Mad Men’s sixth season is about to start on AMC, ending a wait that felt long – although not nearly as long as the wait for Season 5. If you don’t have time to re-watch Season 5 on Netflix - and time is short – here’s a quick review of where the season left off, to refresh your memory before the premiere.
The finale of Season 5 left us with the overwhelming feeling of how alone the main characters are. Much of the season was spent focusing on their road to that loneliness, with many decisions made that cut ties and sent lives in new, more solitary directions – and one decision that hangs in the balance.
Don Draper has spent the season watching the newness of his marriage to Megan wear off, although after some fights and reconciliations, the couple is still together. Don has reluctantly helped Megan get back into acting, and ends the season sitting alone in a bar, where the woman next to him shows interest in him and leaves us to wonder if he’s headed back to infidelity.
Joan, meanwhile, has rediscovered that backbone we all love about her so much, at least as far as her marriage is concerned, and has divorced her absent husband and gone on to true single-motherhood. This season’s big surprise from Joan was her decision to help the company get a big account using her female charms, which Don belatedly tries to stop, in return for a partnership in the agency. It’s an act that will likely have repercussions down the line for her, and has already damaged her relationship with Don.
Season 5 leaves Peggy moving forward in her career and her love life. Having realized that she doesn’t really have the future she wants at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, she takes a job at another firm, while also deciding to move in with her boyfriend. In spite of the implication that she will now have a companion at home, the final episode leaves her alone, toasting herself. It's a solitary road for a career woman in the 60s.
As for the other men of the agency, a flailing Roger has found a taste for LSD and in it had the revelation that his marriage is over; he joins Joan in divorce and has an ill-advised affair with Megan's mother that is witnessed by Don's daughter Sally. Pete’s marriage is on the rocks as well, after he has an affair, and he plans to rent an apartment in the city away from his family, which doesn’t bode well for his family’s future. In Season 5’s biggest shocker, Lane commits suicide in his office after financial troubles lead him to steal from the company and he is fired. That act can't help but have a long-term impact on the agency.
Season 5 of Mad Men ends with the images of the main characters facing the future alone, and at least two marriages in question. Hopefully we will get at least a few answers in the two-hour movie that will serve as the season premiere. It’s been suggested that there will be a jump forward in time, so some of the questions may already be answered when the show returns. Little has been revealed, as is common with this show, but we do have some photos, trailers and interviews to hint at things to come.
Mad Men premieres this Sunday, April 7th at 9 p.m. EST.