"Mad Men" takes off for final season with "Time Zones"

"Mad Men" takes off for final season with "Time Zones"

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by Jessica Derschowitz / CBS News

CBS News

Posted on April 14, 2014 at 7:10 AM

"Are you ready? Because I want you to pay attention. This is the beginning of something."

So begins the first episode of what really is the beginning of something -- the first episode of the final, two-part season of "Mad Men."

[Warning: Spoilers below]

It's Freddie Rumsen doing the talking, by the way -- pitching an idea for Accutron watches to Peggy Olson. But more on them in a bit.

It's January 1969, about two months after season 6 left off with Don Draper getting suspended from SC&P after admitting his whorehouse upbringing a room of colleagues and clients, and then coming clean to his children.

Near the end of the episode, we see President Nixon giving his inaugural address on TV, talking about how the country is at a turning point -- "We find ourselves rich in goods, but ragged in spirit...We are caught in war, wanting peace. We are torn by division, wanting unity." The same could be said for many of the "Mad Men" characters.

Don

Let's start with Mr. Draper -- he's living in New York, still not back to work at SC&P, and making bicoastal trips to see Megan, who is living in Los Angeles and trying to make it as an actress. We see one such visit, Don stepping out of the airport to palm trees, sunshine and a minidress-clad Megan waiting for him curbside in a convertible, to the sounds of Spencer Davis Group's "I'm a Man." He's only in town for the weekend -- and he gets in the passenger seat while she drives, further emphasizing his transient status in her world.

He may be trying to repair the damage he's done to their marriage -- making the trips back and forth, being supportive of her acting career and buying her scarves and a big (by '60s standards, at least) TV, but this is still Don Draper we're talking about here, so it's no surprise that he turns on the charm when a pretty brunette is seated next to him on the redeye back to New York. She's a widow who notes that their in-flight flirtation and snuggled-up in-flight snooze -- but, he confesses, Megan "knows I'm a terrible husband."

Megan

Megan's making a life for herself in L.A., and so far it seems to be a promising one -- while she and Don are at dinner with her agent, he says she got a callback for a new network pilot. "I'll say one thing about this girl, she evokes strong feelings," he tells Don (a commentary, perhaps, on viewers' thoughts about Megan), before adding, "We can hold off on fixing your teeth, obviously I jumped the gun on that." Welcome to Hollywood.

Pete

Megan's not the only one enjoying the West Coast life. Behold, Pete Campbell -- wearing plaid pants, a polo shirt and a sweater tied around his neck -- who hugs a startled Don and tells him he loves Los Angeles' "vibrations." "You not only look like a hippie, you talk like one," he tells the formerly buttoned-up Pete. The New York-style diner they meet has a sandwich called the Brooklyn Avenue, which Pete informs Don is also the name of a street in East Los Angeles. "The New Yorkers here, they brought as much as we need," he tells Don, whispering, "But the bagels are terrible."

Peggy

When we left off with Peggy, she was sitting in Don's office like she ran the joint. Unfortunately, things haven't stayed that way. There's a new creative director named Lou Avery, who doesn't seem to have the same respect for Peggy that Don did, no matter how hard she tries.

After Freddie Rumsen (who, we've learned, is freelancing for SC&P) gives her an idea for an Accutron slogan, she puts her own twist on it and suggests it to Lou at a status meeting, even though he'd already selected a previous option. "I think [this one's] more finished," she tells him. "And I think you're putting me in a position of saying I don't care what you think," Lou replies. Ouch.

But she won't let it go -- and has even less luck when she tries again, this time with Freddie's original idea. "Why are you making this so hard? Open the door and walk in. You do not need to parachute in from the ceiling," he says. Peggy tells him she just wants to give him her best. He shrugs. "I don't know, Peggy. I guess I'm immune to your charms."

There's also an awkward encounter with Ted Chaough (visiting for the weekend from L.A.) during one of her long days at the office, and dealing with an angry tenant who needs apartment repairs when she finally gets home. The professional and personal struggles are taking a toll -- when we last see her this week, she locks the door to her apartment and immediately falls to the floor in tears.

Click here to read more about the last season of Mad Men on CBSNews.com.

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