After what seems like forever (but what has actually been only a year and a half) Mad Men is finally returning to the airwaves. The critically acclaimed show, home to the dashing ad man Don Draper (Jon Hamm), will air its two hour season premiere this Sunday. But how long will we have been away from the halls of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce? Months? Years? And how much will have changed?
The last time we saw our intrepid mad men (and women) in the season four finale, "Tomorrowland," it was October 1965. It was the beginning of Vietnam, and things were starting to change. Joan (Christina Hendricks) decided to keep Roger's (John Slattery) baby and pass it off as her horrible husband's. Betty (January Jones) reached an apex of awfulness when she fired long-time housekeeper Carla (Deborah Lacey) and her new husband Henry (Christopher Stanley) began to realize for the first time that his wife has SERIOUS issues. Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) is becoming more and more of a badass at work, culminating in a coup for her and Ken (Aaron Staton) when the two of them landed the firm's first new client since the disastrous affair with Lucky Strike: a panty-hose company for $250,000.
And after almost hitting rock bottom with their year old ad firm, Roger was excited at the prospect of getting back out there and chasing down new clients, Pete's (Vincent Kartheiser) and Don's relationship was in the best place it's ever been, and Don himself, well . . . he was either finally beginning to come to terms with both sides of his personality (Don Draper and Dick Whitman), or he was starting a fantastic mid-life crisis. While on vacation with his kids in California, high off the possibilities of starting things new, he proposed to his secretary, Megan (Jessica Paré), and then proceeded to act extremely happy and out of character about it when he made the announcement to the office. “I feel like myself when I’m with you — but the way I always wanted to feel,” he told an over the moon, adoring Megan.
So what do we know about the upcoming season? Almost nothing. Showrunner Matthew Weiner is the worst spoilerphobe I've ever heard of. He doesn't want anyone to know anything about what's in store for the upcoming thirteen episodes, and critics who have seen the first two episodes are sworn to secrecy upon pain of death or torture with nails and fire or something. So if we're not getting any details, let's bust out one of my favorite things in the entire world: wild speculation. Here are some possibilities for what could happen in Mad Men season five:
WHEN: This is probably the hardest thing to guess, as we could pop in only a couple of months later, say some time in 1966 as Megan and Don prepare to get married and Joan gets ready to pop out Roger, Jr. OR, and this is more likely, Weiner will skip us ahead a couple of years, say to 1967. I've been trying to think of historical events that would attract Weiner's attention, but the closest thing I can come up with is going to the moon in 1969, and that's way too far away. So I'm just going to guess it will be 1967.
WHERE: Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce . . . or possibly Sterling Campbell Draper Pryce by now, if Cooper has officially retired, and Pete has taken his place.
WHO: Let's take it one by one.
Joan: Will have Roger's baby, continue being the awesomest person alive. Her stupid husband will be killed in Vietnam and all shall celebrate! She will have a hard time reconciling her baby -- who will be adorable -- with her career.
Roger: Will continue his upward trend at work, but his home life with young wifey-poo will deterioriate. He will pine for Joan excessively. He will not handle the baby thing well.
Pete: I have no idea. Pete is such a turd. There will probably be Peggy baby drama, and Trudy baby drama. They're still not done with either of those storylines. Also, he's either going to get awesome from being in a place of power, or totally totally annoying. Either will be good drama, so I don't really care.
Peggy: Will continue her steady climb to the top of the corporate ladder. She and Don will become closer, but NOT LIKE THAT YOU PEGGY/DON SHIPPERS, YOU.
Betty: Her life is going to utterly fall apart and it is going to be awesome.
Sally: Don and Betty's poor daughter will love having Megan for a stepmother, and I am still convinced that she is well on her way to becoming a flower child.
Don: When the newness of Megan wears off, Don will start sleeping around again until he inevitably realizes that he's the problem, not these dang women. Don's a dreamer who refuses to live in the real world. He's going to have to wake up eventually. He's good at ads because in ads creating that dreamworld of ideals and magic is the whole point. But Don sucks at the real world. He has mother issues, and father issues, and wife issues. And once the newness of Megan is officially gone, what will remain? As Logan Hill wrote in his "Tomorrowland" recap, "In a way, Megan is an adman’s dream: She’s a cipher, an attractive brand with no history onto which he can project any dreamy vision of Tomorrowland that he wants." So what happens when reality sets in? I guess we'll see on Sunday.
Mad Men's two hour season premiere, "A Little Kiss," airs this Sunday on AMC.