‘Mad Men’ Season Premiere Review: “Time Zones”
‘Mad Men’ season 7 pitches its 1st and premiere episode of the final season, “Time Zones,” as Don finds a new creative outlet amid trips to New York and California, while Peggy struggles with her new boss, and Joan attempts to salvage a departing account.
Last season’s ‘Mad Men’ finale, “In Care Of,” saw Don debating a move to California when the opportunity presented, while Ted and Peggy finally confronted their relationship, and Pete received shocking news about his mother. So what does the first episode of the final season bring?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about the ‘Mad Men’ season 7 premiere, “Time Zones”!
Freddy Rumsen pitches Peggy a commercial idea for Accutron watches, the tagline of which “It’s not a time piece, it’s a conversation piece,” completely blows Peggy away. Peggy takes the idea with her into the meeting with Don’s replacement Lou, though Lou mostly dismisses her pitches, and seems unwilling to take any new suggestions. Joan visits an irate (and still one-eyed) Ken about a Butler footwear representative looking to take a meeting, as Ken pawns the evening off on Joan. Elsewhere, a naked Roger Sterling awakens in a trashed bedroom full of fellow revelers, taking a call from his daughter Margaret that she’d like to meet for brunch that weekend.
After shaving on the plane, Don arrives to LAX to be picked up by Megan, as the two visit with Megan’s agent and learn she has a callback for a new NBC series. Meanwhile back in New York, Peggy sees Teddy Chaough returning to the office for a visit, while Joan meets with Wayne Barnes of Butler footwear in a restaurant. Wayne explains that their conversation would be better served with Ken, as Butler intends to move all of its advertising in house. Joan at least asks that Wayne hold off on the recommendation for a few days, to allow some time to prepare.
Don and Megan return to her apartment in the Valley, though she seems to have drank too much to properly celebrate. By the next morning, Megan goes to class, while Don meets with a tan and well-acclimated Pete Campbell for lunch. Pete needs reminding that Don hasn’t been in to work for some time, before showing Don the west coast Sterling-Cooper offices, and introducing him to his attractive realtor. Meanwhile in New York, Peggy awkwardly runs into Teddy making coffee in the morning, for which Stan comforts her.
Joan visits with a college professor to trade business advice for insight into a working ad agency, while Peggy finds herself hounded by tenants looking to have their plumbing fixed. Back in LA, Don’s order of an expensive TV set for her apartment upsets Megan, though the two make up soon after, something Megan admits to feeling nervous about. By the next day, Don must return to work before his red-eye flight. Back in the city, Roger meets his daughter Margaret for brunch with the expectation of an ambush, though she only wishes to forgive him for his many transgressions against their family, cryptically alluding to a new church that her father wouldn’t understand.
Don winds up seated next to an attractive stranger (Neve Campbell) on his return flight, and the two quickly bond as the woman explains how she’d been in California to scatter her husband’s ashes around his destinations of choice. The two fall asleep in one another’s arms, and the next morning the woman points out Don’s ring, though he explains his wife knows him to be a terrible husband. The woman offers to give Don a ride, though he declines in the interest of returning to work. Back at the offices, Peggy apologizes to Lou for presenting her ideas in the wrong fashion, though Lou again denies her attempts to improve the work, touting himself immune to her charms. Peggy pushes the art team for new boards to show Lou the second idea, but Stan points out that she’s challenging her boss again.
Joan learns that Wayne broke his word to schedule a meeting with Ken anyway, for which Joan uses Ken’s office to warn Wayne against competing with their agency. Wayne accepts Joan’s warning about the move causing more problems than it solves, but asks for Joan’s help in saving face while they develop a revised strategy. Shortly thereafter, Ken finds Joan’s earring in his office and chides her for using his space, even if she managed to delay the Butler fallout. Meanwhile, Freddy Rumsen arrives to Don’s apartment for lunch, revealing that Don has been using Freddy to pitch his work around town during his absence from Sterling-Cooper.
Peggy returns home to find her sister’s husband asleep on the couch after fixing the building’s plumbing, though he soon departs. Peggy breaks down crying in solitude, while elsewhere, Don brazenly reclines on his frigid balcony.
‘Mad Men’ operates with a unique spoiler culture that we’re not often privy to its premieres, though the prior season well-instilled the lesson that speculation tends to overreach among its spoiler-phobic fanbase. Megan never ended up succumbing to a Sharon Tate-like fate, nor would any of the other fervent conspiracy theories hold merit, and as such we should rarely expect any premiere, let alone the final to pick up some great distance from the things we knew. In that sense “Time Zones” carries relatively few surprises, in that Don has yet to return to work, while Megan and Pete seem to thrive across the country, and Ted resists the advancement Los Angeles might bring.
In that sense, “Time Zones” proved exactly what we might expect, catching us up on a few new developments, without presenting anything entirely offsetting. Don plays Cyrano with Freddy Rumsen while Sterling-Cooper keeps him on the outs, and Peggy somewhat unsurprisingly has to struggle against a new wall toward her creative success. It’s of interest at least to see characters like Peggy or Joan given familiar obstacles, though perhaps not as indicative of a final season as we might have expected.
There’s a great deal to dissect, between Don’s fractured relationship with Megan, and whatever role Neve Campbell might play going forward, though perhaps not a great sense of momentum for the final season. Certainly’ our one-hour premiere eclipsed a few characters between Don’s family and the supporting Sterling-Cooper cast, though at the very least, we have a few interesting threads to follow, and a warm welcome back into the contemplation, ambiguous world of ‘Mad Men. It’ll be interesting to see if the show at all reflects its narrative split until 2015, but for the moment, consider us fully enamored of “The End of an Era.”
Did you get your fill of moving ‘Mad Men’ drama? What did you think about Sunday’s premiere, “Time Zones”? Get yourself caught up with Everything You Need to Know About 'Mad Men,' stay tuned for more coverage of the premiere, and check back again next Sunday for our review of 'Mad Men' season 7's latest installment on AMC!