AMC’s super vague summary:
In the Season 6 two-hour premiere, Don spearheads a new campaign, Roger gets some unsettling news, and Betty takes in a houseguest.
MAD MEN, it is so nice to have you back. After months of TV being populated by mopey survivors of the zombie apocalypse, singing competitions and B-list celebrities diving into a pool, the staff of Sterling Cooper Draper (and Pryce?) is back. Luckily for us, things haven’t changed a bit. It’s as if the show arrived, cooly put on a pair of kick-ass sunglasses and softly said, “Silence, fools, the adults are back.”
MAD MEN is most definitely a mature show. It doesn’t hold your hand, it doesn’t fill an episode with mindless action beats and it doesn’t come out and say what’s on its mind. But tonight’s theme was quite obvious: death. The season premiere was all about the Big Sleep, whether it be Roger losing his mother (and the dude who shines his shoes), the Drapers’ doorman collapsing in the lobby or Don interacting with a heart surgeon and earlier a soldier about to be deployed to Vietnam. Will death be a theme throughout all of season six? Well, that would be fitting seeing as how this is the penultimate set of episodes. Gah, don’t remind me that we’re coming to an end.
Death is the great uncertainty and MAD MEN is a show that spends a lot of time on the ideas of uncertainty, being lost, alone and confused. As well, the show has dealt with death a few times before (R.I.P. Mrs. Blankenship!) but having it all so front-and-center says a lot about what Matthew Weiner and his team want to deal with as the show begins to wind down. There are times in your life when it feels like everything is coming apart and that’s no different for Don Draper, Roger Sterling or anyone on MAD MEN.
A gorgeous trip to Hawaii, the holidays, The Nutcracker - there were so many joyful things in this season premiere. Yet death hung over everything like a dark shadow. And with it came a return of the pitch-black depression that has afflicted every character on the series. People have matured, years have passed but many of these poor souls can’t shake the stubborn feelings that cling to them. And that all brings us back the major question of MAD MEN: will Don Draper ever be happy?
Did you notice?
- Stan’s beard! Holy cow, of course you did. So now the question is when will he start doing heroin? You don’t look like Jim Morrison without acting like him.
- Speaking of death, it seems the folks from Sheraton weren’t too keen on Don’s heavy (were they heavy?) illusions to passing away in his pitch. They might be overreacting but, you know what, they might be right. Don definitely had death on the mind and I was with the Sheaton execs – when I saw the striped clothing, I immediately thought of suicide. Yeah, Don wouldn’t like my opinions either.
- Speaking of the shed clothing in the ad, did you notice that Don had torn of his clothes off in a similar fashion after getting trashed at the wake? Hmmmm.
- It was harder to notice in earlier season but Roger’s depression is so damn obvious now. I’m glad he’s seeing a shrink because this guy has some serious issues. He’s unhappy about his life, career and the world around him. “You’re just going in a straight line to you know where,” he tells his therapist. That’s no way to think.
- Don used the Carousel to show off his photos from Hawaii. That’s a pretty big MAD MEN throw back, right?
- Don referred to Dr. Rosen as a “friend”. I think that’s the first time I’ve heard Don use that word. It’s interesting, he was sleeping with the man’s wife but his respect for the doctor seemed genuine.
- Tonight’s episode finally answered the question we’ve been asking since the season finale: yes, Don is sleeping around again. He doesn’t seem too happy about it (is he happy about anything?) but he’s up to his old habits. However, at the end of the episode he says he wants to change. On the surface, he’s talking about sleeping with his neighbor’s wife but I think he’s also talking about what he’s feeling inside.
Internet, make a .GIF of:
Don throwing up at Roger’s mother’s wake. For a man who drinks morning, noon and night, Don can be a bad drunk.
Wow, Sally hates Betty. Is there any chance of them growing closer in Sally’s formative years?
Is it just more or does Peggy seem kind of…happy? She’s certainly happier than anyone else on the show. Does that mean she has no desire to return to Sterling Cooper? But…but…she has to come back!
We heard that Joan has been giving Roger the cold shoulder but why don’t we get any of her?
Here’s what I kept wondering: who is this Bob Benson and why is he trying to weasel his way into the upper management of SCDP? And here’s the bigger question: will he pull it off?
AMC’S super vague summary of next week’s episode:
Don clashes with a client. Pete entertains a guest. Peggy struggles to motivate the staff.