The daily writing process of Honore de Balzac had three distinct steps. First, Balzac would drink ten cups of coffee. Second, he would masturbate. Third, he would sit down to write. It was Balzac who, after he had taken these three crucial steps, wrote that “Our greatest fears lie in anticipation.” Last night, the fifth season of Mad Men premiered and, despite Balzac’s pronouncement and Don Draper’s reiteration, I felt the paradigm shift. When the two-hour episode ended, my anticipation was such that fear held no sway over me. What “A Little Kiss” demonstrated was that this is the best show in the history of television, that I am in the surest of hands, free to anticipate without fear of what’s to come. I am now going to anticipate.
To the best of my inferential abilities, these are the main conflicts of Mad Men this season.
The Main Conflicts of Mad Men Season 5
1. The Humbling of The Draper
2. The Ascension of Pete Campbell to The Throne of Weasel
3. Meg Draper v. The Existential Orthodontist
4. Joan Harris, Frustrated Feminist
5. Lane Pryce, Sexual Deviant
6. I am still an ugly, girl version of Don Draper. I am Peggy Olsen.
Unverifiable Wild Card: Betty “Birdie” Draper Grows a Soul, or Descends Deeper into The Windless, Bottomless Canyons of Her Odiousness
End of Listing of Main Conflicts of Mad Men Season 5
With perfect accuracy, I will now predict the entire rest of the season. Spoilers follow.
The Humbling of The Draper
There is a new vanguard, and Don Draper is not a part of it. Age has muted his desires, dulled his edges. Try as he could to locate himself in another’s identity, his essence persists. He is forever the motherless farm boy, the cowardly solider. The idea of Don Draper was not a thoroughfare to another life. It was merely a part of a circuit. Draper is doomed forever to return to Dick Whitman, the boy unsure of wants, of himself. Slowly, but surely, Draper will devolve into a dirtier, older form of the “dirty, old man” he already is. As Roger becomes Burt Cooper, so shall Draper become Roger, so shall Peggy become Draper. And on and on.
The Ascension of Pete Campbell to The Throne of Weasel
It has been long coming. A decade of emasculation will give unto decades of triumph for Pete Campbell. His marriage will disintegrate. He will lose the house in the suburbs, the renown of his family name will all but disappear. Pete Campbell will be glad. For he was never meant to occupy the world he was born into, and never did he want to. Loveless marriages, unearned prestige, these are the staples of the preceding generation, of Roger Sterling’s generation. When Sterling abdicates, Campbell shall ascend.
Meg Draper v. The Existential Orthodontist
Joan Harris, Frustrated Feminist
Long has Big Red worn the pants in her marriage to the inept surgeon, and even longer has she carefully manipulated every system she occupies for her advancement. She is the modern woman born too late, and her frustrations with this fact will manifest. Her troglodytic husband will return. Her baby will require Huggies. Whereas her composure always steered her course toward safer waters, this will not be the case. She will take on too much responsibility at work. The world will transition from constant sexual harassment to habitual sexual harassment, and she will resent the world for it. In a moment of complete, utter desperation, she shall sink to an unfathomable low by providing the sexual deviant Lane Pryce with a handjob.
Lane Pryce, Sexual Deviant
The sexual deviant Lane Pryce will receive a handjob from Joan Harris. Most likely, he will exclaim “York of Northshire! I’ve never received a ebullient heave-ho! Rebecca will be DELIGHTED!” He will also purchase a subscription to Hustler.
I am an ugly, girl version of Don Draper. I am Peggy Olsen.
Peggy Olsen is an ugly, girl version of Don Draper. She is Peggy Olsen. This is her whole shtick. Self-reinvention. Buried Past. Raw talent. Balletic Kidney Beans. She will be The Draper to Campbell’s Sterling. They will have enough weasel sex to populate a weasel reality show on The Discovery Channel. This will happen. The show will be called Weaseling Our Way In with The Campbells.
My Greatest Fears Don’t Lie in Anticipation. My Greatest Fears Lie in What Betty Draper is Up to in Her Frigid Norwegian Tower of Discontent.