Mad Men made its grand return Sunday night with a two-hour Season 5 premiere, A Little Kiss, 17 months after the last episode aired. Time didn't march as quickly in the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce: We pick up roughly six months after Season 4 left off.
Don Draper's shocking proposal to secretary Megan Calvet has resulted in a marriage, and the newlyweds have set up camp in a sprawling, meticulously decorated Manhattan apartment. When the episode begins, they're still floating through the honeymoon phase, or so it appears -- they can't keep their hands off each other, and proudly amble in to work together every morning, knowing all eyes are on them. (Mrs. Draper has been promoted from secretary to copywriter, and from the looks of it hasn't exactly been welcomed into Peggy's open arms).
Joan has given birth to a baby boy, and is more concerned with the status of her job than her son's paternity scandal. (Roger Sterling is the father, but her husband doesn't seem to have questioned the timeline -- yet.) Rival advertising firm Young & Rubicam is in PR hot water after some copywriters tossed water bombs out the window at civil-rights protestors assembled below. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce -- eager to prolong the embarrassment -- takes out a newspaper ad boasting to be an Equal Opportunity Employer. When Joan sees it, she presumes her job is in jeopardy, and marches into the offices under the pretense of showing off her baby. Inside Lane Pryce's office, she breaks into tears and confesses why she's really there. Pryce assures Joan that the firm can't exist without her.
It's Don's 40th birthday, and Megan has decided to throw a surprise party at their new digs. She almost pulls it off, but she and Don run into a tardy Roger and Joan Sterling at the door. Don is mortified but manages to grimace through the festivities.
A tipsy Peggy is still smarting from Don's refusal to back up her Bean Ballet pitch after Heinz balked at the idea, and drunkenly snaps at him at the party. She is immediately embarrassed, and apologizes after they return to work.
But (almost) no one is thinking about Peggy's minor gaffe: Everyone at the office is buzzing about Megan's impromptu serenade, which she introduces as a birthday gift for her husband: The Montreal-born Megan had jaws on the floor with her cheeky rendition of Gillian Hill's 1961 hit Zou Bisou Bisou.
(While he's drooling over Megan's seductive song-and-dance routine, Roger asks Joan why she doesn't sing like that. Why don't you look like him? she shoots back.)
We see the first signs of trouble in Don and Megan's marital bed after the party guests have left. Far from rewarding Megan for her surprise(s), Don is annoyed and distant -- insisting he never wanted to celebrate his birthday, and certainly not with his co-workers in his own apartment. It's here that we learn he has let Megan in on the secret of his double identity. While Megan attempts to match Don's coldness with sweet flatteries, she can't tear down the wall. Banished from their bedroom, Megan retreats to the balcony, cocktail in hand, where she stares off into the night. Trouble has begun. (The scene recalls Faye's harsh words to Don in the season four finale, after he announced his engagement: Make sure she knows you only like the beginning of things.)
Lane Pryce is clearly having some financial trouble -- but he's still a gentleman (sort of). When he finds a stranger's wallet in the back of a taxi, he leaves the cash alone and makes haste to return it; inspired in no small part by a fetching photo of the wallet owner's girl inside. After a strange, semi-creepy phone conversation with said girl, during which Lane (unsuccessfully) proposes to bring the wallet to her, he is disappointed when the owner himself shows up to retrieve it. While Lane leaves the rest of the wallet contents undisturbed, he keeps the photo for himself.
During the short time we've known her, Megan has been relatively predictable -- that is until the tail end of A Little Kiss. Still (presumably) reeling from Don's rejection, Megan is out of sorts at the office, and lashes out at Peggy for lashing out at Don at the party.
What's wrong with you people? Megan whines. You're all so cynical. You don't smile, you smirk.
Though Peggy sincerely apologizes, Megan says she isn't feeling well and rushes home. Don follows quickly behind and finds her in a silk robe, attempting to clean the apartment (the cleaning lady apparently didn't show).
Still angry, Megan slips out of her robe, and in a bizarre display that's more dominatrix than seductress, she tries to rub a strain out of the white rug wearing only her lacy black lingerie.
You're not allowed to look at me! Megan hisses when Don moves closer. Of course, Don eventually does much more than look, but the question remains: Who is really in control here?
Last season, Megan made a reference to a thwarted career as an actress (which she insisted she didn't want). And at Don's surprise party, a female friend quipped about how good an actress Megan is.
We've always known that we never really knew Don, but Megan's shape-shifting suggests there might me more than meets the eye. It appears Megan wants to please herself as much -- or more -- than she does Don, and she won't take his dismissal lying down. Unless Don truly is a changed man, Megan is likely to suffer more of her husband's withholding ways. Was he wrong to trust her with his secret?