In the first two seasons, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner established Jon Hamm's Don Draper as the spotted, flaring sun at the center of the show's universe, the force around which all things revolve. It's clear from the first scene of the premiere - Don's harsh view back at the circumstances of his birth, including the origin of his original name, Dick - that season three will be no different in this regard.

In the first two seasons, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner established Jon Hamm's Don Draper as the spotted, flaring sun at the center of the show's universe, the force around which all things revolve. It's clear from the first scene of the premiere - Don's harsh view back at the circumstances of his birth, including the origin of his original name, Dick - that season three will be no different in this regard.

But the series seems poised to move its deep exploration of the supporting ensemble from the female characters to ad agency Sterling Cooper's anxious crowd of junior executives, with an emphasis for all parties on the shaky state of traditional gender roles circa 1963.

As Don and very pregnant wife Betty (January Jones) return from the brink of divorce to a convincing simulation of marital bliss, Betty offhandedly describes daughter Sally as "a little lesbian" for using Don's tools.

At the office, new British boss Lane Pryce, portrayed by the extraordinary Jared Harris (his role in future shows is so hush-hush he isn't even listed in the character bios, so expect it to be juicy), pits the fascinating pile of insecurities that is Vincent Kartheiser's Pete against Aaron Staton's Ken for a big promotion, while the ladies of Sterling Cooper must deal with the all-around mixed feelings about having Pryce's male secretary reluctantly join their ranks.

Though Christina Hendricks' Joan announces she'll be happy to leave the office for marriage, there's a fresh note of resignation in her words.

But it's the business trip to Baltimore that everyone's talking about. While Don's connection with a game stewardess isn't too surprising despite the act he's putting on for Betty, the opposite could be said of art director Sal's (Bryan Batt) first sexual experience with another man, and of Don's reaction to finding out about it.

Once again Weiner, who wrote the pilot, proves brilliant at tying the narrative to the major client of the episode. Don's campaign idea for London Fog not only provides Sal with a thinly veiled suggestion for living ("Limit your exposure"), it launches the season's action with an overtly sexual pitch, suggesting that this kind of fulfillment might not be Don's exclusive domain any longer.

If the creators are truly aiming to spread his action around, Batt's wistful, beautifully played Sal is a fine place to start.