Time Line: April 1963-December 1963
Plot: It has been six months since the Cuban Missile Crisis, which coincided with the purchase of Sterling Cooper by the British Agency PPL. Lane Pryce has been sent in from London to act as CFO. In a plan to cut costs, the agency is letting go of various members of the senior staff with tensions running high. Don is back with Betty but has not taken long in resuming his old habits and is once again cheating on her, firstly with an airhostess and later with Suzanne, his daughter’s teacher. At work, he is conscious of his growing importance. He came out better from the ultimatum he laid to PPL some months back and they ended up firing Duck Philips giving him more power within the organisation. He is trusted to visit clients without having to go with an account manager. He knows that clients sign with the agency and PPL’ s decision to buy them was directly linked to his creative genius. Meanwhile the agency continue to grow financially and successfully with the signing of major accounts like Jai Lai, John Deere and pitch to Hilton Hotels.
Yet the success of Sterling Cooper is not enough to bring the partners personal satisfaction. Their new parent company treat them as their property “subtly” planning a business trip on the 4th of July making them work on their National Holiday. They also learn disappointed that the main promotions will be reserved for their own top British executives. Towards the end of 1963 they learn that PPL is planning to sell them to McCann Erikson much to their shock and disapproval. Don who adamantly refuses to work for a huge corporation of their size comes up with a plan for him and the main employees of getting fired on purpose and so leave the agency freely to start over forming a new company.
Don Draper (Jon Hamm) – After considering quitting the agency, Don is now an even more quintessential part of Sterling Cooper. Professionally he continues to grow and at a party hosted by Roger Sterling and Jane Siegel, meets a mysterious stranger with whom he connects over a brief but friendly conversation at an unattended bar. Unbeknownst to Don, the stranger happens to be Conrad Hilton who will play a very important part in his life. Impressed by Don’s personal charm and self-confidence, he offers Don the chance to pitch to advertise some of his international hotels. Don puts his creative genius to work but more so over they connect on a personal level. Like Don, Conrad is a self made man from an impoverished past and instantly takes a liking to him filling in the role of a mentor and a father figure.
His personal life however continues to slide downhill, despite having promised Betty they would start over again with the pregnancy of their third child, he continues to cheat on her. He develops a strong attraction for Suzanne Farrell, Sally’s teacher at school and both begin a secret affair. Much to his shock, Betty finds out about his secret identity as Dick Whitman and to avoid things from getting worse he breaks off the affair with Suzanne. His apologies and explanations towards Betty aren’t enough for his wife who finally divorces him.
Peggy Olsen (Elizabeth Moss) – Peggy continues to grow at Sterling Cooper as now one of the key creative writers at the firm. She has surpassed other male colleagues who have been at the company longer than she has like Paul who openly resent her. It is now quite clear that she has become Don’s favourite, yet his way of displaying his respect for her work is to ride her harder than the rest sometimes bordering on openly hostile. Outside of work she begins to have an affair with the ex- accounts director Duck Philips who besides his personal interest in her also attempts to woo her from Sterling Cooper and to work with him at Grey as a revenge from his ex-employers. The fact that she feels more appreciated by an outsider like Duck than her own boss leaves her frustrated and toys with the idea of leaving the agency.
Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) – Pete continues to excel at work at Sterling Cooper. His energy and enthusiasm bring in new accounts to the firm. Being a younger and more forward thinking man compared to most of his peers, including Don, he pushes to market a certain client’s TV brand within the black market, much to their shock and the telling off by his bosses. His rivalry with Ken Cosgrove continues to develop and PPL who become aware of this, promote both of them to Head of Accounts Services to see how they compete against each other. Whilst Ken sees it as an opportunity, Pete is dismayed and feels betrayed by the company. This was a position he has been coveting for years now and when he finally gets it, he is shocked to learn that he has to share it with his rival within the agency. Like Peggy he also begins to flirt with the idea of leaving the agency and begins to set interviews with other agencies.
Betty Draper (January Jones) – Betty pregnant with her third child has decided to start over again with Don. Yet it is clear that her devotion for him is gradually slipping away. She spends more time connecting with her father, a retired widower with Alzheimer who moves in with them. After some months living with the Drapers and shortly before her baby is born, her father passes away. Much to Don’s disgust she names their third child Eugene in her dad’s memory. On a business trip to Rome where she accompanies Don, the passion between the couple seems to rekindle only to fade back away upon their return to their dull daily life.
Feeling unappreciated by Don she develops an attraction towards a politician Henry Francis. After befriending each other and following the birth of Eugene, they begin a love affair, after finding out about Don’s secret identity she realises she doesn’t love him anymore and ends their marriage and beginning a new life with the more mature and attentive Henry.
Roger Sterling (John Slattery) – Roger who has begun a new life with Jane Siegel is increasingly seen as a frivolous man with little interest in his company and more drawn towards enjoying life. Don with whom he has always had a friendly relationship now sees him as foolish and slowly begins to distance himself from him. They soon begin to clash over Don seeing clients without consulting or involving the accounts team and his reticence to sign a contract upon Conrad Hilton’s request. Roger further angers Don by going behind his back to ask Betty to convince him to sign. PPL themselves have a (deliberate?) oversight by not including Roger in the company’s new organisational chart despite knowing full well he is one of the senior partners at the firm. In the end, in the wake of the decision whether to accept being absorbed by McCann or breaking free and starting afresh, Don realises Roger’s connection with Lucky Strike makes him indispensable and so both of them make peace to start afresh.
Joan Holloway/Harris (Christina Hendricks) – Joan now a married woman is spending her final weeks at Sterling Cooper. Her dream to start a family are getting closer yet shortly before leaving the agency she and her husband Greg are dismayed to learn that he has been denied the coveted surgeon position he has been training for. This leaves the couple in a difficult situation with her unemployed and he having to apply for a different field in medicine. She reaches out to Roger who helps her get a job at a department store. Unsurprisingly when Roger, Bert and Don make plans to start their own agency she is offered to re-join them.
Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) – Lane is a brilliant financial manager sent in by PPL to manage the finances and accounts of Sterling Cooper. He soon begins to cut costs wherever possible much to the disapproval of Don and other executives. The agency also fires old-timer employees like the senior Head of Accounts, Bert Peterson. Personally he finds it very hard to be accepted by the other employees. Even though he develops a strong interest in American culture and literature he is always perceived as a hostile outsider by the rest. His wife finds it very difficult to settle in New York missing her life in London, which makes his initial days tougher. Yet despite his efforts and achievements he finds himself unappreciated by his seniors at the London Headquarters who openly regard him as a pawn and decide to move him to Bombay once he is finally beginning to settle in. This transfer is put on hold to his relief, following the freak accident of a top executive from PPL (Guy Mackendrick) on a business trip to their New York office. Upon knowing of PPL’s intentions to sell them to McCann Erickson and fully aware that his role is also on the line he accepts Don’s scheme to fire them, getting himself fired as well from head office and joins Don, Roger and Bert as one of the founding partners of their new agency (Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce).
Sally Draper (Kieran Shipka) – Sally begins to mature as an intelligent and inquisitive child. She shows her admiration for her teacher at school, Suzanne and woes to win her approval. She soon begins to bond with other grownups developing a very close relationship with her grandfather. She is shocked upon his death and finds it hard to accept the relative ease with which she perceives Don and Betty dealing with his death. Like her father she disapproves of her baby brother being named Gene and rejects him, imagining him to be the spirit of her grandfather. She also suffers greatly upon learning of her parents’ decision to get divorced.