xoJane's MAD MEN Season 5 Recap, Episode 1: Of Zou Bisous and Bean Ballets

Mad Men finally came back into our lives last night and boy, was it wonderful.

Mar 26, 2012 at 4:00pm | Leave a comment

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Zou bisou bisou
... I won't be surprised to hear if that's been stuck in your head all morning, dear xoJane readers, it's definitely been stuck in mine.

Yes, last night "Mad Men" came back full force, with a centrepiece of a spectacularly showy surprise birthday party for Don, rounded out with bookends of one-liners from Roger and a healthy dose of 60s-era racism. It did what it does best and caught us up nicely (well, except for no Betty. At all. Thank God.) So, let's discuss.

Last night we opened in the Summer of 1966 with a bunch of loser young ad lackeys at Young and Rubicam (a real-life agency from the 60s, which fictional Sterling Cooper was based on but within the confines of the show, they're rivals) dropping homemade water balloons on a civil rights protest. Ugh

Then, Mith Thally Draper awoke early, now a nearly grown-ass woman, to find her papa in bed with his  glowing new wife, Francophone Megan. Poor Sally. They've also replaced her robot brother with a fourth model. So many issues for that poor little girl. Also, can we discuss Don's fabulous new apartment? Obviously decorated with help from Megan as we learn later in the episode, it's nice to see him not only out of that sad bachelor apartment from before but even better out of Betty's terribly boring interiors of yore.

Next we learn Joan had her baby! A squirmy little homely wrinkle of a thing, and Joanie's mom is in to help. (Except she's being kind of mean about it, and so is Joan! So much estrogen! Those boobies! Why did she go out to buy formula when she can get so much milk for free?!)

One of my favourite parts of the show is the ad pitches, and we start off with Peggy presenting Heinz with a campaign for a ... bean ballet. Yes. Dancing beans. Sadly, Heinz turns it down because beans look like bloody organs and nobody really wants to see those things mingling in slow motion. C'mon Pegs, think! I know she'll come up with something great. This is Ms. Basket of Kisses, after all.

Lovelorn Don and Megan carry on at the office and it's kind of weird. Happy Don. Smiling Don. Weird Don. I was waiting and waiting for him to get grumpy (and eventually my wishes were filled! More on that later).

In the meantime, Megan decides to throw a surprise party for Don because apparently she knows nothing about him at all as a human being. She mentions that it will be a party where, afterward, people "go home and have sex." This made me think she was planning a swingers' party, but it turns out it was just a swinging party. Haha, get it?!

Pete and Trudy show up and make it painfully aware that they're having communication issues because goodness gracious, who would have ever thought it was a good idea to let those two outfits leave the house together?
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And then Megan simulateously embarrasses Don but looks totally cute in a lost-in-her-own-Nouvelle-Vague-world kind of way by serenading Don and the entire room of onlookers with the painfully catchy French ditty, "Zou Bisou Bisou." Her dress, hair and make-up were flawless and damn, I'm just happy Don's with a brunette so I can't complain.

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(P.S., This tutorial I did a few months back is pretty darn close to Megan's hair and make-up. Check it out. I'll try to do more tutorials throughout the season when inspiring looks catch my eye.)

Don of course gets grumpy (finally! After 58 minutes!) and for a moment it seems like Megan's going to fling herself off the balcony (please have a Sylvia Plath-ish plotline during this season, please!) I mean, I love Don and all but he's kind of the worst sometimes, and I would lose my mind if I were married to him. Plain and simple.

Oh, I also just want to add that I'm glad Peggy's still with her bohemian boyfriend. He's very cute.

The rest of the show involved the "men" at SCDP playing a joke on Y&R by placing an "equal opportunities" want ad for employees, a want ad that was supposed to be a prank but you know, when most people see an ad claiming that a place is hiring, they don't chalk it up to boyish tomfoolery, they think "Gee, I need a job so I'm going to apply for this one." Joanie, on maternity leave is obviously hurt by the ad since everyone knows all the office needs to run smoothly is her and her alone (and I guess a few of the creative people but everyone else is kind of superflueous when it comes to productivity. Roger, I'm looking at you.)

So, Joan waltzes back in the office to stake her rightful claim and is greeted by a bevy of chirpy secretaries who are so dumb it actually makes her cry. Really! Lane offers her his handkerchief but secretly he's preoccupied with a creepy photo he stole from a man who may or may not be in the mob. (This is a plotline I'm making up in my head where Lane gets into a whole lot of trouble. I also hope his Playboy bunny mistress from last season returns with a baby. A girl can dream!)

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I don't want to go over the stuff with Pete wanting a bigger office because I don't care, Pete. Shut your mouth.

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Then, the show ends with two equally fantastic scenes. 

1) Megan goes home "sick" because she's mad at Don for not smiling (it's a real reason!) and decides to clean the house in her underpants. Her and Don get into a weird subtextual sexual argument that ends up with them doing the horizontal tango on a bed of dried-up lemon wedges. Why not?

2) People respond to the want ad (well, duh). Black people. This terrifies Roger because he's an ass, but Lane (or Bert? Was it Bert? I'm seriously blanking) realizes that this is a moment where SCDP can either be caught with their pants down, or man up and hire some competent employees for once. Dusty Springfield swells in the background. "Mad Men" is back.

Further listening:
Gillian Hills "Zou Bisou Bisou"
Dusty Springfield "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" 

I tweeted about the show last night, and I'll continue to do so: @hannahejo