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Monday, April 8, 2013

Mad Men 6.1-2: The Lighter and The Twist

Matthew Weiner has always taken his time with Mad Men - a whole episode, a whole season, to get to the bottom of a mystery, to answer a question, that was posed for us at the beginning, or maybe even earlier.   Along the way, we get all kinds of vignettes, charming, witty, provocative, that have little or a lot to do with the central question.   Tonight's two-hour premiere of Mad Men's 6th season had all of that, par excellence.

The big unanswered question from the very end of season 5 is whether Don will stay faithful to Megan.    It seems as the debut double-episode of this season progresses that Don is doing just that.  The two are happy together on an SCDP-hotel-client-paid vacation in Hawaii.   Don seems completely relaxed about Megan's career as an actress.   And yet ...

Don strikes out badly in the campaign he proposes for the hotel - his mystical talk about losing yourself in the hotel makes the hotel people think he's talking about walking out in the water and literally losing yourself, i.e, checking out of this world.   And Don's loss of a cigarette lighter he's had since his Army days is a papercut metaphor for Don's perpetual struggle to hold on to his own identity.  The lighter likely had Dick Whitman's name or initials engraved on it - the sole remaining evidence of who Don used to be.

But the big clue to the big reveal at the end comes from Dr. Rosen, who lives in Don's building, and whom Don keeps running into, and even pursuing, throughout the episode.  Don insists on the doc coming over to his office so Don can give him a free camera.   Don is over solicitous of Rosen in every scene they're in.   Why?   Is Don suddenly concerned about his health and mortality?   When Rosen receives a call at one in the morning on New Year's eve, as he and wife are wrapping up the quiet festivities at Don and Megan's apartment, Don insists on going out into the snow to help the doc find a cab.   What's going on?

We find out at the end of the double episode, with a twist that harkens back to the end of the first episode of the very first season:  Don's having an affair with the doc's wife, and rather than getting the pack of cigarettes he told Megan he was going for, he goes for a New Year's Eve roll in the hay.  The hanging question from last season is answered.

But there are lots of other good new situations aborning in this new season.  Peggy's tough and creative and impressing her new boss.   Roger's mother dies, but he's far more broken up by the death of his shoe-shine man.  Sally is more adult than ever, with a voice that's now verging on sultry.  And Betty - in a twist of her own at the end - has become a brunette.

All in a double-hour in this one-of-a-kind series.  And we haven't gotten started with Joan, Pete, Harry, and all the rest.

See also Why "You Only Live Twice" for Mad Men Season 5 Finale ... Mad Men Season Five Finale

See also Mad Men Season 5 Debut: It's Don's Party  ... Mad Men 5.3: Heinz Is On My Side ... Mad Men 5.4: Volunteer, Dream, Trust ... Mad Men 5.5: Ben Hargrove ... Mad Men 5.6: LSD Orange ... Mad Men 5.7: People of High Degree ... Mad Men 5.8: Mad Man and Gilmore Girl ...Mad Men 5.9: Don's Creativity  ... Mad Men 5.10: "The Negron Complex" ... Mad Men 5.11: Prostitution and Power ... Mad Men 5.12: Exit Lane

And from Season 4: Mad Men 4.1: Chicken Kiev, Lethal Interview, Ham Fight ... 4.2: "Good Time, Bad Time?" "Yes." ... 4.3: Both Coasts ... 4.4: "The following program contains brief nudity ..." 4.5: Fake Out and Neurosis ... 4.6: Emmys, Clio, Blackout, Flashback  ... 4.7: 'No Credits on Commercials' ... 4.8: A Tale of Two Women ... 4.9: "Business of Sadists and Masochists" ...4.10: Grim Tidings ... 4.11: "Look at that Punim" ... 4.12: No Smoking!  ... Mad Men Season 4 Finale: Don and -

And from Season 3Mad Men Back for 3 and 3.2: Carvel, Penn Station, and Diet Soda and 3.3: Gibbon, Blackface, and Eliot and 3.4: Caned Seats and a Multiple Choice about Sal's Patio Furniture and 3.5: Admiral TV, MLK, and a Baby Boy and 3.6: A Saving John Deere and 3.7: Brutal Edges ... August Flights in 3.8 ... Unlucky Strikes and To the Moon Don in 3.9 ... 3.10: The Faintest Ink, The Strongest Television ... Don's Day of Reckoning in Mad Men 3.11 ... Mad Men 3.12: The End of the World in Mad Men ... Mad Men Season 3 Finale: The End of the World

And from Season Two: Mad Men Returns with a Xerox and a Call Girl ... 2.2: The Advertising Devil and the Deep Blue Sea ... 2.3 Double-Barreled Power ... 2.4: Betty and Don's Son ... 2.5: Best Montage Since Hitchcock ... 2.6: Jackie, Marilyn, and Liberty Valance ... 2.7: Double Dons... 2.8: Did Don Get What He Deserved? ... 2.9: Don and Roger ... 2.10: Between Ray Bradbury and Telstar ... 2.11: Welcome to the Hotel California ... 2.12 The Day the Earth Stood Still on Mad Men ... 2.13 Saving the Best for Last on Mad Men

And from Season One: Mad Men Debuts on AMC: Cigarette Companies and Nixon ... Mad Men 2: Smoke and Television ... Mad Men 3: Hot 1960 Kiss ... Mad Men 4 and 5: Double Mad Men ...Mad Men 6: The Medium is the Message! ... Mad Men 7: Revenge of the Mollusk ... Mad Men 8: Weed, Twist, Hobo ... Mad Man 9: Betty Grace Kelly ... Mad men 10: Life, Death, and Politics ...Mad Men 11: Heat! ... Mad Men 12: Admirable Don ... Mad 13: Double-Endings, Lascaux, and Holes


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