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Mad Men Recap: Episode One, "For Those Who Think Young"

Mad Men Rundown: Episode One, "For Those Who Think Young"

It's no secret that I'm quite addicted to AMC's Mad Men — I declared July "Mad Month," after all! It's fresh and smart, with great writing and fantastic characters (and the fashion is awesome, and Don Draper is one of the dreamiest men to hit the television in a long while . . . ), and because there isn't a lot going on this Summer in TV-land, the show's return on Sunday felt a little like Christmas in July.

So, since Mad Men keeps me riveted to my screen (both because of the entertainment value and multi-layered social commentary embedded in each episode), I'm going to be recapping each episode of season two. Together we can sort through the drama and thought-provoking topics the storylines touch each week.

I know a lot of people are still playing catch-up with season one, so I won't even hint at where we last saw these ad men and the women who loathe love them until after the jump. But if you're ready to chat about last night or just see my thoughts,


Season one closed with just about every character in crisis on a depressing Thanksgiving 1960. Last night opened just over a year later, on Valentine's Day, 1962.

Don Draper: Last we saw the handsome creative director, his secret identity had nearly been exposed and his affair with his client Rachel Menken had ended. This season opens with Don at his doctor's office, basically being told he's getting old. Then, he heads to work only to be told that the firm needs young talent to stay relevant and keep clients happy. Don's also acting more his age at home: He's coming home at night to Betty and the kids and has seemingly halted all extramarital affairs. So the moral of last night's opener is that poor Don is feeling over the hill. Do I like this new and improved Don? I feel like I'm supposed to say "yes," but it wasn't as much fun to watch.

Betty Draper: January Jones must be thrilled, because Betty is becoming one of the most fascinating characters on the show. We know she knows that Don has had affairs — but did she confront him about it? Is that why he's shaping up? At the downtown hotel where the Drapers go for V-Day, they run into Betty's old roommate, who is now a high-priced call girl — or "party girl," as Don puts it (here's a real-life fun fact about that actress!). Later, when her car breaks down, she dabbles in bargaining with her sexuality with the mechanic fixing her car, only to catch herself and back down. Clearly she's hungry for male attention (that Don doesn't seem to be great at giving her) — maybe deep down she wants to be treated like a grown-up woman? An equal instead of someone who has to ask her husband for money and gets in trouble when the car breaks down? What do you think is going on in Betty's head?

Peggy Olsen: So Peggy had a baby in the finale last season, and so far the only evidence is that she clearly lost all the weight. Then, the men in the office notice her weight loss and gossip behind her back that Don got her pregnant and then gave her a promotion. Pete guesses she went to the "fat farm." UGH. Poor Peggy endures the most awfulness in Mad Men, even as her influence in the office grows. She's clearly Don's favorite and is portrayed as more talented than all of those sexist ad-boys combined. She also makes Don's new secretary cry, displaying a new, hardened Peggy. What do you think? Is the baby at home or did she give it up for adoption? Do you think Pete will ever find out? Let's hope she's not still caring a torch for that guy.

A few more thoughts on last night's developments:

  • Joan nabbed herself a doctor! She seems confidante she'll get a proposal soon, but I wonder if that's truly what she wants? I never thought of her as husband-hunting, so that was a change.
  • Pete is still slimy, and currently he's dealing with his wife's desperation to get pregnant. Something is being set up here, given that we know Peggy gave birth to Pete's child last season. This has to all blow up on him at some point.
  • Betty also flirts with a horseback rider guy, and I feel like a Betty Draper affair is just around the corner! Do two wrongs make a right? Probably not, but that is good stuff.
  • How great was that vintage Jackie Kennedy footage? It seemed like all the women were curious to see this classy new first lady while the men seemed casually dismissive of her and some even wondered why the president wasn't pictured.

What did you think of last night? Was the time jump disconcerting? Or do you like the slowly unfolding mysteries of what went down in the year we didn't get to see?

Photos courtesy of AMC

Join The Conversation
notarobot notarobot 8 years
The music playing at the hotel (and at the end of the episode) is "Song of India" from Rimsky-Korsakov's opera Sadko. Beautiful piece.
la-dee-da-dee la-dee-da-dee 8 years
I'm waiting to add Mad Men to my favorite lists but havent seen it up there yet!
arienne arienne 8 years
I love this show and I'm thrilled that you are recapping it.
ohsoapplesweet ohsoapplesweet 8 years
Can someone please fill me in on how Peggy didn't know she was pregnant?
Hoffnagle Hoffnagle 8 years
Does anybody know the music that was played when Betty arrived for dinner and at the end of the episode? Composer and name?
fireyelectra fireyelectra 8 years
Considering that the package contained a book of Frank O'Hara poems, I'm betting Don sent the package to his former bohemian artist lover. And I totally agree that Betty Draper is becoming one of the most interesting characters this season. She's almost switching temperments with Joan in some ways.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 8 years
I actually don't mind that we don't know everything about what happened in the 14 months in between. Some of those things will probably be revealed later and I don't think they have the intention of telling the audience everything that happens in between each season. I'm really curious what things will be like after 1962 considering what we know about the decade. And I'm also curious about who Don sent that package too.
longhornlass04 longhornlass04 8 years
Loved the first scene of Don as he's unbuttoning his shirt. I'm sure you were all with me when I thought, who is he sleeping with now? So it was a great surprise to see he was in a doctor's office.
kgtg1 kgtg1 8 years
The actress playing the woman sitting with Sal and watching TV was credited as his wife - so he is married now.
InfernalMari InfernalMari 8 years
Wow. Loved that episode. It was just enough to hook us back in again. Peggy really, really should've known better than to sass her past. Joan warned her to remember where she came from...She should've known her office would be the copyroom. Well done by her actress to portray the blank panic your baby daddy'd feel touching on the subject of infants! Joan...oh, God, I felt for her. She's still in love with Roger and it shows so hard. And Betty: Stone Cold Fox. I want her to be badass all over the place. I want her to live up to her namesake and talk about the dissatisfaction of the housewife.
buckley9383 buckley9383 8 years
The thing that really made me curious after last night was WHO did Don mail that envelope to? Hmmm.....
jadenirvana jadenirvana 8 years
Yay Buzz, I'm so happy you are recapping this fab show. I agree Don seemed a little more decrepit than dreamy this episode, which I didn't love. But he was still the same old charmer in creative director mode, so that's still my favorite aspect of the show. I also love the working relationship between Peggy and Don because she's so eager to please and he just gives her so many wake-up calls. The interplay between them is winsome and realistic. Also lovvvved the Frank Ohara poem incorporation-shameless English Major plug:)
supertramp supertramp 8 years
Oh my gosh oh my gosh! Who knew that 14 months could be such a long time? That was how long the time jump was by the way. I have to say that I loved how they left a couple of things unanswered, its clear they left us wanting more. As you mentioned Buzz we know that Betty knows that Don had those affairs, but I have always had it in my heart that Don knew that she knew. In the season finale she shared her thoughts on how "Someone could lie to the person they loved?" And the way he responded gave me the most certainty that he knew. I think that "The Wheel" actually had an effect on him as they showed us with the way that they had him come home twice and the 2nd time revealing that Betty didn't need him all to much as he needed some stability. But seriously the way they opened it up I was actually rooting for Betty to have filed for divorce in those 14 months.But I'm with you Buzz, she definitely gonna have her own little affair or share of, but seriously I thought she was gonna sleep with the car guy right there.Pheww! Oh good old Peggy Olsen? Actually young Peggy, I had no idea she was supposed to be like 20 last season cause as she stated, "I'm 22!" But really I felt so proud of her last night. Seriously the girl is a badass now! I have to say that I don't feel bad for that other girl,serves her right for trying to cash in on the rumor of Peggy's babydaddy! And did she keep the baby? I have no idea what so ever, there are so many possibilities for what she could have done. So this is probaby a little crazy but if that was Peggy's baby in the finale didn't her bump seem a tad bit too small? Whatev! Okay so now I definitly know that I was probably the only person rooting for Pete and Peggy! I wanted Peggy to have Pete because it was juicy and it seemed like she really wanted him, but then yes Pete broke both our hearts when he told her, "I don't like you like this!" I mean how did he not like her? Did she not like that she was actually having fun with the others or that she was trying to be a little sexy the way she was coming on to him? UHHHH! The drama continues! Oh I also agree that I never saw Joan as if she was looking for a husband. Remember Peggy told her, " I know what men think of you.They think you're looking for a husband and that you're fun.And not in that order." That is exactly how I thought of her and I only ever thought of her wanting a husband because its seems like thats what every woman in that era wanted. But enough! I obviously can't wait for next Sunday!
Curlywhirl Curlywhirl 8 years
I just caught up with the full season last Sunday. I wasn't even interested in this show until you (Buzz) raved about it and said that AMC would be airing season one on Sunday. This is a great show, very well written, unlike another period show, SWINGERS. I watched one episode of Swingers and no more. I watched one episode of MM and was hooked. By the way I love Peggy!!! She's awesome and I hope she kept her baby. My next favorite character is Betty Draper, because she's so complex, I hope she sticks it to Don!
gigi_s gigi_s 8 years
I don't think Pete actually bought the candy. I think he "stole" it from the candy given to the secretary pool. So the gay Art Dept guy now has a girlfriend.
Linda-McP Linda-McP 8 years
Immediately after the show, I was a bit disappointed but I, too, have been thinking about the show all day, which is what I think the writers wanted me to do. I agree, Brendelwoman, that was brilliant! I care so much about each of the characters (yes, even Pete) that I want to know everything at once; I need to be more patient and trust that I'll know what I need to know when I need to know it. As a child of the 60s, I remember being glued to the TV watching Jackie Kennedy leading the White House tour. As with everything else, the writers captured the moment very well last night; the 60s were a fascinating time to say the least. Peggy seems to be the character who has grown the most; I like this new, tougher person, though she is sure to alienate the other women in the office. Betty is so complex, so conflicted; I never quite know what she is thinking or what she will do next, which keeps me totally engaged. Don seemed sad and resigned last night; like you, Buzz, I miss the old Don. Wonder if he'll surface again soon? And then there's Pete, sleazy, slimy Pete; he's destined to face turmoil this season. The scene with the chocolates was classic. And to think that no one under the age of 25 was drinking coffee in 1962. We, indeed, were the Pepsi generation. Ah the good old days...right?! Buzz, I am so glad you will be recapping this season's shows. Looking forward to hearing what others think as the season progresses.
Brendelwoman Brendelwoman 8 years
The show was somewhat of a letdown because so many things are still unknown. But then I think that's also what is making me think about it all day, too, so in that respect it is brilliant. It was sad see Don looking so very defeated. Yeah, you want him to stop being a louse, but he is miserable with Betty. Betty's story was intriguing. I had no idea what she was going to do with the mechanic. What I like about the show is that none of the characters are simple. Even slimy Pete can seem like a nice guy sometimes. Peggy can be nice, but I can also see her turning against other women in her quest for success.
Francesca-Fiore Francesca-Fiore 8 years
So glad you're recapping and discussing this show Buzz! I'm happy to see Peggy being tough, it seemed she was teaching some of the lessons she learned the hard way to Don's new secretary. I'm with you in hoping she's totally over Pete- ugh. Loved how he bought his wife candy for Valentine's day and then goes, "hurry up and open it, I want one." Always the class act. The thing that strikes me about this show is how each and every character is so richly textured that you care about everybody, even the more minor characters. For example, I couldn't help but feel really happy for Harry Crane when we found out his wife was pregnant- I really felt bad for him last season after she kicked him out (even though he was an idiot) and I was so pleased that we got a little happy ending for him.
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