The Only Mad Men Recap You’ll Ever Need

Despite the fact that I — and likely everyone else I’ve ever come in contact with — have spent the last few weeks getting mentally prepared for the return of Mad Men, watching old episodes and generally pretending I live in 60’s Manhattan, I wasn’t ready. It had just been so long, and it was hard to get into the idea that it had only been a few months since the end of season 4. Everyone, everything, seemed so incredibly different and strange. It was like the entire office had been shot with tranquilizer darts and woken up from a several-hour nap (the kind where it’s dark out when you open your eyes and you aren’t even sure what year it is). And beyond the whole shaking-off-the-mothballs aesthetic, things just seemed…off.

First of all, I feel so badly for my poor, beloved Pete. That guy just cannot catch a break. And yes, I know, some of you will always hate him for the enormous toad he was for the first two-ish seasons, but he is clearly the most respectable character at this point. And after spending the entirety of season 4 clawing his way into a decent amount of clout with the other people (despite being the only person who really brings in any business), he seems pretty beaten up. Roger’s an ass, as always, but it’s the whole moving-to-suburbia thing that makes me the most womp-womp. He’s been a city boy all his life, and now he has to take what seems like a 4-hour train ride to make it home to Frumpy McUnwashedHair and his screaming daughter. Woo hoooooooooo!

Then you have Don, whom I’ve personally long-since stopped caring about, as that man is truly incapable of enjoying, appreciating, or being present for literally anything in his life. I feel like his own children could be on fire two feet in front of his face and he’d scowl at them to get off his nice couch. Sure, I felt a little jolt of righteous indignation when I saw that he had, indeed, promoted his child-bride to Big Girl Copywriter™ when she’s clearly about seven country miles from deserving (or truly wanting) that position, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbled. For some reason, their marital strife and constant spooning-instead-of-coming-to-work-at-a-reasonable-hour doesn’t really bother me. Don’s an ass hat, she’s got the depth of a Girl Scout cookie, whatever. Those two will work it out. (Though, it should be said, I don’t think I’ve ever cringed as hard as when Megan was doing her little Zabadabadoo number or whatever the hell that was, except perhaps when she was flopping around their apartment in her underwear like a Spanish-language soap star. What the hell was that?!)

Roger is tired of his secre-wife. Quelle surprise. I lol’d thoroughly at his “shut up” when she asked what time it was. Always a class act, that Sterling.

What was that entire party, by the way? It was like everyone had been given a cheesy one-liner to essentially drive-by shoot to the other guests in between drinks. There was no coherent interaction, just people walking by each other and putting their foot in their mouth. Pete misses the smog, Trudy’s dress is pure lulz, Ken is gonna go smoke some tea, that bandleader is extremely effeminate, ‘Nam is all about the money, I thought there would be girls here. That entire sequence was a blur of harlequin-patterned cocktail dresses and sweet Bossa Nova music. I approve, despite my confusion.

Poor, poor Joan. I just…I just want to hug her and make it all better. That breakdown in Lane’s office was the stuff of Emmy gold, and also made you remember — as Christina Hendricks is so adept at doing — that the facade Joan carries around with her is just that, something she must construct every day, especially while living with the hot, hot mess that is her mother. The poor thing, watching her lizard-man of a silver-haired baby daddy saunter by and chain smoke in the kid’s face while he appraised what features looked like him. I just want her to come back and take over the company with Pete and Lane, getting rid of all that other dead executive weight. She deserves it.

Why is Lane such a skeez? Why is he always so desperate to cheat on his wife? He has Miss Honey from Matilda and that is somehow not enough for him? Perhaps it’s just my lingering Roald Dahl love, but he should appreciate what he has and stop trying to nail everything that returns his calls.

I really just want to kill Roger. Just, everything about him is so repugnant. I’m always secretly hoping that they’re building up to something really terrible happening to him, and I kind of feel like that is the entire point of the show. At least, I hope. I’ve always heard that the guy falling in the beginning is supposed to be Roger, and that he is eventually going to off himself over something really serious, like having to give up his overgrown sandbox of an office to someone who actually works. This would be my ideal situation, and Pete takes over the company, and then Pete marries me and we ride off into the sunset. Or, you know, whatever.

Harry lost weight! Good for Harry.

Oh, Peggy. Peggy, Peggy, Peggy. You can start to see the exasperated, righteously indignant working girl start to boil over in her every now and again, but she’s clearly still got that brow-beaten Catholic thing somewhere in her that doesn’t quite know how to put her foot down. I was moved by her little bean ballet thing, and I clapped a little when she stuck it to Don at the party about the work she was doing by herself. She’s just gotta follow it up — perhaps she should go back to having tons of afternoon-sex with her unimaginable hipster of a boyfriend “I work for mostly underground papers, you probably don’t read them.” Oh, you.

It was a crazy return to the office, just so much to deal with, and we didn’t even get to see Betty and her salt-and-pepper dream boat. I wonder if she’s complete yet in her transformation to Joan Rivers-shaped ice sculpture. I guess we’ll just have to wait until next week. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – AMC

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

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