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Season 6 arrives in all of its MAD glory on Sunday (April 7, 9/8c on AMC) in a 2 hour premiere, but how did we get here? Join us in brushing up on previous seasons, and remember the twists and turns along the way with:
Betty begins seeing a therapist after she has a nervous breakdown and crashes the family car. Don, initially resistant to the idea of therapy, allows Betty to seek help. Behind Betty's back, Don has Betty's therapist report back to Don what Betty says in therapy. Meanwhile, Don Draper begins to have a flirtatious relationship with Rachel Menken, the Jewish owner of a department store who seeks marketing help at Sterling Cooper.
Don also has to deal with the arrival of his younger brother, Adam Whitman, who seems to know Don by the name of 'Dick Whitman'. Don pays Adam off and tells him to make a new life for himself, as Don did.
Flashbacks to Don Draper's childhood under the name "Dick Whitman" during the Great Depression depict Dick's relationship with his abusive father Archibald Whitman, who cheats a homeless man out of cash. Dick had grown friendly with the vagrant, and the incident further degrades his image of his father.
Peggy begins writing copy after ad man Freddy Rumsen recognizes her talent. She is soon given control of her own account, creating a campaign for a weight loss machine that has similar qualities to a vibrator. Peggy's work on the weight loss machine coincides with her own weight gain. Roger Sterling suffers two heart attacks, drastically changing his outlook on life. The Sterling Cooper ad men throw a raucous party the night of the 1960 presidential election, only to have their man Richard Nixon lose the election.
Further flashbacks revolve around Dick Whitman's origin story in the Korean War, in which he is put under the command of a Lieutenant Donald Draper. After an attack, an accidental explosion kills Draper and injures Whitman. Whitman switches dog tags with his lieutenant and takes the name 'Don Draper' as a way to escape the war. The Army has Whitman take the body back to his family. The coffin is dropped off by train; Dick does not come out to greet his family, but a young Adam sees Dick standing inside the train. His entreaties that Dick is alive and well and on the train are dismissed by his parents. A female train passenger notices his look of grief and tells him to "forget that boy in the box". Whitman turns his back on his family and begins his new life as 'Don Draper'.
Pete Campbell, after someone mistakes him for Don, receives a package from Adam Whitman filled with Don Draper / Dick Whitman's childhood photographs (Adam posted the package immediately prior to hanging himself). Pete confronts Don with the information that he knows that 'Don' is not his real name, but Dick Whitman, and attempts to blackmail him for a promotion. This becomes irrelevant after founding partner Bert Cooper is told, who brushes it off with a "Who cares?"
Peggy seeks out a doctor for severe stomach pain. The doctor quickly realizes that Peggy's weight gain is a result of a pregnancy. Peggy has been carrying Pete Campbell's child without knowing. After the delivery of the child, the nurse tries to get Peggy to hold the baby. Peggy refuses.
The season ends near Thanksgiving 1960 as Betty and Don bicker over Don's disdain for attending Thanksgiving dinner with Betty's family. Don cites his work load as reason for him to stay home. Soon afterwards, Betty discovers that Don was receiving calls from her therapist detailing her meetings with him. Don also learns that his brother, Adam Whitman, has hanged himself.
Don subsequently makes a new campaign presentation for the Kodak Carousel that revolves around the 'power of nostalgia'. During a train ride, Don has a vision of returning home to announce that he will be joining the family for Thanksgiving. Instead, Don returns home to find the house dark and empty. He sits alone at the bottom of the family staircase as the season closes.
Sterling Cooper also travels further into the "Pepsi Generation" as signing youth talent becomes a priority. This new talent includes a new receptionist named Jane Siegel. After a short affair, Roger proposes to Jane. Joan, having been outed to her coworkers by Paul as being 30 years old, after mocking his bohemian ways, becomes engaged to a controlling medical student Greg Harris, who ultimately sexually assaults Joan inside Don's office prior to the couple's wedding. In spite of this violation, Joan remains with her fiancé.
Don Draper has to step in to handle the obnoxious antics of a controversial comedian and client named Jimmy Barrett, and ends up having an extramarital affair with his licentious wife, Bobbie Barrett. Don's relationship with Bobbie is significantly more volatile than his past affairs. After Don discovers that Bobbie has been talking about him to other women around town, Don leaves her tied to a hotel bed in her lingerie. Later, a resentful Jimmy tells Betty about the affair, causing her to kick Don out of the family home.
Peggy, meanwhile, strikes up a courteous friendship with her priest, Father Gill. Father Gill becomes alerted to Peggy's previous pregnancy after Peggy's sister speaks of it during confession. During Easter Sunday, Father Gill hands Peggy an Easter egg and tells her, "for the little one", implying to her his knowledge of the truth. Flashbacks to January 1961 reveal that Don was Peggy's only visitor at the hospital after her child was born. Don had convinced her to get out of the hospital and return to work, telling her, "This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened."
Don takes a business trip to California during his exile from home. He ends up meeting with his best friend, Anna Draper, the wife of the original Don Draper. Anna comforts Don about his current marital troubles and identity crisis. Don returns home as the Cuban Missile Crisis begins and Sterling Cooper is bought out by a London-based advertising agency, Puttnam, Powell, and Lowe at the behest of Duck Phillips. After Don informs the head of PPL that he would not work under Duck's proposed new directions for Sterling-Cooper and that he is not under contract with the company (something Duck assumed), Duck goes on a drunken rant in front of the PPL executives.
Betty finds out from her doctor that she is expecting another child. Despite her subtle questions about abortion, the doctor encourages her to keep the child, arguing abortion is for young women of little means. During the apocalyptic atmosphere of the Missile Crisis, Betty has sex with a strange young man at a local bar. She returns home to find a letter from Don, begging her to let him come home. The season closes as Betty informs him of their new child.
Pete is offered the role of Head of Accounts by Lane Pryce. Pete is ecstatic until he learns that he will be splitting the responsibility with Ken Cosgrove. At a country club party that Roger and Jane throw, Don and Betty both connect with strangers. Don strikes up conversation with a man who turns out to be Conrad Hilton, the founder of Hilton Hotels. Betty has a friendly conversation with an affable man named Henry Francis, who works for Governor Rockefeller. Roger, meanwhile, takes issue with his daughter Margaret, who does not want Jane at her wedding, which is scheduled for November 23, 1963.
Betty's senile father Gene, who finds Don despicable and unsuitable for his daughter, comes to live with the Drapers and strikes up a friendship with Sally, even allowing the young girl to drive. Gene soon dies, and Sally scolds her parents and Betty's relatives for not caring about his demise. Betty gives birth to a boy, named Gene after her father.
Days before Joan's last day at the company, her husband returns home drunk, telling her that he was passed over for an important promotion and that he has been unofficially blacklisted by his teachers from being a professional surgeon in the state of New York due to his sub-par surgical skills. She will have to keep working. Joan tells him that she has already quit Sterling Cooper, to which he demands she get another job. Executives from Putnam, Powell, and Lowe travel from London to take a look at the Sterling Cooper officers. Ken Cosgrove rides a John Deere tractor in the office after winning them as a new client. The secretaries begin riding the mower around the office in celebration. Lois rides it and loses control, running over a PPL executive's foot. Joan quickly takes control of the situation, resulting in her spending her last day on the job in a hospital waiting room, covered with blood. Meanwhile, Lane Pryce (whose work with the agency was to be "rewarded" with another transfer, this time to India) is informed that he will keep his job in the States. Unfortunately, weeks later, he is informed that the agency will be sold again and his future is left in doubt.
Conrad Hilton starts harassing Don with late night phone calls, seeking off the books help with regard to advertising for his companies. Don finds it both flattering and overwhelming, as he struggles to create quality material for the man. Betty enlists Henry's help with a neighborhood petition, and becomes more smitten with him. She begins sending him letters and meeting with him in secret. Elsewhere, Don begins having an affair with Suzanne Farrell, Sally's school teacher.
While working on a shoot for a Lucky Strike commercial, Lee Garner, Jr. comes on to Sal. Sal refuses, causing Lee to call Sterling Cooper and demand his firing. Roger fires Sal. When Sal goes to Don for help, Don explains that the loss of Lucky Strike would be detrimental to Sterling Cooper. From a payphone, Sal calls his wife and lies to her that he will be working late. Meanwhile, Betty breaks into the drawer to the desk in Don's den. She finds his box of Dick Whitman's family photos and evidence of Anna Draper's existence and Don's divorce from her. She confronts him. Don is forced to divulge the secret of his former identity and his desertion in Korea.
Pete becomes despondent when alerted by Lane Pryce that Ken is to become Senior Vice President in charge of Account Services. The news of the assassination of John F. Kennedy hits as Roger's daughter gets married. Pete is adamant about leaving the agency and mourns Kennedy on the couch with his wife. Greg informs Joan that he is to become an Army Surgeon. Peggy hears of Kennedy's death after meeting with Duck Phillips for afternoon sex. Confronted with the lies her husband has told her regarding his identity and infidelities as well as her own growing attraction towards Henry, things come to a head with the Drapers following the assassination of the president. Don's inability to connect to Betty's emotional grief over the death of the President leads Betty to tell Don that she doesn't love him anymore and that she wants a divorce.
Connie meets with Don to inform him that he's discovered that Sterling Cooper and Puttnam, Powell, and Lowe is being bought out by McCann Erickson. Don returns to the office and begins hatching plans with Cooper, Sterling, and Pryce to buy the company. Lane fires Don, Cooper, and Sterling, giving them the ability to walk away and start a new advertising agency. Don and Roger start reaching out to other employees to join their new agency, including Pete and Peggy.
While drinking with Sterling, Don learns about Betty's relationship with Henry Francis, confronts her physically and calls her a whore. However, faced with his own sins, Don later calls Betty and tells her that he will not fight the divorce. Betty leaves with the baby and Henry to get a divorce in Reno. Don, Peggy, Roger, Bert, Lane and Pete subsequently break into the Sterling Cooper office to take necessary supplies and files. Joan and Harry are soon called in to join the company and help them. The group meets in a small hotel room, which Joan refers to as Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
The main narrative of the fourth season is driven by Don Draper's identity crisis after his divorce from Betty. As Don falls deeper into existential despair, he begins regularly meeting with prostitutes, and faces debilitating alcoholism. Don's life is falling apart. He meets with a prostitute over the holidays. He is dismissive toward his blind date. He sleeps with his well-meaning secretary Allison, breaking his own rules, and causing her to quit in a flurry of anguish and resentment. His relationship with Betty is toxic, and she makes it hard for him to see his children. He is drinking more than ever before, frequently blacking out. He makes a trip out to California to see Anna Draper and meets her niece, Stephanie. After he tries to seduce her, Stephanie tearfully tells Don that Anna is dying of cancer, a fact her family didn't tell her. Don, unable to spend time with Anna knowing she is going to die, tells Anna that he will return to California soon with his kids, knowing it's a lie.
Sally is having a difficult time at the Francis home. After a friend's mother catches Sally masturbating at a sleepover, Betty demands that Sally be sent to therapy, which Don doesn't care for. Sally's therapist starts to not only comfort Sally, but begins to analyze Betty as well.
Pete and Peggy seem to be going off on different cultural paths. Pete accepts fatherhood when Trudy gives birth to a baby girl. Peggy, meanwhile, makes friends with a group of beatniks, including Joyce, a lesbian photo editor at Life magazine and Abe, a liberal writer she starts to date. Peggy's relationship with Don also becomes frayed after Don wins a prestigious award on a commercial Peggy helped to come up with. While forcing Peggy to miss a birthday party her family and Mark arranged for her, to work on a presentation for Samsonite Suitcases, the tension comes to a head and is ultimately defused, when a drunk Duck (still longing for Peggy) shows up and punches Don after assuming that the two are lovers. That night, the two fall asleep on the couch in Don's office and Don sees a vision of Anna Draper walking into his office carrying a suitcase, smiling, and walking out. When he gets up, Don calls Stephanie — Anna Draper has died. Don hangs up the phone, turns to see Peggy, and breaks down in tears. Peggy comforts Don, and the two hold hands in a moment of friendship (a reference to how she came on to him in the pilot episode).
After Anna's death, Don cuts down on his drinking and becomes more self-reflective, writing in his journal and exercising more. He asks Faye Miller, a consultant at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, out on a formal date. The two become involved in a relationship. Roger and Joan, meanwhile, have sex after getting mugged in a poor neighborhood. Joan becomes pregnant and decides to pass the child off as Greg's rather than take Roger's money for an abortion.
Roger loses the Lucky Strike account, putting the financial security of the entire company in jeopardy. Don, meanwhile, worries about his secret after FBI agents come to the Francis home and question Betty about Don. It seems that the interrogation was a response to Don applying for security clearance when chasing North American Aviation as a client, which was arranged by Pete and Don's new secretary Megan Calvet. Don forces Pete to drop them in order to prevent them from finding out his identity theft and confesses his secret to Faye, who advises Don that he should come clean with his past to the authorities rather than continue to live in fear. Don breaks up with her over this and her proclamation that she can not see herself as a mother to Don's children and later discovers that his past mistress (from season one) Midge Daniels is now in the throes of heroin addiction. After seeing Midge's desperation, Don puts out an ad in The New York Times proclaiming to the nation that Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce will be taking a health stand and no longer taking any cigarette accounts. The sensational move does not go over well with the other SCDP employees, except Megan, who admires it.
In October 1965, Don takes his kids on a trip to California (with Megan in tow) and stops by Anna Draper's home, now occupied by Stephanie. Sally sees a message Don and Anna had painted on the wall "Dick + Anna 64" and asks who Dick is. Don responds: "That's me", explaining it off as a nickname. Over the course of the weekend, Don decides that he is in love with Megan and after a night of lovemaking, proposes to her in a state of whimsy.
Peggy and Ken, meanwhile, save the company by signing new work with Topaz Pantyhose. Betty and Henry move out of the Drapers' Ossining home and fire their nanny/housekeeper over her refusal to help Betty break up the budding friendship between Sally and Glenn, a neighborhood boy who warns Sally of the dangers of parents who remarry. Don announces the news of his engagement to Megan to the office and later to his girlfriend Faye, who is left in tears. Don returns to the Draper home one last time to say goodbye to Betty, who shows signs of regret towards the ending of their marriage as they leave their former home for the last time. They depart through separate exits. The season closes as Don lies awake with Megan, and he looks out toward the window.
Feeling her chances at work have been undercut by Don's detachment, the couple have a fight while touring a Howard Johnson motel. Don leaves Megan behind in a huff when she tells him that she's come to find the advertising industry hollow and superficial. Megan manages to hitch a ride back to their new apartment, where they fight and ultimately reconcile.
Don's slacking at work coincides with the arrival of a new hire, in the form of young advertising phenom Michael Ginsberg. Young, aggressive, and anti-social, Ginsberg proves to be a rival for Don and Peggy. When the two are made to pitch advertisements for a snow cone company, Don purposely leaves behind Ginsberg's child-friendly campaign material in order to pitch his own darker, devil-themed campaign instead, which is ultimately chosen. Meanwhile, Peggy finds herself reaching a glass ceiling with regards to Ginsberg being a male, allowing the ability to rise within the company faster than Peggy. However, one evening Ginsberg confides his dark secret to Peggy: that he was born in a Nazi concentration camp for Jews, where his parents died and that he spent his childhood in an orphanage before his last surviving adult relative (an uncle) found him and took him to America to live. By the end, Peggy decides to leave the agency for another firm in order to fulfill her full potential. Don attempts to keep her by offering her a raise but ultimately concedes that Peggy has to leave him to continue out of his shadow. Before she leaves the office forever, Don kisses her hand, finally realizing how important she was to him. Peggy also makes a new change at home: she accepts her boyfriend's proposal to live together, to her mother's disapproval.
Elsewhere, Roger struggles to remain relevant in the company as Pete Campbell schemes to steal his plush office for himself. Roger begins to secretly pay Peggy and Ginsberg to produce material for him to pitch to clients. He also experiments with LSD, which has a profound impact on him and his own marriage to Jane; under the influence of the drug the two confess that their marriage has failed and they divorce. Roger meanwhile begins pursuing an affair with Megan's mother, culminating in Don's daughter Sally catching her step-grandmother performing oral sex on Roger.
Pete Campbell, having moved to the suburbs, begins to become more and more detached from his life and starts missing the big city. His relationship with Lane Pryce collapses and the two fight, with Lane beating Pete up in front of the other partners. He also begins a relationship with Beth Dawes, the wife of a fellow train commuter, who later breaks off the affair out of guilt even though she and Pete know that her husband is unrepentant in his own adultery. She later tells Pete that her husband is forcing her to undergo electroshock therapy because of her manic depression. Pete visits his mistress one last time in the hospital, whose memories of the affair have been destroyed. He confronts Beth's husband later on the train, revealing the affair and culminating in a fist fight. Returning home defeated and alone, his wife Trudy agrees to allow Pete to rent an apartment in the city for overnight stays.
Joan struggles with single motherhood while her husband is overseas, with help from her mother. However, when she discovers that Greg has signed up for another tour of duty in the army medical corps without consulting her, Joan confronts Greg and in the process denounces him for his earlier rape of her and orders him out of her and their son's life. Greg reluctantly agrees but then files for divorce, which upsets Joan as she fears that Greg will paint her as the villain in their divorce case. Further complicating things is the firm's pursuit of Jaguar as a client, as Pete is able to get a promise that the agency will get the account if Joan sleeps with one of the executives at the car company. Pete arranges a vote behind Don's back, and the other partners reluctantly agree to pay Joan to have sex with the executive to secure the account for them. However, Lane convinces Joan to take an ownership percentage of the company instead as Don tries (and fails) to stop Joan from doing the deed. The firm wins the account, but alienates Joan and Don from the rest of the partners and from each other.
Lane Pryce struggles with his own demons as he is revealed to be greatly in debt and owing a good amount of taxes from when he moved his money to the US last season to help keep the firm afloat. When his scheme to use his Christmas bonus to pay off his tax debt fails, Lane is forced to steal from the company to pay his debt. Bert and Don discover this and Don fires Lane, who then kills himself rather than face the disgrace of resigning and returning to England. He hangs himself in his office, leaving Roger, Pete, and Don to cut him down. Nobody knows the reason behind his suicide but Don.
Megan (who has returned to acting) seeks Don's help to secure a commercial role for her. Megan's visiting mother cruelly denounces Megan's ambitions and tells Don that he should not help Megan, as she believes that Megan's dream of acting must be crushed and for her to behave like a proper wife of a wealthy man like Don. While Don is at the dentist, Megan's mother reduces her daughter to a quivering wreck, resulting in Don agreeing to help Megan get the role in order to secure her the happiness she needs to function. Eventually, she gets the role, and after dropping her off at the studio, Don leaves to a bar where he sits alone by himself and orders a drink.
The season ends with a montage of all the main characters having realizations about themselves. Pete, in the aftermath of his affair with Beth, is seen sitting alone on his couch with his headphones on and eyes closed. Peggy, having quickly risen through the ranks in her new career, is shown toasting a single glass of champagne to herself with a smile on her face. A naked Roger looks out the window of his hotel room at the city, in the throes of an LSD trip, and raises both of his arms into the air. And lastly, Don is seen at the bar, where a woman begins to flirt with him and asks if he is alone. He turns and looks at her ambiguously.
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