The sixth season of Mad Men starts in two short weeks. Before we are immersed in the Summer of Love or political assassinations, let's see where we are, shall we?
Last Seen: Propositioned by a comely young woman at a bar after dropping his bride Megan off to star in a TV commercial.
Forecast for Season Six: Dirty - as in "Dirty Don" looks like he's back. The Don Draper swag is predicated on professional superiority and a cavalier moral attitude toward infidelity. Throughout most of Season 5, Don almost went out of his way to tamp down both; however, as the season pivoted, his mojo returned. At work, the rise of the talented Michael Ginsburg aroused Don's competitive gene, but not to come up with better tag lines for clients, but to bag bigger clients. His volcanic presentation to Dow Chemical was the sign of a man with more mountains to climb. At home, he grudgingly, and against his better instincts, moved his struggling artist wife's career along when it was clear she was going nowhere fast.
Prediction: Expect Don's marital vows to be severely challenged even as his professional standing reaches new heights.
Last Seen: Being fawned over by a director in preparation for an advertising shoot.
Forecast for Season Six: Sobbing. Megan's arc was the most surprising for me last season. Out of the gate, she came across as very much in control, preternaturally mature and unwilling to put up with Don's bullshit. When she made the fateful decision to quit Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce and give acting another go, things fell apart quickly. Her insecurities quickly percolated to the surface and, instead of making it on her own, she got Don to advance her career. While Don put on a happy face about her career switch, he was non-plussed at her request that he help her, particularly because of all the rotten things she said about advertising.
Prediction: Megan's going to regret asking for that favor. Don's perception of her has changed, and while her career may take off, expect a lot of lonely nights while Don is "out with clients."
Last Seen: Sipping a glass of wine in a motel room in Richmond, Virginia while two dogs humped outside her window.
Forecast for Season Six: Hand it to Matt Weiner, he's not afraid to shuffle the deck with his main characters. Peggy quit SCDP, ending Season 5 as "copy chief" at Cutler, Gleason and Chaough while moving in with her alt-newspaper writer boyfriend Abe. Her storyline is wide open. She could seal her career by coming up with the "You've Come A Long Way, Baby" tag for Virginia Slims (the client for which she was sitting in that Richmond hotel room) or run back to Don with her tail between her legs because Ted's recruitment of her to CGC was more about settling a score with Don than thinking much of her work. Her relationship with Abe (not to mention alcohol) is shaky too.
Prediction: Door #1: career at CGC takes off, Abe puts a ring on it and Mother Olson doesn't spontaneously combust at the thought of her daughter marrying outside the faith. Door #2: Ted cuts Peggy off at the knees, she stumbles back to Don and things fall apart with Abe. It's Mad Men, which of these two scenarios seems more likely to you?
Last Seen: Drowning out the world underneath oversized headphones after convincing Trudy of his need for an apartment in New York City.
Forecast for Season Six: Not good. He called his marriage a temporary bandage on a permanent wound and that pied-à-terre in the City ensures he'll be spending less time with Trudy and Tammy. He can't stoop any lower at work, although we were provided a clue as to what motivates him at this point when he said to Don that he (Pete) too would have a windowed office when the firm expanded to a second floor. Pretty thin reed to hang your life on, but hey, when you find out your paramour is mentally unstable and you get your ass kicked twice in the span of 30 seconds, I guess you take what you can get.
Prediction: The downward spiral continues as Pete beds random women, nurses his professional grudges and inspires a fake Twitter account for his newly grown side burns.
Joan Holloway Harris
Last Seen: Parlaying an indecent proposal to sleep with an executive from Jaguar into a 5% partnership stake in the firm.
Forecast for Season Six: Blue skies. Joan has sacrificed greatly to get to a point where she is not beholden to, or dependent on, anyone. She now has enough money to hire help to care for her son and the professional cache she always wanted.
Prediction: I'm still hoping for a happy ending for Joan and Roger - two souls who are (were?) perfect for one another, but after Roger voted 'aye' on the whole lets-get-Joan-to-sleep-with-Jaguar-executive-to-rig-the-competition caper, I'm guessing Uncle Roger won't be seeing much of his offspring (or Joan.)
Last Seen: Naked, standing in front of a full-length window showing New York City "Little Roger" while tripping on LSD in a hotel room.
Forecast for Season Six: Terminal. I'm going out on a limb here, but I think all those years of hard drinking, cigarettes, and now, LSD, will catch up with Roger, which is too bad because he had just found a nice equanimity in his life. Now twice divorced, he seems comfortable in his role as partner emeritus for accounts and is even showing flashes of interest in the business overall (or at least rubbing Pete's nose in shit).
Prediction: Either a very swanky funeral or another season of quips and insouciance that only he can pull off.
Last Seen: Awkwardly comforting Sally after Sally got her first period.
Forecast for Season Six: Expect Betty to be down to her fighting weight but to no particular avail. Mrs. Francis is a marginal character now, relegated to petulance toward (depending on her mood) Don, Sally or Henry. In a swiftly changing social landscape, the doting housewife's value is not what it once was.
Prediction: Elbow deep in a box of Bugles and 5 years away from realizing her husband backed the wrong horse when he jumped ship from Rockefeller to Lindsey.
Last Seen: See above.
Forecast for Season Six: Season 5 will be hard to top. Sally was introduced to sleeping pills, blow jobs and menstruation. Oh right, continued skirmishing with her increasingly out-of-touch mother, boundary pushing and exposure to a popular culture that is <THIS CLOSE> to melting down the entire country. Good times.
Prediction: Let's just hope she makes it to her high school graduation in one piece.
Last Seen: Whiffing on a Topaz Pantyhose pitch. Being generally annoying.
Forecast for Season Six: Two things we know young master Ginsberg has - a big mouth and a never ending river of pitch ideas. Can he stop acting like a total nimrod long enough to gain Don's trust?
Prediction: Best case? Makes Don forget about Peggy and becomes his unquestioned number 2. Worst case? Annoys Don so much he tracks down Paul Kinsey at an ashram in California and brings him back to replace Ginzo.
Last Seen: Being both incredibly lecherous (having sex with Lakshmi in his office) and charitable (giving Kinsey a bus ticket to California and the confidence to try his hand at script writing).
Forecast for Season Six: When Mad Men started, if you had "Harry Crane" in the pool for role players who would survive until Season Six, you probably would have won yourself a nice pot of money. No one else seems to grate and annoy quite like Harry, and yet, he's survived the mergers, take overs and layoffs while barely breaking a sweat (except when he has the good fortune of a bag of food to himself.)
Prediction: Will happily linger in the background while continuing his extramarital pursuits with vigor.
Last Seen: Green lighting Operation Indecent Proposal. Properly using the term "hanged" (as opposed to "hung") in describing Lane's method of self-disposal.
Forecast for Season Six: Another candidate for a memorial service; though he's good for at least one scene each season where he is made to sound like some sort of advertising Yoda.
Prediction: May get an an office to hang his expensive art and weird Oriental fuck paintings. May die. Would anyone really notice?
Last Seen: Achieving plausible deniability on the Dow Chemical pitch. Creating a new nom de plume.
Forecast for Season Six: With the loss of his partner in crime, Peggy Olson, Ken will either have to warm up to Ginzo or hope Danny makes a return appearance. May jump ship to pursue his love of writing.
Prediction: Continues to be inoffensive.
Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Campbell (?) Holloway (?)
Last Seen: Having its coffers filled with money from new accounts and a second floor of office space added to its kingdom.
Forecast for Season Six: Money, and lots of it. What was once housed in a hotel room at The Pierre is about to blow up, if only Dow Chemical will let Don pitch napalm to the masses. This means new employees, new sets and of course, with Lane's demise and Joan's ascension, a new name.
Prediction: SCD(C/H) becomes the 'it' advertising firm of 1967-8. All of this newfound revenue will undoubtedly corrupt and leave wanting all of those poor tortured souls whose real (and existential) struggles we unpack like verses from the Torah.
Season 5 recap here:
Those are my thoughts, what are yours? Share them in the comment section and be sure to follow me on Twitter @scarylawyerguy.