Mad Men Mania: 10 Theories About Mad Men’s Mid-Season Finale


For Vulture writes: This year’s last Mad Men episode — the finale of season seven, part one — airs Sunday night on AMC. In the days leading up to that momentous Memorial Day weekend event, Mad Men fans will do what they always do on such occasions: spend ludicrous amounts of time speculating about what will happen in that pseudo-finale, even though they know all their theories will be rendered moot come Sunday at 11:10 p.m. Because … eh, what else are you gonna do?


We at Vulture, will help fuel this absurd plot-prediction process by offering a list of 10 theories about what might happen on Sunday’s Mad Men. In order to compile this list, we’ve used all the tools at our disposal. Those tools include:

  • The official AMC promo for the episode, which is chock full of information. (Just kidding: It’s just a bunch of scenes from previous episodes that tell us nothing!)
  • The summary of the episode, called “Waterloo” (uh-oh). It states: “Don is troubled by a letter; Peggy may seek a new future on a risky venture; Roger receives a phone call; Pete and Cutler butt heads.” So it tells us something, and yet, at the same time, also nothing.
  • Random crackpot ideas from the internet.
  • Random crackpot ideas that percolated in our brain after one too many shots of rum from Lou Avery’s office tiki bar.

Now, in no particular order, here’s the list of theories, some of which are credible and some of which are flat-out cuckoo. But let’s be honest: If anyone had told you before the season-six finale that Pete Campbell’s mother would go on a cruise with Manolo and fall off the ship to her death, would you have believed it?

Theory 1: Don gets a letter that says the Department of Defense is investigating him for posing as Don Draper and deserting his military post.

As the helpful DVR description of “Waterloo” notes, Don will be “troubled by a letter,” a statement that sparked a flashback to the season-four episode “Hands and Knees,” when DOD officials questioned Betty as part of a background check on Don. (“Do you have any reason to believe Mr. Draper isn’t who he says he is?” one of the G-Men asked.)

That background check happened because Pete had finally landed North American Aviation as a client, and also because Megan, then Don’s secretary, unwittingly filled out a government form on Don’s behalf without sufficiently flailing her arms and screaming so Don would know he shouldn’t sign it. Pete took a bullet for Don, squashing the $4 million account in order to eliminate the possibility that Don would be investigated. But somewhere, in some government office, that form peppered with Don Draper red flags is still sitting there. Perhaps its information has even been sucked into a database housed in one of those dreadful computers Harry Crane loves so much. And perhaps it could resurface, especially if Betty gets background-checked as part of Henry’s attempt to become New York’s Attorney General. (Betty mentioned Henry might pursue that job in episode three of this season, “Field Trip.”)

Theory 2: The finale will focus in part on the Stonewall Riots, in which Bob Benson will be involved.

Mad Men Redditors have been speculating in various threads about which 1969 events will be featured in upcoming Mad Men episodes. One possibility for this week: the Stonewall Riots, which kick-started the American gay-rights movement.

The police raid of the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village gay bar where patrons fought back against the cops’ intrusion, took place on June 28, 1969. Based on the fact that it was early June in last week’s episode — Peggy noted she had turned 30 two weeks earlier, and we know her birthday is May 25, the night of the Ali/Liston fight in “The Suitcase” — that makes Stonewall a real possibility as a backdrop. The fact that Bill from Chevy got arrested in “The Strategy” for trying to fellate an undercover cop may even have foreshadowed it as a plot point. So perhaps during that summer of ’69 melee, Bob Benson will be among those arrested, revealing his true identity to the wider world and wrecking his future at Buick. That would dovetail nicely with Theory No. 1, in which Don’s identity also threatens to be revealed. (One Reddit commenter has an even better Stonewall idea: “In my dream scenario, Bob and Sal meet at the Stonewall, come out unscathed and AMC produces a sitcom spin off.”)

Theory 3: The ‘Don Is D.B. Cooper Theory’ will come to fruition.

By now, Mad Men obsessives are well aware of the Don/D.B. Cooper theory that has been circulating online for a while. It’s summarized thoroughly in this Medium piece, as well as in this Slate interview with Geoffrey Grey, author of a book about Cooper. (It has also been roundly mocked, which is not an inappropriate reaction.) The gist: Mad Men will end with Don revealing himself to be D.B. Cooper, a well-dressed man who hijacked a Northwest Orient Airlines flight in 1971, then jumped out of the plane and, depending on whom you believe, disappeared or died … but only after smoking a cigarette, drinking a couple of bourbons, and charming some flight attendants first. It’s a tantalizing theory, one bolstered by that purposely vague AMC promo, which shows Don on an airplane and declares, “It’s all up in the air.” The problem is that a D.B. Cooper reveal seems more likely to happen, if it happens at all, in the series finale, not the middle-of-season-seven finale. Or, you know, not at all.

Theory 4: Megan dies.

Show of hands: Who is sick as all hell of hearing rambling dissertations about how Megan Draper is going to die because she once wore Sharon Tate’s T-shirt on a balcony? Wow, that’s a lot of raised hands. (And yes. I know. There are other similarities between Megan and Sharon Tate apart from that white T-shirt with the red star.)

It’s clear that the marriage between Megan and Don is going nowhere. She took the fondue pot in last week’s episode, for God’s sake, which is classic “I am never coming back” behavior. Plus, as many tweeters, Facebookers, and assorted other internet commenters have pointed out, it was hard to ignore the way the camera panned in that closing montage from Megan, on the flight back to L.A., to that flight attendant swishing those black curtains closed. Subtext: It’s curtains for Megan. Which could mean that she’ll die in “Waterloo,” proving the Tate theories correct, especially if the Mad Men timeline fast-forwards to August of ’69, the same month when the model/actress was killed in the Manson Family murders. Or it could simply mean that it’s curtains for Megan’s relationship with Don. Or, or: It could just mean that Phil Abraham, who directed “The Strategy,” thought curtains would make a nice scene-to-scene transition…(read more)


4 Comments on “Mad Men Mania: 10 Theories About Mad Men’s Mid-Season Finale”

  1. […] Pundit from another Planet For Vulture, Jen Chaney writes: This year’s last Mad Men episode — the finale of season […]

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  3. […] Mad Men Mania: 10 Theories About Mad Men’s Mid-Season Finale ( […]

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