Mad Men's third season was a narrative list of bad choices. (If you haven't watched it ahead of Sunday's Season 4 premiere, that's your bad choice, and there are spoilers ahead.) Not that Matthew Weiner's characters have ever been what you'd call right-thinking in their personal lives, but by season's end they'd torn down everything they valued. Betty Draper chose what she believed was her only option to flee suburban ennui, pursuing the same ennui with a different man she barely knew. Peggy Olson went to bed with Don Draper's direct competition. And Don, leading with his chin, fell in with violent drifters and poached his latest extramarital partner far, far too close to home.
Maybe the creators were tired of the Sterling Cooper cloister, and wanted new sets. So assume that Season 4 will open in a new corporate space for the new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce -- the only good choice any characters made last year, if you discount Don's coming clean about his past and Sal Romano's stand against sexual harassment. But Don's confession was forced, and Sal's act went hand in hand with his denial of self; if only he'd sought help from the openly gay EuroSmith! (I'm not suggesting the two should have become lovers, the most obvious, tired dramatic path possible -- just that Sal might have found support in coming out to his workplace, if he'd only asked for it.)
I just pray that my favorite character, the Mad Men camera, continues to make perfect choices as it's done all along. This video essay first appeared on this blog last year, on the eve of Season 3, and contains spoilers for Season 2. That said, if you're still worried that two-year-old plot points from a TV drama will burn your toast and poison your dog, I don't know what to do with you.
Thoughts/wishes/expectations for this new season? Did you find the third season unfocused, and hope for balance to be restored? What's the best way to mix an Old-Fashioned?