"Mad Men" Season 6, Episode 1: The Doorway

Mad Men Season 6, Episode 1: "The Doorway"

Roger on Don's vomit: "He was just saying what everyone else was thinking."

Oh Mad Men, how I’ve missed you. After a dreadfully long ten months of waiting and stalking various promo photo shoots, the wait is finally over— the sixth season of Mad Men premiered last night.  The last time we saw Don, he was smiling devilishly and deciding whether or not to revert to his piggish ways and cheat on his wife. It was a FLAWLESS final moment and for those of you who wish to re-live it, as I have (way too many times), check it out:

Remember? If you need a few moments to recover from that greatness, I completely understand. ANYWAY, the season six premiere was, of course, worth the wait. Where do I even begin? Let’s start with the man, the myth, the legend himself: DON DRAPER.

Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray from the straight rode and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood-Dante’s Inferno

The episode begins with Don, reading these words, as he lies on a Hawaiian beach with Megan. Don is casually reading Dante’s Inferno. For those of you who were waiting for an answer to the question that ended last season ("Are You Alone?")— Here you have your answer. YES. Don Draper is very much alone. Life with Megan hasn’t changed him after all.

In fact, for the first eight minutes of the episode, Don is COMPLETELY silent and detached from his environment. Eight minutes. Don isn’t a man of many words but I look forward to his witty one-liners and cynical monologues. His silence and apathy towards the world around him is rather unsettling. For once, it seems he is taking the backseat and his wife is the center of attention.  The first time he speaks, it is to a complete stranger. Where is the patronizing, brooding Don Draper that we know and love? DON’T WORRY, he isn’t gone just yet. But he has hit a rough patch, and Dante’s words describe it all too well. Oh Don, you tortured soul *swoon*.

 

Screenshot by Sameet Dhillon/Gavel Media

Screenshot by Sameet Dhillon/Gavel Media.

Hair

Okay, was it just me or did the whole cast decide to 'funkify' their hair? The characters seemed to change their hair to match their personalities. I’m not sure if the producers are just trying to show the changing styles of the times but regardless I can’t say I’m hating these new looks. My two favorite transformations are:

  1. PETER CAMPBELL: YES, PETE. You do you brotha! I’m lovin’ the sideburns. Not because you look good in them (frankly, I don’t think it is possible for you to ever look good), but because they embody everything about you.  The sideburns will now serve as a warning sign to everyone that you are a creepy-grimy-pre-pubescent boy stuck in an unfortunate-looking man’s body.

    Screenshot by Sameet Dhillon/Gavel Media

    Screenshot by Sameet Dhillon/Gavel Media.

  2. BETTY DRAPER: Betty dyed her hair black to match her soul. SERIOUSLY, you nailed it Bets. This is the first good thing you have done in a while. This season you’ve proven that you are still the insane villainess that you were last season and now you’ve got the look to match. I feel like you should have a black cape or witch’s hat as well. But I’ll accept the black hair, for now.

 

SCDP

Things at Sterling Cooper Draper and Pryce appear to be going pretty well. The office is more bustling, which I'll take as a good thing. I said that everyone seems to have 'funkified' his or her hair; well I think this might also apply to the office. The office has been 'funkified.'

Evidence? First of all, the dudes grew out their hair and started wearing hipster glasses and weird sweaters.  Second of all, they were straight up smoking a blunt in the middle of the office when Don walked in. Things have definitely changed. This makes me wonder—is it finally becoming the progressive place they once imagined it would be?

 

What up, Peggy?

We finally see Peggy workin’ the new job. At first, it’s honestly pretty depressing. She’s surrounded by a bunch of lifeless-dweeby-dudes who are at the maturity of about a 7th or 8th grader. But Peggy is holding her own. Actually, I was kind of proud of her. When two of her employees came in and presented some total B.S. she put them in their place. It was extremely Don Draper-esque (when he was in his prime). Has the student surpassed the teacher? Later in the episode, she saves the day with a last minute idea. ANOTHER classic Don Draper move. I have a feeling Don’s prodigy is going to come back to bite him in the tookus.

 

Who is the annoying new guy?

Seriously, this guy has his head way too far up Don’s @$$. Who is he? He’s like that annoying kid in your kindergarten class that always raised his hand first, the one who you really wanted to throw a chalkboard eraser at. It seems like he is in the periphery, watching Don, the entire episode.. You know he must be annoying when Kenny yells at him. He’s the only remotely decent guy on the show, and even he is irritated.

 

Roger Sterling, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Roger Sterling, you can’t help but love him. Somehow, in the span of 5 minutes, he can make me laugh hysterically and then be on the verge of tears. He is back with a vengeance in this episode. I cracked up when he started ranting about his dreams of various women to his shrink. It was one of my favorite parts of the episode. His shamelessness is absolutely perfect. But then, later in the episode, we see one of his first major breakdowns. His mother dies, then his shoe-shiner dies, and after an episode of pretending he “doesn’t feel anything,” he finally breaks down. I’m hoping Roger gets himself together. We need him for the comic relief and his dirty-old-man-factor.

 

The Doorways

As all you avid-watchers know, in Mad Men there is always some deeper significance or theme. The title usually sets it all up, and this episode was no exception.  All these characters, especially Don and Roger, are struggling to change. They’re going through “doors” leading to new experiences and yet somehow they appear to remain unchanged.

Roger sums it up pretty well when he says, “Life is supposed to be a path and you go along and these things happen to you and they're supposed to change you, change your direction, but it turns out that's not true.”  Don and Roger have made some big changes in their lives. And yet, somehow, at the core, they are still the same exact people making the same exact mistakes. For these lost and selfish souls “the doorway” between life and death doesn’t feel so scary when they don't feel like they have much to lose. I see some round two mid-life crises coming their way very soon.

 

Ghosts from the past?

Both Betty and Don encounter ghosts from the past or younger versions of themselves. Don meets a young man who is joining the army and setting out on a life that Don once lived. Betty meets a girl with dreams of moving to New York and living a life of excitement. Both of them are forced to face the disappointment and regrets of their lives and grow attached to these former versions of themselves. I wonder what this is going to lead to, and if this is forming some sort of new connection between Betty and Don…? I’ve always had this feeling that they’ll revisit their relationship.

 

Random Thought

Can Joanie and Don just get together already? They have always been perfect for each other. They only interacted briefly in this episode but I want their relationship to go somewhere. I feel like she’s sort of the male version of Don in every way possible. Maybe one day 'Red' and Don will ride off in to the sunset. A girl can dream. POWER COUPLE.

 

DON, YOU SUCK

Come on, we were all secretly hoping that Don had miraculously changed. That the episode would end with some epiphany that he is happy and he’s done sleeping around and hurting EVERYONE he loves. DAMMIT, DON. Why do you do this to us? Just when I thought we could get through a completely cheating-free episode, Don strikes again. He’s sleeping with Dr. Rosen’s wife.  She asks him what he wants for the New Years and he says, “To stop doing this.” I don’t believe him. I’m fully convinced that he’s reverting to the Betty days. NOOOO, DON. You aren’t alone.

Screenshot by Sameet Dhillon/Gavel Media

Screenshot by Sameet Dhillon/Gavel Media.

 

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