Details on the next, penultimate season of Mad Men are beginning to crop up in their usual ambiguous, not-actually-detailed way, in the wake of AMC announcing that the show will return with another 13 episodes on April 7. Outside of that, we know that Don and Megan will be vacationing in Hawaii, lounging around in bathing suits, and contemplating Dante’s The Inferno poolside, as people in the ’60s did. (“When a man puts on a swimsuit, he feels both secure and exposed. When a man swims, he’s halfway between living and drowning. If you listen, he’ll order a daiquiri, but what he’s really ordering is the illusion of relaxation, because he knows the best we can hope for is to rest in that limbo, and for that moment to feel like forever.” And so on.)
Anyway, Matthew Weiner is typically coy about what to expect, other than confirming the season would kick off with another two-hour “movie” (this time at the request of the network) and would definitely be the show’s next-to-last—though Weiner did say he would be amenable to splitting its final season in half, should AMC want to adopt a Breaking Bad strategy. Some other possibly useful information:
- Weiner would “love” for you to rewatch the final 10 minutes of last season’s closing episode right before the premiere, saying you’ll have “a really incredible experience as we get there” if it’s still fresh in your mind. (For an even more incredible viewing experience, we also recommend taking mushrooms and putting on side one of Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother.)
- Peggy didn’t go anywhere: Weiner is happy that everyone pointlessly freaked out over the idea of Elisabeth Moss leaving the show, but again, it was pointless. She’s still there—not that you should necessarily expect to see her back in Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, since “this is not [choose] your own adventure. We have a plan and we’re going to tell you a story…. Sometimes the hero gets what he wants and sometimes he doesn’t.”
- Speaking of which, sorry, but Pete isn’t going to kill himself: “I don’t see Peter Campbell as someone who would ever commit suicide,” Weiner says. “He is very judgmental about mental illness. He eventually said it in Episode 13 that he views it as weak.” Weiner refused to say whether Pete would at least get punched in the face in every episode.
- While he won’t go so far as to spell out any major themes, Weiner does say this season is “very related to what our anxieties are right now… a loss of national self-esteem, an alienation that has been created from technology and a turning inward from the things you can't control to the things you can.”
- It’s also full of everything he could think of, with Weiner saying he initially thought of saving major plot turns for later, until he realized “when you’re on a show where drama is somebody watching a phone ring, you really shouldn’t take out any story ideas you have.” (Mad Men: Where Drama Is Somebody Watching A Phone Ring.)
- And finally, Weiner says, “The show will be advancing in time,” confirming that this season will be all about Don Draper hurtling through a wormhole, every week confronted with some new bright or dystopian future he strives to comprehend, and hoping each time that the next leap… will be the leap home. And Pete is also there, as a little handheld computer that Dean Stockwell keeps punching in the face.