Mad Men has been one of my favorite shows on TV for years now. I have spent many hours re-watching episodes and reading all I can about the show and its creator, Matt Weiner. Fans of the show know that this will be our second to last season and so the end begins. Last season we left Don trying not to be a Dick (Whitman) and not doing a very good job. It wasn’t as jaw-dropping as season finales in the past but you got a sense of things to come. Not just for our characters but for the world as the late 60’s and all that changes with them is upon us.
I usually get the episodes Monday morning through iTunes and this way I own them and can watch them without commercials. This means that my “Two Hour Premier” was really only and hour and thirty-four minutes. I remember reading that Matt Weiner has said in an interview that AMC asked him to do either a two hour premier or finale.
This episode was very dark and morbid with a strong theme of death. It follows Don’s story but it also gives you stories for Peggy, Rodger and Betty. This post will be about Don and Megan and then there will be more for the other three. There was a lot of catching up and a lot of pot smoking, but overall a great season opener.
We open with a first person view of someone having a heart attack and based on the sound of Megan in the background you assume that it’s Don. Then we see a Hawaiian paradise and have Don’s voice quoting The Inferno. It seems as though we are in some sort of death or dream state and then Megan charges her giant blue drink to their room and you see that they are on vacation. Dan really only takes working vacations so it’s no surprise that we find out that he’s on assignment for the Royal Hawaii Hotel. [Side Note: When I saw him reading a book, my Man Men spidey-sense started to tingle. We usually see Don reading magazines but in the past when he was reading a book it was either because of a woman (Rachel Menken) or a client (Honda)]
Other than his Inferno quote in the beginning Don barley speaks at all in these first few scenes. The audience can feel his disconnect from Megan but she doesn't seem to notice. When she was approached for an autograph she seems a bit flustered like it’s a new experience but she signs it her maiden name and not “Draper”. It seems a little strange that she wouldn't have taken his last name. I've heard people in the office call her Ms. Draper and it’s not like she was famous with her maiden name and that’s why she would use it professionally. It just makes me think how long they are going to last.
We see Don meet PFC Dinkins (it’s usually printed right there) and how uncomfortable Don is talking about war, both in
Korea and Vietnam. The conversation is quite morbid as he
describes shooting the water buffalo with the machine gun. How he could paint
the room red. It really shows how desensitized our soldiers come back from
combat are. I know the war brings up powerful memories for Don for other
reasons, but just watching him have to talk about it made me uncomfortable for
When flying from
to Hawaii they would have had a layover in California. If they
stopped at all to see Anna’s house or Stephanie then we didn't see it and it wasn't mentioned. The last time I
remember Don talking about the house was on the phone with Stephanie saying
that she could stay there as long as she needed. Maybe it was just too painful to go there
knowing that Anna would not be.
We have a moment with Don and Dr. Rosen in the elevator and at Don’s office where we get to see Don be a dude, a bro, a friend. We get to see him be charming for no other reason than he can and he wants to be liked because he likes that person. He’s not trying to please a client and he’s not trying to sleep with a women. I think back to Don and Lane’s Bro-Date and even the trouble Don and Rodger used to get into. It makes me think that maybe Don is making friends in the building and then the Doc skis off to save a life and I’m like “YES! Doc Rosen is a badass! He and Don should be BFFs.” Then, I find out that Don’s diddling the guys wife and it all becomes clear. Don didn't give the Doc a camera because he’s a bro… he probably feels guilty about breaking the bro code. He probably feels more guilty about that than being unfaithful to Megan.
Oh Megan, poor Megan. At the New Year’s Eve party Megan is, of course, the perfect hostess making me think back to the days of Betty Draper stressing over company and Francine telling her “Oh Betty, you really do have the worst luck with entertaining.” Megan is becoming a success and seems to have it all: an awesome apartment that we now know cost Don Seventy-Five Thousand dollars, youth, beauty, perfect husband and joints in her bikini bottoms. I can feel her bubble about to burst.