Predicting what the future of Mad Men will hold is all but impossible (except for that time Peggy had the surprise baby, which I totally called). Overall I’m – paradoxically – expecting a surprise I couldn’t have fathomed, but I don’t see the show deviating too far from the world of realism where people’s lives move glacially.
I think our main man Don Draper is mostly on the right track. Yes, he saw Bert’s ghost sing “The Best Things in Life are Free” but I’m going to chalk that up to withdrawal symptoms from being an alcoholic for at least seven years, a super alcoholic for about two, and Don looking to find personal fulfillment outside of the Time Life Building. This is the first time the show has deviated greatly from reality, so I believe Weiner wouldn’t do that unless he had a darn good reason.
I do think Don will reconsider making a living at peddling half-truths now that he has come clean about himself. Of course he has a swankified Manhattan apartment along with alimony and perhaps Megan to pay, so he probably won’t quit his day job just yet… but I think he’s going to start investing time in an activity that will help him better understand who he is and what he wants. If the Sopranos is any indication, due to Weiner’s writing for that show, I would think the final episode will indicate he has taken the first step to recover from alcoholism and his former life but he has no illusions about the temptations he will face along the way.
As Don’s protégé, Peggy has already learned a lot of the business from him, but I also see her learning from his personal foibles as well, such as the time she had to take care of him like he was a drunk college student. Additionally, I think she already had her low point that Don is currently wallowing in, during the season one finale where he she had Pete Jr. and wouldn’t even look at the little guy. She was also rebuffed by Pete, which must be embarrassing (but thank goodness).
Since then she has had to prove herself again and again as a woman in Creative. Through this process, I think she has got a better understanding of herself in the world, and specifically her strengths and weaknesses. I think she has come to the realization in her pursuit of a career, she neglected an interest in family that hit her like a speeding baby carriage, so I think she’s going to amass a community of proverbial Julios, maybe by developing her relationship with Stan or patching things up with Ted, so that she doesn’t end up alone like Don.
Joan’s had her fair share of hard knocks in the show, and more than I think she deserved even in her bitchier days deriving her sense of self worth from making people below her feel bad about themselves. She has made the biggest transformation in the series because after the disaster that was her marriage to Greg, she started demanding more for herself. She could’ve easily settled down with Bob Benson who would’ve bent over backwards to keep her happy and his secret safe, but she rebuffed him. She has a baby now and she’s getting on in years, so sadly I think she might end up alone, but she can at least take solace in her newfound self respect when she thinks about crying over Marilyn Monroe’s death, seeing her own future in her sad end.
I’m not going to address Betty because she’s awful and will continue to be awful until she dies. Sally, on the other hand, has just begun to shine. She is in a sweet spot where she is strong-willed, especially against Betty, but not entirely committed to being rebellious to her detriment, something she illustrated by choosing the earnest boy her age over the dumb jock staying with them. The next few episodes I believe are going to set her up as an optimistic, confident girl trying to figure out where her values are and where she stands, i.g. being the prototypical Baby Boomer. Maybe she’ll sneak out with Glenn to catch a Jefferson Airplane concert or do shrooms with Glenn and follow the path from On the Road (you can see I’m pulling for Glenn to come back) but all I know for sure is there’s no way she’s going to be an Italian speaking debutante like Betty.
Now Roger I think is going to quietly acquiesce on the Marigold front, but I don’t think he can quite admit to himself yet that she’s right. He isn’t personally strong enough, nor do I think he has any desire to change his hedonist life. I think he’s going to continue on his depraved path, maybe not forever with the hippies, but in the same vein for the foreseeable future. Megan never needed Don; in fact I think he was holding her back, so I think that now that she is free, she is going to become a ’70s sex symbol. Who knows, maybe she’ll make gap teeth a thing before Madonna gets on the scene.
Pete is one I truly can’t figure out because he has been sitting on the back burner so far this season. There must be some sort of big bang coming up. I could see the McCann acquisition totally violating his autonomy in LA to the point where he might even have to move back to New York which would remind him of all the problems he ran away from. Maybe it’s just my personal prejudice, but I think losing Bonnie and realizing both his daughter and his wife have moved on was only just the beginning of something worse that lies on the horizon.
Overall, the technology that has been slowly creeping in this season will start flying in like a spaceship in the last seven episodes. The computer project is going to expand in scope and cost until everyone accepts that computers and technology are here to stay. At the agency, the collective fear will either have reached a fever pitch or, as is more likely for the adaptable humans we are, will be replaced with acceptance of the inevitable. The underlying emotions and scenarios these characters have always connected with us viewers, but I think the technology component is going to bridge the end of the show with now.
Predictions are a tricky thing, but let me know in the comments where you disagree!