So just a note before we begin: A few people have been added to the opening credits as series regulars, including Henry, Stan, Ginzo, Chaough, and Mason Vale Cotton, a.k.a Bobby Draper No. 5717. And now:
Although it's not explicitly referenced, it's Christmastime 1967, and against the backdrop of the still-incipient Vietnam conflict, the season begins with a VO from Don quoting Dante's Inferno, in case you were new and thinking things were going to be strife-free here. Of course, everything seems chill enough at the beginning, with Don and Megan sunning themselves on a Hawaiian beach and generally enjoying everything the locale and their client-sponsored hotel have to offer, but when we learn from a fan's gushing approach that Megan is now a TV star, it's not hard to figure there might be trouble in paradise, even with the ready availability of soothing island pot. Throw in a Don day-drinking episode, poorly handled from a gastric standpoint, and a pitch that unwittingly yet EXTREMELY obviously evokes death – and not, despite what Don backpedalingly would have you believe, in a good way – and it's pretty clear whichever Don emerged from the end of Season Five has a mortality issue or two to work through. And all this before we learn he's sleeping with a doctor buddy's wife – who lives downstairs from him, which is always, always a great idea.
Roger is in therapy, which is just as well, given that his mother passes away. As referenced earlier, Don drunkenly vomits at the funeral, but that's not the most inappropriate thing that happens, as Roger chooses this moment to call out Mona's current husband. Despite this, Mona later gives Roger some words that manage to be both sugar-free and kind, and soon, he's bonding with Margaret – but she also pitches him on an investment opportunity involving her husband and refrigeration trucks. Roger complains about all this to his therapist, saying he doesn't feel anything other than the pointlessness of existence – but a dead shoeshine guy then unleashes Roger's waterworks. Wasn't sure we'd ever get to see John Slattery ugly-cry, but it is Season Six here.
Peggy has apparently turned into the client whisperer for MIA Chaough, who's off on some religious retreat somewhere. Peggy channels her inner Don to solve an externally-induced ad crisis, and Chaough returns on New Year's Even to tell Peggy how great she is – but also to let her know that she's driving her staff too hard. Also, Stan and Peggy are still friends, and I'm not going to mince words – it's pretty awesome.
Chez Francis, Sally has a new motherless violin-playing teenage friend, Sandy. Sandy and Betty discuss Betty's experiences growing up, and despite the former's prickliness, when Betty hears Sandy's "left early for Julliard" – a place to which Betty knows she didn't get in – Betty tracks her to an abandoned building, and although she doesn't find her, she does retrieve her violin and tells off a douchey hippie in the process. She celebrates this last by dying her hair black, and Henry's like, va-va-va-voom, for which I can't really blame him.
Finally, some cleanup details: Peggy's still with Abe, who has a huge 'stache and hair, Ginzo's also sporting a 'stache, while Stan has a full beard. Most importantly, photo ops are taking place on the stairs to the actually-existent second floor. Welcome to 1968!
Welcome to Season Six! It's a bit of a jolt for me, as I've gone from the period-England soap of Downton Abbey to the backwoods slow-burn of Justified and now into the polished repression of Mad Men without a chance to catch my breath, but at least they're not throwing us into another two-hour episode to sta...oh. Right. Well, will they at least promise no reprise of "Zou Bisou Bisou?"
After we hear a woman shriek, the opening shot is of a character we haven't met before, a fiftyish bald man who's administering CPR to the camera. We hear the woman cry "Oh my God" a couple times, and as we fade back out, we hear sirens...
...and then Don's voice, as he VOs from Dante's Inferno: "Midway in our life's journey, I went astray from the straight road, and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood." I'd imagine, given its prominent placement that themes from the book are going to pervade the season; it's not like it would be the first time a literary work has been used in this manner on this show. We see that he's reading this while reclining shirtless on a beach, next to him a tanned and bikini-clad Megan, who takes a blue umbrella-ed cocktail - not her first -- from a passing waiter with a bright "Mahalo." After giving the guy their "suite" number, Megan asks Don how long they've been out there, adding that she can't get too tan. "They'll fire me." So it looks like the favor Don did for Megan has been parlayed into an actual career here. I'd guess she's most excited not about the work or the success but the fact that she gets to stick it to her mother. Don checks his watch, but realizes it's not functioning at the moment, prompting Megan to guess that he got it wet before adding that she doesn't actually care what time it is. It's easy to be flip lying in paradise, Megan, but in my line of work I've seen an entertainment contract or two. Might want to find a robe, there.
Sometime later, Megan returns to their room and reports to Don, who's just emerging from the bathroom in a robe that shows off an appealing percentage of his legs, that he would not have liked the seedy neighborhood she just visited, but with a smile, she pulls from her bikini bottom the object of her errand, which is two joints, already rolled. Don stays silent, so she coaxes him, saying she knows he's tried it, but he hasn't had sex high, and it'll make it so much more intense. With that, he lowers her onto the bed and gets on top of her, so it looks like sex is happening, with its level of intensity to be left to the imagination.