Freddy Rumsen puts his potato head on our TVs. "Are you ready?" are the first words of part one of the last season of Mad Men, and now that the premiere has come and gone, I'm like, yeah, I was definitely ready. Freddy's talking about Accutron watches. "It's more than a time piece, it's a conversation piece. Did you get all that, Freddy? No, don't write this stuff down, what are you doing? Seriously, Freddy. And make sure not to mention this is from me, Don Draper." recites Freddy Rumsen, reading carefully while dragging a finger from word to word across a crinkled paper. He looks up at Peggy. "Ooh," she says. "Okay, cool."
And that's what Mad Men is these days: cool! There's been an orgy and a clothesless woman passes a ringing phone to somebody and oh boy, it could be to literally anybody! But it's most likely to who it is, and that's Roger. He's nekkid and happy, and it's Margaret on the phone, which leaves him regretfully only half chubbed. She makes plans with her father to go to brunch at ten-thirty in the morning. Uh, sister-woman, brunch is from two to four in the afternoon only. Errybuddy know that.
Back at the Don-less offices of SC&P, a man named Lou Avery is another old white dude, for sure. Music gets jazzy and we slow pan up on Joan like we're every mans' eyeballs. She visits Ken and we ask ourselves, wait, is Ken's eye ...gone? Was it shot out?! We knew he was shot at, but lordy all mighty! He's disheveled and anxious and not tap dancing, and it is for this reason that very little attention is paid to him at this juncture.
And here's Don, electrically shaving his ever-shadowed jaw. His hat has a feather as he finds his current wife arriving by shiny automobile to pick him up from the airport. Meagan wears her sheerest outdoor negligee and has legs that could act as a set of bridges from New York to LA if Don were interested in letting his wife interact with him ever. They pop into the car and go to meet a bizarre little fellow! This guy is way too much, and it's sensational. He talks like he's voiced by Jon Lovitz and ensures Don that he doesn't swing Meg's way so everything's perfect! in a way that surely means the exact opposite. He talks about Meagan's upcoming callback and then sighs heavily at the Drapers. "You're my favorite couple." says he. A man passes with a dog. "That's my favorite dog," he whispers, while looking up. "Ooh, my favorite ceiling."
Meanwhile, Joan gets a Coke with a man who surely is two small boys on each others' shoulders under a trenchcoat. He is cherubic in face and talks sillily of business ventures. He wants not to meet with Joan, but with one-eyed Ken at a later date. They make some deal that he ignores later, or something. Joan goes to talk to a man about shoes at some sort of school church office? The boy-man has an in-house marketing agency and Joan says "revised media strategy" on the phone with him and this will be something later, probably, or maybe not. Can you guys feel me wildly shrugging these scenes off? Totally? Okay, good.
Don and Meg are in her hippy-dippy flat and she asks him to keep the lights off. She is a little too drunk and tells Don she'll "make it up to him" tomorrow, and he basically mouths "fuck you" to her. He sits on her daybed covered in pothead ponchos and watches a small television till sunrise. In the morning, Meg enters, raving about her new scarf. She heads off to work and presses a Playboy into Don's chest. "Get some use out of that Million Dollar Arm," she says.
Ted tries to talk to Peggy so she blows her Stan whistle. This dude can not have his Peg and eat her too. I don't like Ted, but I forgot-- until I saw him-- just why and how much I dislike him. Ted mentions his toady wife (Nan.) and uh oh, it's time to check in with nobody's favorite anything, Pete Campbell.
Pete. Pete wears plaid pants with a tucked-in polo shirt. Draped around his neck is a sweater that matches the pants. He thinks this is fine. He and Don go to Katz's and Pete mentions a sandwich with cole slaw right on it, the way your bachelor friend talks about how you can put hot sauce right on macaroni and cheese. Don says Pete dresses like a hippie (LOL) and then they go to Pete's new home which he says other people call the Chamber of Horrors, as if an-y-one has been to his place. A woman comes over solely to make us remember Season One Betty (who?). She asks about where Don lives and Pete shushes her. "I told you, honey, Don's bi-coastal. He goes both coasts." He accompanies his joke with a wink and Miss Bonnie Whiteside vomits at the sight of his round, baby jack-o-latern face.
At Meagan's abode she whips up some Coq au Vin because she's French. A big bench with a television in it arrives at the door and she insists that the men who lugged the massive thing up to the seventeeth floor have the wrong address. Nice one Meg! Don mentions that they haven't "celebrated" and moves in on his wife. "Let me go brush my teeth," she coos, as an exasperated man with a ladder and a fire-hose starts gearing up for the job. Five hours later she comes to bed, and boy, this lady does not think she wants Don Draper. He tells her he's going to do her anyway and she comes 'round. They always come 'round. Meanwhile, Peggy hands a plunger to a small fresh boy.
Brunch with Roger seems nice until we realize his daughter has joined a cult. This is the only reason a woman like she would seek to forgive a man who will undoubtedly die rolling at a rave in nine years without a thought of her in his vacant mind. She says he is forgiven and he's like, "yep, you too, eggs please". This is undoubted: Margaret is part of a cult in which they prize perfect eyebrows and gloves akin to those donned by Peach in Mario Golf. Later, Roger will want to sleep in a bed for a little and everyone will act like this is a super odd request. You mean, like, with clothes on? Alone? Do people do that?
Don takes the plane home and meets a woman with a vagina. She offers him sleeping pills which they both decline because then how would they bone? LOL (he'd find a way)!! She talks about something as he slowly counts to thirty in his head. As he gets to twenty-nine, he leans in for a kiss regardless of the situation, as per the code his father set for him when they realized he was a serial vag-pounder. Don ignores his Dark Pussinger (you're so welcome) and the two sleep on each other "on accident". He tells the lady that he is a bad husband and that his wife knows this and ugh, that just makes everything worse. Oblivious, denial-prone Don was gross; but self-aware, unaffected Don is worse. Owning your awfulness is only good if you also own getting better. Getting better, in any sense, is not on Don's to-do list.
Lou Avery, the old white man, claims to be immune to Peggy's charms. Freddy brings Don an orange Crush (it will probably be Freddy who thinks to market faded vintage Crush shirts one day for Kohl's) and it all comes full cirque, that, of course, Don's been relaying copy to SC&P via Freddy Rumsen. Freddy pees on Don's floor and mentions that it's cold in Don's living room. Don offers him a sweater and they watch Nixon's inauguration together with sandwiches. Peggy cries on the floor of her apartment and all of America yearns to reach through their flat, wall-mounted plasma TVs so that they may hold her and pat her curls.
Misc.: "Times Zones" is about not fixing what's broken. Don's sliding glass door is jammed and letting cold air into his luxe apartment and all he can do is suggest Freddy wear an extra layer. Peggy's tenants need help, but instead of getting out of that damned building she'll call her brother-in-law to communicate with the residents, which is fine for now. Last we saw Peggy she was king of the world, and now we're left wondering if the rose-colored light on Peggy was projected onto her by Ted; if perhaps her success was due in part to her Chanel No. 5 and chemistry with her bosses. We'll see. Interestingly: no Betty, no Harry Crane, no "Zou Bisou Bisou". For now.
Krista writes weekly recaps. Follow her on Twitter @potatoemporium.