In case you aren't reading our Twitter feed compulsively (and therefore not in the loop re our love for baby Gene), Mad Men's whopping 2-hour season premiere aired last night. To help you sort through your feelings about Don Draper, death, death and Don Draper, dying, anxiety, sex and sex, we grabbed some of the best quotes from Mad Men recaps and arranged them by theme, so you can compare, contrast, and think about it all while reading the Inferno on a Hawaiian beach, thinking about death. And sex.
The many meanings of the episode's title, "The Doorway."
"Just deciphering the episode's name could take up an entire recap: It could stand for the doorway to the Gates of Hell, which Don reads about on Waikiki Beach ('The Inferno' appearing as a metaphor for his increasingly tortured existence); it could mean the various doors we go through in life, suggested by Roger during his therapy sessions; or it could represent the back door Don uses at the end of the episode, in which he provides the probable answer to the 'Are you alone?' question ('Yes')." - Rolling Stone
Was this episode crazy boring?
"Things almost always get off to a slow start on this show, as if Weiner knows our brains might explode if too much happens right out of the gate, but even by those standards 'The Doorway' was, until the last few minutes, a notably and, I think, willfully uneventful episode." - LA Times
"It's a bit of a letdown considering it took almost a full seven minutes into the episode before Don even opened his mouth...but then again, we'd never expect anything less from Mad Men." - Rolling Stone
"But now I'll...marvel at how entertaining -- if dark -- this premiere was...I was riveted by the strong focus on Don and Peggy, who have always been the twin planets at the center of the Mad Men universe. Self-made, burdened with secrets, smarter than everyone around them." - Slate
"Matt Weiner has created such a rich cast of characters that it's hard not to get a little bored with Don's tortured womanizing, and wish you could just watch a spinoff about Sally, Roger, Joan, Peggy or Harry." - LA Times
"More than ever, it feels as though we're supposed to "solve" "Mad Men" episodes these days; each meaning, symbol, allegory and metaphor is as neatly arranged as a Japanese bento box, one we are supposed to unpack with proper care and reverence." - Huffington Post
The episode is probably a metaphor for hell.
"Given Matthew Weiner's predilection for layering on the symbolism, you could guess that this sixth season might reflect the nine circles of hell." - Salon
"This opening double-episode, titled "The Doorway," has Dante-esque intimations of hell, purgatory, death, and spiritual torment galore." - Vulture
...which makes sense, since Don Draper is courting death.
"I think Don wants to die." - Huffington Post
"Don Draper's gonna die."- Complex
"[Don and Roger] are suffering major midlife (or in Roger's case, slightly post-midlife) crises that are worsened by direct confrontations with death." - Vulture
But what's behind his affair?
"Whenever a wise and heroic character appears on 'Mad Men,' you know that Don will find some way to destroy him. That's how Don alleviates his anxiety, after all...[If Weiner] showed us how Don and the surgeon's wife met and began flirting, not only would that feel too familiar to offer as much dramatic impact, but it would obscure the real object of Don's strong feelings: Dr. Rosen. Ever the paragon of imperialist greed, longing and envy, Don can't handle sharing oxygen with a true hero. - Salon
"Don wants to find that one relationship, that one love affair that will sustain him, give him peace and sate the hunger that lives inside him, but he just can't find it. Probably because it can't be found." - Huffington Post
"[Don] doesn't just want to be how he seems to the women in his life. He wants to be them, to take on their personalities and vice versa. What happens to them happens to him, and he wants to experience their emotions as his own." - Vulture
Meanwhile, is Betty likeable?
"For the 800th time, I don't get impatient with Betty because she's female or because she's the wife of a rule-breaking man/anti-hero. I get impatient with the character because Weiner seems to think she's far more interesting than she is. She's just not that interesting, and that's been consistently true for a few years now. When it comes to Betty, we've seen the same character beats over and over again, and January Jones doesn't have the innate charisma to make them interesting every single time." - Huffington Post
"Even Betty surprises in this episode, first with her off-color rape jokes - hasn't she gotten the memo about those? - then by throwing a goulash party at a squat on St. Mark's Place...In the past I've complained that Betty hasn't been allowed to evolve the way other characters on "Mad Men" have, so I was delighted by her escapades in the East Village. I'm hoping next week she runs into Lou Reed and Andy Warhol." - LA Times
"So, let me get this straight. We're supposed to like Betty now, even though her sympathies are misdirected toward one of Sally's hippie wanna-be friends instead of her own daughter?" - Rolling Stone
Who knows, but Peggy sure is!
"Peggy has certainly changed for the better, and a few of my favorite segments revolved around her. Her brisk scolding of her employees was a thing of beauty, and it was vintage Draper, of course." - Huffington Post
'I loved (if you'll allow me to devalue the word) Peggy's no-nonsense workplace authority. She's the adult, surrounded by kids--be they her adenoidal underlings flailing around as they try to salvage the Koss Super Bowl spot, or her longhair boyfriend Abe rocking out in headphones as she attempts to get some work done. Peggy is at the top of her game. Lucky for her, her boss knows it." - Slate
That facial hair means something, man.
"Upon his return to SCDP, a new staircase and Harry...attest that the company has indeed expanded to a second floor. But it's more the differences in hair - styles and facial - that illustrate the times they still are a-changin', even for the old guard. Pete and Roger have sideburns, Stan has sprouted a beard, and Ginsberg, with fuller hair and a mustache, could double as the Jewish George Harrison." - Rolling Stone
"Don is still a lone wolf at heart, and ever since his 40th birthday in season five he's been feeling old in relation to Megan; the pot-smoking, increasingly hairy creative staff that he supervises; and the culture as a whole." - Vulture
With facial hair comes reefer.
"We didn't see Roger taking any more acid, but there was so much marijuana you'd think the show had relocated to Haight-Ashbury." - NY Daily News