Mad Men Season 6 might just turn out to be the most exciting season of Mad Men yet. And it's not just because the season is rolling into 1968, one of the most tumultuous years in modern American history -- it's because the characters we've grown to know over the first five seasons are all tangled up in new challenges and struggling harder than ever to move forward.
What Mad Men Season 6 spoilers have we collected so far? Will we get more Dick Whitman flashbacks? Will Betty drop more weight? Will Megan come to find that leopards can't change their spots? Will Sally become a flower child or a second-wave feminist? Will Trudy and Pete's marriage survive?
Let's take a look at where the Mad Men gang stands after the most recent episode, Mad Men Season 6, Episode 3 "The Collaborators."
Joan is recently divorced and has landed a major promotion in exchange for sleeping with an SCDP client. We've yet to see how the men of SCDP have taken Joan's partnership, though we do know she hasn't let herself be held down by the choice she made in Season 5 -- when Herb, the Jaguar rep she slept with under pressure from Pete and Lane, shows up in her office in "The Collaborators," Joan keeps her cool and smartly rebukes his lechery before the other partners lead him away.
Pete has been thrown out of the house by his wife for his lack of discretion in his clumsy extramarital affairs. Despite Trudy's pragmatically granting Pete his own apartment in Manhattan, hoping it would force him to be discreet in the affairs she knew she couldn't stop him from having, Pete bungled up the deal by sleeping with a woman on their block. That's not how it's supposed to work, Pete. Now that Trudy has forbidden him from coming back to the house without her permission, it looks like Pete's back in Manhattan for now -- just like he wanted!
Peggy is excelling at her job but struggling socially. Her subordinates respect her, but they don't much like her. They dread stepping into her office and are unmoved by her awkward attempts to raise morale: "Who you are doesn't change the fact that the work needs work!" Meanwhile, Peggy slipped up and told her boss a bit of SCDP gossip her old colleague Stan leaked in confidence, endangering the only real friendship she seems to have at this point.
Betty's lost some weight and gone brunette. Her relationship with Sally is still stagnant, but she doesn't seem to care. In fact, we're wondering if Betty's gone wild. The Mad Men season premiere showed Betty flippantly tossing rape jokes at her husband, suggesting he violate their 15-year-old houseguest; later, she went to the Village to slum it with the raggedy bohemians in a rat-infested squat. We have no idea where this is going. Any ideas?
Megan has landed a role on a daytime soap opera, and she's doing well enough to be recognized in public -- albeit by her character's name. In Mad Men Season 6 Episode 3, Megan reveals to the neighbor Sylvia that she's just had a miscarriage, which she later tearfully confesses to Don.
Roger Sterling is single and ready to mingle -- plus, he's in therapy. In the season premiere, his mother dies. At the funeral he has a heart-to-heart with ex-boyfriend Mona, who asks him to spend more time with their daughter Margaret. He complies, and Margaret asks him for money for her boyfriend's business venture. After a lifetime of keeping the women in his life at arm's length while showering them with money, Roger is hardly shocked.
Megan reveals her miscarriage to Sylvia:
Mad Men Season 6 Don Draper is back to his cheating ways, as most fans gathered from the Season 5 finale. There are a few little changes to Don's cheating M.O. this time around, and not for the better. First of all, he's doing it with Sylvia, the downstairs neighbor whose husband Arnie Don seems to genuinely like. Arnie and Sylvia frequently join Don and Megan for double dates, and the couples even hang out in each other's apartments. Too close to home, Don! And then there's the fact that Don told Sylvia in the premiere that he wanted to "stop doing this," looking completely unsatisfied and miserable as the lovers lay in bed after a romp.
Mad Men Season 6, Episode 3, wove the Don and Sylvia interludes together with flashbacks to Don's pre-teen days, when his name was Dick Whitman and his stepmother moved into a whorehouse with his Uncle Mack and became witness to loads and loads of lewd business.
It looks like Mad Men is gearing up to explore the roots of Don's bad habits. Dick Whitman's mother was a 22-year-old prostitute who died giving birth to him, his father was a horrible guy who got horse-kicked in the face and died when Dick was 10, and his step-mother -- who called him "whore child" -- moved him into a house of pleasure where the man of the house, "Uncle Mac," showed him a little kindness.
Will Mad Men Season 6 try to tie this sad past in with Don Draper's chronic inability to remain faithful to the women he falls in love with, glaring Madonna-Whore complex, and tormented narcissism? The series is too smart to make excuses for Don now after taking so much time to illustrate his best and worst complexities, but it definitely looks like we're going to be diving deeper into Don Draper's psychology.
Next on Mad Men:
And of course, there are a few things we can spoil for you for sure: the historical events of 1968. Check out what Don Draper, SCDP, and the rest of the characters will be dealing with in Mad Men Season 6.
Mad Men Season 6 Spoilers, brought to you by 1968:
April 4: Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated. SCDP has its first African-American worker in Dawn, Don's secretary. SCDP has leaned towards sympathy on civil rights issues in general, though it's not exactly a beacon of social progressivism. Still, you can count on this event influencing conversations on Mad Men Season 6.
March 16: The My Lai Massiacre in Vietnam. The military experiences of Mad Men characters often come up in the series, and this tragedy was a major marker of the ugliness of the Vietnam War. We expect Sterling to have an opinion.
April 11: President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act.
June 6: Senator Robert Kennedy is assassinated. Remember how big JFK's assassination was on Mad Men? We wonder if this event will play such a prominent part in Mad Men Season 6.
November 22: The Beatles release what is now known as The White Album. Will Don have come around since Season 5, when he turned off "Revolver" in apparent bafflement at what those four British boys were up to?
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Mad Men airs Sunday nights at 10/9c on AMC.