The boys are back and the wait is finally over! The fifth season of AMC's Mad Men is in full swing and so far it's been a gripping few episodes. As is appropriate with the maturing of a series, the characters seem more mature as well, yet I'm happy to report they all still seem to be their same old selves. It feels like school has begun again after a year of summer vacation (don't our younger selves wish) and I finally get to see all my friends again. Warning -- spoilers a head!
Don Draper is still a fairly closed book but his new wife Megan, played by Jessica Paré seems to have cracked the spine at least a little bit. Don will always have a taste for women and brown liquor, but he does seem to appreciate what he has now a little bit more than when he was married to Betty and courting every woman in Manhattan. Don's infidelity has always given me a knot in my stomach and I was quite fearful when one of his old mistresses showed up in the fourth episode and we are led to believe that Don not only cheats on Megan, but that he also then chokes the woman to death after their fornication. I found myself getting extremely upset with Don and asking, why? Why can't you just stay faithful to your wife Don?! You can imagine my relief when I realized his infidelity/homicide was purely a feverish delusion. And to go beyond this new found faithfulness, Don even reprimands Pete Campbell for cheating on his wife with a prostitute. Who would have thought? The most notorious adulterer giving advice on appreciating your wife and family? I don't know if this attitude will last and after Sunday's episode, the fate of Don and Megan's relationship is unclear, but even if their marriage ends I will be able to handle it as long as it's not because Don has cheated!
Pete Campbell on the other hand has taken a turn for the worst. I agree with Lane's description of him as a "grimy little pimp," and I could not have been more satisfied when he knocked his scrawny butt to the ground in the middle of the conference room. Pete had me fooled in the beginning of the season. He seemed like he was becoming less of a brown-noser and asserting himself in an almost endearing way. I thought, wow, finally Pete! You grew a pair and you're not going to suck up to Don and Roger for constant approval. In fact, it's been quite the opposite with Roger in particular since the two seem to have been at odds since the season premiere. But Pete, you can't trick me. You're still a weasel, and I don't feel bad for you when you cry in the elevator at the end of the fifth episode.
And of course we can't forget Miss Peggy Olson. She seems to be much less wide-eyed as in previous seasons yet she still maintains a loveable sense of naïveté. I'm glad she is developing a friendship with Dawn, Don's new secretary (and the name similarity is not lost on the characters either) because it's interesting to see the civil inequalities of the period addressed through the eyes of Peggy. It simplifies it and complicates it at the same time, since Peggy still has to fight for her own equality in the office, as well as Joan and pretty much any other woman who works there. Yet Peggy now commands a certain respect that I feel was lacking in other seasons. She has proven her talents and authority and though it does seem to be a consistent struggle, she is often given recognition for her hard work that she very much deserves.
I've been a fan of Matthew Weiner's writing since the first season but it's developed an addictive quality over the years that has really kept me on the edge of my seat. I'm looking forward to seeing how the tumultuous lives of our Madison Avenue friends unfold in the year 1965.
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