Season One, Episode Two
One of the complications of using a pilot as a piece of misdirection, in this instance not revealing Don Draper’s wife Betty until the very end of the episode, is that the need for exposition (a necessary evil in a series’ first episode) lingers on.
In that sense, this is Betty’s pilot, a chance to get a view into the life of a housewife in an era of uncertainty and confusion perpetuated by new-age psychiatry and the elusiveness of her own husband. Betty is a woman who just lost her mother and who feels as if she’s missing a side of her husband (or five) that he never shows to her, without knowing that a few of them remain hidden even to his co-workers and his mistress.
With her introduction, the narrative of Mad Men’s female characters comes fully into view, as Peggy’s struggles on the job reflect upon the challenges women faced during the era in a frank and honest perspective. When jumping into this series, you really need to get through the second episode before you can understand where Matthew Weiner is taking us, with a whole new side to the story and continued subtle hints at the stories to come.