Mad Men: “Time Zones” Season 7 Episode 1 Review

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Being the last true season premiere of Mad MenI was hoping for a bit more than a place-setter episode, but at least it was a decent place-setter episode.

Season 6 ended on such a high note that it’s just not practical to think the Season 7 premiere could pick that right back up. But many loose ends were addressed, making sure that this premiere at least answers many questions.

We pick up in January 1969, making this one of the least significant time jumps between seasons in the show’s history. Don is still on temporary leave, with Megan off in LA pursuing acting. Don flies back and forth to visit his wife and keep this rocky marriage afloat. I do wish the show would speed up their obvious demise. It’s been set up since Season 5 and here we are in Season 7 with the strings just being pulled a little bit tighter.

This episode, at least Don’s part in it, was mostly riding on the questions we left off with last summer. We are gradually shown where he stands with his wife and his job. The problem is, they just aren’t that different from what we’ve seen before.

Time Zones in general did a lot of things we’ve seen before. Roger’s life is slipping from his grasp faster than ever before. Joan is still struggling to get recognition in a corporate world still mostly ruled by men.

Peggy, however, is dealing with a new boss. It’s unclear what this new guy’s role will be if and when Don comes back to Sterling Cooper and Partners, but Peggy is learning quickly that her old tactics won’t work on this man.

One highlight of the premier though was Pete Campbell. The guy has gotten some sun and drank the California Kool-Aid. It’s odd seeing him so chipper, he’s usually whining about pillars in his office or tripping down stairs. But it was oddly refreshing. It felt different, being just about the only thing about this premiere that did. Surprising character progression is one of Mad Men‘s strong suits, and Pete’s short scene with Don showed us that the show hasn’t lost that ability for its final season.

The premiere began with Fred Rumsen asking the camera if we were ready and if we had time to improve our lives. I suppose this will be a theme throughout the final season, but I wish this first entry had gone into it a littler deeper. But we know where all of our characters are. The table has been set for one last meal. Hopefully next week we’ll get to start eating. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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