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.


  • bess marvin, girl detective says:

    I can't answer all those questions as I am not Matt Weiner (damn!), but I think that Don respects and admires Peggy's gusto (and vise versa) and is doing all he can to make sure she gets to the top without the usual pitfalls.

  • MikeyLikesTV says:

    I'm pretty sure that Duck is out of the picture.

  • Katey says:

    At some point this summer Weiner established that it is Don's baby.
    The Kennedy assassination episode is going to be tremendous, I feel it already.

  • icallthebigonebitey says:

    Regarding question #4: I won't pretend to speak for every gay, but this homo is happy to see us represented on television whenever possible. And Stu, I respectfully disagree with you about that particular storyline -- I find it realistic and subtle.

  • MissCleo says:

    I'm also not sure that Peggy's claims to have given away the baby were mendacious. And I had assumed Don and Betty conceived the baby during the episode when they were staying with her dementia'd-up father...

  • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

    I dunno. It seems like Weiner and his staff had a checklist of season-one follow-ups, got down to "Sal's gay," wrote it into an episode and dusted off their hands. I totally agree about the subtlety and realism; it just doesn't seem sincere.

  • icallthebigonebitey says:

    I see what you're saying. It seems like the Paul Kinsey character kind of got short shrift this past season as well. Maybe they'll spend more time with the supporting cast this year. That would be okay by me.

  • icallthebigonebitey says:

    That reminds me -- AND SEASON TWO SPOILERS ALERT! -- can someone clarify: Peggy's sister and her husband (the "malingerer") live with Peggy's mother, right? And they are taking care of the baby? Or did I misinterpret? And we don't exactly know what the situation is with custody, correct? I'm assuming there's no legal document in place, but we don't really know for sure? Like, maybe Peggy will eventually begin raising the child herself?

  • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

    That's how I understood it. Hence the priest's Easter egg "for the little one," etc.

  • madwoman says:

    Peggy's sister was also shown as pregnant in a flashback. I can't remember which episode, but I was led to believe that the baby was her sister's.

  • Scottdrinkstoomchcoffee says:

    I'm surprised there was no question raised about the future of Joan and her "Here, let me rape you in Don Draper's office" fiance. She seems to be moving along with her Christmas wedding plans, but those roses left on the desk were very symbolic.
    I also wasn't confused at all about Don's comments to Peggy in the hospital. It was meant to help her get it behind her and get back on her feet. "It never happened" came back in the DUI episode when she was returning the favor. I can see her running the entire agency by season 39...
    In the realy 60's, being gay was an executive's death sentance. There were no revolutionary gays on Madison Ave. (or anywhere else outside of the the Bay area). Our euro-child came out when asking Peggy to go to the concert and I was pleasantly surprised to see such a non-reaction from the jr. executives. I expect this to spill over into an episode involving Sal this season. Subtle is good and leads to more drama. It's one sub-plot about one minor character. It doesn't have to dominate the show.

  • Michael Strangeways says:

    no, they are NOT taking care of Peggy's baby...Peggy's sister was coincidentally pregnant about the same time Peggy was and the baby Peggy gazes at is her nephew/niece and not her own. Peggy gave her child up for adoption.

  • Scottdrinkstoomuchcoffee says:

    And Duck is probably out of the picture. Again, Matt uses symbolism better than anyone and Duck being asked to leave the conference room was very symbolic. "He never could hold his liqour" came out as if it was expected to happen soponer or later. Don takes over. Duck goes swimming.

  • icallthebigonebitey says:

    Oh that's right! I knew there was something I was forgetting. I'm wondering if something happened to Peggy's sister's baby? Stillborn perhaps? I think it's deliberately ambiguous, but it does seem like the baby they're all taking care of it is Peggy's. We'll see I guess.
    Also, do we know for sure there's only one -- living -- baby? Ack, I could speculate for days. That's part of the fun I suppose.

  • Nashtinka says:

    I got the feeling that the sister was pregnant but lost the child and the baby is Peggy's. I don't remember why since it's been so long.

  • Nick says:

    Matt Weiner: "I can say one thing in advance: the Kennedy assassination is very well-trod territory, and I just don't see myself adding to that." So, no "Where they were when it happened" episode.

  • np says:

    They have a total mentor/protoge thing going on.

  • np says:

    I'm also wondering about poor Joan. I so hope she didn't wind up marrying that guy, but I'm thinking she probably did.
    I was so sad when Harry hired someone else to do the script reading that she had been helping with

  • Chip N. Dipp says:

    Freddy Rumsen fans: if you want to have your mind blown, rent One Crazy Summer.

  • sweetbiscuit says:

    Then why the whole bit about Peggy's sister practically forcing Peggy to go into the nursery and see the baby when she came for a visit? Plus I recall Peggy's sister making a comment about "the state of New York" making the decision about how competent she was, in terms of making decisions. I'm not at all convinced that baby isn't Peggy's.

  • np says:

    Also I kind of disagree about the Sal thing. I thought the episode with Ken was great. As someone noted above, it is very realistic, and realistic not only in how it represented Sal and his repressed feelings, but also so well written in how it showed the stress of that on his relationship with Kitty. He's married because that's what men were supposed to grow up and do, but the vivid resentment he projects at her, and her frustration and misery at being made to feel not good enough. I think you're really selling this episode short. This vignette of his home life in which we watch his hidden desires and public face clash, and get a sense of the fallout from how he has to live...I thought it was really well done. The 2nd season episode brought us a step further into Sal's personal life than his storyline in 1st season (the encounter with the Belle Jolie lipstick dude..who also came back in 2nd season for a brief hello). Sal is a minor character so to me there's nothing wrong with the pace at which his storyline is progressing. Any faster would be to rush it. Weiner has said he envisions the show taking place over the course of the entire decade of the 1960s, so Sal has a lot of time to bust open the closet door.

  • FlyOverTown says:

    I don't think there's any confusion about whose baby Betty Draper is carrying. She clearly found out she was preggers prior to hooking up with the random stranger from the bar. That's the ONE thing I haven't wondered about since Season 2 ended. Now, the whole Peggy's baby stuff, still confusing. Also, is there something up with the priests extreme interest in Peggy? Like maybe he's 'interested' in an un-priestly way? Or am I just looking for sexual angst in every character.

  • Deborah Lipp says:

    1. That leaked photo may be the new baby, or it may be a flashback. We'll see.
    2. Betty had sex with a stranger in episode 13, not 12, *after* finding out she was pregnant. Matt Weiner has been very clear that Betty got pregnant in episode 10 while she & Don visited her father.
    5. Are you frickin' kidding? Peggy gave the baby up for adoption. Why do you think otherwise. A red herring dangled that perhaps Peggy's sister was raising the baby, but then we learned in episode 5 that the sister was hugely pregnant right around the time Peggy gave birth. Mystery solved. Move along, nothing to see here.
    7. Don relates to Peggy; they both have secrets to keep, they're both happiest at work. It's a great relationship.
    8. Weiner has said in many, many interviews that he has no interest in exploring the Kennedy assassination, which has been explored to death in fiction.
    9. Pete blabbed Don's secret to Bert Cooper, and we all know how Cooper responded. There's no more cat to let out of that bag.
    Glad I could help!

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