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Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm, in a publicity shot for season 7 of Mad Men. (Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC)
Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm, in a publicity shot for season 7 of Mad Men. (Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC)

Mad Men recap: The winners and losers of the season premiere Add to ...

“This is a hierarchy, don’t you understand that?” Ken Cosgrove’s declaration early in the premiere of Mad Men’s seventh, and final, season Sunday night broke down the episode’s roiling power struggles rather nicely. (Spoilers ahead.) Opening with a watch-campaign pitch from embattled freelancer Freddy Rumsen, the well-paced episode zoomed in quickly on the main players, setting up future successes, failures, and offering one very crucial question: Where is Bob Benson? Find the winners and losers of this week’s episode below.

Michael Yarish/AMC

Joan Harris (winner)

Using her years of experience at the company, Joan has quietly emerged as a serious power player where it seems to matter most: behind the scenes. This time, she saves a major account (and Ken’s butt) by doing what she does best: speaking her mind. It’s clear there’s more on the horizon for the agency’s resident bombshell.

Michael Yarish/AMC

Pete Campbell (winner)

Who’d have thought it: L.A. agrees with Pete. Clad in plaid pants and a Lacoste polo, he takes Don to a diner for lunch (“Iced tea, please”) and, later, to the west-coast offshoot of the agency, his pert, blonde, real-estate agent in tow. In Los Angeles, he tells Don matter-of-factly, “the air is brown. But I love the vibrations.”
Michael Yarish/AMC

Megan Draper (winner)

Like Pete, Don’s wife (at press time, anyway) has settled into L.A. life nicely. She picks up a visiting Don in a sexy little sports car, and an even smaller dress, a sky-blue version of the frock she wore for her performance of Zou Bisou Bisou in season 5. They have dinner with her agent, who announces that she’s in the running for a big part in a network show. It quickly becomes evident that, currently at least, Megan is what Don is not: comfortable.

Frank Ockenfels/AMC

Roger Sterling (loser)

The first shot of Roger places our fun-loving silver fox in the aftermath of yet another Bacchanalian evening – lithe, naked bodies all around him – fumbling for the receiver of a ringing phone. At the other end is his daughter, Margaret, inviting her father to brunch. He’ll come if there’s vodka, he says, and ends the episode where he began, in bed with a group of young, nude free spirits, but looking more lost than ever.
Frank Ockenfels/AMC

Peggy Olson (loser)

Poor Peggy. After ending last season on a high note, in a plaid pantsuit and Don’s office, she’s struggling at work (where new boss Lou is, in his words, “immune to [her] charms,”) and home (where her tenant keeps clogging the pipes by flushing inappropriate things down the toilet). Peggy ends the episode in tears, crumpled on the floor of her apartment.
Michael Yarish/AMC

Don Draper (loser)

The odds are stacked against Don (largely his own doing), but our antihero is at least attempting to do right. After snuggling up to a sultry brunette (Canada’s Neve Campbell) on his flight home from visiting Megan, he rejects the stranger’s offer of “getting a ride.” When he heads to his apartment, we learn that Freddy Rumsen has been acting as a proxy for Don’s ideas, pitching the benched ad-man’s ideas as his own, with Don’s approval. Why? Who ever knows with Don. Draper ends the episode sitting, blank-faced, on his balcony. Alone.

Follow on Twitter: @maggiewrobel

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