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Mad Men Recap: “Time Zones”

Don Draper lives in a world all his own. He may have been exiled from the SC&P offices, but he’s still going to act like nothing has changed.

Though really, everything has.

First, his relationship is now bicoastal. Megan’s gone out west to LA to pursue her film career, and she’s got the mini-dress and convertible to prove it. (Seriously, though, what a gorgeous sequence as she walks over to Don in slow motion.) While she’s decked out in the latest in high hemlines, Don’s usual gray suit reveals he’s stuck in time. Rather, stuck in the past.

In a vibrant universe, Don is colorless. He’s stiff. He’s literally a “suit,” colloquially speaking, but one without a job and without a purpose.

Admiring his wife’s new car, he opens the passenger door for her to climb in, yet she glides right past him to reach the driver’s side. (In other words, “Megan, Take the Wheel.”)

All of it goes to show one thing: Don is an antique. And, as Freddy Rumsen points out, he’s on the verge of becoming “damaged goods” at that.

Speaking of Freddy — he’s now the official mouthpiece for Don’s ideas. It’s another marker of just how far Don’s fallen; the days of captivating pitches, like the Kodak carousel pitch, are long gone. The world is all about hierarchies, as Ken points out to Joan. And in this hierarchy, Don’s fallen below the guy who once pissed himself in the office.

This episode is called “Time Zones,” and as usual in the Mad Men universe, there’s a lot of ways to read into that. The SC&P offices are in different time zones. Relationships, like Megan/Don, Ted/Peggy, Pete/Trudy/Tammy are strung across the country.

Yet it’s also about relativity, about where these people are now compared to where they were before. Peggy, who we last saw sitting in Don’s office daydreaming of a promising future, has abruptly hit the glass ceiling. Don Draper was a name both revered and feared in the ad world before he was cast aside by the company he was so instrumental in building. Even his relationship with Megan, one that had been so passionate and voracious, has regressed to near indifference.

No one is where they thought or hoped they would be. (Except Pete. But we won’t get started on that.)

And by the end of the episode, it appears Don may be starting to see it himself. After all, he’s been literally left in the cold.

Other thoughts:

  • Oh hey, Neve Campbell! The fancy hair suits you.
  • If I ever sat on a plane next to Don Draper, I too would tell him dark stories about myself before falling asleep on his shoulder.
  • The Don/Pete lunch scene reminded me an awful lot of the Miranda/Lew lunch from “Sex and Another City.” I spent the whole scene waiting for Pete to reveal some horrible habit he picked up in his new LA lifestyle. (Alas, just preppy fashion.)