Mad Men

One of the reasons so many people love Mad Men is its deliciously slow pace. That said, its seventh and final season has got off at a comparatively lightning speed and that has continued into episode three.

We start with Don alone in the cinema where we have so often seen him. In a show about the lies men spin, his love of the movies and the "little white lies" they tell us have always been important.

Films are a form of escapism, something Don has sought from an early age having been brought up in a loveless environment. He has been living his escape for years as Donald Draper, but only recently realised how lost he has become in that fantasy and how urgently he needs to return to the man he once was and the man he wants people to see him as.

Mad Men
Don and Megan's marriage hangs by a thread AMC

Early on Don makes a surprise trip to Los Angeles soon after a phone call with his wife agent reveals Megan's relentless, desperate and embarrassing pursuit of a job. Don shows up in an attempt to calm her down, proving that he does genuinely care for the girl.

His poor handling of the situation – telling a woman to "stop acting like a lunatic" is never a good idea Don, even I know that – results in a fight that leaves their marriage in tatters but not quite dead and buried. The fight was a terrific scene, showing off Don's desperation to be more truthful and Megan's ability to be very childish.

Don is convinced that saving his marriage will help him become the better man he desperately wants to be – but his half-arsed attempts at damage control only serve as evidence that deep down he knows it's doomed.

Betty Draper also returned this week, and was on fine, bitchy form. After a conversation with Francine (Anne Dudek), who we haven't seen since season four, Betty is left concerned about what to do with her life once her children have flown the coop.

Mad Men
"Eat the candy, eat the candy of shame Bobby Draper." AMC

To remedy her worries she joins son Bobby on a school trip to a farm, but it all goes south in Betty's mind when Bobby trades her lunch for some sweets. "It was a perfect day and he ruined it," she told her husband.

Betty also wondered whether she was a good mother and why her children don't love her. Betty is anything but a good mother. As Francine tells her, Betty is old-fashioned, but she's also every bit as immature as her children.

The theme of people behaving or being treated like children would continue later, but first we had the small matter of 20 minutes of the most awkward television imaginable.

After ignoring the suspiciously forward advances of a woman Don couldn't remember, he finds himself at the hotel room of Roger Sterling who he confronts. Don clearly wants to be back at a SC&P, and Roger does too and invites him back

When he arrives to find Sterling yet to arrive, the awkwardness begins. Apart from a few creatives (Rizzo, Ginsberg, Ed) and Ken Cosgrove nobody is particularly happy to see Don. Joan can barely conceal her feelings and Peggy doesn't bother to conceal hers, bluntly telling him: "I can't say that we miss you."

Mad Men
SC&P's partners make their offer to Don AMC

This prompts a partners' meeting where Don's fate is decided. Roger proves his worth as the show's MVP and knocks it out the park defending his friend, while Jim argues why he believes Don should go, no matter the cost of buying him out of his role as partner. Joan and Cooper are stuck in the middle.

Roger's reasoning is a little stronger so Don stays, but under very strict conditions. He cannot drink in the office, cannot meet clients on his own, must report to Lou Avery and must abide to a script whenever clients are present. Don willingly agrees where most would throw the contract back in their faces.

It goes to show how desperate he is to cling on to the business he helped create.

The new Don has a lot of growing up to do but he knows he has to grow as a person as well. Now he's poised as the hero – not the anti-hero - of Mad Men, and will have to fight tooth and nail to claim the top position he wants and deserves. He'll have to clash with Avery to get there, but it might bring him and Peggy closer to reconciliation.