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April 8, 2014

'Mad Men' end in sight for Weiner with new season

(Continued)

The 1960s have been hard on Don. A man who, years before, assumed another man's identity, he has shaped his sense of self, and his career, from cultural models that seem to grow increasingly outdated as the '60s wear on. Don — however charismatic and commanding his image — is on a downward spiral as he hits middle age, fast becoming an old fogy in a youth-obsessed era. Or so it may have seemed to some viewers.

Weiner doesn't see him that way.

"There's been a constant assertion about Don being out of touch, and that, by 1968, his style of advertising isn't working anymore. I've never felt that," Weiner says. "What I do feel, particularly last season, is that society has caught up to him. Identity issues caught up with society, which made the society more like Don. He's never been MORE in touch.

"The world is changing. That was the original intention of the show. And change makes everybody feel out of place."

Indeed, there have been signals that Don, swamped by painful recognition, is braced to take corrective action.

Last season's fade-out found the man who, at the series' start was fiercely guarded about his past, coming clean to his three kids: Don stood with them outside the former whorehouse where he, born Dick Whitman, was raised as an orphan.

Now, how does the new season pick up the action?

As usual, Weiner made sure the preview he shared with TV critics was accompanied by a laundry list of details not to be divulged: things like when it takes place and what's going on with Don's work and private life.

What, then, can be shared? That the episode, written by Weiner, is richly satisfying. That the cast (also including Elisabeth Moss, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks and Aaron Staton) remains terrific. That the series seems headed confidently down its home stretch.

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