'Mad Men' Season Premiere Recap: Don Draper Has His Work Cut Out for Him

don draper season 7 premiere time zonesLast time we saw Don Draper, he had hit a wall and in such a major way that it seemed like he really had no choice but to change course. On top of that, we got the impression he was done running from himself. When he took Sally, Bobby, and Gene to a run-down former whorehouse, aka his childhood home, it looked like he was finally owning his past and his transgressions. And maybe even possibly seeking redemption (a major element creator Matthew Weiner has pointed to as a main season 7 theme).

So it's no wonder that the first time we saw Don in tonight's season premiere -- which kicks off in late January 1969 -- he was spiffying himself up, shaving, and straightening his tie to greet Megan after his transcontinental flight from New York to L.A.


Yep, as we suspected, L.A. is hosting at least half of the show's action now. Megan's out there, pursuing her TV career, but believe it or not, instead of filing for divorce, the Drapers are actually trying to make a bi-coastal marriage work. And that's, at the very least, good news for fashion-watchers, because wow, her style just keeps getting hotter and hotter. Colorful mini-dresses, hair kerchiefs, and white mod nail polish galore!

Trying to keep his marriage in tact -- despite the tension, nerves, distance that soon become apparent between them -- by going to L.A. seems to be good for Don. After all, it offers him face time with Pete, one of the two SC&P L.A. transplants. (Ted -- who ran out west to "save his marriage" from his affair with Peggy -- is the other, if you recall from season 6.) The formerly smarmy ad man seems to have quickly embraced his move by going uber-tan and laid-back California, using words like "vibes," which Don teases him makes him sound like as much of a (faux?) hippie as he looks. (Though in a sweater around his shoulders and golf shorts, he actually looks more like Jonah Hill's yuppie-wannabe character in Wolf of Wall Street.)  

The one really engaging in the most free love is obviously Roger, who is shacking up and in an open relationship with his latest gal pal. We caught up with him as he woke up in a room filled with a bunch of passed-out free spirits, who clearly engaged in an orgy the night before. Yep, that all looks about right for him.

It also wasn't much of a surprise, unfortunately, to see that both Peggy and Joan are as assertive and brilliant with their efforts at work as ever, but seemingly getting more and more pushback -- if only because they're women. Joan ends up kicking major ass by preventing a client from ditching SC&P to go in-house, but Peggy, who's getting minimal respect from Don's replacement, Lou Avery, is on the verge of a breakdown.

Meanwhile, her former boss and mentor could be, too ... (But maybe it's actually setting up to be more of a break-through?) We find out that the awesome idea for Accutron watches that Freddie peddled to Peggy for SC&P at the beginning of the episode actually came from ... Don! Because of course it did. And he's been feeding Freddie ideas for a while now. But he's still unsure of how he's going to even get back in the door at his former kingdom -- let alone back on the throne! At the same time, he's making progress with redemption and change. After flat-out confessing that Megan "knows he's a bad husband," at least he resisted the urge to cheat on her with a woman he met and cozied up to on his flight back to NYC (played by Neve Campbell). Hey, it's a step. One of many he'll have to take before he's taken seriously as the new, improved Don he seems to want to be. At least so it seems.

What did you think about the premiere? Do you think Don genuinely wants to change?

Image via Jordin Althaus/AMC

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