I’m writing this at 10:30am ET, a little less than 12 hours to go until we find out how the greatest television show of all time will come to the end.
And I think I just figured out how it’s going to end.
Holy. F’ing. Feels.
Matthew Weiner has said numerous times he knew from the start how it would end, and the ending is exactly as he pictured it. There’s MANY predictions of how Mad Men will end. In my head, I’ve never had an idea of what it might look like… until now.
First off, two quick interviews I just read that sparked this idea.
1. In his GQ cover story, Jon Hamm talks about Matt Weiner’s vision for the ending and how it got there. “He just kind of had this idea. This image. I said, ‘That’s very poetic. All right. But now we’ve got to get there.’ It’s one thing to say we’re going to end in Topeka, but how are we going to get to Topeka?” According to clues given to Sally on the phone where he plans to go next from last week’s episode, Topeka just might be the spot where it ends.
2. John Slattery spoke with Deadline Hollywood about his time on the show (it was fun, memorable moments, etc.) But it was John’s vague opinion of the end that says something… “I think it’s in keeping with the rest of it. It’s both unpredictable and I think totally organic to the story that’s come before. It’s remarkably well connected to the beginning of the series and the whole series as an arc. It just connects the dots of all of it.” Back to the beginning of the series. Yes, that’s a very vague statement and it’s been said before. But I think there’s a hint in there.
Knowing these two key points, let’s go back to where it all started: the pilot episode and the famous Lucky Strike pitch. The boys are discussing the government’s regulations on cigarette makers and what they can/can not say in advertising. The famous “it’s toasted” moment.
After Pete pretty much insults Lee Garner Sr. and Jr. to their faces (BECAUSE PETE IS SUCH A PAIN IN THE… sorry) Don brings it back. He pulls a Don Draper and finds a way to make their horrible product seem okay. “It’s toasted.” Let’s ignore the facts of what’s going on and use some bullshit to make us all feel good.
The other key thing I instantly thought of was Don’s magical words: “Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. … It’s a billboard on the side of the road that reassures you that whatever you’re doing is okay.”
We know Betty is dying of lung cancer.
In the final episode, Don will somehow find out this news.
The last scene will be Don somewhere in the middle of Kansas, looking around him, thinking of the news and reflecting on what his life has come to.
And what will he see?
On the side of a road will be an old, beat up billboard. The kind you see in the middle of nowhere… all torn up, falling apart and left to the elements.
What will it be?
An old Lucky Strike billboard that hasn’t been updated sine 1960.
And the words on it?
*breaks down in tears*