9 Burning Questions About the New Season of Mad Men
The third season of Mad Men is on its way Sunday at 10 p.m., and if you're a regular viewer, then you know you have some questions left over from the spotty, cliffhanger-y second season. Pregnancy! Corporate takeovers! Gays! Of course Movieline would love to hear all of them -- I'll even go first (with spoilers, alas, for any season-two latecomers) after the jump.
1. So did Betty Draper have that baby or what? Thanks to the paparazzi, a few indiscreet previews and perhaps the conventional wisdom that a woman of Betty Draper's stature and class probably wouldn't go terminating a pregnancy in 1962 no matter how desperate she was, I'm afraid we already know the answer to this one.
2. But is it Don's? Now we're talking. Betty and Don had exactly as many sexual encounters during their estrangement as she had with that stranger who bought her a drink in episode 12, so it's anybody's guess. And we may never find out, though creator/executive producer Matthew Weiner loves letting loose ends dangle in the narrative wind until he finds a convenient excuse to finesse them again. Worst case scenario, the eventual DNA test in Mad Men season 39 will solve everything.
3. How does Don fit in at the new Sterling Cooper? Really, how does anyone fit in at the new Sterling Cooper? After Duck Phillips coordinated a British buyout while Don was AWOL in Palm Springs, the head of creative returned as he usually does: With Duck's balls in a vise, acknowledging that he had neither a contract nor any real incentive to stay with the new company. Of course, that was before Betty dropped the baby bombshell, so don't count on Don handing his corner office over to Harry Crane and his burgeoning TV department any time soon.
4. Will big gay Sal Romano finally get a better arc? Each of the first two seasons, Weiner and Co. have tossed Bryan Batt's character a single subplot in a single episode to rail at the closet door. Last year's crush on colleague and budding writer Ken Cosgrove was the very definition of the loose-end tickling mentioned above, and remains one of the series' most consistently annoying, dissatisfying dramatic stunts.
5. What's happening with Pete Campbell and Peggy Olson's love child? While the rest of Manhattan fled imminent annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Pete and Peggy had some quiet time to talk over their relationship. Part of which includes that 1-year-old Peggy claimed (mendaciously) to have given away -- this while Pete and his wife struggle to conceive their own child. Gasp! What could happen next? It was open-ended soap-opera pathos to the extreme, but face it: You can't really wait to see the would-be couple's hideously awkward first encounter in the kitchen during Season 3.
6. How's Freddy Rumsen's bladder holding up? When Joel Murray's drunken, troublemaking pants-pisser got in the cab to begin his "temporary" corporate exile, I thought: "That's it. Killed off." Peggy's expropriation of his office all but confirmed that we'd heard him play his last zipper symphony. But no news was good news by season's end, meaning he met yet return to see Peggy's name on his door and graduate to full-blown pants-crapping rage. Here's hoping -- and when he does, may Emmy call.
7. Would someone mind explaining what's going on between Don and Peggy? In a flashback to the day after Peggy gave birth, Don mysteriously drops by the hospital to either comfort or threaten her with his memorable rejoinder, "This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened." Ultimately she owed him the late-night favor of springing him and Bobbi Barrett from a Long Island jail after their drunk car wreck. I'm happy to be slow on the uptake today if anyone can tell me what I missed in there. But until then, Mr. Weiner, answers please.
8. What does Weiner have in store for the Kennedy Assassination? If Marilyn Monroe's death last season could reduce even Joan Holloway to tears, God forbid the emotional/cliffhanger wreckage planned for the end of 1963.
9. Is that you, Dick Whitman? Don Draper's war-hero identity theft is Pete Campbell's best-kept secret, thus entitling him to political ammo in his new job as Head of Accounts. Theoretically, anyhow; the news may not have fazed the agency's top brass two years ago, but under new management (particularly Duck Phillips's), expect it to come out sooner than later. Shit, meet fan.