Don Draper doesn’t love me. I’ve foolishly become far too invested in every inch of his psyche, and in less than two weeks he’s going to kiss me and tell me to order myself some breakfast, and then walk out of my life forever.
With the series finale approaching, I’ve been mentally preparing for this moment. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m a huge fan of the Disney versions of stories. Not so much because I need to see a happy ending, but because I tend to take on other people’s stresses, even those whom I’m well aware are fake. A happy ending means one less thing that keeps me awake at night. Think I’m kidding? I saw the movie Drive, and had nightmares about stabbings for weeks. Not that I was getting stabbed, but that I myself was stabbing people. So you get what I’m dealing with.
And Mad Men has a long history of leaving me tossing and turning. Ginsberg cut off his nipple and gave it to Peggy in a box and then we literally never heard of him again. Peggy didn’t even call everyone she knows and talk about it at lunch incessantly for days like a normal person would. I can’t stop thinking about Ginsberg. And his poor father.
Anyway, my point is: I’m fully aware that all I’m going to get from Matt Weiner in the way of wrapped up packages is a zoom out of an enigmatic final scene (set to a flawless soundtrack) and I’m trying to prepare mentally for the shambles my life will be in when it happens. After thinking about it for a while and talking about it a lot, I’ve worked out some likely final scenes and the percentage of disappointment/unrest/nightmares it will cause.
The Elevator Scene
If the elevator is a metaphor for Don’s mind and his inability to escape confrontation with whatever happens to be bothering him, there’s a high likelihood that this is how we’ll say goodbye to him. We’re just going to send him away with his haunting thoughts. While this wouldn’t be my favorite ending, it also wouldn’t surprise me, so the trauma factor is pretty low. Another factor is who, if anyone, is in the elevator with him. Whom he is seen with for the last time will either comfort me or annoy me until the end of time.
Disappointment factor: 30-40% disappointing, depending.
The Line Up
The Line Up has been a recurring theme moving into the final season, and one of my favorites, because it represents camaraderie, possibility, and heroism (just like the Avengers, but not so obvious it makes you roll your eyes). Even when defunct or in various states of rebirth, you can sense a comfort in Don when he’s among his partners. Don is protective of Joan, respects Chaough, is powerfully self assured in relation to Pete, and has the closest thing to a true friend in Roger Sterling. Here, he most resembles a well-rounded human being who is not riddled with crippling demons.
Disappointment factor: 5% disappointing.
Don sitting in a chair alone with a cigarette and a neat drink has become an icon of the show, and it would be somewhat poetic, being how the series premiere opened, but it would feel like a bit of a cop out if the show ends that way, wouldn’t it? As much as it tortures me, I’d like Weiner to give me something to stew about. An ending like this makes me feel like the series is moot. If contemplative Don is in a car, however, I am given a sense of forward-thinking hope, and that might be okay.
Disappointment factor: 60% disappointing.
Don and Peggy
I have said for weeks now that as long as I know that Don and Peggy are friends forever, I will be okay. An ending like this would be the most uplifting I can think of for a few reasons. The trajectory of Peggy’s career has been hugely influenced by Don and it’s one of the only positive influences of Don’s behavior that we’ve seen. Also, Peggy is his best chance at leaving a legacy since all he’s given his kids at this point are intimacy issues. Ride or die, Peggy and Don forever.
Disappointment factor: 0% disappointing.
If the final scene features Don tumbling into the recesses of his own mind, I will never sleep again.
Disappointment factor: 9000% disappointing.
Don and a Lady Friend
I’m pretty bored with Don’s mommy issues and undulating degrees of sex addiction, so an ending like this would not delight me in any way. Especially since his latest preoccupation, played by Elizabeth Reaser, is literally the mopiest person to ever be romanced by a devastatingly handsome and filthy rich New York professional. Don’t fix her, Don. Fix yourself. And more importantly, make sure I’m okay.
Disappointment factor: 80% disappointing.
I’m well aware that none of these may be the case, and I’ll be thrown completely off guard and wheeled away like Ginsberg. If this happens I’m going to choose to remember the end of Mad Men as all of America truly wants to remember it. Like this: