We're moving Forums to the Community pages. Click here for more information and updates.

A Mad Men Community
AMC (ended 2015)

Mad MenS07E01: "Time Zones"

Mad Men's Season 7 premiere wasn't boring, but it certainly wasn't terribly exciting. Indeed, "Time Zones" was important in the way that every single episode of the series is important. But you can't get from New York City to Los Angeles without flying over a bunch of cornfields, and once you've seen one cornfield, you've pretty much seen them all. They don't account for the most exciting part of the trip, but they're an unavoidable part of the trip. And make no mistake, "Time Zones" existed firmly in the "cornfields" portion of Mad Men's transition into its seventh and final season. 

In last year's Season 6 finale, the mask that Don Draper had guarded so carefully throughout the series' entire existence finally slipped just enough to derail his career while simultaneously drawing him closer to and driving him further away from his kids. There was no sign of the Draper children in "Time Zones," though Don has quite a bit of work ahead of him with regard to mending his relationship with Sally, now that she knows about the Sylvia Affair. Even though her allegiances were once decidedly in her daddy's favor, Sally found herself caught between two adults who, as she eventually realized, were equally sympathetic and unsympathetic individuals. Mad Men has often embraced the inherent duality of, well, everything and anything. Don has struggled to reconcile his two identities since before the timeline of the series itself. Setting the show during the 1960s—not at a fixed point or within a specific year, but with the intention that we would see the whole decade through—was a very conscious decision intended to embrace two worlds that very violently and suddenly merged. After all, when you picture 1960 and you picture 1969, you picture two very, very different images of American life, whether you lived through those time periods or not. Mad Men is a series that is constantly in motion. It's a journey between two points, but the thing about traveling is that sometimes, the scenery just isn't that interesting. And that's where we currently find ourselves. 


It's January of 1969, just days before Richard Nixon's inauguration—Nixon being the first Republican to win the presidency since Eisenhower vacated the Oval Office in 1961, and a living symbol of the end of any lingering Arthurian aspirations that Lyndon B. Johnson may have represented (which, admittedly, weren't very many). Dawn is no longer the only black employee of SC&P. The minidress is basically a T-shirt paired with tights. The world keeps moving, but not everyone is prepared to keep the pace; not everyone enjoys the scenery. 

Yet, there are plenty who do: Pete has taken completely and hilariously to the California life with pastel Lacoste shirts, a tan, and a love of all things California—minus the crappy bagels. Megan is also doing well, living the dream as a pretend struggling artist with the other actress-hippie hybrids and earning a screen test for an NBC pilot. She's merely going through the motions of being Mrs. Don Draper, but it isn't eating her up the way it did to Betty and maybe it won't. She is an actress, after all. Maybe "Don's Wife" is just another role for her. 

Of course, it probably helps that Don isn't a constant presence in her life. He pops in occasionally, but it seems like he's spending most of his time with Pete or by himself. He's uncomfortable with Megan's career, her friends, her co-workers, and her home; in fact, his discomfort almost passes for a fear of living so far outside the city, in the Canyon, maybe not far from Sharon Tate, whose infamous murder is still eight months in the future

Back in New York, Joan has also tentatively created a new place for herself. After 16 years as the office's prettiest face, someone who's often used or been forced to use her charms to advance the agency's business, Joan handled the Butler Footwear crisis like one of the guys—and when that didn't work (a business lunch without booze? What is this fuckery?) she reached out to an econ professor and came back with a plan that may have only worked temporarily, but worked nonetheless. Also: Who was that guy? Why does she know him? Is she taking classes? 

In the past, Peggy and Joan have clashed with regard to how to get ahead in the office as a woman—mostly because they make assumptions about each others' career paths that aren't always entirely correct—and the Joan we saw in "Time Zones" appears to have much more in common with Peggy than the Joan we met so many seasons ago in Mad Men's pilot. Peggy has always represented the rise of women in male-dominated career sectors. Her journey is a fairly typical one: Scrappy, starry-eyed gal works really hard and proves her worth among the boys. Joan's story is different, but the same. She represents the old guard, having entered the workforce, by my calculations, somewhere around 1953. We saw her struggle with feelings of failure before she met Dr. Rapey, with the notion that she'd gone as far as she could in her career and didn't even have a husband to show for it. And even when she did find one, marriage was unsatisfying—though to be fair, she hitched her cart to a douchebag. She may not have learned as quickly as Peggy did, but Joan is now fully aware that she can be more than the best damn secretary in the pool and an enticing piece of office eye candy... and she's comfortable with that. She's not going to let it all fall apart, and she's certainly not going to allow for a repeat of the Avon Incident, where she was unprepared to do the job. 


Of course, not everyone is hacking it quite as well as Ms. Harris. Cosgrove never wanted a forever-career on Madison Avenue, and now that he has Pete's old job, he's overwhelmed and burnt out and down an eye. Ted Chaough—the poor man's Don Draper who never really got the hang of balancing his affair with Peggy and his happy-by-1960s-standards marriage with the same ease that Don often displayed in his dalliances—hasn't quite taken to the West Coast, though apparently his family likes it well enough. But New York doesn't seem to be the place for Ted either; there, he's forced to face Peggy on a daily basis in the SC&P East Coast offices. And finally, Roger Sterling's struggle with mortality continues: now with 75 percent more orgies!

And there are those who are caught in the middle: 

Peggy is frustrated with her career, trapped at the firm she thought she escaped. She's in no danger of losing it, still as brilliant as ever and bolstered by excellent pitches from Don delivered via Freddie Rumsen (and can I just say I was mildly disappointed that Freddie didn't get to be brilliant on his own for a sec? Dude tries so hard!), but she's also just not into it. Peggy's not fighting with Don, and she's not banging Ted. Without a pole to gravitate toward, all Peggy has is herself—and the problem with that is, for as accomplished and awesome Peggy is, I've never been entirely convinced that Peggy can actually stand on her own. While her career has blossomed, her personal life has stagnated, and I'm not only talking about romance, because I think that after Abe and certainly after Ted, Peggy doesn't really need romance in her life. She needs friends. She needs someone to take an inconvenient trip across the city at some godforsaken hour because they care about her. She has Stan and Ginsberg, but at the end of the day, she's their boss, and there are boundaries. Her professional life is boring at best, and her personal life is empty. 


Don, of course, is no stranger to being caught between two worlds. He's "bicoastal" at the moment—in every possible way—but he isn't someone who can go backwards. His career is all about creating the future, and his past requires him (and everyone around him) to not only look toward the future, but to ignore that the past ever happened. Don doesn't mind being in the middle of the journey, but only if the forward movement never stops.

These days, it's actually kind of crazy to think that Don used to love California. Anna Draper was a woman who embraced the future as fervently as Don, and the frantic newness of the Golden State in the 1960s appealed to his persistent rejection of the past. While it's important to note that the reason Don was unhappy in Megan's house in California probably had more to do with the fact that it was Megan's house—and he already seems to consider himself a man between marriages—going back to New York certainly isn't something that appeals to Don, either. The swanky penthouse is now a dismal bachelor pad where he grasps at any scraps he can glean from SC&P while loitering on the patio in his underwear in a way that isn't ominous or worrisome at all...

"Time Zones" may not've been the most energetic start to Mad Men's final season, but like any good airplane landing, the descent has to be gradual. The end is nigh, but we're still en route. I have faith that the seatbelt sign will illuminate any moment now.



NOTES

– "She knows I'm a terrible husband." Best line of the episode? 

Neve Campbell is apparently this season's Linda Cardellini or Alexis Bledel.

– Slumlord Peggy might just be my favorite Peggy.

– Eyepatch Cosgrove and Pirate Hooker Megan. That is all.

– Megan doesn't even know that Don's on a forced leave of absence. 

– When Megan was sleeping next to Don in bed as he watched TV, the movie on the screen—the one that started pages with pages of text—was Frank Capra's Lost Horizon, from 1937Lost Horizon is based on a 1933 novel of the same name, and it's mostly known for introducing the utopian ideal of Shangri-La. Here are the opening words, for your speculating convenience:

In the days of war and rumors of war — haven’t you ever dreamed of a place where there was peace and security, where living was not a struggle but a lasting delight? Of course you have. So has every man since time began. Always the same dream. Sometimes he calls it Utopia — Sometimes the Fountain of Youth— Sometimes merely that little chicken farm.

– WTF, Roger's daughter? Cult? Probably a cult.

– "Why are you making this so hard? Open the door and walk in. You do not need to parachute in through the ceiling." —Lou Avery, starting his morning by ruining Peggy's day

– Bob Benson on the line from Detroit! What do you think the chances are that we'll get to see him this season?

– In case the cross-country-flight comparisons didn't hit you in the head hard enough, here are this season's promo photos.


What'd you think of "Time Zones"? What are your predictions for this first half of Season 7?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/17/2015

Season 7 : Episode 14

38 Comments
Comments (38)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
WTF, Roger's daughter? Cult? Probably a cult.

yeah hippy-religious-cult was the first thing that popped into my head

1
Reply
Flag
Eyepatch Cosgrove and Pirate Hooker Megan.

ha , i liked the pirate theme too.

Reply
Flag
who was that dude on peggy's couch?

Reply
Flag
Also: Who was that guy? Why does she know him? Is she taking classes?

truth
Reply
Flag
Staff
I liked it. Expected it to be boring. Was pleasently surprised when it gave us an update on everyone.

Yes Sterling's daughter is in a cult. Feeds more flames to the fire about Megan being off'd by Manson.
Reply
Flag

I was hoping we'd see more of the L.A. offices. It'd be a good change of pace for the show. Hopefully this season won't seem as stagnant as the last, whatever the problem was.
2
Reply
Flag
I don't know who's more messed up, Roger and his drunken orgies, or his daughter and her cult?

Reply
Flag

We desperately need Bob Benson to make an appearance as soon as possible. Robin can spare him for a few episodes.
1
Reply
Flag


I'm surprised Peggy didn't have Don's office. Lou? Who? Was he the guy from the season finale with Duck?
1
Reply
Flag
I didn't realize that Ken's eye problem was permanent.
2
Reply
Flag
i liked when he tried to throw the earring to Joan. hah
1
Reply
Flag
Maybe it was a little slow but I liked how specific it was. It gave me a lot of confidence that this last season really knows what it's doing.
1
Reply
Flag
Nice recap. I think this show is one of the best and I always appreciate the slow moving episodes used to develop such complex, 3D characters and/or set the stage for a big bang or plot twist. I'm sure this premiere is setting up another handful of storms and surprises across the last 13 episodes. It was good to see Don's talents on display through Freddie. I had wondered if Don would still be able to deliver at the accustomed level. That said I do think Don has been overrated as a "creative" even given his superhuman ability to stand and deliver.

I hate to nit pick, but when a show is this good, you start expecting more. To me, watching Mad Men is very much like working at (or observing from the inside) a very interesting company - during the 60's of course. It's because of this that I had a problem with a couple of things:

The California Pete...really? Is it possible to undergo that radical a transformation in two months?!!! I know that recent events, painful as they were, served to free him from many of his burdens, and could be seen as cause for his high spirits, but his style of dress, his speech and attitude seem to be a good two years progressed from where he was in the Season 6 finale.

Another issue I have is with Joan's client management efforts. While the writing seems on target depicting her lack of depth outside of the administrative realm, the points she made in the discussion with the client were fairly simplistic and the 180 degree change of heart after a two minute conversation was not at all believable.

Keep up the good work!
More+
Reply
Flag
I enjoyed the season premiere, and I'm still thinking about it, particularly Don's new existence in creative limbo. We saw that his pitch, delivered via Freddy, won Peggy over. And it *was* legitimately great. Are we to believe that Don has his mojo back? He had seemingly lost his skills over the past season plus - remember the disastrous Hawaii pitch last season?

Perhaps the message is that when he's hungry, Don's still great at his job. Or perhaps Peggy's tastes simply align with Don's as his longtime student. Either way, I'm excited to see if Don's creative fire can return, which I think would go a long way to rehabilitating him on all levels even if working for the old firm isn't in the cards. I could certainly see him starting over once again with a boutique L.A. firm.
2
Reply
Flag
It was a better than average premiere. A little sad than Peggy after so many seasons is still treated this way. I thought perhaps for the last season, she will finally kiss some ass. I still hope she do.

Joan did kick some ass.

I loved Roger. He is a good example of how you really should live if you were rich.

No idea Neve Campbell was going to come in this season. Wonderful surprise ! I hope she appear more often. Now I have to go re-watch Wild things :-)
Reply
Flag
peggy kissing ass or kicking?
Reply
Flag
Typo - I meant kick but she did tried to kiss some ass this episode. A little sad.
1
Reply
Flag
Sad indeed..
Reply
Flag
I was thinking Roger's daughter had done EST training, but just looked it up and that did not start until 1971. Seems similar to the people my family knew who went though that back in the day... creepy.

Two best LOL moments - first view of Pete in California mode. Ken throwing the earring and Joan's reaction.

Welcome back Mad Men!
6
Reply
Flag
Staff
I loved the earring. It was such a subtle way to rag on Cosgrove. Poor Cosgrove.
3
Reply
Flag
That throwing of the earring was the best!
2
Reply
Flag
In accordance to the "Open the door and walk in. You do not need to parachute in through the ceiling.":

1. Joan learning to walk through the doors that have been open for some time, she just never realised they were open to her.
2. The door doesn't close completely for Don - like his balcony door - but it's a cold world outside.
3. Peggy repeatedly running against a door (named Lou) she thought she was already through (when Don was forced to leave).
4. Ted keeping one foot in the door.
5. Roger either has too many or too few doors to walk through, either way he's still standing in the hallway unable to move.

I loved:
-&sensitive; Stan &3
-&Ken; Cosgrove, Arrrcounts (and how he has no depth perception anymore and totally missed with the earring)
-&Pete; as the white Carlton Banks
-&Megan; looking cool and beautiful all day

I have no predictions, only a hope for a King Crimson reference.
19
Reply
Flag
Oh, how I missed the opening credit sequence of Mad Men. One of the best outside of Game of Thrones.
6
Reply
Flag

First off good review and yeah I agree this wasn't that great of an opening episode cuz it wasn't bad yet nothing really seemed to have happened. I just hope this season is better than last season that's all I really ask.
Random thoughts:

  • ok did anyone else really want Peggy to go nuts and attack anti-don (Lou? I didn't really catch his name) with a knife on a broomstick? seriously that guy sucks! Man w/out having Don to worship her she gets really frustrated, she even verbally attacked Stan.
  • Loved LA Pete. for a sec I thought it was Bob at the door and not that real-estate agent.
  • fav part was when ken threw the earing and completely missed
  • idk even know what to think of Roger's daughter
  • I hope Don finally returns to the office next episode its not quite the same w/o him
  • and I kind of miss early Mad Men Joan she really seemed to have more "power" and she just hasn't been able to catch a break recently
  • And no betty?
4
Reply
Flag
I disagree about this being a flyover episode; I think it was the best premiere in several seasons. The brilliance in the episode is the one question that lingers in our minds--what the hell is Don doing for work?

He mentions getting back to work through the episode and then BAM. He's been keeping up appearances but it is only a facade. He's eating the cake that he doesn't have.

Joan's storyline is very strong. Peggy is in good plot territory too. She's feeling the loss of Don, even if she doesn't know it. She's fighting in a corner without Mickey to stitch her up and throw her back out.
2
Reply
Flag
How is Don eating the cake he doesn't have? He's still pitching ideas for SC&P, only through Freddy.
1
Reply
Flag
They dropped subtle clues that he's obviously not doing so smashingly from a financial standpoint. He buys the TV for Megan, but he actually mentions in a backwards way that it was expensive, meaning that money is a concern. He and Freddy share what looks like takeout street dogs. And he can't afford to fix the damn sliding door.

Then it got me thinking that if Don had made the Accutron pitch himself, it would have been the last word on the matter. Since it was Freddy, the firm will more easily overlook it or pass it off. Peggy sees it, but she's even surprised and revises it. She never would have revised Don's work.

So, in a way, he's holding onto the fragment of his life that is advertising, but it's not enough on its own--inevitably collapsing.
Reply
Flag
Um I believe he did mention that the firm was still paying him when he was talking with Freddy. So hes on leave with pay and hes not financially strapped for cash.
Megan just got mad at him for getting the tv dish b/c she doesn't want to draw attention to herself. Don just questioned why he couldn't get nice things for her.
The sliding door was a metaphor which pnnf said in their post above.
2
Reply
Flag
@pnnf : I think so. I don't remember them ever buying him out? then again its been a yr since I watched last seasons final
Flag
Even if they're not paying him, isn't he a shareholder?
So any profit they make, he gets part of, right?
Flag
Ok I rewatched that scene and yeah its easy to miss. pretty much Freddy mentions Oscar Mayer and asked Don why he doesn't just go in and get them both advertising jobs and Don replies that he already has a job. Freddy says in 2 months and Don casually says that theyre still paying him (then again he could be lying since that's what he does)
Flag
How'd I miss that they're still paying the bum? I guess I was too focused on the hot dogs. It just seemed like a very lackluster business dinner for Don Draper, but they can't exactly go hit the town in style together or the schtick would be up..

I guess I'm reading into the wrong things and missing what's actually there. I should stick to commenting on Banshee.
Flag
Anyone else think Megan is going to be a Manson Family victim.
Also, yeah Roger's daughter is in a cult, forgiveness like that only comes through 12 stepping or cult.
3
Reply
Flag
I was also thinking that when they showed her secluded house but I have a feeling she wont get attacked she will just be affected by the news on Sharon Tate
1
Reply
Flag
Follow this Show
Members
3,187