April 8th, 2013
11:15 AM ET
[Note: This post may contain spoilers to the season six premiere of AMC's "Mad Men."]
In Sunday's return of "Mad Men," we see that Don Draper (Jon Hamm) hasn't changed - not even to grow some clearly en vogue sideburns, a la Pete Campbell. (Quipped Slate, "it's like he went to bed Charles Grodin and woke up Bert Reynolds.")
Welcome, "Mad Men" fans, to 1968.
But as the New Year rushed in, something that ordinarily signals the promise of a new beginning, we were ruminating on endings. Death loomed large over the two-hour sixth season premiere, from the actual demise of Roger Sterling's mother to the metaphorical image of death others see in an ad Don worked on for a luxury hotel in Hawaii. Even Don's untouchable creativity seemed to suffer.
"No matter how many times Don lights the same cigarette, the decade is ripening around him," observed Time magazine. "Don is still virile and dominating, but there’s more than ever the sense that he and we are feeling his age."
Yet he's still, as Esquire notes, very much alive - as are some of his old habits. He leads us into the episode with a little Dante's "Inferno," and spends the majority of the episode "brooding ... about the fact that some day he, too, will die."
It seems before that day comes, Don is content to continue on the path he's set in prior seasons, as he stepped out on his new wife, Megan, just as he did when he was married to Betty.
"We know who Don is by now, and where he is most likely headed," the Times said. Instead, "it’s the women in his life who keep us guessing."
Indeed, Elisabeth Moss' Peggy Olson wielded her power at her new office, and little Sally Draper isn't so little anymore. Her mother, Betty, joined in the parade of new hairstyles, dying hers a dark brunette hue.
Yet even with the gloom that lingered over the two hours, The Hollywood Reporter notes how invigorating Matthew Weiner's writing is.
"'The Doorway' is a beautiful episode and moves with ease throughout, managing to stare down the big existential issues and surprise viewers with new twists as well. It’s difficult to write overtly about death when it’s more of an abstract than a reality, but Weiner does a brilliant job here," THR says in its review. "Based on that – and there are many more death references – season six should really be special."
What did you think of "Mad Men's" premiere?
About this blog
Our daily cheat-sheet for breaking celebrity news, Hollywood buzz and your pop-culture obsessions.