Mad Men ‘For Immediate Release’ – Season 6, episode 6
SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 6, season 6 of ‘Mad Men’
This series blog is following the Sky Atlantic broadcast schedule of ‘Mad Men’ in the UK
After last week’s episode of Mad Men, there was a slight sense that both the series and its characters had lost their direction, not to mention the sense of what had made things so great in the first place. The decision to put historical events centre stage was a departure from normal procedure with the result that things felt somewhat forced and more than a bit clunky.
Fortunately just as there began to be, in some quarters, the slightest mumblings of discontent with how this series was panning out, this week’s episode burst onto our screens as a reminder of just why Mad Men has been as celebrated as it has.
The first thing to note was a markedly different tone to proceedings. The first four episodes have been dominated by an overriding, almost claustrophobic sense of despair or in Don’s case, existential angst, and therefore have often been very bleak. However I’m sure (much to the relief of the audience) we see a little more joy and humour injected into things this week and I don’t just mean the fantastic sight of Pete slipping over as he angrily comes down the stairs.
The introduction of Roger so early into the episode and the discovery that he was concocting some scheme involving his air hostess girlfriend seemed like a good omen and it proved to be so. Mad Men’s strengths are its central characters and its portrayal of American business, so a re-establishing of this focus and a move away from the history-driven earlier episodes was a welcome one.
The idea of change for good or bad, either major societal change or just personal change in the lives of the characters, is one thing that has been pretty much at the heart of every episode so far in this series, and this is very much the case again this week.
However what I liked so much about the episode is that the changes keep coming thick and fast, and just as something appears to have dire consequences, another event renders it meaningless or conversely only makes it worse. In short we as the audience cannot be certain where things are going and this can only be exciting.
There is a nagging sense that many of the things that on the surface seem to be going well are heading for disaster – perhaps the greatest of which is Peggy and Abe. Having moved to a new and very run down flat, she clearly seems slightly unhappy and we can see that his optimism for the future – like the presidential campaign of Bobby Kennedy is bound to end tragically – something her kiss and then fantasies involving her boss Ted only serve to emphasise.
As for the episode’s biggest development, the merger, and what it holds for the futures of everyone, again there is a sense that the optimism and the overly-friendly atmosphere between Don and Ted can’t last for ever, but then maybe I’m being a pessimist. Will the new agency be a roaring success or a terrible failure? Somehow you feel it will only be one or the other and it also makes you wonder how many more times can Don reinvent himself? From changing identities to new marriages and affairs, not to mention forming new agencies, he is seemingly constantly starting again in various aspects of his life, leaving us wondering if he’ll ever get it right.
For now we’ll have to wait until next week to find out but perhaps for the very first time this series it feels like those seven days can’t come quickly enough.
Follow the writer on Twitter: @thesportsfoxTagged in: Betty, Christina Hendricks, Don Draper, January Jones, Joan, Jon Hamm, Mad Men, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce
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