9 Takeaways from Last Night’s Mad Men Season Premiere

It was a slower-than-normal start for the SC&P gang, but there's still plenty to unpack. We got a glimpse of Don's new bi-coastal existence, with Megan living and working as an actress on one coast and the charred remains of his career playing out on another. We saw Peggy Olson struggling against the mediocrity of her superiors and Joan continuing to swim upstream in a world that continues to overlook her talents. With that, here are some of our thoughts from last night's show.

1. Old dried-out Freddy Rumsen's opening pitch ("It's not a time piece, it's a conversation piece") was inspiring, and taps into what we loved about the show from the beginning. It's a great showcase for creativity and the power of ideas.

2. Speaking of timepieces, Pete Campbell's sideburns continue to be more accurate than the ball in Times Square, or really any calendar, anywhere.

3. Also, Pete was born to tie a sweater around his neck. We don't necessarily mean that in a good way.

4.No one has ever uttered the words "I feel completely at ease," with more more subtext than Don did in this episode.

5. "It's January in California too, you know." An important lesson for east coasters to remember when envying their west coast counterparts.

6. No surprise: Joan still faces a daily slog through casual, institutional sexism. How many times will she have to save big accounts before she gets her due?

7. Don, whose charm seems to have a mind of its own, gets cozy with his widowed seat-mate (Neve Campbell) on the redeye back to New York (after some deep conversation and self-reflection, of course). Because these things don't happen in real life, we have to wonder: Is he able to get away with this because it's a TV show, or because he's Don Draper? Or is it because this is still the '60s and air travel was more dangerous and more luxurious?

8. We see Don alone in his once-warm and lively New York condo, which, without Megan's care, is little more than a drafty bachelor pad. Many midcentury guys were useless around the house, but this place felt practically apocalyptic. Is Don really that useless? We miss that guy who used to swim laps and write in his journal.

9. Speaking of drafts, the episode ends with Don unable to close the sliding door he opened upon his return home, so he plops down on the patio looking miserable as Vanilla Fudge's "You Keep Me Hanging On" plays us out into the cold darkness. Though there's a lot to draw from this whopper of a metaphor, we'll settle on this: The forces that Don has set into motion in his life can't be reversed now. There won't be any more reinventions for Dick Whitman from here on out, and it seems like he's finally ready to face them, no matter how unpleasant they prove to be.

Photo: AMC

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