Never a show with the cheeriest of characters, season five of the multiple award winning show is the darkest season yet by a clear stretch.
This time around the writers deal with some dark themes throughout the season, depression, suicide, alienation, prostitution and unfulfillment both professionally and personally.
A switch in office dynamics has clearly taken place between seasons, with Pete now far more powerful than before and now rivalling and finally side-lining Roger in terms of bringing in new accounts. Roger initially struggles to deal with suddenly becoming surplus to requirements and attempts to undercut Pete where possible before realising that he used to be as hungry and ambitious as Pete himself.
Don and Megan's honeymoon period lasts longer than I thought it would and Don's initial happiness in having his wife at work alongside him distracts him from his job. The bubble begins to deflate when Megan leaves the company to pursue an acting career and seemingly bursts in the season finale. Although expecting it all season, it was disappointing that the writers appear to have given in and decided that Don's personal life has now gone full circle back to that of the first season.
Sandwiched in amongst the ambitiousness and doom and gloom, there are several heart-warming moments, in particular Don accepting Peggy's resignation with a kiss on her hand and again Don's visit to Joan in an attempt to stop her sacrifice for the company.
I found this season to contain a huge amount of subtly placed humour with Harry, Roger, Bert, Pete and new boy Ginsberg all given some great lines. Given the incredibly dark story-lines Mad Men has almost become a black comedy.
The season's finale lacked the big storyline of previous finales but perhaps this was apt given the places that most of the characters find themselves in heading into season six.
While the themes dealt with in season five allow the writers to deal with some powerful emotions, having what seems like the whole cast trudging around waist deep in doom and gloom for the majority of the season is perhaps overkill. Mad Men is still a hugely enjoyable show and one of the best around but I hope for an improvement next time out.