For Don, things were typically meditative and dream-like, from the opening sequence of his doorman’s heart attack to the sight of his doctor friend setting off across a snowy Manhattan on New Year’s Day morning on his skis. Along the way there were identity crises, extra-marital affairs and significant books being read. Good to have you back Don.
Only Don could meet a random guy in a bar on holiday in Hawaii in the middle of the night and end up giving away the bride at his wedding the next morning, and then end up with his army-issue lighter in his pocket while being asked to pose for photos back at the SCDP offices – with a philosophical message inscribed, of course.
Only Don could have a wife as beautiful, vibrant and delightful as Megan and cheat on her. Only Don could show up at his best friend’s mother’s wake drunk and throw up part way through a eulogy. Only Don could pitch an idea to a hotel chain that looks like a photograph of a suicide. Only Don could be totally thrown by being asked by a photographer to ‘just be yourself’.
Of course, he’s not the only messed-up one, with mortality plaguing Roger. Now that we’re in 1968, the world has definitely moved on and left Roger behind, so it’s not surprising at all that he’s seeing a shrink and wondering why he doesn’t feel anything about his mother’s death. Nor was it surprising when he finally broke down at receiving the shoeshine box from his also-deceased shoeshine guy.
Elsewhere, it was nice to see Betty get a fair bit of screentime after January Jones‘ pregnancy saw her sidelined a bit last season, and her scenes with the mysterious Sandy and her own resentful mini-me Sally were all great. As was her trip to a frozen Village and interactions with the starving hippies that peeled away a few of the layers that she has built up around herself over the last few years.
I wondered what the future would hold for Peggy when she quit SCDP last year, so it was a relief to see lots of her in The Doorway, continuing her mission to be the new Don (not in a mafia sense), both copying his manner of dealing with stupid clients, his tactics in a crisis and his handling of junior members of the creative team at her new agency.
This two-parter flew by and was full of the usual class that Mad Men has exuded throughout its five seasons so far. We can’t guess what 1968 will bring, other than yet more facial hair and pot-smoking (now openly happening in the office!) and shots of Don looking troubled. But we can safely bet that it’s going to be great.