Don Draper and the superstar Mad Men team come back in a two-hour premiere that was once again, dark, dull but still intriguing.

Just because Don is drifting, do we have to?

The Mad Men are back but it seems that none of them, namely Don and Roger, are any further ahead in seeking the answers to the meaning of life. Or in Don’s case, “Who am I?”

The two-hour, much anticipated season premiere was slow, dull and a bit too much like last season. If the first episode is any indication, we’re in for a slow season with more death, identity crisis and soul-searching themes.

For this season to be satisfying and successful, the story needs to give audiences a bit more satisfaction. Don is a bore, and Roger is a snore. O.K., we get it. The premiere hit annoying status as it moved ahead with its characters giving the viewer no info as to what was going on. In my opinion, that’s a lot to ask of us loyal Mad Men fans. There were too many gaps to fill. We need answers!

It’s the holiday season and Don and Megan go to Hawaii for a work vacation at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel. On this trip, we find out that Megan’s becoming a TV star on the soap To Have and To Hold, and that Don still seems to disapprove. While Megan does the hula, a sullen Don seeks solace in the place he feels most comfortable: the bar.  It’s there he meets a drunken war soldier who tells Don he’s getting married before he ships off to Korea. Don ponders death again, and his days in the army.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….oh sorry, I’m up now.

The soldier then asks Don to give away his bride. Don does it, and Megan takes a picture of it the next morning finding Don on the beach during the ceremony. Later back in New York, Don notices he has that young man’s lighter, which makes an appearance about three times in the episode. Don tries to throw it out, but it keeps coming back!

Death is also seeping into Don’s work. At the meeting with Sheraton Royal Hawaiian clients, Don proposes an ad campaign that suggests a man committing suicide. Don pitches the tagline, “Hawaii. The jumping off point,” but the reps are turned off because the concept recalls the suicide in A Star Is Born.

Death actually does reach Roger, though, it two ways. His mother dies, leaving him somewhat lost. Is there no one now who truly loves Rog? Unable to shed a tear, he has an informal wake at his mother’s house where Don pukes. “He’s just saying what we were all thinking,” Roger said later to his ex wife. Later, when Roger finds out his shoeshine guy passed away, Roger bursts out in tears. No tears for mom, but you have tears for your shoe guy? Like always, we can count on Roger to provide the much-needed comic relief to this bleak story.

While Don and Roger come undone, Peggy seems to be on top of her game at her new firm. But is she posturing? (zzzzzz…) It’s clear she’s turning into a mini Don. She makes her staff stay late working on New Year’s Eve to drum up new ideas for a headphone campaign even though she’s already come up with a great one. Is Peggy becoming heartless, or is she still trying to wear mens pants?

If Peggy is still trying hard to play with the big boys, what’s Betty’s deal? Still battling weight issues, Betty clearly hasn’t grown up yet. And who exactly is this 15-year-old violin prodigy Sandy she’s become obsessed with? I guess we’re to assume she’s Sally’s friend. And what’s with the creepy rape comments? After Sally’s friend plays for the family, Betty makes a comment to Henry the he seemed enamored with the girl. But she took things to a whole level of creepy suggesting that maybe Henry would like to put a rag in her mouth and rape her. Say what? Later in the episode, she goes searching for the girl who has run off to New York on her own. She finds a bunch of runaways living in squalor. When she finds Sandy’s violin there, Betty sticks around hoping she’ll show up. She doesn’t, and Betty leaves, goes home and later dyes her hair jet black.

Back at Don’s apartment, he and Megan celebrate with two other couples who live in their building, one being Dr. Rosen, with whom Don seems to have a close relationship with. Earlier on, at Don’s office, he gives Dr. Rosen a free camera.

We don’t see much of Joan, Pete, Ken and the others. They all made cameo-like appearances for us to note their presence. Pete is still in top form, jabbing Don with sarcasm every chance he can.

As the episode reached the two-hour mark, we found Don in deep conversation with Dr. Rosen who is called away to the hospital.  Don walks him down and later gets into bed with his wife Sylvia. Perhaps Dr. Rosen should take a picture of his wife. It lasts longer.

The episode ended with Don getting a publicity picture taken by a photographer. Don asks the photographer, “What do you want? “ The photographer responds, “I want you to be yourself.” And who exactly would that be? Don or Dick?

Overall, the season premiere left a lot to be desired. Last season, every episode was like this one leaving the audience to infer everything and to fill in the gaps. That’s smart to keep us thinking, but it’s still entertainment most people, including myself, want.
Mad Men airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. on AMC.


—Toni-Marie Ippolito



  1. Joelle on said:

    I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, but I have to say that I’ve noticed that this show does start off really slow. I mean it took me 2 years to try and watch more than the first two episodes! But I feel like they are probably just trying to really drive a certain point home to us about the characters. Maybe help us feel what they are feeling…boredom! Haha. I’m excited to watch the two hour premiere none the less, but I hope that they have some exciting new plot developments this season!

  2. I agree! I still love it and can’t stay away. It just needs a bit of drama!

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