Mad Men “A Little Kiss” Review

After a staggering 17-month absence, Mad Men returned this week with “A Little Kiss” that packed a not-entirely-unexpected punch. It’s now 1966 and the Civil Rights movement is in full swing, even in the North. How do the employees of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce respond to marches in the street? Homemade water bombs. Keep it classy, boys!

But putting the historical context aside for a moment, as expected, Don did make Megan Mrs. Draper during the year that passed between seasons, and he also promoted her from secretary/babysitter to coupon design girl. Peggy was surprisingly okay with this, perhaps because her willingness to challenge Don’s decisions has turned strangely passive-aggressive. Where is the Peggy who would call him on his bullshit, the Peggy who expected him to work his magic to make Heinz see that her bean commercial idea was cutting-edge?

Magic seems to be something Don is lacking. Yes, he has a palatial NYC apartment, three adorable children and a gorgeous new wife, but he already seems to be bored with his second chance at life. Things are only made worse when Megan throws him a surprise birthday party. It’s a hell of a night, and he’s given a sexy birthday song from said gorgeous new wife that makes all the men of SCDP sit up a little straighter, but as Megan points out later, he doesn’t seem to want nice things. I think he just doesn’t like sharing them.

Having been made a junior partner hasn’t gotten Pete any of the respect he has always believed he deserves, but this time he may actually have a point. Besides Peggy and possibly Lane, Pete seems to be the only person in the firm who does any work. His client list is impressive, no doubt the reason why Roger is trying to horn in on all of his meetings, but his office is a joke. Still, he is a partner, junior or not, and therefore a step above Harry Crane, who, ironically, should be the bigger cheese considering the direction to which mass media is steadily swinging. Taking Harry’s office temporarily relieves Pete’s inferiority complex, but there’s always tomorrow.

Joan gave birth to a sweet little boy who fortunately looks more like her than his biological father, Roger. Unfortunately for the poor kid, Joan is much more interested in getting back to work than in taking care of her child. Who can blame her? At the office, she is a goddess, and to prove that, she takes the baby with her on a surprise visit, fueled by her mistaken belief that her job might be in danger. For me, this was the best part of the episode. One baby…but so many hidden secrets. Roger pretending the child doesn’t matter to him (actually, that might not be an act), Joan pretending she’s blissfully happy, Peggy and Pete pretending that they never had a child together…it’s these moments that make Mad Men the four-time Emmy winner that it is. Everyone is saying one thing and meaning something else entirely.

In other news, Lane is still lonely and still English, and Betty was mentioned, but not seen, something I think a lot of us wish would happen more often. All in all, it was another brilliant episode, if not a shade on the predictable side. I think we all knew motherhood wouldn’t thrill Joan, a title wouldn’t satisfy Pete and that Don’s marriage wouldn’t make him anything but married.

What did you think of the episode? Will SCDP hire their first black secretary or was it all for show? Will Peggy ever update her wardrobe? Let me know below!