Mad Men returns with an excellent feature length premiere for its 6th season and gives us some interesting groundwork for this coming season.
Death is everywhere in this episode and comes at us from all angles. The first example of this comes in the opening shot of the season as an unknown person is coming out of a resuscitation treatment. We soon discover that it is Don’s doorman, Jonesy, who had suddenly passed out from a heart attack sometime before Don and Megan return from a working vacation in Waikiki; being wined and dined by a potential new client, The Royal Hawaiian. The collapse of Jonesy has a severe effect on Don, but a confusing one all the same as he can’t decide if he wants to run away from or run towards death. Whether it is Don rejecting the lighter he accidentally swapped with a probably doomed Vietnam soldier he meets in Hawaii or the suicidal ad pitch he gives The Royal Hawaiian in New York, Don doesn’t quite know what to make of the subject, but it is certainly intriguing him. He has an interesting outlet on death, a new neighbor character who happens to be a heart surgeon named Dr. Rosen, whom Don inquisitively pecks his brain over the course of the episode. Besides advising he quit smoking (Roger gets this same advice from his daughter by the way, even their vices are being forced to change) Dr. Rosen also suggests that he can’t afford to really worry about death and that is how he deals with it. Interesting advice, let’s see if Don heads it.
Roger also has death knocking on his door and is forced to face it head on when he isn’t complaining about no one appreciating him, at work and home, to his new therapist. Roger’s mother dies, he “feels nothing,” but it eventually gets to him in the end. Roger has always been the most adverse and hip to change as the years have gone by and we get to see a bit of that struggle here again. He isn’t struck with crushing grief at his mother’s death, but he acknowledges that it means something all the same he is just having trouble putting a finger on that’s all. It’s both sad and funny that it’s his shoe shiner Giorgio’s death that brings him to tears, he probably did have a better relationship with him than his mother, and that makes him upset on multiple levels. Roger’s confliction over his station in life will be engaging going forward, let’s just hope we don’t average this many deaths per episode. Boy have I missed Roger Sterling though, John Slattery hasn’t missed a beat in the off season and the great lines kept coming from him this week.
The last angle death came calling this week was from Betty and her search for a young neighbor girl named Sandy. Sandy is a friend of Sally’s and is planning on attending Julliard to get away to NYC. She admits to Betty though that she hasn’t gotten into the school and when she unexpectedly leaves for the city, carrying on her lie that she has gotten into the school, Betty hopes to track her down and bring her back. The plot showed that Betty is continuing to grow as a maternal figure, but there was a sense of dread over all of these scenes that something terrible was to become of Sandy. It was interesting to see Betty settle in to that grungy squatter building kind of easily, making acquaintance with a nice bohemian type, but Sandy’s supposed flight to California inspires Betty that change can be good and sometimes you just have to go for it. Dying your hair black is a rather small embrace of change, but it makes Henry happy and her second go at being a wife continues to be infinitely more successful. I hope Sandy is ok though.
Some Quick Thoughts:
-So Megan is a big soap star now. She already has a bunch of fans it seems and they wisely got us caught up on her story as I don’t think Don spoke until that scene at the bar. -Speaking of Don, Mrs. Rosen, eh? Poor Dr. Rosen. Don must have gone through with that proposition at the end of Season 5 and they kept teasing out his infidelity quite cleverly with wandering eyes and little looks. Is he sleeping with that other neighbor as well?
-What was up with Betty’s “playful” banter about raping Sandy and Henry gagging her? Henry didn’t even seem that turned off, the appropriate reaction to a comment like that should have been far more severe.
-Don needs to be near beaches and sunshine at all times I think. He is always grumpy the instant he is back in New York and his ad pitch to The Royal Hawaiian confirmed as much; outside that whole hidden suicide theme.
-Peggy’s storyline didn’t really play into my death theme, but she is flourishing over at CGC. It is great to see that she and Abe have continued on a very successful relationship and that she isn’t just emulating Don, she is building on what she taught him. She certainly has acquired some of his best and worst traits, treating the low level creatives like shit was particularly enjoyable to watch, but I think we can be most happy that Peggy is back and seems to be here to stay. That moment with Ted was particularly nice though as she finally gets that approval from a senior staff member she was always looking for from Don; the question is she still looking for it?
-Holy Shit, Ginsberg and Stan have quite the facial hair. Stan looks like a young Ron Swanson. Plus, its great to see her friendship with Stan is still going strong, I wonder where that relationship will lead to down the line this season.
-Who is this new accounts guy and will he be anything more than Kenny “Haircut’s” whipping boy? I can’t imagine his conniving with Don isn’t going to cause some creative vs. accounts strife somewhere down the line.
-It’s subtle, but Kiernan Shipka continues to be amazing and I love her slow evolution into a little Betty Draper. More Sally!
-Sandy was played by Kerris Lilla Dorsey, who is a doppelganger for Cinema Blend’s own Katey Rich according to her Op Kino co-hosts who commented on it after Dorsey's appearance in Moneyball.
-The editing was wonderful this episode; and writing that note made me miss the most beautiful edit yet. Jonesy threw me for a loop there.
-"You're obviously not afraid that you're boring."
-Dawn is killing it!
-"No and I'm starting to regret it."
-"When she could hear me."
-"Nah, she's a fruitcake. She'll want to have a séance."
-"Well I asked didn't I."
-"I want you to be yourself." He just lost one of his last pieces of himself!
-"I think you just did."
-"They steal that stuff anyways."
-"Everything turns you on doesn't it."
-"He was just saying what everyone else is thinking."
-"She's making them name the animals."
-I see Burt found a nice spot upstairs in the conference room.
-"A Star is Born."
-"Of course, that's what so great about it."
-Holy Shit that's an ugly sweater, Henry.
-Whoa, Gene, tell me how you really feel.
-That look on Hamm's face was incredible to the undressing in the elevator line.
-"I want to quit doing this."
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