Long ago, back in March, we did a little wondering about what season five of Mad Men might look like. Well now it's June and the season has come to a close, so let's take a look back. Probably the most telling hint about the season, the one that turned out to be the most true, was that there would be an overarching "every man for himself" professional and personal dynamic in play. Indeed, it was a season about the isolation of ambition, and the not always immediately apparent side-effects of success.
Our hero Don went through what was probably the most stable and maybe even contented period of his life that we've seen so far, living with new wife Megan in, if not wedded bliss exactly, certainly a kind of romantic and sexual satisfaction we've not seen before. At the beginning of the season, things were well enough at work, and Don and Megan had the tony, stylish Upper East Side apartment to serve as emblem of that comfort. They were maybe a bit flashy with their success, many a comment was made about the screamingly well-appointed apartment throughout the season, but there was a genuine fulfillment, a kind of easy deserved luxury, at the core of the couple's existence that cast Don in a strangely soft light. He's usually our gruff, frustrating lead explorer through this mid-century malaise, but this season he hung back, observed the scenery more. And then, of course, as a penalty for all this success — that is, contentment as success — he started to get bored and itchy, lashing out at work and beginning to question the worth of all he'd obtained.