The last episode of the final season of Mad Men airs Sunday night. AMC’s seven season human drama set inside an advertising agency is a wrap.
How is the show going to end? Don Draper, the show’s central character is presently lost in the middle of America. He’s waiting for a bus on a country road. Will the bus take him onward to California, where his heart resides? Or will he head home to New York City and McCann, slightly worse for wear?
Don is a man unmoored when he isn’t working. Which leads me to think he’s on the next bus back to the big time. Is that the proper ending to the series? Might Don visit a commune in the desert instead and begin to pursue something bigger than a paycheck or the satisfaction of a job well done for corporate America? Now, that would be totally off script, and off brand.
But what about the scene in “Lost Horizon” (the third to last episode) when Don is one of 20 McCann creative directors in giant boardroom hearing a dense briefing from a researcher on opportunities light beer? He is in the room physically, but he is not there mentally or emotionally. Don sees an airplane out the window and imagines a different future for himself. He stands up and walks out, seemingly for good. He’s finally free. Or is he?
There is also the matter of money. Don’s been giving it away a lot faster than he’s bringing it in. If he doesn’t catch the next bus back to Manhattan, his retirement situation could be bleak. And consider his children. They need their dad, whether their dad needs McCann or not.