“This is the beginning of something,” Don Draper (via Freddie Rumsen) says to Peggy during an ad pitch at the start of the “Time Zones,” the first episode of the final season of “Mad Men.” But since we know that everything creator Matthew Weiner does is deliberate, this phrase isn’t just about Accutron watches.
It’s the beginning of the end of the series and the beginning of the end of the characters as we knew them. This episode, like many “Mad Men” episodes, felt cinematic with its slow-motion sequences and some quick cuts to black. The score also seems heavier than usual.
“Time Zones” was a great setup for what is sure to be a very bleak final season.
Each main character — Don, Peggy, Roger, Joan — had their own (fairly) equal slices of the episode, which takes place a couple months after the end of season six, judging by the Christmas tree that still sits in Peggy’s apartment and Nixon’s televised 1969 inauguration.
Roger seems to have lost it — or is living the dream, depending on how you want to look at it. We find him waking up after an orgy, surrounded by a harem of naked women and, apparently, at least one dude.
Peggy is butting heads with her art department, interim boss and a little boy in her apartment building. She is losing control and she doesn’t like it. It doesn’t help that Ted shows up to shake her up.
Joan is trying her hardest to be taken seriously on the business side of the agency, but she hasn’t had much luck so far. She has been thwarted time and time again — even by Peggy, with the Avon account last season — and now some punk kid over at Butler Shoes could make or break her. I’d really like to see Joan succeed on her own by the end of the series.
Now Don is flying back and forth to Los Angeles to meet Megan, who is trying to make it big in Hollywood while he’s on his three month suspension.
Megan and Don are totally out of sync. He hasn’t even told her that he has been suspended, which isn’t surprising, considering he never feels the need to fill in his wives on anything. (Many fans have been sick of Megan’s storyline for a couple of seasons now, and I am among them. Sorry, Megan, but you are annoying and not nearly as interesting as Weiner thinks you are. I hope you and Don split up.)
Don’s encounter on the red eye flight from LAX with a random, beautiful woman (Neve Campbell! Where has she been?!) who just scattered her husband’s ashes at Disneyland was quite ominous. He died, she says, of “thirst,” which is perhaps a tad on the nose. The show has been preoccupied with aging and death for at least two seasons now, and it looks like that focus will continue in this final season.
Don’s admission that Megan “knows I’m a terrible husband” and then his dismissal of the anonymous plane woman’s advances was one of Don’s rare moments of vulnerability. Well, that and the final shot of the episode where he is drunk off his ass and sobbing on his balcony.
Oh, Don. Things are not going to go well for you this season, are they?
Other notable moments:
- I laughed out loud when Pete entered the diner to meet Don with a sweater around his shoulders.
- If Pete isn’t supposed to be the comic relief anymore, it’s up to Ken and his hilarious eye patch to lighten the mood, even if he can’t lighten his load because he doesn’t “even have time to take a crap.”
- The parallel of both Peggy and Don sobbing in their apartments at the end of the episode doesn’t bode well for either of them.
- Ted Chaough is such a drip.
- Are Peggy and Stan going to get together or what?