On Sunday, April 5, once the chocolate bunnies have been eaten and the existential dread that hits 9-5ers on Sunday evenings kicks in, "Mad Men" will swoop in for its 7.5th and final season premiere, to remind us all that the existential dread could always be worse.
MTV News had the chance to screen the first of the final seven episodes that make up season seven -- part two, and while we received a sizable list of "Do Not Reveals" from creator Matt Weiner, we can tell you our thoughts on our first look at Don (Jon Hamm), Peggy (Elisabeth Moss), Joan (Christina Hendricks) and the rest of the gang, as they wrap up their stint in the 1960s.
In short, it's all pretty great. In not-so-short, here's what you need to know:
It's about "the life not lived."
This being the final season of "Mad Men," you had to expect that some serious soul-searching would go down for Don. And indeed, much as we discuss and debate the legacy of this series as its final episode draws near, Don is discussing and debating (at least inwardly) the legacy of his own life, and specifically, the outcomes of his various choices.
In "The Bell Jar," Sylvia Plath makes that famous analogy about the fig tree -- you know, the one where she sees each fig on each branch as a different life, and she just sits there all indecisive while fig after fig rots, because she can't make up her mind?
Well, Don Draper never exactly suffered from indecisiveness -- he did marry Megan on a whim, after all -- but he is now seeing some of those gross, rotted figs coming back to haunt him, now that the thrill of his decision-making has worn off. One particular fig will break your heart and blow your mind (sorry for the hyperbole), but that's probably what one should expect from the final seven episodes of this series.
(And no, sorry, it's not Sal.)
Rejoice: there's plenty of Joan and Peggy.
On the other end of the spectrum -- the happier side, one might say -- this is a very office-centric episode, and a client's misfortune ends up being our good fortune, because it leads to Joan and Peggy combining their many resources to problem-solve, together.
Unfortunately, these two are probably never going to find enough common ground to become the Abbi and Ilana style BFFs we all want them to be, but at least their brief time together leads to what should be two very engaging, very different plot lines for two of our favorite characters. (And of course, both involve gross sexism. Why wouldn't they?)
Sally and Betty aren't in it.
Sally and Betty's teen angst and bad parenting (respectively) and chain-smoking (collectively) will have to wait until next week, because it's drama at SC&P -- and drama with Don, of course -- that takes center stage in the season premiere.
There's a major shake-up at SC&P.
If "Mad Men" has taught us anything besides "consumerism is a vapid void of nothingness" and "happiness has been ruined by our need to be happy," it's that the world of Madison Avenue is ever-changing and never fair. Some of our characters -- well, one, in particular -- find this out first-hand in the premiere, in a fun lil twist that should keep things interesting throughout the final seven.
The end of the '60s loom heavy.
Season 7A ended in 1969, and when 7B picks up -- our Do Not Reveals reveal that we cannot tell you when that is -- it's clear that a major change is about to take place. When "Mad Men" began, the excitement of the progressive '60s permeated the entire show. Most of our characters were aching to get away from the suburban, 2.5 kids upper-middle-class destiny that the '50s told them they had to want, and lead different lives with their jobs (Joan, Peggy), their Megans (Don), their Californias (Pete), and whatever dream it was that Roger was chasing at any given time.
Now that decade is coming to a close, and with it the things that defined many of these characters in their more youthful years. Suddenly, the way that they did things is beginning to feel tired, and without the Internet to inform them about what is or isn't on fleek, they look to new things to shake things up. Which brings me to my final point...
Everyone is kind of sad.
Throughout the entire run of "Mad Men," we've learned to expect that whatever our main characters (especially Don) think will make them happy, never actually does. When season 7B picks up, multiple characters are in positions that we've seen them striving for for years, only now they're stuck with the same anxiety and malaise that plagued them before they found X job, or Y partner.
It's not that nobody gets the chance to be quote-unquote happy -- hell, Peggy even has a great time at a couple of points in the episode -- it's just that "Mad Men" realizes that life's triumphs don't keep us running forever, and happiness is fluid. Basically, expect to see some folks (Don, Joan) trying to figure out if what they have is really what they want, and others (Peggy, Ken) trying to seize life by the nads and find something better than SC&P.
Of course, we all know that "Mad Men" is not the type of show that is going to permanently change all of these characters and give them their happy ending, "Parenthood"-style, by the end of the season. But it should be fun to watch them try, and maybe at least one of them will finally realize that change doesn't come with a new job, new lover, or new outfit, and give viewers a slight bit of hope for a better tomorrow.