'Mad Men' Returns For Season Six: Wait, Was That It?

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Well all the buildup for the season premiere of last night's Mad Men left me wondering...is this it? Two hours, and we're left knowing nothing more than what we knew when we left them at the end of Season Five. I don't know when I will ever get used to how underwhelming the Mad Men premieres are. The juicy stuff always comes mid-season. After six seasons, this shouldn't be a surprise to me, but Madison Avenue is almost exactly how it was when we left it months ago.

The non-cliffhanger questions were answered quickly in the episode. Yes, Don stays with Megan. Yes, they expand the office space of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Yes, Peggy is standing well on her own two feet as a rockstar in her new agency. Yes, yes, yes. Blah, blah, blah. It was so anticlimactic. 

Photo Credit:Michael Yarish/AMC

This episode was titled "The Doorway," with morbid references woven through out the whole episode. It was dark, and I am left with a sense that as long as Don is going to be haunted by his past, there will always be a little dark undercurrent in his life. It seems maybe everyone is being haunted by something, and my hope is that as the episodes unfold we get to take a deep look in to the skeletons in everyone's closet. I don't mind exploring their dark side, but I just want it all kicked up a notch!

Can I be the one to just say it now, whatever Betty Francis is on...I want none of it. I don't think she had one true coherent moment last night. I couldn't tell if she was drunk, or just simply too much in her own world to know what was going on. I watched her and felt uncomfortable. Betty has never been my favorite character, and I've always slightly cringed with her. But last night's episode was just extra painful for me to watch. It wasn't much better watching how her sassy daughter Sally has just turned in to a teenager with a full attitude. There's no one that can keep that girl in check these days.

Don Draper was much more comfortable to watch. Thank goodness he has his looks, though, because seeing him in purgatory (more like hell for a man like Don), not moving in any real direction, is painful. The man looks best when he is flooring us with his amazing charisma and ideas. There wasn't much charisma or many (good) ideas coming from him last night. Watching him flounder and fumble was radical difference compared to how well Peggy is doing with her new agency. It is clear she learned from the best, and under pressure she is saving the day. She seems to be the only happy one, and I can't help but hope she doesn't follow all of her mentor's steps. 

At least we had our resident Silver Fox around to give us a real story to latch on to: Roger Sterling is in therapy, but there's no clear picture of what he's going there for. Divorced again, he could simply be working through his problems. Or we could be on the verge of learning what skeletons keep him moving forward. The news that Roger's mother has passed seems to hit him with no emotion; in his typical cunning fashion. he moves through it all with out a single tear. He gets angry. He kicks everyone out of the funeral. (Seriously, Don? You brought a drink to the funeral and then puked? Nothing changes.) But there is no sadness, really. Later we see him cope with the news that his shoe shiner has passed away. This is the news that finally breaks him, and we watch him let go.  

One of the most disappointing things was how little we got to see Joan Harris this episode. She was such a vital character in the finale of Season Five. Now we're left feeling like she's only good for posing for photos as one of the partners. Two hours of Mad Men and we couldn't get any idea of where things really stand with Joan? I suppose the same could be said for Pete Campbell. We saw his attitude, but he was not a major part of the episode. I could do with out Pete, honestly. But Joan? I love her and her sass, and it was missed in this episode!

Two hours is a long time to be left so disappointed. So much build up, not much delivery. We have no real answers, just a series of small semi-silent questions. It didn't come in with a bang, but more like a whimper. The fact is, I wanted more. I wanted a few moments of throw-her-up-against-the-wall passion that we saw so often in the first few seasons. I wanted a little heat, a little passion, a little bit of excitement. I didn't get any of that. I have faith that Matthew Weiner will bring in all the things we love about Mad Men eventually -- I was just hoping to have some of it last night.


Alena can be found at Simply Complicated Life where she blogs about her life as a single mom of two fabulous kids and figuring out this crazy little thing called life. 


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