“Mad Men” Finale Theory #6: All Is Lost

The series will end just as it began, and here’s why.

This is the sixth of a series of plausible (or not so plausible) “Mad Men” endings as predicted by Maxim editors. The entire article is a spoiler.

The later half of season 7 has been all about Don becoming comfortable with himself, with who he really is. We kicked off this last batch of episodes with Don openly regaling Roger and three strange, beautiful women about his childhood in a whorehouse — a fact he used to bury and keep secret. Additionally, within these final 14 episodes, Don not only comes clean about his upbringing to his co-workers and children alike, but he also finally reveals — to other veterans — the fact that he killed his commanding officer in Korea. He’s shedding his secrets, both Don’s and Dick’s.

And now, he’s shedding his earthly possessions as well. Finally, at the end of the series’ penultimate episode “Milk & Honey”, we find Don alone. Just sitting. In the middle of who-knows-where. And… he’s smiling. Relieved. Free.

The opening credits to the final episode roll, that familiar tune fills the air, the familiar figure falls from the notorious skyscraper covered in ads. We settle in.

The first scene: Don lays in bed, face down in the pillow. He slowly lifts his head up and takes in his surroundings. Laying next to him, we see the back of the head of a blonde, surely beautiful woman.

“Daddy!” a little girl exclaims. Suddenly, a little girl with dirty-blonde pigtails in a nightgown pounces on Don. Betty rolls over, obviously annoyed.

“Sally, stop it,” Betty scolds. The little girl runs out of the room, we’re only able to see the back of her head.

Don looks at Betty, smirks. Betty asks pleasantly, “How did you sleep?” Don takes a minute to respond. He stares at the ceiling as if trying to remember the day before… the day before that.

“Fine,” he responds uneasily. With that, he gives Betty a kiss on the cheek and gets in the shower, preparing to take on the new day.

Don comes downstairs holding his briefcase and suit jacket. Betty hands him an apple as she cooks eggs for herself. The little one is at the table eating her cereal messily. Again, Don stares into the distance as if trying to remember something.

“Have a good day,” Betty says, disinterested.

Fast-forward and we see Joan, ever formidable, strutting down the halls of Sterling Cooper. She takes an awkward girl, bangs a mess, aside and begins lecturing her on the importance of birth control and how to use your body to get ahead in the work place. “Peggy. Go home, take a paper bag and cut the holes out of it. Look in the mirror and really evaluate your strengths and weakness.”

Pete and Ken sit in Pete’s office, prepping for a meeting.

Roger walks into Don’s office, passing Peggy nervously trying to look busy. Don throws on a fresh white dress shirt. Roger surveys Don. “You missed a button.”

The day rolls on at Sterling Cooper just as it always has, just as it always will. You see the usual suspects march one by one into the same old conference room. Roger, the last to sit downs, looks around and says, “So, let’s talk about cigarettes.”

Black screen. What am I getting at? It. Was. All. A. Dream. Turns out, Don is stuck in a self-made purgatory where he can only dream of a day, of a life, in which he has rid himself of his deepest, darkest secrets.

Mad Men out.

Photos by AMC