Each screener copy of the forthcoming "Mad Men" half-season premiere was accompanied by a note from creator Matthew Weiner.
"Enclosed is the premiere episode of the final seven. This is the last premiere of 'Mad Men' you will receive ever. It is also the last infuriating letter from me asking you not to spoil the episode," Weiner wrote. "I would like to personally thank you for being complicit in our desire to keep the storylines a secret. I know that has made your job harder, but we deeply appreciate the respect you've shown for the unique and sometimes frustrating restriction on your reviews."
Weiner ended the missive with a list of plot details he hoped would remain secret before the show returns on April 5.
"For me, this is not about control or ego or anything," Weiner told The Huffington Post when asked about his spoiler policy during a recent interview. "Don Draper said, 'You want to be a needle in a haystack, you don't want to be a haystack.' This was our commercial uniqueness."
While Weiner's phobia toward spoilers is often connected back to a New York Times review of the third season premiere, the 49-year-old has actually kept a lid on "Mad Men" plots since before the show even started. Weiner didn't allow star January Jones to do any publicity for the first season in an effort to keep secret that her character was married to Don. ("That was just delusional," he said with a laugh.) But the seeds for Weiner's aversion to pre-air revelations were planted even earlier, back during his time working on "The Sopranos" with David Chase.
"I remember when Tony was shot at the beginning of the last season, which was really two seasons, we were terrified about the press spoiling it," Weiner said. "When we were filming that scene, David had Frank Vincent go and stand outside the window with the gun. Terence Winter tells the story, where Frank's like, 'What am I doing? Why am I doing this?' Because it would be filmed that he was shooting Tony, even though Junior was the person who shot him. There were great lengths taken to protect that storyline."
And while "Mad Men" has fewer plot maneuvers than "The Sopranos," Weiner feels there's just something enjoyable about experiencing a show without any knowledge of where its headed.
"You could spoil 'Mad Men' in three sentences. But it's not what happens, it's how it happens," he said, before citing the fifth season suicide of Lane Pryce as a prime example of the power of ignorance.
"What is the pleasure of watching that episode, if you know he's going to kill himself," Weiner said. "And I say pleasure of what I think is one of the greatest jokes in the show -- which was not my joke, it came from the writers room -- which is the Jaguar not starting. You've forgotten about him by the time [the suicide] happens."
"I don't care what anybody says," Weiner added. "They don't want to know. Sometimes they want to alleviate their anxiety so they can enjoy the show more, because it can be tense. But I think they enjoy that. I do."
"Mad Men" returns April 5 on AMC.