The time has come, my friends, for us to bid goodbye to Don Draper and friends. While we're still a few months away from Mad Men's final seven episodes, chatter about the end of our favorite ad agency has already moved center stage. Show creator and executive producer Matthew Weiner is notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to Mad Men spoilers. The last seven episodes have already finished shooting, and now they're sitting somewhere under lock and key, waiting for their day in the sun. While we might be excited about the last stretch of episodes, the gang at Sterling, Cooper & Partners might want to watch their backs — as it's been hinted at numerous times, there will probably be another death on Mad Men before the show ends. I'll go even further and narrow it down to two prime candidates: I'm certain that when Mad Men ends, either Don Draper or Pete Campbell will die.
When Ted Chaough was introduced, everyone was quick to jump on the idea that he was the anti-Don, or the reverse-Don, or flash-sideways-Don, but I think it's always been Pete. Here's the thing about Don and Pete — they're two sides of the same Sterling Cooper coin. From day one of the show, Pete has often times idolized, if not tried to emulate Don, and he's always failed horribly. Pete was never quite there. For one reason or another, while they were playing the same ad game, Don seemed to be playing on a completely different field. Pete could never quite keep up.
But in saying that, I think Pete has always fully embodied all that Don would have been if he had just made different choices in life — not going so far back as to the whole "new name, new person" choices, but rather his business choices. It's almost like Pete was the skin that Don shed when he literally became Don Draper.
We can look at Pete, and think that he's the guy Don would have been if he were still Dick Whitman. Is there one reason we all collectively dislike Pete so much? Actually, there are a bunch. But Don's done a lot of the same things, yet we like him. Why? These two are simply different versions of the same person, and we view them completely different.
Now, Mad Men loves to foreshadow A LOT. But, subtly. And a common theme for the past few seasons has been moving on, and with that came the theme of death. Hey, remember that time Pete held a rifle high above his head, and that was the proverbial Chekhov's gun? There's also all of that stuff revolving around Don being in Lane's old office (which is heartbreaking, by the way) — the one where Lane died.
As we draw to the close of Mad Men, we're finally going to learn once and for all which is the path that should have been followed: was it Don, or was it Pete? Who actually is the better man?
Only one of them is going to make it into the '70s. Will it be Don, who's basically hustled his way to the top this entire time and could do the work in his sleep? Or will it be Pete, who has taken the hand he's been dealt, worked hard, and tried to make it all happen for him? Both can't continue to succeed in work and in life. Weiner will show us, quite clearly, which path was the right choice between the two.
Can I guess as to who will die before the end? It's honestly a toss up. There are arguments for both as to who's the better person — personally and professionally. Either way, one of them has to "win" the ad game once and for all. As an audience we need to know if the coin lands with Don up, or Pete up. The way I see it, it's one of these "neither can live while the other survives" prophecies. The easiest way to show that is to have one of them die during the third act of Mad Men.
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