It’s been too long since we last saw the staff of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, thanks to (offscreen) contract disputes, etc, but these first two episodes of Season Five show no signs of needing to find their feet.
Barring that catastrophic lawnmower incident a few years back, Mad Men has never been the kind of show to rely on action for its drama, and tonight’s episodes were as languidly paced as ever, though if you take that as a bad thing, you shouldn’t really still be watching by now.
We were left at the end of Season Four with Don’s bizarre marriage proposal to SCDP secretary Megan, and she’s now his wife and a fully-fledged member of the creative team. Needless to say, it would be a shock if she remained either of those things by the end of the series.
But actress Jessica Paré is certainly making the most of her chance to shine, spending time in Episode 1 singing Zou Bisou Bisou to a horrified Don at his birthday party, and then cleaning their flat in her underwear in Episode 2. She’s more than a pretty face though, and impresses in the role. Whether Megan is more than a pretty face, we’ll have to wait and see
So what else is going on? Well, the powerplay between Roger Sterling and Pete Campbell is raging on, with both well aware that the latter is bringing a lot more business in than the former. When Campbell proposes an office swap because he has more clients to entertain, it goes down about as well as you’d imagine. Sterling gets his comeuppance though when he’s tricked into showing up at an early-morning meeting that doesn’t exist.
His child, meanwhile, is being raised by Joan, whose position as the Queen Bee of the office is a thing of the past as she worries about whether she can return after her maternity leave. Fortunately, an unusually sweet scene with Pryce convinces her that she’s not only still needed but desperately so. Times aren’t quite as hard as they have been at SCDP, but that’s not to say that it’s all running smoothly.
We’re getting towards the late 60s now, so the equal rights movement is kicking in, and the company look like they’ll be hiring their first black member of staff. In true Mad Men style though, it’s not because they think it’s the right thing to do, it’s because a bitchy joke at the expense of a rival agency backfires and leaves them having to interview for a position that didn’t even exist.
There’s so much to look forward to from Season Five, with the changing world taking its toll on the old values of Don, Roger and Co, Peggy presumably riding the crest of the feminist wave, the development of Sally Draper’s character now that she’s into her teen years, and so on. These first two episodes were the perfect primer and a reminder that class is permanent.
- Zou Bisou Bisou (atouchoflovely.wordpress.com)
- Quick, Mad Men or “Zou Bisou Bisou”: Which Was the Bigger Hit? (eonline.com)
- ‘Mad Men’s’ Megan Talks ‘Zou Bisou Bisou’ & More On Season 5 (huffingtonpost.com)
- ‘Mad Men’ Finally Returns, Is Still the Best Show on Television (spin.com)