By Jordan Magrath
First off, welcome back “Mad Men!” Welcome back Don Draper, Pete Campbell, Roger Sterling, and Peggy Olson! We’ve all missed you. However, to be completely honest, I haven’t been a “Mad Men” follower since the beginning. It took a long hiatus (almost 2 years) for me to catch up on the show. Thank God I did! This is about the only good part about the break. Thankfully, the wait is over. Season 5 started with a 2-Hour premiere last Sunday (sorry this has taken so long!) titled “A LIttle Kiss”.
Season 4 was quite a bit different from Seasons 1-3, something that every fan noticed. However, since I was able to rattle through the series one episode after the next, I noticed it quite a lot. The crew got their own firm and building, while Don’s (Jon Hamm) personal life caught up to him. By season’s end, Don had fallen from grace a bit, but had a surprising (to me at least) new wife Megan (Jessica Pare).
The rest of the office had their own personal stories going on, whether it was Roger’s (John Slattery) aging, Joan’s (Christina Hendricks) motherhood, Pete’s (Vincent Kartheiser) career, or what-have-you. “Mad Men” has an array of interesting characters that really make the story unique. Take out any of the characters and the show would be good (excluding Don of course), but add them all together and it is magnificent.
Another big theme of Season 4 was showing how Don was turning into Roger. Once a prominent young ad-man, Don’s personal life started to mirror Roger’s. He was making the same mistakes both in and out of the office. His constant smoking and drinking has become a running gag among viewers, but it also effectively illustrates his flawed mindset. Don’s a guy that is easy to love from the outside, but internally we struggle to understand WHY we care for him.
“A Little Kiss,” served as an extended episode that would catch us up on the gang. Going into it, we shouldn’t necessarily expect anything too dramatic. After all, the show has some catching up to do. Taking place roughing 7 months after Season 4’s finale, we got to see a fun little “where are they now?” segment. Although Don’s new marriage was the freshest on our minds, all the other characters mattered, too.
Don’s “birthday” (not biological) took place, and his new wife threw him a surprise party (Megan’s rendition of “Zou Bisou” was the highlight moment of the show’s return). It seemed like a fun little caviate into Don’s life to see him within the confines of his new place. However, it also illustrated the already strained relationship he shares with Megan. They are “happy” on the outside (going to work together, smiling and chatting all the time), but draw back the curtains and we see quite the power struggle that is directly reflected in the sack.
Also during the break, Joan had her baby. She’s a struggling first-time mother that is insecure about her future at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP). Joan is a fascinating character because she brings femininity to the office in a way Peggy can’t. Peggy isn’t the sex appeal – Joan is. It’ll be interesting to see how she continues in her progression.
Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) isn’t left with quite as much to do as I would’ve hoped for. However, she has some great moments with her competing starlets Megan and Joan. They made for some of the better dialogue-driven moments.
Going back to Season 4, Lane (Jared Harris) came into his own as a major character. His cross-continental relationship appears to have been fixed, making “A Little Kiss” question this notion. Although his wife appears by his side, Lane still shows his Don Draper (or perhaps Roger Sterling) side when he contemplates an affair.
Lastly (I could go through every character if I wanted to), Pete’s struggle up the SCDP ladder still exists. The ever-aging Roger latches on to all of Pete’s ad ventures, making him feel cramped. I don’t doubt this will be Pete’s story the whole season, as it mixes with his new baby.
All in all, “A Little Kiss” was a lighter episode with plenty of humorous moments (Roger is back!). Although seemingly light and funny, we got our first glimpse into the progressed dynamics of each character. “Mad Men” is a character-driven show, which means each person needs to be consistent. Although we had a long break, the characters appear to be consistent as ever, even if this consistency isn’t always morally right.
Welcome back “Mad Men,” and see you again on Sunday!