Every week, Aaron Cohen (@UnlikelyWords) writes a recap of Mad Men for his blog Unlikely Words, and I illustrate something from the episode to go with it. Here’s Aaron’s recap for season 6 episode 1 and maybe 2… there’s no telling how they’ll count it since it was 2 hours:
-That was a startling fade in. Who did you think it was going to be getting resuscitated? I thought it was clumsy how they eventually came back around to that scene, maybe too quick of a cut from present to flashback. Almost certainly on purpose as they do. Jonesy the door guy had a heart attack or something and after being resuscitated by Arnold Rosen, was back at work when Don and Megan returned home. Rosen asks, “Jesus, what’s his real name?” and maybe Don imagines himself dying without anyone knowing who he is.
-Before the premier, there had been plenty of speculation about when this penultimate season would take place. There is every year Part of the speculation is because people want to know how far the show will get into the 70′s. Part of the speculation is because Matthew Weiner guards the timeline of the season so jealously. So everyone was right. We’re about to be in 1968. (The first heart transplant, joked about on the Tonight Show, was in October 1967.) You get your Summer of Love, the assassinations of MLK and RFK, and coming up at the end of January, the Tet Offensive. At least ONE of those things will be featured this season.
-Just a quick catch up on where everybody is at the moment. Don and Megan are a few more months into their marriage, and Megan is a regular on a show called To Have and To Hold. Betty is a little heavy, though not as heavy as last year, and her and Henry have taken in a ward of some sort. Sally’s 14, and has a deeper voice. Bobby is, again, played by a new actor. Roger (sideburns!) seems smitten with a 29 year old, and Peggy is busy putting out fires. We didn’t get an update on Pete (except for his sideburns and continued hairline recession) or Joan.
-The problem with titling an episode ‘Doorways’ is that every single doorway in the episode takes on monumental importance. On the other hand windows, doorways, elevators have always had lots of importance on Mad Men. Here are a couple of the more memorable doorways: Betty tearing her coat on a hook in the doorway of the house at St Marks, Don and Megan coming in after vacation, Jonesy coming out of a doorway, Sally closes the door on Betty.
-Don was reading Dante’s Inferno on the beach in Hawaii. Dante, you may recall, passes through the Gate of Hell (a doorway), which has the inscription, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Heaven and Hell, or fire and ice, were referenced several other times in the show: Hawaii is like Heaven, Jonesy “checking the steam,” Betty getting pulled over because it was so icy, Roger’s daughter wanting him to invest in refrigerated trucks, “Heaven’s a little morbid” during the pitch.
-Don’s watch didn’t work when they were on the beach because time literally stands still in Hawaii. If you want to be like Don and Megan, you too can stay at the Royal Hawaiian.
-Don met a PFC Dinkins on R&R from Vietnam who was in Hawaii to get married. “You some kind of astronaut?” “One day I’ll be the man who can’t sleep and talks to strangers.” Somehow Don ends up giving the bride away, and they exchanged lighters it’s revealed during a scene where Don was peeved at being photographed. The lighter had the inscription, “In life we have to do things that are just not our bag,” which has actually never applied to Don. Exchanging the lighters really shook Don, as if the two of them had exchanged lives. The photographer says, “I want you to be yourself,” and obviously this is difficult for Don. (Eugene Dinkin was a PFC stationed in France. He went AWOL in Nov 1963 and showed up in Geneva talking about a plot against JFK. Just an aside.)
-The Francis house is always, always so dark, and all the scenes from this week were no exception. I guess it would be dark if you had to live with Betty. I’ve been writing this next sentence for 15 minutes and I am moving on. While, Betty graphically details a rape she encourages Henry to commit of a 15 year old girl staying with them her eyes have this crazy look. The look says, “I’m kidding, but not really, Henry, I’m jealous of this violin player, don’t don’t get any ideas and I don’t know how inappropriate talking like this is because I’m a sociopath.” But then also, “It makes me feel so much.”
-Roger’s in therapy this year, which replaces dictating his book as the device to just let him expound on everything and anything. He mentions the doors and paths and windows and gates, but says they’re all the same, and they all close behind you. He hardly reacted to his mother’s death, but sobbed when he found out about the shoe shiner. Sort of a cliche, but I’m OK with it for the glimpse into the real Roger. “Talk to Joan, she’ll know what to do.”
-”I smell creativity.” Stan and Ginsberg are still there, along with another dude and another woman.
-Glad to see Peggy playing a big part. She’s pitching clients (or calming them down in emergencies), and still coming up with good copy. “You’re good in a crisis.” We already knew that, Ted. One thing I noticed was both Abe (he’s been around a while now) and Ted subtly mentioned Peggy’s management style. Abe said she shouldn’t be so mean, and Ted said she should have let people go home. I can’t decide if this was done to show that Peggy’s over her head (unlikely), or to show she’s sort of clueless about how other people work. She works tirelessly and expects her bosses not to sugarcoat things, so why doesn’t everyone? I like how her and Stan still work late together over the phone.
-”This is my funeral.” It was as if Roger was throwing a party, not a funeral. I’m don’t know why Don got so drunk at the funeral, but he started to lose it it when Roger’s aunt emphasized the word “Wit” and “Man” in her eulogy. “Roger Sterling, no matter what you do, everyone loves you.” Roger thought it was hilarious his mother left all her money to the Zoo and someone else can leave a comment below about the significance of the jar River Jordan water.
-”So, you’ll still love me if I’m a lying cheating whore?” Don’s cheating. Again. This time with the (older?) wife of his new friend, Arnold Rosen. (Did you see the look on his secretary’s face when Don introduce him as a friend? Like, “Uh, you don’t have friends.”) Don feels bad about the cheating, but it hasn’t stopped him yet. The two men, Draper and Rosen, are fascinated with each other’s professions. Rosen said something like, you get paid to think about the stuff people don’t want to talk about, and I get paid to not think about it. “Please don’t compare what I do with what you do.” Rosen made several comments comparing their two professions and Don kept avoiding it. People will do anything to alleviate their anxiety.
-But anyway, Don’s cheating again. He does his best work when he’s brimming with self-loathing, so that’s good for Sheraton, I guess. I can’t imagine we’re back to self-destructive Don, since we’ve already seen that, or maybe I just hope we’re not back there. I guess more on this next week.
-The part where Don asked Stan if the ad made him think of suicide and Stan saying that’s why he liked it.
-A brief mention of Bob Benson, a new ass kissing character to keep an eye on.
-There were a lot of different references to photographs/pictures this week: The slide show of Hawaii (itself a reference the carousel of the first season), Rosen came to get a camera, the firm’s partners being photographed, Betty showing a picture of the missing girl.
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