October, 1965 – what’s where we left off in the season four finale of Mad Men, with Don Draper proposing to his secretary, Megan (Jessica Paré) on a trip to Disneyland with his family. Being as each Mad Men season picks up 9-12 months after the finale, it’s safe to assume the fifth season will pick up somewhere in 1966, a year packed with cultural events for the show to explore and navigate through:
February 28 – U.S. astronauts Charles Bassett and Elliott See are killed in an aircraft accident in St. Louis, Missouri.
March 4th – John Lennon comments, “We’re more popular than Jesus now,” eventually sparking a controversy in the United States.
May 16th – The legendary album Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys is released.
May 28th – Fidel Castro declares martial law in Cuba because of a possible U.S. attack.
August 1 – Sniper Charles Whitman kills 13 people and wounds 31 from atop the University of Texas at Austin Main Building tower, after earlier killing his wife and mother.
August 5 – Martin Luther King Jr. leads a civil rights march in Chicago, during which he is struck by a rock thrown from an angry white mob.
October 1 – Toyota Corolla car introduced.
November 28 – Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball (‘The Party of the Century’) is held in New York City.
Of course, there were many significant political events surrounding the Vietnam War, which is expected to play a huge part in this season’s events. Joan Harris’ husband, Greg, is currently stationed in Vietnam as a surgeon, and it’s possible he either dies or is severely injured – meanwhile Joan is carrying Roger Sterling’s child.
It’s possible the creative team skips even farther in time to capture events like Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, or Bobby Kennedy – but it’s unlikely, being as these kinds of events have rarely major significance, outside of JFK’s assassination.
As for predictions, I’ll break it down by character:
- Will Don choose to tell Megan about his past? It seems sad and strange that he would reveal his secret life to Faye and yet hide things from Megan, essentially getting into the same relationship that fell apart with Betty. Don will tell Megan everything – no secrets, no lies. He will put the bottle down and stop fooling around – and Megan will no doubt move up in the ranks as a copywriter or member of the art department (much to the chagrin of Peggy).
- Joan is currently pregnant with Roger Sterling’s child, while her husband is stationed in Vietnam. I’m willing to be that Greg is severely injured in Vietnam and comes back home confined to a wheelchair. It’s possible Greg knows the child isn’t his (maybe he’s sterile), which is why I think it’s too easy to just kill him off. I think Joan is in for a lot of hardship, with her increased responsibility at the agency, being pregnant and dealing with a disabled husband… she might just have a breakdown.
- With Burt Cooper having left the SCDP, it seems like Sterling will be the senior partner (even though he’s outlived his usefulness). Roger is going to find out Joan is keeping the baby (knowing full well that it’s his) and may leave his wife in a last-ditch effort to have Joan for himself. Depending on how many seasons Matthew Weiner and the gang have under their belts, it’s possible Sterling could die – it would certainly be a shocker, but it’s hard to imagine a world without him. As a result, if Sterling dies I think Burt Cooper will come back to run the show (and leave his shoes at the door, of course).
- I don’t really have a lot to say about Betty Draper, other than I hate her. I don’t feel one ounce of sympathy for her, because from day one she’s been a crazy, childish bitch. It’s obvious her children hate her, and Henry Francis is probably sympathizing with Don Draper and wishing he never would have gotten involved – and it’s possible they get divorced this season, or Don gets custody of the children, leaving Betty to go even deeper into psychosis and (fingers crossed) possibly suicide.
To be continued…