Season 6 of Mad Men picked up on a pretty weird note, especially with the ominous reminder of Lane Pryce’s suicide forever left in the agency’s name, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Oh, and without Peggy, we almost feel like a huge chunk of the show is just missing.
The season 6 premiere of Mad Men opened with Don and Meghan in Hawaii, letting the viewer believe — for almost a minute — that maybe he’s actually treating himself to some relaxation. But, no, he is in fact there on business reviewing a hotel getaway. Meghan’s made it big as an actress! Well, she’s a maid in a soap opera, but people ask for her autograph, so she’s doing pretty well.
The only problem with Meghan’s new success is what it’s done to her marriage. Much like what we saw with Betty Draper (now Betty Francis), as soon as the attention is off Don, the mistresses start to pile up.
This time we have Sylvia Rosen, the wife of a doctor Don recently befriended. She’s essentially just a body on the screen with no real personality.
Back at the agency, Don seems to be fraying at the edges and greedily scratching around for bigger clients, starting with episode 4. Heinz beans has been consistent business for SCDP even though they don’t propose large billings to the company. They were pretty clear about one thing though; SCDP should have nothing to do with Heinz Ketchup.
Stan from SCDP’s creative team leaked it to Peggy, who is now copy chief at Cutler Gleason and Chaough. This particular episode is the beginning of a visible rivalry between the two companies. Don and Pete pursue Heinz Ketchup while Ted Chaough pressures Peggy to make a pitch. Both agencies go for the gold and miss (a larger ad agency took the prize), but one scene tells us everything.
When the guys at SCDP leave the hotel room where they just pitched a perfectly decent campaign, they cross paths with the creative of CGC. Don stays behind to listen to what Peggy’s come up with, and she steals Don’s quote,
“If you don’t like what they’re saying, change the conversation.”
The tension on both sides of the door is left only to the viewer, but Don’s reaction suggests that he’s surprised — maybe even intimidated — by what she’s saying.
The crew is against each other again in episode 6 when both parties find themselves out in Detroit to pitch to Chevy, a company Don has dreamed about for a long time (recall: he wasn’t as interested in Jaguar back when they started that campaign. Chevy was in his eyes even then).
It’s late, and Don finds himself drinking his usual Old Fashioned when Ted joins him at the bar with only negative things to say about what will become of their brilliant campaigns. Each knowing they’re brilliant but a part of an ad agency too small to be taken seriously, they start to brainstorm a quick solution.
And then they merged.
And won Chevy.
Now everything has changed. Episode 7 was a déjà vu moment for those who recall the British buyout of Sterling Cooper back in season 2. The only thing the show should do differently is make the merger last, but the teaser for episode 8 suggests that is just not going to happen. Nevertheless, SCDP and CGC have yet to form a name, but they’ve already started bickering. The mutual jealousy between Ted and Don is growing rapidly.
In the mean time, Joan’s status is forever unchanged even as the rest of her co-workers seem to be doing so well. Pete’s marriage crumbled after his wife found out he’d been having an affair with the blonde next door (quite reminiscent of Betty and Don in season 2 and 3!). Peggy’s unhappy to be under the control of Don who doesn’t see her successes.
And Sylvia Rosen; the affair that added nothing to the season? She actually ended it herself, but only after Don basically made her his sex slave. What’s going on, Don?