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‘Mad Men’ Review: “A Little Kiss”

Mad Men A Little Kiss
AMC

Get your cocktails ready!  ‘Mad Men’ season 5 pours out  its first episode of the year, as Don adjusts to married life again with his new wife Megan (Jessica Pare), while Pete clamors for a bigger office, and Megan plots a surprise party for her husband’s 40th birthday.

Last season’s ‘Mad Men’ finale “Tomorrowland” Don proposing to Megan after his trip to California with his children, while Peggy brought in a bit of new business and Pete became a father,  so what will the latest season bring?  Where’s everybody been all this time?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Mad Men’ two-hour premiere “A Little Kiss!”

As a race protest storms outside the offices of Young and Rubicam, several employees decide to mock the marchers by heaving bags of ice water at them.  They’re caught red-handed when several of the protestors walk up to the office with a reporter, noting “and they call us savages.”  Meanwhile at Don Draper’s new apartment, Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka) wakes early to roam the house, when Don awakes to make his kids breakfast and open the gift of a shaving brush for his birthday.  Later, he drops them off declining to see “Morticia” and “Lurch.”

While Pete commiserates on the train that his wife seems to have stopped taking care of herself, Joan clashes with her mother from the stress of raising her baby, and Roger argues with his secretary for doing Don’s work more, the group gathers to prepare for a coming Heinz presentation.  Don and Megan show up late together, and everyone wonders if there might be some way to capitalize on Young and Rubicam’s public embarrassment, perhaps putting out an ad praising Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Pryce as equal opportunity employers.

While Don tries coaxing Megan into putting off work to flirt, Pete announces that Mohawk airlines might come back to the firm, and requests Don’s presence at a meeting.  Meanwhile, Megan announces to Peggy her intent to throw Don a surprise party, though she cautions against the idea, but agrees to help decide a guest list.  Across town, Joan finds herself desperately wanting to go back to work as Pete happens upon Roger Sterling shoehorning in on his meeting with Mohawk.  Pete manages to shoo roger away, and Joan’s mother reminds her that Greg may not want her working in the future.  (Pssh, as if man “allows” Christina Hendricks to do anything.)

Peggy does her best to pitch her “bean ballet” idea to the Heinz people, though they don’t quite share her vision, and Don assures them they’ll try again with another idea.  It bothers Peggy that Don didn’t back her up, though he insists they’ll get them next time.  Meanwhile, Pete returns from his meeting and accidentally bashes his nose into the column in his office, taking it out on his secretary for allowing Roger to glimpse his calendar.  Ken Cosgrove does his best to calm him down, but Pete’s tired of worrying about stolen business from his own firm.

Peggy senses something amiss about Don suddenly being all kind and patient, but still decides to attend the surprise party, which Roger spoils by accidentally arriving at the same time as Don himself.  Uncomfortable as he is, everyone does their best to mingle, Stan and Bert Cooper debating communism, while Harry bestows a silver walking stick on the unimpressed Don.  Pete clearly misses his life in the city, and Peggy’s snide remark to Megan and Don about redoing the Heinz campaign goes a bit too far.  Unfazed, Megan presents her gift to Don: a sexy performance of “Zou Bisou Bisou,” which drives everyone at the party wild.  Rightly so.  Mmhmm.

Later that night, Don collapses into his bed, rebuffing most of Megan’s attempts to communicate.  She now knows that Dick Whitman actually turned 40 months ago, but the party and her performance embarrassed him, as he doesn’t like being the center of attention.  Don also never liked celebrating birthdays, expressly forbid it to Betty, and his cold rebuke drives Megan to the balcony, upset and alone.  Did anyone else totally think she would throw herself off?

Whew!  That was a long hour.  Let’s take a little breather before we head into the second half of “A Little Kiss,” shall we?  So…what’s been going on with you?  Is everything…uh…baseball!  That’s happening soon, right?  So anyway…

A cab brings Lane to work, where he finds a man’s wallet in the back.  Rather than leave it with the driver however, he elects to contact the owner himself.  Upstairs, he shakes off Pete’s potential good news about incoming clients and his wife’s calls about their son’s schooling, daydreaming about a girl whose picture he finds in the wallet, Delores.

Joan comes home to find her mother and the plumber with the baby, quickly ushering him out, before her mother shows Joan the hiring ad SDCP placed in the paper, which she takes as a sign that they’re giving away her job.  Don arrives at the office the next morning where Roger cracks wise about Megan’s sultry performance, before they head into a meeting in Pete’s cramped office.  Once there, Pete explains that he’s booked Mohawk, but given his value to the company, he deserves a better office to meet with clients, specifically, Roger’s.  Roger challenges him, and Lane insists there might be an equitable solution for all.

Harry and Stan make crude remarks about Megan in the kitchen, before Megan suddenly appears behind Harry.  Stan tries to warn him, but Harry brushes it off, so Stan exacerbates things by making him speak further, when Megan finally announces herself.  Embarrassed and angry, Harry punches a rolling-with-laughter Stan.  Meanwhile, Lane takes a call about the wallet, from the girl in the picture, and he casually flirts while inviting her to come in and retrieve the wallet.

Roger calls a nervous Harry into his office, and without officially rebuking him, he convinces (with $1100 worth of help) Harry to give Pete his office, as Harry shouldn’t be bringing his clients into the SDCP office anyway.  Joan arrives at the office and chats with a  new girl at the front desk about her work having been doled to other people, before showing off her baby to everyone in the office.  Roger makes a crack about the baby secretly being his, and while everyone seems to get a turn to hold little Kevin (great name), Peggy is left alone with the baby.  Joan goes into Lane’s office to ask for anything she should know about, and he invites her to sit.  That’s never good.

In a moment alone, Megan chews out Peggy for her comments at the party, and seems to rage against everyone at the office, mainly just upset that Don didn’t like her party.  She asks to be allowed to go home, while Lane reassures a crying Joan of her worth to the office, and that they’re not eliminating her job.  As alone as she feels , she’ll always be the glue that holds the office together.  He even demonstarates a little bit of Megan’s famous dance, and on Joan’s way out baby Kevin poops in Lane’s arms.  Way to go, little buddy.

Harry explains to Pete about their switching offices, though Pete insists that wasn’t the point of why he called that meeting.  On the other side of the wall, Peggy approaches Don to apologize for her party comments, noting Megan having left, and Don decides to take off and follow her home.  Meanwhile, Lane’s wallet receiver has arrived, but rather than Delores it turns out to be the portly male owner himself, who insists on placing reward money in Lane’s pocket as the American way.  Either way, Lane decided to keep the picture of Delores for himself.  Creeper.

Don arrives home to find Megan furiously cleaning the apartment, and stripping down to her lingerie as some bizarre means of psycho-sexual passive aggressiveness, claiming that “all you get to do is watch.”  Whatever game she plays, it works, and the two end up going at it on the floor, through a series of sexual power plays I’m not all that comfortable writing about for a living.  In any case, Pete takes to enjoying his new office, and has his secretary Clara pencil in an imaginary 6:00 a.m. Coca-Cola meeting on Staten Island, knowing Roger will fall for it.

After their sexy power game, Megan muses that she isn’t sure things are working out for her at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, but Don insists that he wants her there, as he loves working with her, and they talk about having to replace the pristine white rug stained by the party and their…dalliance.  No matter what, he wants her to have what he wants.  Meanwhile, Roger obnoxiously rebukes Jane for even asking, as he readies himself for a 6:00 a.m. meeting in Staten Island.

Montage time!  On the train to work Pete muses about putting in a pool, while Lane gives grocery money to his wife and almost lets slip the picture of Delores, Joan and her mother take care of the baby, and Don and Megan arrive to work together.  In the lobby are a number of African-American applicants, who took the firm’s ad in the paper seriously.  The SCDP group ruminates on how to handle the situation, lest they inspire a protest of their own, and the sending of an African artifact from Young and Rubicam seems to clinch the decision.  Lane sends away the men, but invites the women to leave resumes to be called for an interview later.

Woo, ‘Mad Men’ is back!  Certainly less of a time jump than most people were expecting, but definitely another fine, layered hour for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.  Keep in mind, that wasn’t a two-hour episode, more two episodes made to be one, but it’s still good to have ‘Mad Men’ back, no?  And where’s Betty Draper Francis in all of this?

Did you get your fill of swingin’ ‘Mad Men’ action?  What did you think about the episode? Join us next week for an all-new episode recap of ‘Mad Men’s latest effort “Tea Leaves” on AMC!

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