Saturday, April 04, 2015

Pete's 22, and the Many, Many Open Mad Men Questions Before the Final Episodes

One last stab at trying to wrap it all up before the series conclusion starts tomorrow.

Will the series end in 1969, or will it bleed into 1970? Will we see a years-after scene of some sort? Will it end on a trite New Year's Eve, or will the series do one last time-jump of some sort?

Important events of 1969 yet to come after Season 7 Episode 7: the Manson Family murders, the Beatles crossing Abbey Road, Woodstock (will Sally go?), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid is released, the Mets win the World Series (you have to believe *that* one will make it in, given the repeated shout-outs to the Mets over the years and the lingering token of Lane Pryce's Mets' pennant finding Don in 7.4), debut of the 747 (continuing the series' use of planes and jet age imagery - that plus the first flight ended in New York City, on December 2), the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont (the unofficial "end of the 1960's).

What musical outros will guide us down the final seven episodes? The latter half of 1969 is replete with classic releases, from the first Stooges album to Nick Drake's debut album to breakout albums from Laura Nyro and David Bowie to Abbey Road and Let It Bleed (ominously, in December). But please, no Harry Chapin.

Will Don get into an elevator? Will the elevator be used as a heavy-handed metaphor for something going on in Don's life? Will he fall down an elevator shaft? Will he overhear some important plot detail from an elevator? Will he get into a fight in an elevator? Answers: Yes, yes, maybe, yes, yes, and yes.

Will Ben Michaelson, Don's Lawyer, finally make an appearance on screen? Will it be to get Don out of that awful contract with McCann?

Speaking of which, are we finally going to meet Hubert Green and the crack team of executives from Secor Laxative, the firm's most loyal client through ten (plus) years and four changes of ownership? How about seeing a little of the creative?

Will there be an acting role for a taxi driver? Or will we learn Mad Men is set in a parallel universe where there are robot taxis in the 1960's?

Will Ginsburg make a cameo, a la Paul Kinsey and Danny Siegel? If it's a sad expository scene underscoring the insanity of modern life set in the nuthouse, as with Pete and Beth, I'll be disappointed. Buick's Bob Benson?

We've already skipped over the Stonewall Riots (in June of 1969) and gone straight to the moon landing, missing a golden opportunity to find one of the series' best-loved write-off characters in the midst of the historical action, or at least running away from it. Will Sal Romano show up again, out of the closet and directing fabulous, fabulous commercials?

Which former paramours of Don - there are so many to choose from - will make an appearance? Or are we past the monkeying around of Sex and getting down to the brass tacks of Death? There are some good candidates - Sylvia Rosen is still in the building, Rachel Menken Katz was still in Don's heart, and poor Suzanne Farrell was literally left holding the bag the last time we saw her - Lord knows Dr. Faye has every motivation to come after Don with Pete's .22 - but my money's on Betty being the only significant figure from Don's past love life to play a real role in the end.

Uh oh. The Manson murders were just three weeks after the moon landing. Is Megan's Sharon Tate t-shirt going to be just one of those coincidences? Hunch: Megan's going to know somebody involved, and something will happen as a result, and it will not be that interesting. (We are hoping it's not flying back to Don's arms.)

We all know Harry Crane will never, ever make partner. Will Roger finally get his wish and get Harry fired, or will he become the king of SC&P, lording over the agency from his throne in the computer room?

Will Henry become Attorney General and continue his rise, or will be become Lieutenant Governor and join the obscure dustbin of history?

Who, exactly, is Pete going to end up shooting with the .22 rifle  that's been hanging around since Season 1, episode 3? Or is this the Godot of Chekhovian guns, never to be actual shot after all? It is the last act.

A small but persistently nagging question leftover from season 2: was Anita's little boy actually Peggy's? If so will Peggy reunite with him as his mother, or be forced to make a choice between career and having a family?

Will Sally lose her virginity? Please, please God, if it happens, please don't let it be to Glenn. (The acting talents of the two young actors in this off-again, off-again romance spread over eight years have diverged mightily, and what chemistry might have been created for either a happy or sad first physical union has now veered over into the prospect of simply yucky.)

Will Don Draper literally die, literally plunge off a building, and literally see his life's work fly by? Or will Don be killed metaphorically so that Dick Whitman can live?

What, exactly, is going to be the fruition of all this astronaut imagery and explicit reference from the previous nine seasons? Apollo 12 is barely remembered and the drama of Apollo 13 lies in 1970.

Will Ken Cosgrove quit advertising to become, oh, say, John Irving? Duh, of course.

Will we have the fifth Bobby Draper? Will anybody in the family notice the only regular character in the series to have been played by different actors is any different?

Will Captain Harris be killed in Vietnam, freeing Joan to marry Roger, which she will refuse to do? Will Joan end up as President of the new agency?

Will Roger get back together with Mona? Of course.

Will Peggy and Stan split off to form their own agency, or be content as mid-level cogs at McCann? Will Peggy and Stan, you know, get together finally? What about Peggy and the now-suicidal but New York bound Ted Chaough? What about Peggy and the hunky handyman, Nick? Answer: Peggy always will have her cat.

Will Betty get a life? I keep thinking that ship has sailed, but hope springs eternal. Episode 2 of season 1 started out with establishing the basic conflict of an intelligent woman bred and inculcated into living a life of background subservience to men's more important doings, but the series has never quite stepped into the pitch and swung for the fence with Betty. We can only hope she realizes that Henry is not that much of an improvement over Don, and at least joins Francine at the travel agency.

Will the show, in the end, be about Don or about Peggy? Will it be about the irredeemable burden of the past preventing personal evolution (Don) or the great leap forward of liberation (Peggy)?

Will anybody care in seven weeks?

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