Greetings associates of Sterling Draper Cooper Pryce! Season Six of Mad Men airs tonight on AMC with a 2-hour season premiere. Having trouble remembering the ins and outs of last season? Fear not! I’ve crafted a short list of the big happenings of Season 5 so you can be up to speed for Season 6. Cheers!
10. Joan the Geisha
Joan, Joan Joan. Everyone’s favorite buxom Office Manager went through some highs and lows this season. While her awful husband Greg was in Vietnam, Joan was stuck by herself on maternity leave with some help from her mother. When Greg came back home only to announce that he volunteered to return to Vietnam, Joan had had enough and kicked her husband/one-time rapist to the curb. The crowd went wild. Later in the season however Joan was essentially “sold” to a potential client so SDCP could sign Jaguar. For Joan this was a power play to make partner, but that didn’t make it any easier to swallow for fans of Joan’s once uncompromising nature. Definitely the low point of the season.
9. Paul Kinsey, Hare Krishna
Paul Kinsey, former employee of Sterling Cooper, was not asked to join the new firm of SDCP at the end of Season 3, leaving him MIA for about a season and a half. He returned in Season 5 as a love-sick puppy who had joined the Hare Krishna movement to win over a woman named Lakshmi. Kinsey tries to get Harry Crane to pass along a Star Trek script that he wrote, but it is god-awful. Lakshmi wants Harry to leave her and Kinsey alone so she has sex with Harry as a way of blackmailing him. Harry feels bad for the lovelorn Kinsey, and gives him $500 and a plane ticket to LA to start fresh. Might we see Kinsey and his Krishna consciousness again? We shall see.
8. Sally Draper’s Facts of Life
Oh Sally, sometimes it seems you are doomed to fall prey to comical life lessons. Kiernan Shipka continues to impress season after season as the loveable Sally Draper. In Season 5, Sally became a little more aware of the “dirty” parts of the real world. She bonds with her new Grandma Francis AKA “Bluto” and learns the importance of keeping your guard up. Sally also begins puberty in Season 5, allowing for a rare moment of genuine emotion from her mother. Then of course there was the moment when Sally walked into the wrong room and saw Megan’s mother Marie…”relieving” Roger Sterling. You gotta knock first Sally. You gotta knock.
7. Pete Campbell, Honorable Cheat
The first half of Season 5 showed Pete Campbell rising in the ranks at SCDP and leaving Roger in his wake. Pete’s manhood was tested by a leaky faucet, one that he ultimately was not man enough to fix. The main arc that Pete went through involved his growing promiscuity, despite having the perfect wife at home. He began a relationship with a woman named Beth, who was married to an acquaintance of Pete’s from his morning commute. The self-righteous Pete couldn’t fathom how a man could neglect a wife like Beth to cheat on another woman, an irony that was always going to be lost from him. Pete also got punched a couple of times last season, including getting his ass handed to him by Lane.
6. Meet Michael Ginsberg
One of the breakout stars of Season 5 was new copywriter Michael Ginsberg, who is most definitely a time-traveling Scott Baio. Ginsberg was handpicked by Peggy, essentially making him Don’s advertising grandson; always making Ginsberg work for Don’s approval. Ginsberg was proving that Don was getting older and losing his touch. Don was playing it safe, whereas Ginsberg was constantly undermining his superiors and was better off for it. Oh Ginsberg, you’re so damn lovable.
5. Roger does LSD. Multiple times.
Don may have slowly been coming to the realization that he was getting older, but Roger Sterling was being constantly reminded of how outdated he was. With Pete Campbell sticking it to him at every turn, Roger paid Peggy and later Ginsberg to do some creative work for him to take the credit for. Halfway through the season, Roger and wife Jane take LSD, and decide to divorce. The rest of the season is comprised of Roger’s continuing mid-life crisis, sleeping with Megan’s mother Marie and of course taking more LSD.
4. The Rise and Fall of Lane Pryce
Probably the heartbreak character of Season 5, Lane Pryce was doomed the minute he forged Don’s signature. Lane was always one of the more complicated characters that got about as much respect as Pete did. Lane became mildly obsessed with a woman whose picture he finds in a wallet – giving the wallet back to the owner, but keeping the photo. After clobbering Pete and multiple attempts to dig himself out of debt, Don uncovers Lane’s forgeries. Poor Lane decided that there was no way out for him but suicide. Lane’s creator had a cruel sense of humor, as he wasn’t even able to kill himself properly because of the unreliable nature of Jaguar’s automobiles. Ultimately Lane went out by way of noose, but not before making a pass at Joan; bravo for trying Lane, you shall be missed.
3. Peggy Quits
Ever the female-protagonist of Mad Men, Peggy Olson had worked her way up from being the shy, awkward secretary type to a major creative player at SDCP. Over the few seasons she became a completely different character, and the show allowed her to have more fun at work and in her personal life. But with the quick rise of Don’s new wife Megan, Peggy could no longer take the injustices of Don Draper and his ilk, resigning from SDCP at the end of the season. She began working for rival agency Cutler, Gleason and Chaough. High points for Peggy in Season 5 include her frequent use of marijuana and the odd things she sees. A low point however was an inherent racism in Peggy, not trusting African American secretary Dawn to be alone with her purse. Most interesting moment for Peggy last season? The last scene featuring her had her looking our of a window and watching two dogs humping. Naturally.
2. Fat Betty
It became immediately clear that the former Mrs. Don Draper had gotten a little too comfortable in her new life as Betty Francis, as she had gained a considerable amount of weight. “Fat Betty” spent most of Season 5 lamenting over her eating problem in contrast to Don’s new life with the thin, young Megan Draper. At one point Betty tried to manipulate Sally into imploding Megan and Don’s relationship, but that Sally is smarter than she looks! Betty also thought she might have cancer early in the season, and was oddly disappointed when she realized that she would have to go on living. Also, check this video out. It’s wonderful.
1. Megan Draper & Zou Bisou Bisou
Hands down, the biggest surprise of Season 5 was the new Mrs. Don Draper, Megan. There are definitely two warring camps on the issue of this new French-Canadian singer/actress/ad woman, and I am on the pro-Megan side. Unlike the unemotional fembot Betty, Megan was a passionate dreamer who knew everything about the once mysterious Don Draper from the get go. She wasn’t afraid to surprise or embarrass Don and wouldn’t so easily capitulate to his mind games. Megan had a lot of gal pal time with Sally too, in many ways proving to be a better mother to Sally than Betty was. Megan held Don’s attention for most of the season, even though she feared that he would return to his cheating nature. Megan quickly left SDCP to pursue her acting dreams, and strong armed Don into casting her for one of their commericals. And yes, she did that “Zou Bisou Bisou” number that blew up the internet after it aired.
The end of Season 5 showed a young woman approach Don at the bar, asking him “Are you alone?” Season 6 will serve as the answer to that question. Tune in for the premiere of Mad Men tonight at 9PM EST.