Spoiler Alert: Mad Men, S7E13
I really can’t believe there is only one episode left. It makes writing anything about the show seem… fruitless. In a few days, it’ll all be over. The best show ever on television will be over.
This episode followed only three stories: Pete, Betty, and Don. It made myself and my viewing companions think that we saw the last of Peggy, Joan, Ted, Harry, and possibly Roger last week. That is a heavy thought.
Betty’s terminal cancer seems like a particularly terrible way for her to go. Just as she’s gone from chaotic evil to something like neutral good, she received this diagnosis. Henry, who’s been angry in his every appearance over the last couple of seasons, tried to sustain his fury for most of this episode but finally caved to human emotion. It was sad to see but so honest. He and Betty had a strange but strong marriage. And the loss of Betty will devastate him.
But it’s hard not to look at it as Don’s loss too. This season his lack of connection to his family and past has been felt. But in this episode, he embraced that lack finally and just took a seat on a bus bench. Maybe he is that cipher that he was once famously profiled as.
Don’s adventure with the veterans was certainly disturbing but it was a harsh reminder that he has “no people” (as Betty’s father accused years ago). Don doesn’t belong. Not on Madison Avenue. Not in New York. Not in the army. The universe is indifferent.
So Pete. He may be the only winner in all this. He is the true man of reinvention. As predicted years ago, he is ahead of the curve. McCann is eating SCDP alive. Don is losing his payout. Joan got fifty cents on the dollar. But Pete. Fucking Pete. He’s getting a signing bonus and unlimited Lear jet travel. And the girl!
Or is he? The show makes great use of ellipses to communicate what they don’t have to say. But sometimes that indicates that what we assume transpired, didn’t. The show is also brutally honest. Maybe Trudy will reflect him. Maybe Lear didn’t make the offer Duck implied. (Speaking of chaotic evil, I suffer every time Duck reappears.)
The entire end of the series could be ellipses, unspoken assumptions about the fates of these characters. What if Don doesn’t even appear in the last episode? What if it’s all Ken? Cosgrove?