the show) or is forced to grow up.
  • Don and Megan’s relationship will end.  Between the parallels of Roger and Jane and the fact that Don is clearly not as young as he wishes he was something is going to give.  He treats Megan more like sex toy than anything else.  While the stability is nice for Don, I don’t think we need to foray back into the world of debilitating alcoholism, I don’t see how this can relax.  The were several hints: Don wanting to be a part of the “cool, hip crowd” at his party, the fact that Don clearly did not enjoy the burlesque, Marilyn Monroe-esque performance, the many scenes of Roger and Jane being less than happy, and the crazy sex scene while cleaning up (where she tries to deny Don the good stuff but Don eventually takes it, that is all meant to be a game) this relationship is very flawed.  This could be a relationship that burns twice as hot but half as long.  Let’s also not forget that Megan is now a part of the creative team and I have a feeling she won’t be nearly as good as Peggy, and will want the same respect Peggy receives when Megan doesn’t deserve that.  I don’t think Don ends up like Roger.
  • Will Peggy become more of a central figure as Don seemingly will become increasingly absent from work?  Who will listen?
  • I hope we get another relationship parallel between Ken and his wife (aka Alex Mack) and Pete and his wife. It seemed to be hinted at towards the end of Season 4 and it would be nice to see their two paths diverge as Ken was more family oriented and Pete clearly more business oriented.  Also nice to see Pete kind of become Don at the beginning of the series in the train to work.

There has been a lot of talk regarding Don’s shocking transformation.  I for one think we’ll be back to old Don by season’s end.  While Don is a man that has reinvented himself once already, I just don’t see this one sticking.  You can’t just go from being completely immersed in creativity one minute to turning that switch off and worried only about your spouse/sex the next.  I would be surprised if this “new Don” goes on for much longer but if he does don’t be surprised if he starts to get that creative itch midway through the season.

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