There’s a stunning moment in the season four finale of “Mad Men” when Don Draper smiles after announcing to the office his impulsive engagement to secretary Megan.
Jon Hamm, who plays the dashing ad man, told TODAY.com that even he had doubts about that scene until the viewing party at the 21 Club in New York City.
“I hadn’t seen it and (creator) Matt (Weiner) will sometimes surprise you with the edits. I thought maybe he would make it all seem like it didn’t happen, like a dream sequence,” Hamm said. “So watching it in a room full of people, when Don proposed to Megan there was an audible gasp. So it worked.”
So has the tragic Draper finally found happiness in the eagerly anticipated new season, which kicks off Sunday?
Don’t bet on it.
“He certainly seemed happy at the end of the season,” Hamm told TODAY.com. “What he went through, and to see him being happy, was refreshing. I think he earned that. But Don has a problem maintaining the status quo and doesn’t feel comfortable resting. I don’t know if he’s done soul searching. He had a lot to do last season and some work to do this season.”
In season four, Don went diving down to the bottom of the pool and emerged ready to change his life. And this year points to a theme of a career: Does your job define you? Can you find happiness outside of where you work? How adaptable can you be?
Of course, it's not all about Don at the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
“(Ken Cosgrove’s) sense of happiness might not be derived from his job,” Weiner pointed out at a recent PaleyFest panel. “Ambition in the office is not his means to happiness. He’s healthy enough to know the job isn’t the key to happiness, and others in the office may not know that.”
Harry Crane’s star is rising with the importance of television advertising, and what he’s lost in weight he has gained in ego. In short, Harry’s a bit of a jerk this season. Roger Sterling hasn’t lost his position or his income at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, but he has no clients after losing the Lucky Strike account at the end of season four.
John Slattery said his character, Roger, is keenly aware of Pete Campbell and Harry’s rising stars – and his own descent after losing his sole account. Slattery reiterated the theme of work defining you.
“Most of the season takes place in the workplace and how it determines your identity,” Slattery told TODAY.com. “Roger says in the first episode, ‘The only thing worse than not getting what you want is someone else getting it.’ ”
And Roger still wants what Don has.
“Why would anyone stop being envious of Don?” Slattery said.
And while Don seems to be in a happy place at the beginning of the premiere episode, it doesn’t look as if that can possibly continue.
As Elisabeth Moss' Peggy Olson says in the premiere, “I don’t recognize that man, kind and patient.”
"Mad Men" returns with a two-hour season five premiere on Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.
Which story line are you most excited for this season? Tell us on our Facebook page!