Aaaand we’re back. It feels like the previous season of Mad Men ended years ago, but it also kind of feels like it ended yesterday. I don’t know a better way to explain it. Last night’s season seven premiere (“Time Zones”) was pretty boring to me. Of course, Mad Men isn’t a particularly eventful show, but there’s usually at least one twist or WTF moment per episode. Last night that twist was the revelation that Don is feeding Freddy ideas to give to Sterling-Cooper-I-Don’t-Remember-What-the-Heck-This-Agency-Is-Called-Anymore while he’s on leave. Meh, that’s a pretty tame twist. But it usually takes me a few episodes to become fully immersed in the world of this show, so I’ll give it some time.
One of the biggest things I noticed this episode — and the most important one in terms of this recap — is that I found a way to sympathize with pretty much everyone in some way, although not always fully. I was also going through some serious Sally withdrawal this episode. Hopefully that’ll be fixed soon. But without further ado, I present the Mad Men Sympathy Rankings. Check out the final season predictions to compare.
8. Roger Sterling (Jon Slattery) (Prediction: 5)
Roger wasn’t in the previous season very much, and we still didn’t get a very good glimpse into his life this episode either. He seems to be in some sort of polyamorous situation with a hippie girl, and he doesn’t look especially satisfied with it (less room on the bed). He also had a weird conversation with his daughter, who offered her cryptic forgiveness and seems to have found religion — although what kind isn’t quite clear. I didn’t feel completely unsympathetic to anyone this episode, but it feels like Roger’s still failing to grow up, so I’m putting him last.
7. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) (Prediction: 7)
Don ended last season having been pushed away from the agency and seemingly left by his wife. But he also seemed to be ready to confront his past and make a new start. This episode revealed that he and Megan are still together, and he visits her in Los Angeles while she works on her acting career. I was pretty disappointed to learn that Megan wasn’t actually done with him, but I guess I can’t say it makes him any less sympathetic. I also found his Cyrano situation with Freddy to be mildly heartbreaking, because he’s clearly struggling to define himself without advertising.
But (there’s always a but with Don) I wasn’t so into him hitting on Neve Campbell on the plane, especially his declaration that Megan “knows I’m a terrible husband,” as if that excuses anything.
6. Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm) (Prediction: Not ranked)
I was just as shocked as Peggy was to see Ted back in New York. He ended last season breaking her heart and deciding to move his family out to Los Angeles after promising Peggy he’d be with her. I still feel bad for Peggy, but can I really villainize Ted for choosing not to abandon his family for an affair? Not really.
5. Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) (Prediction: 6)
Christ on a cracker, I love Pete Campbell so much now. As soon as he walked into that diner in those plaid pants with that sweater around his shoulders, he lit up the episode. I don’t know how he became one of my favorite characters, but it happened. I love how much he loves L.A. (except the bagels), and he did nothing slimy this episode for me to complain about. He wasn’t around enough to get a higher ranking, but we shall see.
4. Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) (Prediction: Not ranked)
Guys, what happened to Ken? Sweet, lovable, non-douchey Ken. Now he’s so… un-Ken-like. I don’t blame him, though. He’s still got an eye patch thanks to that hunting trip with those crazy Chevy guys, and he’s clearly overworked. I’m still waiting for him to just quit and publish short stories for a living. Keep your chin up, Ken.
3. Megan Draper (Jessica Pare) (Prediction: 3)
I don’t know what I’m gonna do with Megan. I was so proud of her for refusing to put up with Don’s shit anymore, but now that I know she’s still with him I feel conflicted. I’m glad she still went out to California for her career, and I can’t really fault her for wanting to make her marriage work. It’ll be interesting to see how this long-distance relationship ends up working (or, more likely, not working) out.
2. Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) (Prediction: 2)
Hello Joan, have I told you how fabulous you are lately? Joan continues trying to prove herself to be just as capable as the men in the office. She went to a meeting with a shoe company in Ken’s place and ended up fighting to stop them from cutting ties with the agency. And she’s working to learn more about advertising from a business professor. That moment when she mistakenly thought he was asking for sex in return (something she knows plenty about) and snapped back at him was really subtle but made a huge impact.
1. Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) (Prediction: 4)
I’m so sad for Peggy, you guys. Don’s replacement being terrible to her, and she feels helpless. On top of that, she still owns a building (which I’d somehow forgotten about since last season), which means she has to deal with clogged toilets and annoying tenants. Plus she has to deal with seeing Ted at the office, and she’s clearly very lonely. That moment at the end of the episode when she collapses on the floor in tears hit my tear ducts hard. It was also an example of why Elisabeth Moss deserves lots and lots of Emmys. Because she had me crying, Peggy gets the top spot.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Can we talk some more about Pete’s pants? Let me know.
(Image: AMC, via Screencrush)