‘Mad Men’ season 6: Is Don Draper’s next battle set in stone?

Where can Don go from here?

Sunday night marks a pretty sad occasion — the last one of its kind since March without a new episode of “Mad Men” to salivate over. Was season 5 polarizing? Sure, and many critics and fans go as far as to say including Jessica Pare’s Megan Draper to the extent that Matthew Weiner did was the show’s equivalent of what Lane did to himself. Luckily, we were not one of those people, and found this show to be equally engaging (if not moreso) than some of its predecessors.

Based on what Weiner showed us in the finale, though, we don’t see another season featuring Megan front and center on the horizon. With her acting career starting to pick up steam, she is likely to be away for stretches — and that is the best-case scenario when it comes to her relationship with Don. The worst case is that they have either already divorced, or Don has cheated on her with the woman at the bar who asks if he is alone. (Weiner has already said that we should not jump to any conclusions that Don does anything wrong.)

It would be easy to pigeonhole season 5 as “the Betty Show,” but what Weiner remembered based on his final three episodes is that as much as this is a show about Don, it is more than just his personal life. “Mad Men” is also a show about Peggy and her journey from the woman we saw in season 1 to the one who departed SCDP for a more lucrative career. Her exit from the firm created one of season 5’s landmark scenes, and one good enough to potentially earn Elisabeth Moss yet another Emmy nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series. Don’s devastation wasn’t merely about his fondness for her — it was a recognition of her talent.

Is there any way that “Mad Men” is not bracing for a showdown between Don and his former protegee? At this point, it seems inevitable — and we couldn’t be happier to see it. Battles between two characters as well-developed as these two are rare on television, and there really only are two recent examples of those that come close to the mark — Walter White and Gus on “Breaking Bad’s” fourth season and Dexter and Trinity on season 4 of “Dexter.”

Of course, we cannot expect to find out anything concrete about season 6 for months — and even then, Weiner is notorious for keeping elements of his show under wraps until the season airs. All we can do is look to the future based on signs and signals — and they are looming rather large when it comes to Don and Peggy squaring off in the workplace war we’re eagerly awaiting to see.

Do you think there is any other path possible for Don and Peggy at this point?

Photo: AMC

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