Don Draper's Beginning to See the Light: Evaluating "Mad Men" Season 6

Best: The Premiere

Disorienting and weird, the two-hour premiere “The Doorway” is the finest achievement of season six. Don’s reading from Dante’s Inferno coupled with his dialogue-less first 10 minutes presaged the doom and gloom of the episodes to come, and made settling into those first two hours, from the viewer’s perspective, like losing yourself in the woods. (Content fitting form like a corpse in a coffin is one sign of greatness.)

The first-person POV shots, the forests of facial hair, the palpable chill of death—“The Doorway” promised that we would all get lost in 1968, the year everything goes wrong in America. Roger’s monologues in therapy remain some of the best writing we’ve got this season, and did a great job of setting up images and motifs for the season without patronizing the viewer with paint-by-numbers symbolism.

Finally, the neat callback to Mad Men’s pilot—Don’s affair with Sylvia revealed in the last moments, just like the sucker-punch revelation of his marriage to Betty in that first episode—sounded the triumphant note: This was great television.

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