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Darrel Manson

Mad Men

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Particularly:

Roger's therapy sessions, Betty doing something useful for once in her life (and dying her hair!) and Stan and Peggy's late-night work calls. Stan in the Hawaii pitch was great too. "This doesn't make you think of suicide?" "Of course it does! That's why it's so GREAT!" I mean, yeah, a lot of it is dark humour, but what isn't on this show? I was laughing for most of the two hours. I greatly prefer this to the constant anxiety of Will Dick Whitman Be Revealed And Ruin Don's Life?

I found it quite interesting that none of the underlings seemed to know for sure about Joan and Roger. I thought it was common knowledge.

I've never found the Dick Whitman aspect of Don's persona to be altogether interesting. It's a melodramatic way of getting at Don's core identity struggle: Don has no real identity, and simply tries to recreate himself over and over and over again (largely through his relationships with women). This isn't new stuff, of course, but it hits home in this episode. Last season had an episode called "The Phantom," but it's this season's premiere that legitimately feels haunted.

So while there were moments of levity in this premiere, they seemed to be very much overshadowed by this dark cloud that stems from Don's increasing self-awareness and self-loathing. Even Roger's scenes, which were responsible for nearly all of last night's laugh-out-loud moments, were all fairly dark and desperate.

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I generally gave up on Don ever learning a damn thing about five years ago, and pretty much watch this show for everyone else. Honestly I couldn't care less what happens to Don; he dug his own grave long ago. Maybe that's why I wasn't particularly affected by the doom & gloom of this premiere. I don't know what that says about me or the writing, but there it is.

I briefly had hope for Don in the middle of season 4, when he was being all good post-The Suitcase, but as soon as he dumped Faye for Megan I knew he was doomed. Nothing after that, including this latest episode, was as affecting for me as seeing Don throw away his newfound maturity by jumping into marriage with Megan.

It does seem that Don is becoming Roger, right down to the

drunken vomiting in public

.

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If not for season five, I probably would have written off Don, too. But season five pushed Don to face himself in ways previous seasons never had, suggesting possibility for, if not wholesale redemption, than the possibility of some positive change. I suspect that a marriage to Faye would have been far more disastrous than his marriage to Megan. Even if Don's impulsive decision to marry Megan was unwise, his love for Megan has caused Don to reckon with his demons in a way that I doubt would have happened with Faye.

And so we have the Don of season six, aware enough to know he's destroying himself, but unable (or unwilling) to escape his destructive behavior. I all too familiar with that state of being, which is undoubtedly why the episode affected me so strongly. But perhaps the episode's allusion to Dante is not as bleak as it might first appear. With assistance, Dante found his way out of the wood, and with two seasons to go, Don may yet find some way out.

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I wouldn't automatically assume that the tone of Sunday's premier will carry over into the rest of the season. It could, but Weiner has stated (on Fresh Air, I think) that he see the first episode of each new season as being part of the previous season--a way of tying up loose ends, in a way. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw things shift a bit in the upcoming episode.

But I could be all wrong, of course.

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Don't care about Don or his affairs. Don't care about Pete or his affairs. Don't care about Megan or her career. Don't care about Betty or her marriage. Any chance Mad Men will become a show primarily about Peggy, Roger, Ginsberg, Stan, and Ken? Because I would love that show.

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The energy comes back into the season with this episode, in no small part because this episode gives us more of the supporting players, thankfully breaks up the Don/Megan story a bit. Still, there is the sense in this first three episodes that MAD MEN peaked with season five (that pretty much everything in the first three episodes of this season has just been fallout from season five points in that direction).

I think that the religious imagery that made its way into the premiere and now into episode three hints at an arc for Don, and not one of damnation. He starts the season lost in the wood. I venture that by the end of this season, he'll start to see the light (I think Matt Zoller Seitz is on to something in his prediction that we may be in for a Don Draper health scare before the season is out). Maybe I say this with foolish hope. If Weiner is going to string out the Don Draper narrative for two more seasons, he better be going somewhere other than Don's complete self-destruction. Otherwise, we're in for two seasons of tedious inevitability, just biding our time until all the dominoes fall.

Edited by Ryan H.

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I can't get that haunting Electric Circus scene out of my head, which is just fine by me.

Whenever I hear that song I think of Assayas's IRMA VEP and Luna's cover of the song that is used to great effect. But, yeah, MAD MEN is one of those shows that usually nails it on its soundtrack choices.

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This week's episode was definitely a step up from the first three hours of the season, if for no other reason than the appearance of Joanna Going, who I had a massive crush on 20 years ago! I also really enjoyed seeing SCDP get worked over by Peggy's team, and the stuff with Harry was great.

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20 years ago in what, Darren? I'm just curious. Wyatt Earp? Were you surprised to see her in The Tree of Life?

Edited by Overstreet

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Another SOPRANOS-style off-kilter ending?

“[Matthew Weiner] says he’s told his wife and a few writers about the ending of the entire series. He says that he’s been told it’s a disaster, but he’s going with it.”

And Weiner was recently on Fresh Air:

"[Megan's] expression of herself was the enemy. That was the part that was really the hardest on the relationship. ... When she said she wanted to be an actress ... I thought it was this great dichotomy, because she really has an idealistic idea of being an artist, which is a real rejection of Don's advertising career. ... It's like she's going to reject the part of him that is him, and my joke is always that Don and Megan are soul mates, and they're one person — and that one person is Don."

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I figured last night's episode would be more eventful since Weiner wrote it, but I wasn't expecting it to have more plot than the rest of the season combined. In some ways, it felt like a reset for where the series has gone recently, although the Pete and Joan storylines did get pushed further.

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I've been resisting reading about Season 6, having just finished watching Season 5 this week, but several Monday-morning tweets about the previous night's episode have been unavoidable.

This morning I decided to risk spoilers and read Emily Nussbaum's summation of the show's current season. I'm glad I did, but the net effect of what I've seen about the current season is to prepare me for disappointment. Must say, I hadn't really thought

of how the opening credits of the show might indicate where Don's character is heading

.

Edited by Christian

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So I guess I'll be the one to get the ball rolling on The Crash, last night's episode. Personally, I loved it. What a crazy, disorienting hour. It may not have all worked (like the flashbacks, for instance), but wow--they just went for it, didn't they? I don't see how Don could sink much lower than he did last night...and I'm not sure I'd want to. Also, nothing will ever beat Cosgrove's tap dancing moment.

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Yes, this was the first time in a while I've had fun watching Mad Men, though I'd be fine if we hadn't visited young Dick Whitman again.

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This:

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