Season 6 of AMC's Mad Men depicted the slow-burning disintegration of Don Draper's professional career and his personal life; it was the culmination of the six-year downward spiral viewers have witnessed since the show's premiere in 2007, and all his own doing, to boot. Within the span of thirteen episodes, Don managed to profane his second marriage, wholly unravel in front of clients, alienate his daughter with the uncomfortable knowledge of his extra-marital dalliances, and wind up on an indefinite leave of absence from his work.
How does anybody bounce back from such an astronomical tally of failures and shames? While only nine or so seconds long, the initial teaser for the next installment of Mad Men certainly suggests that somehow, Don Draper has found a way to recover after his countless stumbles from a year hence. Amazing that such a minute amount of footage can hint at so many different, possible developments in the character's arc; Don may have hit rock bottom, but he's not going to stay there forever.
Or is he? The teaser, premiered by People, is about as no-frills as can be; Don, with all the disaffected swagger that only Jon Hamm can muster, exits an airplane and strolls down to the tarmac, putting on his hat in slow motion as the backdrop of an unspecified city rises up in the background. Despite the impressive brevity of the clip, there's a clear message being conveyed - Mad Men, and Don, are both coming back, so get ready for the first half of the series' ultimate season. Beyond that, you're on your own.
Yet despite being almost aggravatingly short, this teaser succeeds in doing what teasers are supposed to do: it raises a slew of questions about Mad Men's direction going forward, and about Don's continued narrative arc. Where is Don touching down from? Is that New York's skyline we see, or has he landed back in California? We know that, as of the season six finale, he was on a road trip with his kids, visiting the "house" in Illinois where he grew up; are we seeing him returning home in the wake of that little venture?
Most of these questions are most likely pointless, but with such a meager amount of material to mull over, it's difficult not to immediately begin brainstorming as to the teaser's intention. There is one detail, however potentially meaningless, that shows up in the frame - the airline Don is flying happens to be TWA, a company that went the way of the dodo after merging with American Airlines in 2001.
An ominous portent of Don's ultimate fate in light of the merger that took place last season? Or just a period flourish meant to evoke a time and place? The second half of the season is titled "End of an Era"; that might tell you more than one simple logo ever could. But we'll find out once the series kicks back into gear this April.
Mad Men season 7 premieres April 13th, 2014.