Mad Men’s season premiere on Sunday night, titled “Time Zones,” picked up less than a year after the events in last season’s finale in which Don Draper (Jon Hamm) was put on a sabbatical after a cringe-worthy pitch to Hershey executives.

Mad Men Recap

The episode opens with Freddy Rumsen (Joel Murray) testing out a pitch for Accutron for Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) In her Sterling Cooper & Partner’s office. She’s impressed with the direction he’s going in, and cleans it up with the simple catchphrase – “Accutron, it’s time for a conversation.” After her meeting with Rumsen, who’s freelancing for the ad firm, Peggy heads to a status meeting with Lou Avery, who’s serving as Don’s replacement for the time being.

Not at the office is Roger Sterling (John Slattery). He’s busy in bed with a naked women in an apartment littered with liquor bottles and half-smoked cigarettes. When the phone rings, it’s his daughter Margaret (Elizabeth Rice), who wants to meet him for brunch sometime in the near future. As the camera shot widens, it becomes apparent that there were four more semi-naked men and women in the room with him.

Back at the office, Peggy, Stan (Jay R. Ferguson) and Michael Ginsberg (Ben Feldman) head for Lou’s office. On the way, Lou makes a racist jab about Dawn, the show’s first African American character. Meanwhile, Joan (Christina Hendricks) pays a visit to Ken Cosgrove’s (Aaron Staton) office. She wants to know if there’s more work for her to do on the Avon account, but instead is treated to a list of Ken’s accomplishments. Now that he’s a big man on campus – or wants to be perceived as such – he doesn’t want to meet with the head of Butler Footwear, which is where Joan comes in. She’s to “make him go away,” but only after luring him into a business deal with the firm.

Peggy & Lou Butt Heads

Unlike her realitivley easy rapport with Don, Peggy struggles to find that with Lou. She gives him a pair of pitches for Accutron, but he wants more options. The thing is, the last time she gave him a couple of dozen and he had wanted her to narrow it down. At one point, he passive aggressively stated, “ I think you’re putting me in a position of saying I don’t care what you think.”

When Don makes his first appearance in the episode, he’s shaving in an airplane bathroom just before touching down at LAX. Immediately, it’s made abundantly clear that Los Angeles is a departure – a bright, shiny, colorful departure – from New York City. There to meet him as he exits the airport is his wife Megan (Jessica Paré), who’s driving a green convertible these days.

Don's Unhappy Marriage

Before heading back to her place, Megan drags Don out to dinner with her agent Alan Silver at an LA hotspot. The flamboyant Alan, rocking an orange floral tie, gushes to Don about his wife’s impending stardom now that she’s basically a shoe-in for a part on a TV show. Throughout the conversation, Don looks increasingly more uncomfortable and out of place.

Following the dinner, the married couple stumbles into their West Coast home. Megan passes out in the bed, while Don crashes on the couch watching TV. The next morning, Megan rushes out for work, but not until ordering Don not to pull the ads out of the magazines she has around.

Back in Manhattan, Joan waits in a bar to meet with Wayne Barnes from Butler Footwear. Barnes is somewhat incredulous that he’s not going to be meeting with Ken – and with a woman no less. While Barnes explains his M.O., Joan realizes that Butler likely doesn’t want to sign on with the firm, but promises to take their conversation back to Ken.

Ted Is Back In NYC

The following day, Peggy arrives at the office to find Ted (Kevin Rahm) in the coffee lounge. Sensing that she’s still heartbroken, Stan encourages Peggy to put on a brave face. She insists that she’s perfectly fine, which of course she’s not. One of Peggy’s other former loves, Pete Campbell, meanwhile, in in LA meeting with Don Draper.

Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) and Don rendezvous at a diner, where a preppy Pete enthuses about his successes on the West Coast. Pete also expresses his disappointment that Don hasn’t been called back to work just yet. Don would rather talk about Ted than his return to the firm. Later that day, while Megan is cooking dinner, a large TV is delivered to the home. Megan urges Don to get rid of it and not fight her on it.

After falling asleep in front of the TV, the two wake up and head off to the bedroom. In the morning, it’s time for Don to fly back to New York. On his red-eye back to Manhattan, Don is seated next to a woman named Lee Cabot (Neve Campbell). “I’m always hoping that I’m seated next to someone like you, instead of a man with a hairpiece eating a banana,” he says, seemingly back to his old flirting ways. In the end, however, when she asks him to come in the car with her in New York, he turns her down and says he has to work.

Roger, recovered from his wild night, heads out to brunch with Margaret. Instead of some major announcement, she simply wanted to tell her father that she forgave him. Roger leaves the brunch confused and heads back to his sex den and climbs into a bed with a sleeping guy and a girl.

Don Feeds Freddy Pitches

At the office, Peggy is finding it impossible to crack Lou, who isn’t impressed with her Accutron slogan, “It’s not a timepiece; it’s a conversation piece.” Meanwhile, Joan finds out that Ken has a meeting coming up with “Mr. Butler.” Quickly, Joan gets on the phone with Wayne Barnes and convinces him to halt everything until SC&P can put a plan together for them.

When Don meets with Freddy, it’s revealed that he was the one behind the pitches Freddy gave to Peggy. In fact, he’s been feeding Freddy all of his pitches to stay in the game. Back at home, Don wakes up on the couch and tries futilely to slide the balcony door closed and eventually walks outside and sits down on the bench while Vanilla Fudge’s “You Keep Me Hanging On” plays in the background.

– Chelsea Regan

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