Need to Catch Up Before the Season 6 Premiere on Sunday?
Here’s a little recap of some Mad Men women at the end of Season 5…
Bringing back Don’s old-fashioneds and Peggy’s plaid is Sunday’s two-hour premiere of AMC’s sixth season of Mad Men. After a shocking series of explosive events — suicide, prostitution, and scandal — that occurred in the episodes leading up to the finale, the quiet close of Season 5 has left viewers wondering if the season’s finale was the calm before the storm.
Negotiating between relationships, sex, money, ambitions, responsibility and love, the Mad Men women face the unfair realities of sacrificing in the sexist sixties world in order to get ahead. Joan reluctantly agreed to a one-night engagement, trading in her self-respect for financial security. Megan was left to decide between her dream job as an actress and her husband, Don, ultimately landing a gig that might cost her the very relationship she wanted to save. Peggy, pushed aside her sentiment for her mentor, Don, and left the firm with tears in her eyes, hoping to move up the corporate ladder elsewhere.
But while we see the sacrifices made–some sullied, and others respectable–Season 5 leaves us hanging, left only to anticipate the consequences. Will Joan come to regret sleeping with the client because of unknown outcomes? Will Megan accomplish her dream while keeping her husband, and will Peggy finally find the success she’s been seeking for the last five seasons?
“You’re talking about prostitution,” said Joan, understandably outraged after her co-worker, Pete, asked her to sleep with a client to lock-in a Jaguar ad for the firm in the third-to-last episode, “The Other Woman.” “I’m talking about a high level of business,” Pete responded. “It seems to me some things are worth sacrifice.”
Watch the full, heartbreaking clip and the actor’s input here:
After convinced to bargain for a cut of the company, Joan dropped her pride and picked up a piece of the firm’s pie. Nothing bad has seemed to come from Joan’s decision; her husband has not discovered the secret, (yet,) nor has the word reached anyone in the office. But when Don’s knowing eye follows Joan in the last few episodes and he realizes what she has done, we’re left to ask if this will come back to haunt Joan in the next season. Was giving up her self-respect really worth it? As she becomes a partner in the firm, will she pay consequences another way? Joan has gained financial security for herself and her family, but she has risked losing a husband, losing a good reputation in the firm, and perhaps worst of all, losing her own self-respect. It might be that Season 6 brings a whole new wave of consequences Joan never saw coming.
Peggy made a sacrifice of less personal and more professional kind, making a move she thinks will afford her the success she’s been seeking for years. Facing a glass-ceiling in the firm, Peggy’s eyes fill with tears when her mentor, Don, realizes he cannot stop Peggy’s recognition. The message Peggy’s character sends is arguably a positive one– she is the pinnacle of a professional woman, setting aside emotional attachment and making decisions in order to achieve her goals. But with only a few glimpses into her next few steps in her new job, it isn’t clear if she will get what she wants and if she does, if she’ll be happy doing it.
“Why is this so hard!? It has to be 125 words and 15 of them have to be Ajax!” an exasperated and harsh Peggy said. In this short scene, her lighthearted name and bright colored suit does not fit the character viewers have come to know, of course harkening to the bigger question– can a woman of the sixties maintain “poise” while also attaining power? Does she have to sacrifice her niceties and dive into the rough atmosphere of the mad men’s ad world, and has anything really changed?
Just a few scenes later, Peggy sits alone in a hotel room while on her first outing with the new firm, pleased with herself as she enjoys a drink before bed. But happiness has never come easily to Peggy before, and one wonders what will happen as she finally discovers what it means to be on top. Not only might Peggy have had to sacrifice her beloved professional relationship with Don, but she might face future caveats if her personal ambitions extend beyond the professional world. Will Peggy want to “settle down,” and if so, will she have to negotiate her career in order to do so?
Don’s wife Megan also makes sacrifices of her own, but unlike Joan and Peggy, she might be unaware that she does. When the aspiring actress tells Don about the possibility of her going to Boston for rehearsals for a couple of months, Don is outraged and clearly will not approve. “If I have to choose between you and that,” Megan, referring to her career, said in response. “I’ll choose you. But I’ll hate you for it.”
While Megan did not get the acting gig in Boston, she found her next acting opportunity closer than she thought, and convinces a reluctant Don to help her get the role in the new commercial the ad agency is running. At first, the action appears to work both for Don and Megan—she got the part, and he got to have Megan stay in New York City. But in the season’s closing montage, he walks away from the set and to the bar, where we quickly realize that Megan’s move might have cost her.
As Don as he sits alone, sipping an old-fashioned, we’re left wondering if he will be true to Megan when asked if he’s alone.
Season 6 will bring some of these answers, and undoubtedly more questions and situations requiring each of these women to decide if past actions were the right ones and if not, how to move forward.