At the end of “The Milk and Honey Route," Don Draper is left on the side of the road finally free from all obligations. Everything in his old life is taken care of—he’s no longer married, another man will look after his children, and he’s not letting down any of his friends at the office. His story is complete. The episode ends with the familiar ring of the celeste, as Buddy Holly’s “Everyday,” begins to play.
Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner doesn’t leave anything to coincidence, and the choice of Buddy Holly is a dark portent. Holly famously died in a plane crash in 1959, falling back to earth just as his career was beginning to really take off. Falling has been a theme of Mad Men since the second it aired (its intro features a Don-like silhouette careening towards earth), and planeshave figured just as prominently. In fact, it’s a plane that sets Don on his current path, as he watches one outside a meeting at McCann, realizing that he had become trapped.
He was now just a regular ad man, something he never wanted to be. He had become the “My Fair Ad Man,” from Mad Magazine.
What a terrible fate.
Before Don hands off his car to the wayward teenager, he cautions the wannabe con man that if he leaves his hometown after robbing the VFW, he can never go back. That’s because Don knows he can never go back. He could drive forever, but as his dream told him last episode, he’s still nearing the end of the road.
If I had to pick a specific ending, it’s that Don falls from a plane. Whether he’s pushed, jumps, or attempts to parachute away (like the popular D.B. Cooper theory), is beside the point. Don’s been falling for such a long time. Wouldn’t it be nice to finally land?
Photos by AMC