April 05, 2013 9:15am PT by Michael O'Connell
'Mad Men' Season 6 Primer: Where the Show Left Don Draper, the Agency and the '60s
Mad Men can be hard enough to keep track of without the nine-month lapse in seasons. Characters drift in and out, the styles of the '60s evolve, and one episode can suddenly find one of the gorgeous stars suffocating in a fat suit.
So for those tuning into the AMC drama's season-six opener on Sunday, April 7, now is probably a good time for a quick refresher in where we last saw Don Draper and his many cohorts.
Don Draper (Jon Hamm): Dealing with a toothache and remorse for the death of Lane Pryce, Don finally caved to his new wife's pleas to assist her acting career. He was last seen alone at a bar being approached by a woman. "Are you alone?" she asked. Cue ambiguous Draper face and a signature Mad Men cliffhanger.
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Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss): The squishy center of the jelly doughnut that is Mad Men, Don and Peggy's odd and indelible bond, seemed to be in jeopardy when Peggy abruptly left Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce for a pay raise and title improvement at CGC. But the two reconnected during a chance encounter at a movie theater, and a still-empowered Peggy finished the season happily coupled with boyfriend Abe and gawking at humping dogs outside of her Richmond motel room.
Roger Sterling (John Slattery): Our last glimpse of Roger was technically of his butt, as the single-yet-again playboy looked out at the city from his hotel room, discovering himself with another acid trip. LCD had previously prompted the existentially stalled adman to dump wife Jane, but he seemed at peace with his decision.
Betty Francis (January Jones): After the shock of Betty's prosthetics and fat suit wore off, everyone's favorite morally bankrupt mother seemed to lighten up a bit. She and Sally ended the season on a rare moment of connection, though husband Henry Francis still seems more or less incidental. And her mother-in-law would drive anyone to binge eating.
Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser): Though Mad Men has hinted at Pete's tenuous mortality on more than a few occasions, it really dangled the snide account executive over the proverbial pit when he spectacularly failed at adjusting to married life in the suburbs. His affair with Beth (Alexis Bledel) drove her back to the arms of electroshock therapy, which caused her to forget he ever existed. Broken, Pete spilled the beans about the tryst to Beth's husband, who left him bloodied and bruised -- but still alive!
Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka): During an especially ill-advised jaunt to the Natural History Museum with creepy Glenn, Sally got her period. It was an awkward end to a season that saw the most adorable Draper dress up and go to the Codfish Ball as Roger's date, but it did seem to put her back on good terms with Fat Betty.
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Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks): Ignoring, for a moment, the characters who didn't make it through the last season, Joan might have had the toughest road of late. Things went south for the new mother when her husband, Greg the rapist doctor, returned home from Vietnam. He voluntarily reinlisted, she threw him out, and he filed for divorce. Joan took another hit when she slept with a Jaguar executive to secure his account. On the bright side, she made partner and finally seemed to officially segue into the boys' club.
Megan Draper (Jessica Pare): After singing her way into our hearts, poor Megan saw a lot of the joy sapped from her during season five, realizing that being Mrs. Draper isn't the easiest title to have and the advertising game just wasn't her shtick. After she bowed out of her job at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, she took acting classes, appeared in an awkward play and finally convinced Don to help her get a job in a commercial.
Lane Pryce (Jared Harris): Uh oh, that's right. The title partner of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is now that in name only. Driven to a mental break by mounting debt, the Brit hung himself in his office toward the end of season five.
The 60s: Covering just about a year, the most recent season of Mad Men left off in spring of 1967. The Civil Rights movement was reaching its crescendo, opposition to the Vietnam War was mounting, and Lyndon B. Johnson was serving his final term as President of the United States. If you're placing bets on historical subplots for this year, odds are in favor of the 1968 presidential election, the Chicago DNC protests and the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.