Like Mom said, “when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me”. Lane Pryce assumed that the woman he met on the internet would treat her marriage as disrespectfully as he does his. Joan Harris assumed that she was being replaced. Pete Campbell assumed that bringing in most of the clients would get him respected by his bosses and fulfilled at work and home. Harry assumed that dropping 30 pounds would make him less of a jackass. Roger Sterling and Bert Cooper assumed they still had relevance. The African Americans fighting for Civil Rights assumed SCDP actually cared about equality. And Don Draper assumed that he had Megan’s number. And so did we.
Remember Megan? She was the simp, the cypher, the bland nothing who Don proposed to because he didn’t want a challenge, couldn’t stand to be with an equal, someone who stood up for herself like Faye. We rolled our eyes at Don’s foolish and impetuous life choices and cracked wise about his impending infidelities and basically thought of Megan as a prop in the Story of Don, a prop that would soon be discarded, and there was never any consideration of Megan the person at all.
But…what if Megan were awesome? What if Megan really cared about her job, and didn’t flout her status as the boss’ wife, and lived with Don in a bitchin’ pad and had friends who were negro homosexuals and sang songs in French and was sexy as hell and stood up to Don and told him when he was being an ass? And what if she even knew about Dick Whitman? And didn’t even care.
Well we don’t need to ask “what if” because now we know. Leave it to Matthew Weiner to make Mad Men’s triumphant 5th season return All About Megan. In two hours, I feel like Megan has a stronger relationship with Don than Betty ever did. And it’s true that they still fight in this episode, and Megan has some less-than-stellar moments of pouting and childlike behavior, but I was still mostly impressed with how honest the Drapers were with each other and how willing they were to engage and work out their problems and differences. I actually really liked them together. It will all go to shit, of course. And it will be Don’s fault. But for right now, Team Megan.
In other news, Peggy continues to climb up the corporate ladder. She may be hitting her head on the glass ceiling, but as of yet doesn’t know it, and seems to be quite content. She’s got a hipster (uh, excuse me, I mean “hippie”) liberal boyfriend (who thinks nothing of talking about soldiers going home in body bags right next to sailor on leave), she’s still allergic to babies and she’s still threatened by Megan’s relationship with Don but too classy to take that out on Megan. We probably didn’t get enough of her in this premiere, but it will come. Pete’s still a go-getter, climbing the ladder much faster than Peggy thanks to the appendage between his legs, and he’s coming hard and fast for Roger. By the way, did you ever think you’d see a Roger vs. Pete storyline and find yourself rooting for Pete? I didn’t. But the 6am thing at Staten Island was genus. I just hope Trudy will continue to be the angel on his shoulder and keep Pete from going too far over to the dark side. By the way, I’ve decided Pete and Trudy are Annie from Community’s grandparents. Awesome, no?
As far as Roger goes, I guess a pity him a bit. The marriage with Jane (the one that I actually shipped a little bit) is apparently a bust, and he’s increasingly irrelevant at work (is Lucky Strikes still a client? I can’t remember). But he still gets all the funny lines and when ever he and Joan get in a room together, the electricity still hums and sparks.
Speaking of which, Greg unfortunately failed to die in Vietnam and will likely be returning soon and showing off his ability to count to nine. Gulp.
I’ll complain one last time about the show’s shabby and unconscionable treatment of poor Harry, one time sweet innocent guy with ambition who was just a bit out of his depth and now the Cliff Clavin of Mad Men, who exists only to get shat upon repeatedly for our “amusement” and increasingly diminished returns.
But at least that’s better treatment than the nothing character of Ken, who’s memorable only for that one time Sal was crushing on him, and who I wouldn’t miss for a second. In fact, Sal or even Paul would be better choice for a hanger-on type.
Next week, perhaps we’ll see our dear friend the Ice Queen, Mrs. Betty Francis again. I can’t wait to see how she interacts with Megan.
But for now, let’s all just relax with a bourbon and a Lucky Strike and thank the good folks at AMC for bringing Don and the gang back into our lives once again.
Mad Men, Episode 5:1 “A Little Kiss”: B+
Ryan Roach lives in Studio City and suffers through traffic indignities on a daily basis. He also has a cool movie blog: http://afistop100moviesreviewed.blogspot.com/