Mad Men Season Premiere Recap: Don, Ho

THERE HE GOES AGAIN | Meanwhile, a blotto Don wants to know what his recovered doorman saw when he was momentarily dead. “I guess there was a light,” Jonesy replies. “Was it like hot, tropical sunshine? Did you hear the ocean?” Hmm… like the ocean sounds you hear in your office earlier in the ep, Don? Later, Don asks his secretary, Dawn, to return Dinkins’ lighter – which he tries to throw away earlier in the episode — but declines to add a personal note.

At home on New Year’s Eve, he and Megan have fondue with Rosen and his wife Sylvia and another (annoying) couple from the building. Eventually the party dwindles to the Rosens and the Drapers; when the doc is called away on an emergency, it seems at first like maybe he’s just slipping out to shtup his mistress. (Anyone else get that vibe?) But no, it’s not Dr. Rosen who’s being unfaithful — it’s his missus (played by ER‘s Linda Cardellini), whom we see sleeping with Don while her husband’s away. “Did you read my Dante?” she whispers in bed, indicating that their affair has been going on for some time. “It made me think of you,” he says, but later tells her that in the new year, he wants to “stop doing this.” Pardon me if I think this resolution will last about as long as most.

SOUND FAMILIAR? | At her new firm, Peggy’s got a bit more clout – but she’s still working over the holidays. When a Tonight Show comedian’s bit about American soldiers slicing off enemy ears makes a client skittish about its headphones Super Bowl commercial (key line: “Lend me your ears”), she comes up with a smart way to use the film shoot’s outtakes to salvage the project. In the process, she obliterates some underlings’ work. Choice lines: “If you can’ tell the difference between which part’s the idea and which part’s the execution of the idea, you’re of no use to me” and “When you bring me something like this, it looks like cowardice.” Yeesh. Sorry, Mr. Draper. I’ll get you your Scotch right away.

BETTY IN THE CITY | Sally (who is a real teenager now, which makes me feel old) is spending Christmas with her slimmed-down mother and Henry, which means her friend Sandy is around a lot. Because Betty relates best to those under 18 – except for her own children, of course – she’s intrigued by Sandy’s violin talent (“It makes me feel so much”) and her plan to attend Juilliard. She even goes as far as playfully (?)  suggesting that Henry “rape” Sandy while she’s staying at the house. Yes, it’s as weird and awkward as it sounds. But during a midnight heart-to-heart in the kitchen, Sandy admits that she lied about getting into the prestigious conservatory and is instead thinking about squatting at a building off St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan. “The kids are just living, and it’s beautiful,” she muses. “Are you on dope?” Betty asks. (Heh.)

When Sandy tells Sally she’s left for school, Bets knows better. She finds the New York City building Sandy described, a filthy abandoned place that lacks plumbing, heat, cleanliness and charm. While trying to figure out why Sandy’s violin is there but the girl is not, Betty winds up giving some counterculture youth a cooking lesson. It doesn’t end well, but Betty gives this fantastic insult as she walks out: “You have bad manners. You deserve to live on the street or in this pig sty. And I hope you get tetanus or crabs or whatever else is crawling around here.” Housewife burn!

Has Betty finally realized that yes, she’s no longer as young or as likely to have an adventure as she once was, but that her life is pretty good? Unclear – but she later comes home as a brunette. Her son’s instant feedback: “I hate it. You’re ugly.” Henry, meanwhile, is much more appreciative.

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