How Ominous Was Last Night’s Mad Men? Time to Adjust the Don Draper Death Watch.

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
April 21 2014 11:50 AM

How Ominous Was Last Night’s Mad Men? Time to Adjust the Don Draper Death Watch.

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Did last night's Mad Men bode ill for Don? Here's your weekly update.

Michael Yarish/AMC

Brow Beat is following the final season of Mad Men with the perfect meter to keep track of all the latest odds-making on Don Draper’s death: The Don Draper Death Watch.

The season premiere of the first part of the final season of Mad Men was full of seemingly ominous signs for Don—coyotes howling in the distance, warnings of death from alcoholism, and little hope for Don’s rehabilitation—and last night’s episode had its share of potentially bad signs, too. The episode opened with one of those overhead shots of a character resting their head back on a pillow—the kind that recappers often see as looking like a character placed neatly in their coffin (just see about 2 minutes 20 seconds into this video)—and in this case, the corpselike figure was Don. From there, it took us to a funeral, and Sally’s classmates joked about how people will just assume the bereaved daughter is named “Sally.”

But in retrospect, perhaps this episode was really the funeral for the death of an old Don and the beginning of a new one. While the premiere ended with Don alone and seemingly on the verge of giving up, this one ended with him finding a reason to keep on living. In the episode’s last line, Sally surprises Don by saying, “I love you,” and, immediately after, the episode ends with The Zombies singing, “The way you said/ ‘Darling, I love you’/ You gave me faith to go on.” After the premiere’s brooding, we're moving the clock one minute back: Perhaps this will be Don’s year after all.

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Illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo

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Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer.