The ad agency's new overseers from across the pond have gutted the staff at Sterling Cooper in the few months that have passed since last we saw Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and his merry marketeers.
Tonight, it's the account manager's turn to get the ax. And Burt Peterson (Michael Gaston, the imperious FBI supervisor on Fringe) isn't taking his sacking well. Boy, is that an understatement.
When it comes to office politics, the new British boss, Lane Pryce (Jared Harris), is a regular Cardinal Richelieu. His underling, John Hooker (Ryan Cartwright), is more intent on diving into the secretarial pool. The ladies can't get enough of his refined accent.
Don and his art director, Salvatore (Bryan Batt), are sent on a road trip to Baltimore to reassure a major client that despite the changes at Sterling Cooper, the hard sell must go on.
"I'm just here to show you the continuity of our service," says Don.
During this junket, loyalties are tested and dark secrets emerge.
Meanwhile, back in New York, Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) narrowly avoids a meltdown. Only his conniving Uriah Heep-ish nature keeps him from committing career hara-kiri.
Oh, yeah, Joan (Christina Hendricks) seems to be establishing herself as the power behind the throne at the agency, and Bert (Robert Morse) looks more like Colonel Sanders every day.
On the home front, as the implausible but stylish opening flashback shows, Don is still tormented by his past. Hey, sort of like a certain Jersey don. (Mad Men's creator, Matt Weiner, also wrote for The Sopranos.)
Pregnancy clearly agrees with Betty (January Jones). She always looks radiant, but carrying a baby to term seems to have restored her sense of humor and zest for life.
The storytelling and visual gloss we have come to expect from Mad Men are stronger than ever.
If this eventful, fast-moving episode is any indication, we're in for a savory season.
Contact staff writer David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or email@example.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/daveondemand.