“Mad Men” crashed onto the scene Sunday night in the height of the late 60s with hippies, free love and a wardrobe that was spot on. Everyone is taking advantage of what the times have to offer, except for Don Draper, who is sticking close to his conservative mode of dress and his old fashion ways of free love.
The handsome ad man continues to act as if he is free to love anyone he wants, but he wouldn't allow such a thing for his wife. The episode called “Time Zones” captures Don’s new life with Megan living across the country in L.A. with him still living in New York. How is that working out for them? Not too well if the season opener is any indication.
As TV Guide on April 13 suggests, this season, which is the last, starts off with all Don’s progress from the last season falling to the wayside. The first glimpse of this is when the episode opens with a mundane Don looking straight ahead while riding the moving conveyer belt at LAX. He makes it out to the front of the airport where Megan awaits her New York man who has come to visit his wife in LA after months of being apart.
Megan gets out of a two-seater convertible in a mini dress that barely covers her unmentionables and makes her way over to the other half of this bicoastal relationship. The contrast between Megan’s hip attire and Don’s conservative duds clash and the kiss and embrace are a bit strained between the two. Already you learn that Don’s promise to move with Megan to L.A. is broken and the two now live on separate coasts.
Megan is all about her career and instead of some private romantic time, she takes Don to dinner with her very animated and somewhat flamboyant manager. The rest of the visit shows a very apprehensive Megan when it comes time to bed down her husband. Don, who is on a forced leave of absence from the agency, tells Megan he has to get back to work in New York when ending the visit.
Fans find out the year the show is set in as Megan is auditioning for "Bracken's World," which is a show that aired for two seasons in 1969 and 1970. This means that season 7 is taking place in the late 60s, possibly 1968, as the NBC "Bracken's World" pilot is what Megan is reading for.
On the plane back, Don’s seatmate is a beautiful woman who is middle age, like him. The two heavily flirt with one another and when she offers to give him a ride home from the airport, he uses work as an excuse once again. Don’s tendency is usually for the young and the beautiful. This woman is more mature and striking in looks. Back home in New York alone, Don’s drinking is apparently a problem once again while you see him unwind at home.
Forbes suggests that "Don Draper has hit rock bottom." One might agree that Don doesn't seem happy anywhere. When he is at home, or with Megan and even while a pretty woman is trying to pick him up, there's not a hint of happiness coming from this man.
With all the fan's favorite ad men scattered between the two coasts, “Mad Men” offers up a glimpse of where the players are today. Pete, who is dressed like a “hippie” as Don put it, looks more like how one of the band members of the “Beach Boys” dressed back in the day. He is single with a new girlfriend, a flirty real estate agent.
Peggy is still fighting to be heard and seen as an equal member of the ad team as the only woman doing the job in this man’s world. It is funny to see her acting a bit more like her mother when it comes to the men she supervises in the office. She couldn’t take being around her mother, but yet she is slowly turning into her.
Joan comes up against a man who doesn’t fall for her charm and instead of walking away with her tail between her legs, she gets to work. She hires a college professor to crunch some numbers for her and create a presentation for her to bring back to this client. She gets prepared, complete with the technical lingo to dazzle this client who is ready to pull their accounts out of the ad agency.
Joan turns to her brains and quick thinking and leaves her curves out of the equation. She does fine, but it is her boss that is about to sabotage the deal with his attitude. The mediocre work done by the ad agency isn’t up to Peggy’s standards and she lets them know.
The guy who took Don’s job doesn’t care as much about the agency doing extraordinary work, like Don. The new guy goes just to the point of the client liking what they are pushing out. He doesn't go the extra mile to dazzle them like Don did. This does not make Peggy happy.
Roger wakes up in his apartment with his new girlfriend who practices free-love. When the phone rings he is stark naked sleeping among a group of people in what looks like the aftermath of an orgy. He comes home drunk a few nights later and his girlfriend is in bed with another guy and he tells her to roll over and roll the guy over too.
Don and Roger, the two men who were once on top, have hit rock bottom. It looks like they haven’t kept up with the times and no matter how hard either tries, they just don’t fit in with the wave of the future. They both find awkwardness in bed, in their mode of dress and with their line of work as ad men.
One quick note on the choice of background music they used for this episode; it was great. They kicked it home with the 60's songs when creating a mood.