So this is what a bleak and dark series looks like.
Mad Men, having just wrapped up its 5th season, will look to win its 5th consecutive Emmy no doubt. But it will do so against the stiffest competition yet (eligible this year will be Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Justified, Boardwalk Empire, Luck and whatever network show the voters feel is necessary to self-promote), and it is by no means a sure thing
There was more fluctuation in character than in any other season, as some people evolved, and some people took the low road.
Don Draper - Perhaps the biggest deviation of character, Don was no longer the man who would come home late at night or lie to his wife about where he was after work. Instead, he was the one sitting at the bar alone, brushing away advances, while his coworkers were engaging in illicit activities.
Whether this can be attributed to his new marriage to Megan or to the fact that Megan knew about his past as Dick Whitman, Don was a changed man. He wasn't consumed with work, he didn't have to prove to everyone that he understood advertising (and thus the human condition), but he was rather more interested in spending time with his wife. He shifted slightly back towards his old self when Megan took up acting and stopped working at Sterling Cooper Draper Price, but he still turned his life around, at least temporarily.
I don't necessarily take the final scene of him sitting at the bar with the women as a sign that he would return to his former womanizing ways, either.
Peggy Olson - Peggy has always had the need to fit in, while at the same time possessing the wish to stand apart. This has led her to try different things, experimenting with what could be seen as non-virtuous activities. But she finally decided she needed to emerge from Don's shadow, left SCDP and became head of creative at a rival firm.
Pete Campbell - Pete continued his evolution into Don Draper Jr. complete with winning clients over with this pitches and cheating on Trudy with whatever woman he could get his hands on: sorority girl, friend's wife, you name it, he thought he loved it.
Pete always was a bit of a weasel, and has always looked up to Don. The show has always done a good job, though, of making Don likeable, something they have never done with Pete (and by the way, this is not a criticism, as this is clearly on purpose). Pete also lacks Don's self-awareness, not realizing that he is the way he is because he is unhappy.
Roger Sterling - Getting a divorce from his second wife is just another of the soul-searching things Roger does in season 5, as he further attempts to find out who he is in this world. Once he sold the original Sterling Cooper, he discovered that he was nothing without his work place. He had built that, but he has nothing now, and this leads to Roger experimenting with LSD, to sleeping with Joan (albeit that was season 4 and earlier) to his transgressions with Megan's mom.
Lane Price - The saddest storyline of the season was, without a doubt, Lane's suicide. And it's even sadder that it was done over money, and that's it. He had good friends to watch the World Cup with, he had a good wife and a loving family, and he seemed like he was happy with where he was. He even punched out Pete Campbell, that has to count for something.
This isn't even touching Harry Crane's cavorting with Kinsey's hari krishna not girlfriend, Bert Cooper not doing anything, Betty Draper wearing Lee Adama's fat suit, Sally and that doofus boyfriend, Joan getting rid of her husband before prostituting herself out to get Jaguar, and all else that was in this season.
And for the record, I place Mad Men third on the list of shows on television right bow, behind Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones.