In the spirit of my predictions for Game of Thrones season three and four, I thought it would be just as fun to look into my half-accurate crystal ball and see what’s in store for the final season of Mad Men, premiering April 13 on AMC. As far as I know, most of these have no connection to any other theories out there and I haven’t closely examined the recently released trailer. This is just me looking up "1969" on Wikipedia and taking wildish guesses based on my love for the show.
When we last left the damaged employees and broken families of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Pete had been supplanted by Bob Benson and was heading to California with Ted Chaough, Joan was finally letting Roger into his son’s life, Don was all but fired and replaced by Peggy, Sally was teenage rebelling with her crush Glen, and little Bobby was convinced he’s part African American. So, what happens next?
Considering the series began in 1960 and has progressed steadily through that decade, the final chapter will likely take place in perhaps the most tumultuous 12 months during this period of sexual, cultural, and racial revolutions — 1969.* It’s possible the second part of the season (airing in 2015**) might bring us up to 1970, mirroring thematic and chronological implications from season one — but if not, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we see any or all of these events transpire in the closure of Dick “Don Draper” Whitman’s world…
On January 12, Led Zeppelin releases their first album and not long after Harry Crane begins a year-long fruitless attempt to sign the band to a exclusive television commercial contract. We’ll likely never see the band onscreen, but Harry will regale us every single episode on his next tactic to get the lads from not-Liverpool to sell-out.
On February 2, the Harlem on My Mind exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which featured work by white artists depicting black life in Harlem, was defaced by vandals as a sign of solidarity with the “negro movement.” The vandals are never caught, but it turns out it was actually Sally Draper trying to impress Glen. Alas, to no avail.
On May 15, Ted Chaough finds himself in Berkeley, California amidst the riots occurring at the People’s Park. Prior to this, Teddy had been living and working at Sterling Cooper’s satellite office in Los Angeles, and thanks to the sunny clime quickly becoming disillusioned with the ad man life. When the opportunity to promote the new public park arises, Ted takes it and begins to feel fulfilled. Alas, his pilot skills can’t protect he or his family from Molotov cocktails.
On May 25, trying to connect with young Bobby Draper the way his father does, Betty uses her husband’s political connections to take her eldest son to the world premiere of Midnight Cowboy. She mistakenly thinks the first X-rated film is some sort of John Wayne-type adventure in spite of “mature artists” like Andy Warhol being present; unwittingly exposing the boy to adult situations neither of them expected or understand. Naturally, the burgeoning film buff loves it.
On May 26-June 2, Inspired by John and Yoko, Roger Sterling, who has been trying to finally become the father he always suspected he could be, convinces Joan to marry him, and to have a bed-in for their honeymoon. Only they aren’t protesting anything or promoting any ideas beyond their own happiness. Suffice to say, they look great doing it.
On June 22, Ken Cosgrove writes an incendiary expose about the Cuyahoga River fire under his own name — no longer hiding behind a nom du plum like Ben Hargrove. His piece is then published by TIME magazine, which helps ignite modern day environmentalism and instigate his legitimate writing career. Now his ideas about our robotized culture can be expressed in real world terms rather than “trashy” science fiction.
On June 28, Bob Benson, seeing Ken out himself as a socially conscious person in a bottom line business, decides to do the same and joins the heroes of Stonewall during their march. In the build-up to the deadly riot, Bob stumbles across Salvatore “Sam” Romano, who finally resurfaces. Should they survive, their love affair could scorch the Earth.
On July 4, Megan Draper fulfills all those theories about her murder when she is killed by the Zodiac. After Don broke the news that they weren’t moving to California, she left without him to seek out her big acting break. Alas, Megan Calvét never becomes a star.
On July 20, while watching Apollo 11's successful and historic moon landing mission, and after months and months of build up, Don Draper has an epiphany for how he can get back into the ad game. Naturally, it involves Conrad Hilton's no-longer-ridiculous demand of, “I want the Moon.” It's the legend's last big idea of the series and is undoubtedly motivated, at least partially, to help him get over Megan's murder. He uses all his charm, passion, and creativity to lure the huge client of Hilton Hotels to fund his start-up agency with his now equal partner Peggy Olsen. And thus Draper & Olsen is born. He may never return to the Dick Whitman identity, but for the rest of his life he will try to live up to the boy he was.
On August 16, while attending Woodstock for the purposes of market research (and because it sounds fun), Peggy and Stan finally culminate their long simmering flirtation while blissed out of their minds on all the best drugs. Rather than a one-time, or festival-only fling, they eventually become a power couple in the advertising racket. It’s entirely likely that once cancer kills Don, Peggy and Stan will turn Draper & Olsen into Olsen Rizzo & Draper, the last name a symbolic gesture to remember their friend and mentor.
On December 6, inspired by and jealous of Peggy and Stan, Pete Campbell attends the Altamont Free Concert and is the man killed there instead of Meredith Hunter during the Rolling Stones performance; fulfilling Chekov’s gun when he brings the rifle he purchased in the pilot episode, fearful for his own protection, which only incites the Hell’s Angels security personnel.
Instead of Don’s long-predicted demise, it is actually Pete’s death that closes out the series when he is killed just before the finale’s end credits.
* Heh, 69.
** God damn you, AMC.