The Season 6 premiere of Mad Men was an exceptionally compelling one, but it was not a subtle one. Death was everywhere: it was taking Roger's mother and his shoe shine guy; it was foreshadowed to (Don standing by the window in his office was yet another nod to the falling man in the opening credits); it was waxed poetically about in therapy sessions; and it was even pitched in meetings (maybe Don won't jump out of a window, but he'll definitely jump into the ocean). Hell, even the title of the episode, "The Doorway," was alluded to literally and metaphorically throughout. Mad Men is a show that can lay it on pretty thick... except when it comes to those comically vague promotional trailers.
The Mad Men previews have become something of a joke among fans of the show. We get and appreciate that Matthew Weiner wants to fiercely protect his baby, but watching snippets of the characters saying blanket statements ("Don't do that!") week after week is more ridiculous than Betty's new hairdo. There's no double meaning in these clips, there's simply no meaning at all. Sunday night's sneak peek for next week's episode was especially absurd, even by Mad Men standards. (At this rate, we should pretty much expect to see characters saying "Hello?" or sneezing or taking a nap to leave us guessing at what's to come.)
Just like last season, I'll try to decode those purposefully cryptic videos with my Mad Men Preview Predictor and you can check back to see how I fared each week and come up with your own theories. On the next episode of Mad Men....
- Pete changes the television channel with his clicker, clearly frustrated. Ugh, leave it to Pete to somehow be a brat while watching TV. I don't think it's something he's watching (Pete doesn't care about anything that much) but I do think he's irritated that his wife Trudy would have the nerve to talk to him about anything.
- Roger: "I didn't know you were capable of being that bad." Conventional theory would tell me he's talking to Don. After all, Don kind of f**ked up this week's pitch (who knew a company wouldn't want their ad associated with thoughts of suicide?) and that phrase could conjure up the Mad Men double meaning (he actually is a bad guy). But I'm venturing to guess this is a Harry Crane-patented mistake being reprimanded, as Sideburns himself is later seen saying "I will have to double check" during a business meeting.
- Ken: "What can we do for you? We'd do anything to make you happy." Ah, happiness: the one thing no one on Mad Men can seem to achieve. Leave it to Ken Cosgrove, the only marginally decent man left at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, to try and offer it to someone. It's pretty much a guarantee he's saying this to a client in this moment. No one at that office would offer that kind of thing to their colleague, not even Ken.
- Pete: "Don't do that." Ugh, leave it to Pete to tell someone what to do and want things to just go his way. Since he has no scruples about who he's talking to anymore, I'm guessing he has the brass ones to say this to Don.
- Megan: "Yes, sir." Megan is saying this to Don, which should actually bode pretty well for her, since Don clearly likes to be the one in control. I doubt this is her being submissive, though.
- Don: "That's how it works," and "What are you talking about?" Oooh, lucky us. Another Don Draper "What?" Actually, I think he's directing these vague statements to over-excited new guy Bob Benson (guest star James Wolk), who is getting a harsh dose of unimpressed Don Draper.
- Peggy: "Well, he doesn't know that." Please, Peggy could write a book on what the men around her don't know, so this could be anyone. My guess, one of the poor saps she made stay late on New Year's Eve. (She really is the better version of Don, isn't she?)
- Pete: "It's all about what it looks like, isn't it?" Ah, now there's the double-meaning Mad Men statement we know and love. While Pete complaining about something could be directed towards anyone, since it's his only means of communication, I'm going with Joan on this one. If only because she was tragically underutilized in the premiere and if anyone can shoot down Pete's s**t, it's her.
- Other preview moments: Don looks at Joan (post-Pete back-and-forth, perhaps?), Peggy laughs (when you're sitting pretty at the top, you better believe she can), and Don shakes his head at Roger (because what else is new).
Watch the thirty second preview and see if you can pick up on subtleties (what does the color of Joan's dress mean, symbolism-wise?!) here:
How do you think next week's episode will shake out, based on this baseless snippets? Do you think I'm on to something with my guesses? Share in the comments section below.
[Photo credit: AMC]