Let the Madness Begin
Where ‘Mad Men’ left off – and where it might go next
By Rod Machen, 10:15AM, Sat. Apr. 12
As the sixth season of Mad Men drew to a close last June, it appeared a new beginning was afoot. Sunkist was on board as a client, and a Los Angeles branch of the firm was set to be opened by none other than Don Draper himself.
He wanted this change. He needed this change. His drinking had brought him low, very low. Rock bottom appeared to be a night spent in the hoosegow for punching a minister. Maybe a move to California would be the first of twelve healing steps.
Then other people's problems came into play. Ted Chaough – his former-nemesis-turned-partner – and Peggy Olson – his former-secretary-turned-protégé – had consummated a long-simmering love affair with startling consequences. Ted shocked the Mad Men universe by actually staying with his wife, and a trip west was just the escape from temptation he needed. Don gave up his seat on the proverbial bus, sending Ted (and a spiraling Pete Campbell) out West.
Head writer Matthew Weiner wasn't done with us, however. Don was called in for a not-quite-firing. After a passionate, personal, and perplexing pitch to Hershey's, he was asked to take some time off. No, he was told to take some time off. Indefinitely.
Then what do we have to look forward to in this final season? We know that in the mold of Breaking Bad, AMC will split this final season into two parts with seven episodes over the next couple of months and another seven a year from now. Mad Men is arguably the best show in all of television at the moment; hard to blame those execs for milking this ending for all its worth.
Two of the most prominent characters appear to be set for big changes. Peggy will take over for Don and assume the position she has been groomed for since the beginning. She'll do so without her star-crossed lover Chaough or her mentor Draper. With the seventies on the horizon, this woman just might gain some liberation after all. She’s already got the smart pant suits.
As for Don, he might still end up in California. After he announced the initial move, his wife Megan (another former secretary) gave up her role on a soap opera and prepared for a foray into the wilds of Hollywood. After Don pulled back, she was still set to leave, and if the promotional material from the network is any indication, Don might be in store for a tan. He does look good in short sleeves.
This much is certain: Glenn will surely return for an awkward but endearing appearance. Skinny-again Betty will continue to suffer through mothering a surly teen. Each montage depicting "On the next episode of AMC's Mad Men” will be more disjointed and bizarrely hilarious than the last. And after all of the shocking moments this show has given us – a riding lawnmower accident; a father lost in a plane crash; a mother lost at sea; a suicide by hanging; a Cheney-esque shotgun blast to the face – at least one terrible death or dismemberment is surely on tap.
It's 1969. Nixon's in office. The firm has gone bicoastal. Pete’s hairline continues to recede. There are lots of stories left to be told in this world of ego, success, and self destruction. Sunday night can’t get here soon enough.
Mad Men season 7 premieres Sunday, April 13, 9pm, on AMC.