The Season 6 premiere of "Mad Men" -- a two-hour episode – airs Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT. It's been less than a year since Season 5 ended, but in the event that your life does not revolve around the goings-on at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, the details of where Don Draper & Co. left off might be a little fuzzy.
Last time we saw Don Draper, he was pretty miserable (no surprise there). He and Megan are still together, but she's become increasingly less attentive to his needs and more focused on becoming the Hollywood starlet she believes she was born to be. As we noted in our Season 5 finale recap, it was looking as good a time as ever for Don to philander -- and indeed, when an attractive stranger at the bar asks him if he was alone in his final scene of the finale, we presume he answers in the affirmative.
Don is reeling, of course, from more than just the chill in his marriage -- Lane Pryce hanged himself in his office just after Don fired him for embezzling from the firm, and Lane's widow saw right through Don's attempt to absolve himself by writing her a check.
The other women in Don's life have let him down: His protege Peggy Olson left SCDP for a competitor, and Joan Harris (nee Holloway) earned a stake in the firm by whoring herself to get the Jaguar account -- something Don begged her not to do, when it was already too late. Joan has been holding her head up as high as can be expected, perhaps buoyed by her new position of power (although how much she really has remains to be seen.) Joan, too, is feeling culpable for Lane's suicide, after having rebuffed his pathetic advance in their last meeting. Unlike Don, she has no reason to blame herself. And the Jaguar account Joan won pushed SCDP well into the black, so at least it wasn't all for naught -- although what should be one bright spot in Don's life was feeling more like cold comfort.
Out in the suburbs, Pete Campbell is dying a slow death in Cos Cob. So dreary and meaningless is his life that he nearly elicits sympathy -- especially after Beth Dawes' lobotomy made him a stranger to her. But there is some good news: Trudy Campbell has finally green-lit an apartment for Pete in the city, something had been dying for since the day the moved out. (Also, as reported by Vulture, Pete, played by Vincent Kartheiser, and Beth, played by Alexis Bledel, are getting married in real life!)
A few Metro-North Railroad stops away in Rye, Sally Draper is growing up: She is becoming increasingly hip to Betty's passive-aggressive tactics, and has started to exhibit her own talent for making everyone around her miserable. It seems like Sally might be torn between pushing her mother away or becoming exactly like her (although there's no reason she couldn't do both.) I suspect Sally's storyline will be one to watch in Season 6 -- now that she is old enough to get herself into some real trouble and smart enough to pick up on the weaknesses of the adults using her as a pawn, she's perched to wreak some havoc of her own.
According to what we know about Season 6, last season's preoccupation with death and doom will carry on, and, as always, Don will be struggling with his identity. The season premiere finds Don and Megan in Hawaii, so I'm hoping there might be a layover in Los Angeles, where the ghost of Dick Whitman and Anna Draper (Don's first wife, and perhaps the only woman who really knew him) both live. How much does Megan really know about Don's past? Last season gave us reason to believe he had told her more than he had ever volunteered to Betty, but those key discussions took place off-screen. If she knows everything, she could probably do a lot of damage -- would Don really give her that much blackmail power? At this point, it feels like there more questions surrounding Don and Megan's marriage than Don-Dick's history. Here's hoping for some answers.
I also hope we see more of Ken Cosgrove, and that we revisit his pact with Peggy: They had an agreement that neither would jump ship without taking the other with them -- an agreement Peggy seemed to have forgotten as soon as Cutler Gleason & Chaough bettered her asking offer. Will Cosgrove continue to take this betrayal lying down, and if he does, is it because he's playing a longer game?
Tune in Sunday night, and look for our recap Monday morning.
Ellen Killoran is the Media & Culture Editor at IBTimes. She previously contributed to The L Magazine, Brooklyn Magazine, and The Daily, and co-produced the HBO...