After endless speculation about the most minute details — like what year it might be or whether Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce sprung for the extra office space — Mad Men will finally begin its sixth season on Sunday night. This is exciting! It's more exciting if you can remember what happened last season. So here is a quick refresher course, along with our hopes and dreams for the characters this season.
Where he left off: Alone, at a bar, considering whether to accept the advances of a very pretty blonde woman who is very much not his wife. Don spent most of last season's finale dealing with ghosts — his brother Adam, who kept showing up in hallucinations; Lane, who committed suicide after being fired by Don (for stealing money from the company, it should be said); Megan, who finally prevailed upon her husband to help her get an acting job and effectively killed the supportive fantasy wife Don had been dreaming about all season. He watched Megan's commercial reel while she was out and looked as pained as he did during the Carousel routine. Outlook not good for Don's fidelity.
Where we hope he's headed: Do you want Don to be a good person, or do you want Don to represent the essential existential struggle of humanity? If you are rooting for change, then he should go home with his wife. If you are rooting for identity issues, he should go home with the blonde (or her friend. Or both).
Where we hope he's not headed: See above, and switch.
Where she left off: After a season of acting classes and speeches about her true passion, Megan convinced Don to help her get a job in a commercial. She is thrilled!
Where we hope she's headed: To a life of fulfillment as an actress with a husband who supports her dreams.
Where we hope she's not headed: To bit parts in soda commercials and a husband who won't speak to her. We have seen that road before. It did not go well for Betty.
Where she left off: Watching stray dogs hump outside a motel in Virginia. But before that she’d made a triumphant — if bittersweet — exit from Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, been made copy chief at Ted Chaough’s firm, and even made peace with Don in a movie theater.
Where we hope she’s headed: The front page of Ad Age, the Oval Office. Whatever she wants. We believe in you, Peggy.
Where we hope she’s not headed: Pete. Stay away from Pete, Peggy.
Where he left off: Pete fell hard for Beth (his real-life fiancée, Alexis Bledel), who did not seem particularly interested in his borderline-stalker behavior after their one afternoon tryst. Things change when you are about to get electroshock therapy because you're suicidal. Cue another sad romp in a hotel, after which Pete asked her to run away with him. She declined, got the procedure, and didn't remember Pete when he visited her at the hospital.
Where we hope he's headed: Back to Trudy, who is great (for him, anyway) and doesn't deserve this sort of treatment.
Where we hope he's not headed: Suicide. Look, we know Matt Weiner said it wasn't happening, but even Vincent Kartheiser isn't convinced.
Betty Draper Francis
Where she left off: Betty doesn't have cancer! Which, in Betty's world, means that she's just fat for no reason and still very upset about it. She also was not happy about Don's remarriage to a much younger woman, but at least Sally dropped the attitude and started speaking to her. For once in the finale, Betty actually acted like a mother, and she seemed to enjoy it. This is progress.
Where we hope she's headed: To mother-daughter boxing classes. It'll help her aggression and her relationship with Sally. It's also more fun than those Weight Watchers meetings.
Where we hope she's not headed: To a therapist who calls her husband
Where she left off: She ran away to the Natural History Museum with Glenn, then ran away from the museum when she got her period. This was actually positive development for Sally on several levels: She reconciled with her mother; she got away from Glenn, who still worries us; and she is a woman now.
Where we hope she's headed: School, since we haven’t seen her there since Don slept with her teacher.
Where we hope she’s not headed: Boarding school. Especially Glenn’s.
Where he left off: The LSD wore off, Jane is long gone, and now Roger Sterling is just another old guy trying to find the meaning of life before it leaves him. His temporary solution? Call Megan's mom, Marie (who famously gave him a blow job at the codfish ball and who was conveniently in town to celebrate Easter), for an acid-trip-slash-sexfest. She agreed to the sex part, at least.
Where we hope he's headed: Woodstock.
Where he hope he's not headed: Retirement.
Joan Holloway Harris
Where she left off: She had to sleep with a gross Jaguar executive to get there, but the ex–Mrs. Harris is now a legitimate partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. She seemed pretty psyched about it.
Where we hope she's headed: To a giant corner office on the floor upstairs, with adjoining nursery and a new husband who will share child-care responsibilities. Lean in!
Where we hope she's not headed: Roger's bed, unless it's in a tent at Woodstock.
Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce
Where it left off: On a single floor, considering the acquisition of a second.
Where we hope it’s headed: Upstairs!
Where we hope it’s not headed: Bankruptcy.