This is not a recap... in the way Sunday Bloody Sunday is not a rebel song.
Don Draper turns 40 and his wife throws a surprise birthday party for him where she sings and embarrasses him. At the office, there is much talk about this happening. In Don's world, he overreacts because he hates sharing his happiness with others. Don likes to collect his prizes and hide them away so that no one else can steal them from him.
In the office world, when a rival company embarrasses itself with an insensitive prank on some local African American protestors, Don and Roger put an ad in the paper proclaiming their diversity. This has unintended consequences and they end up being forced to hire a new secretary so as not to embarrass themselves in the process.
Meanwhile, Betty is fat and has a lump. The lump turns out to be benign (OR DOES IT?!) but she's still a fatty. Does that story go anywhere? Not really but these writers never do anything without meaning to lead it somewhere later. Perhaps Betty's largeness relates to her unhappiness without Don. Perhaps Don's need to keep his young prize away from prying eyes, and his attitude toward her in the first two episodes somehow relates to his need for a woman who understands him more.
Pete acquires a big whale of a client in Mohawk Airlines and Peggy hires a new full-time copywriter to be their whipping boy on the account. He is all kinds of strange and apparently wildly talented, plus Jewish. Seems like diversity is the name of the game this season as we pass the mid-60s. Peggy doesn't really want to hire him, partly perhaps because of his talent (though she declares that is not so), but mostly because she fears Don will hate him, and her for hiring him. Roger tries to reassure her that there is nothing to worry about.
Roger is given the account since the client seems to be more comfortable with him. Later, when Pete announces the client to the office, he takes all the credit for the acquisition and treats Roger much like an underling. This is clearly not taken well by Roger and a sense of worry can be seen on Don's face as his fellow senior partner fakes his way through an applause. Roger then warns Peggy of impending trouble with her new guy, as Pete was Roger's last hire.
This early in the season the theme looks to be about fear, youth, changing times of diversity, and a hint of redemption in the wings. There is also the notion that Pete is becoming a bigger fish and will some day execute his master plan of taking over the universe, one whiny declaration at a time.
If I had to rate each episode, it would look something like this.
Week 1: 93 out of 100
Week 2: 90 out of 100
It is a slow burn and I left out a lot of stuff... but no one is paying me to write MAD MEN reviews anyway. I'm just doing this for fun. You know, like everything else.