While the sixth season of Mad Men wrapped up with a big, messy, chocolate-colored bow last Sunday, speculation about what we can expect from the final season of the best television series (on air now, and perhaps ever) has really only just begun. Though it’s become standard practice for Mad Men fans to theorize about creator Matthew Weiner fitting dramatic events on his show around actual historical events from the corresponding time periods (of note, the sixth season finale took place in November of 1968), that’s rarely panned out in a big way. Sure, this season included plenty of fallout from events like the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, more than enough discussions about the election of President Nixon, and even a bevy of references to cultural hot buttons like Rosemary’s Baby and Planet of the Apes, but it never placed its characters exactly inside them. Sure, Peggy’s boyfriend Abe zipped off to do some news photography post-MLK assassination and everyone sure was sad about America’s inability to hold on to good leaders, but none of our characters were ever really there. And, despite some truly brilliant theorizing, Megan Draper (Jessica Pare) didn’t end up “being” Sharon Tate in any way, shape, or form.
Basically, Mad Men watchers love to create large-scale scenarios that involve their favorite (and, more often, their least favorite) characters within the actual confines of history, while Weiner and company continue to dance around (and even firmly reject) such scenarios. Will the twain ever truly meet? If history tells us anything – no, probably not, but that doesn’t mean that we should stop cooking up potentially crackpot theories, mainly because we just need something to do before Mad Men returns to us for one last season.
What are some of our favorite Mad Men theories keeping us fully entrenched in the world of SC&P these days? Oh, just a few, a but a few worth ruminating on until we finally get a new Mad Men.
1. Don is a goner. Any serious discussion about the end of Mad Men has to kick off with a theory that is the most enduring Mad Men theory of all – and one that remains a looming possibility, even now that Don Draper (Jon Hamm) appears ready to live his life in a more honest and full way. Don is going to die. He’s just going to. That “falling man” from the show’s opening credits and a number of its marketing materials? It’s Don, and he’s going to toss himself out a window before the show concludes for good. Much as we love the guy, even we have to concede that Don’s suicide still seems like the best ending for the show (no matter how depressing that sounds). Really, is this even a theory right now? How shocking would it be if this didn’t happen?
2. Peggy is the new Head of Creative. The sixth season finale ended with Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) occupying the newly tossed-out (if even temporarily) Don’s office, looking over papers, wearing a pantsuit, and recreating the now-iconic image of him sitting in his desk. Is Peggy the new Head of Creative? In an interview with Maureen Ryan at The Huffington Post, Weiner is conspicuously cagey, saying “I wouldn’t land on what that is, because I don’t know. But it was a deliberate choice to put her in that pantsuit and it was a deliberate choice to put her in Don’s office. Peggy’s story for this season was that she doesn’t have any choices…What we were working for the whole season was to basically say, the story of this season is that Peggy doesn’t have any choices.” Much as we’d love to see Peggy in such a huge position, we’re guessing she won’t still be settled in Don’s office come season seven.
3. We’re due for a swinging California office. What about California? Now that both Ted and Pete are heading to sunny LA, are we going to see two SC&P offices? When asked about that, Weiner told Vulture: “We have no idea when we’re coming back in the story…And my take on it is: I haven’t really thought about it. All I can say is, when Don divorced Betty, everybody thought that we’d never see her again. No matter whether they’re in California or not, these characters are part of our story.” But who wouldn’t want to see a tricked out SoCal SC&P office?
4. Don will never come back to SC&P. In that same interview with Weiner, Ryan straight up asks if Don has been fired. His response is interesting, as he told her, “Well, this is the most serious sentence you can get. It’s not like no one’s ever come back from it…I would say that it is exactly what it looks like. He has no return date; it’s completely humiliating. There is someone being brought in. We see Peggy sitting in his office…I’m not going to say that Don’s not going to be back in the agency. But people should feel exactly what it is — the partners have put their foot down and they don’t want him in the office for a while.” Yeah, Don will be back – but in what capacity? Can you demote an equity partner?
5. Don becomes an American folk legend. Yet, unquestionably, our favorite theory about not just how the series will end, but who Don Draper will end up being comes from Lindsey M. Green over at Medium. While you need to read the whole article (it’s bonkers in the best way possible), Green basically theorizes that Don will end up being America’s favorite plane hijacker, D.B. Cooper. Hey, if you’re going to reapprorpiate the “falling man” into something wholly original, this is the way to do it.
The seventh (and final) season of Mad Men has yet to be officially ordered by AMC, but the option for it was built in to the sixth season’s contract. Also, of course we’re getting a seventh season – it’s just a matter of when (we’ll say 2015, just to be safe).