When we last saw our beloved mad men, everyone was unhappy, stymied, rejected, and angry. It was brutal! Season six was about the world in decay, and about death and war and the capriciousness of misery; by the time the closing credits rolled on episode 13, “In Care Of,” things were so bad Don wasn’t even working at Sterling Cooper & Partners anymore. But for those who might have forgotten about all that as we head into Sunday’s season seven premiere, here’s a quick refresher on where the show and its characters left off.
After a relatively successful pitch to Hershey’s, Don changed gears mid-meeting, and explained to the Hershey’s executives that he was an orphan who grew up in a “whore house,” and that if he had his druthers, Hershey’s would never need to advertise again. Sooo, Don got fired — not quite fired-fired, but asked to take a long leave of absence with no definite return date. On the marriage front, things were sort of rocky: Don had convinced Megan that they should move to California, so she quit her soap opera job and set up a bunch of L.A. meetings. But then, at Ted’s request, Don decided not to move to the West Coast after all, leaving Megan high and dry. “We’ll be bicoastal,” he promised her, not very convincingly.
Megan’s moving to California. There are more acting opportunities out there anyway.
When we last saw Peggy, she was rocking a bright-plaid pantsuit and standing in Don’s office — two power moves if ever there were. But she’s also licking her wounds: She and Ted consummated their long flirtation, and Ted vowed that he was leaving his wife for Peggy. “I’m not that girl,” she demurred, and as it turned out, she really wasn’t. Ted decided instead to move to California in the hopes of saving his marriage. “Well, aren’t you lucky. To have decisions,” Peggy spat at him when he sheepishly tried to explain himself. Not cool, Ted.
Ted convinced SC&P to send him to California to oversee the Sunkist account, and even in Don’s absence the plan is still for Ted to head west. (“Ted feels confident he can oversee Peggy from L.A.,” Joan explains.)
Joan found a weird friend in Bob Benson, whether he was in short-shorts taking her to the beach, nobly escorting her to the hospital, or donning an apron and carving the Thanksgiving turkey at her house. She begrudgingly let Roger develop a relationship with Kevin, but insisted that she and Roger try to keep their distance.
Roger kept butting heads with Margaret, his petulant, entitled daughter, this time over his willingness to invest in her husband’s refrigeration company. “I’m your daughter,” she pouted. “What do I have to do to get on the list of girls you give money to?” Low blow, Margaret! Roger’s burned a lot of bridges, personally and professionally, enough so that he showed up to Joan’s house on Thanksgiving, literally with his hat in his hands.
Ken got shot in the face while wooing Chevy clients in Michigan, so he’s wearing an eye patch. And he’s miserable, so he concedes that Pete can take over the account.
How’s Pete doing? Not great (Bob). Pete’s mother, with whom he had a frosty at best relationship, died under mysterious circumstances while on a cruise with Manolo, her nurse turned husband whom Bob Benson had recommended. Pete and his brother decided not pursue an investigation and instead comforted themselves by saying “she’s in the water. With father.” (Pete’s father died in a plane crash.) Eesh. Pete wasn’t doing so well on the car accounts after all — remember that he only learned to drive last season — and he accidentally crashed a car in a showroom because he doesn’t know how to drive stick. So he’s decamping for Los Angeles, now that he’s “free,” as Trudy put it. Their marriage is over, Pete’s parents can’t control him anymore — it’s not the way anyone wants to become unburdened, but there it is.
Sally caught Don and Sylvia in bed together, and Don manipulated her into keeping it a secret — just one more item in the Sally Draper Resentment Vault. Sally’s supposed to give a statement to the police regarding the burglary at Don’s apartment, but she doesn’t want to. “Why don’t you tell them what I saw?” she snarls at Don. Sally’s rebelliousness gets her suspended from boarding school, but we see her soften, just a little, when Don pulls up to the derelict former brothel and tells his children that this is where he grew up.
“The good is not beating the bad,” Betty cries to Don. She’s talking about Sally’s suspension — for buying beer and getting drunk — but she might as well be talking about the world.
Other things to remember:
— When Don was on his way out of the SC&P offices after getting canned, he bumped into Duck Phillips (Duck!) and someone Duck introduced as Lou Avery. “You’re early,” Don snapped.
— Stan wanted to move to the L.A. office, but Don said no, and stole Stan’s romantic version of moving (“we’ll be homesteaders”) to boot.
— Finally, season six ended on Thanksgiving Day, 1968.