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Mad Men Season 6 Premiere – “The Doorway” Review

Posted on April 8, 2013 at 12:19 pm by Amanda Andonian

mad men season 6

After a long hiatus, Mad Men finally returned last night with the season 6 premiere of “The Doorway.” If you’re caught up with the show, then you’re probably wondering whether Don really is back to his old habits, and the premiere episode answered that question, as well as bringing up several more. While I consider Mad Men a difficult show to “spoil” considering the fact that it’s made up of so many quite moments, be warned that there may be some spoilery content ahead.

“People will do anything to relieve anxiety.”

As the episode opens on the sound of waves crashing against a beach in Hawai’i while Don reads Dante’s Inferno, it doesn’t seem like the man has anything to be anxious about. At the same time, you can tell that not all is well in his “paradise.” For the first ten minutes of the show, I’m pretty certain that Don does not say a single word. It’s almost as if he’s trying to keep as much of himself inside as possible and not give anything away.

Back at Sterling Cooper Draper Price, things are pretty much the same as always except for receding hairlines and additional facial hair. A photographer is in the office taking pictures of all the partners, and when he tells Don, “I want you to be yourself,” Don’s look of utter bewilderment is priceless. Of course he doesn’t know how to be himself; he doesn’t know who he is! He’s spent half of his life creating a persona that would protect him from his past. It’s no surprise that he doesn’t know how to handle his present.

The Jumping Off Point

One thing that everyone is anxious about in this episode is death, and man is this episode all about death. While the center of that discussion revolves mostly around Roger’s mother’s passing, it starts with Don and the doorman at his building, who has a heart attack right in front of him. The experience had a huge impact on Don, probably more so than it did for his doorman, and he carries it with him long afterwards; so much so that it starts to bleed into his work.

Mad Men Season 6The fact that Don can’t see that the ad he created is about death is at once hilarious and a little disturbing. Of course, he’s blocking that association from his mind on purpose, but it’s clearly something that he can’t stop thinking about, even though he refuses to acknowledge that he is. Don’s certainly not the only one, though, as Roger is also having difficulty coming to terms with it. While on the couch talking to his therapist, Roger insists that he’s not afraid of death; but the news that the man who shines his shoes died sends him over the edge. When he was expecting death, it didn’t bother him, but the unexpected nature of Georgio’s passing makes him burst into tears.

So how does Don try to relieve his anxiety? By retreating into what he knows: how to be a philanderer. Throughout the episode, we can tell that he’s detached, unable to cope, and the big reveal at the end of the show is that he’s been having an affair with his neighbor’s wife for at least a few months. In fact, she was the one who gave him the copy of The Inferno for his trip to Hawai’i. When she asks him what he wants for the new year, he replies, “To stop doing this.”

Will he finally change after all? As the specter of death actually forced him to truly reexamine his life? I guess we’ll find out through the course of this season.

Mad Men: Season 6 Episode 1, “The Doorway,” aired April 7th, 2013 on AMC.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter at @reiko516.

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