When last we left Mad Men, Don had skulked off to a bar by himself when a random woman asked him, “Are you alone?” Yes, lady, he’s Don Draper. He’s always alone, especially when he’s with people. Season 5 ended with a “Will he or won’t he?” moment. Whether he will or won’t cheat on Megan is one of the five things we learned during the Mad Men Season 6 Premiere.
5 He will
So maybe Don didn’t sleep with that barfly—or maybe he did—but we know for sure that he’s playing doctor with the doctor’s wife. We shouldn’t be surprised. As the opening scene highlighted, Megan is more famous than Don. She doesn’t necessarily need him anymore. Meanwhile Betty continues to discover than no one—except the occasional junkie who can’t make goulash—needs her. Betty deals with anxiety by changing the way she looks. Don deals with it by changing his sexual partner. America deals by invading Vietnam. People will do anything to alleviate their anxiety.
4 Roger Sterling is going to have a big season
Poor Roger. He’s so tragic. He said it himself after his mother died, “All I’m going to be doing from here on is lose things.” The man who seemingly had it all in his prime has nothing, not even his old shoe shine guy. This should be painful to watch, but real fans of the show know what this turn of events really means—Roger is going after Joan this season, and maybe this time he’ll make an honest effort of it.
3 Research sucked before the Internet
Peggy watching that office drone impersonate The Tonight Show bit about the ears was painful. Admit it. You were like, “Just Google it, Peggy. Buzzfeed has it.” Then you realized it was 1960-whatever and Google would not be invented for decades, and Buzzfeed would not come along until after Google had surfaced a critical number of cat videos.
2 Vietnam’s casualties included mediocre copywriting
Peggy almost lost a client that sold headphones because her ad campaign referenced ears, and ears were being sliced off by U.S. troops during the Vietnam War. The way Peggy and her boss reacted to the controversy was cold—all bottom line, no consideration for human life. It took Peggy’s hippie boyfriend to point out, “This unjust war is finally having an effect on commerce.” Well, not really, Wavy Gravy. Peggy still nailed the pitch and she will probably save the account, but it’s always nice to see the grim reality of the 1960s creeping in on people who live 50 floors above it.
1 Don is slipping and Peggy is rising
The doctor who skied off into the night on New Year’s Eve stated the theme of the episode: “People will do anything to alleviate their anxiety.” Peggy’s client was anxious because it was afraid a Tonight Show joke would affect its ad campaign. Don had his big account in the bag, but he got drunk at Roger’s mother’s funeral and blew the pitch to the Hawaiian resort. Peggy’s client and Don had anxiety that needed relieving. One of them rose, and one of them sank. Don is slipping and Peggy is what Don used to be—great in a crisis.