When did "Mad Men" become the new "Lost"? Suddenly, everyone has a crazy theory about what's going to happen next on AMC's Emmy-winning drama. (Maybe that's because the whole series is layered with so much enigmatic subtext that people just assume it must be building up to something huge.)
Last season, we did a rundown of the most widely circulated "Mad Men" theories out there. And just two episodes into this season, we have enough material for a fresh set of five theories. Here, we examine each one in detail and decide how likely it is to come true.
Have we cracked the code for "Mad Men's" final season? Probably not… but we had a lot of fun trying.
1. Don Draper is notorious skyjacker D.B. Cooper.
We've seen a lot of airplane imagery on "Mad Men" this year: The Season 7 promotional photos were shot in an airport, and Don spent the premiere flying back and forth from New York to L.A. to see his actress wife, Megan. But is all this imagery hinting at something darker to come?
Some (including Slate) have theorized that Don is being set up to become the infamous real-life skyjacker known as D.B. Cooper, who hijacked a Boeing airliner in 1971, parachuted out with $200,000 strapped to his body, and was never heard from again.
Several parallels are undeniable: "D.B. Cooper" was an alias; so is "Don Draper." "Cooper" is the surname of Don's former boss Bert Cooper. Don's no stranger to reinventing himself and leaving his past behind. (Just ask Adam Whitman.) And in the premiere, Don was watching Frank Capra's film "Lost Horizon," about a hijacked plane that crash-lands in the mythical Shangri-La.
But we can't see creator Matthew Weiner going this far afield — or actually modeling his protagonist's arc after a real-life person. "Mad Men's" drama comes from pointed conversations and sideways glances, not daring crimes and action scenes. It's just too understated a show to attempt anything as outlandish as Don suddenly turning to a life of crime.
Chances It's True: 10 percent. Fun to think about, but way too out there for a grounded drama like "Mad Men."
2. Megan is Sharon Tate. Seriously, this time.
We know, you've heard this one before… but the evidence keeps mounting!
The Internet went bonkers last season when Don's wife Megan wore a T-shirt identical to one worn by Sharon Tate, the actress tragically murdered by followers of Charles Manson in August 1969. Weiner shot down the idea that Megan would suffer the same fate as Tate last year, yet in the Season 7 premiere, the connections kept coming.
Just six months out from the Tate murder, Megan is living alone in a remote Hollywood Hills home… much like the one Tate was killed in. Megan is auditioning for "Bracken's World," an NBC pilot created by Dorothy Kingsley, who also co-wrote the screenplay for "Valley of the Dolls," Tate's breakout film. And did you see Peggy holding that can of Folgers coffee?! Abigail Folger was killed along with Tate by the Manson family! (Sorry, getting a little over-excited here.)
But really, we're pretty sure that Weiner is just actively trolling us here. He's well aware of the fact that viewers are over-analyzing each thin strand of connection between Megan and Tate, and is playing that up to the hilt. And since he's always so dead-set against spoilers, it's hard to imagine he would let viewers correctly guess such a huge plot development in advance. Even if that was his original plan, he'd have changed it up by now following all the speculation last year.
Chances It's True: 5 percent. Not bloody likely.
3. Sally will go to Woodstock this season.
Don's daughter Sally is coming of age at just the right time. At this point in Season 7, it's February 1969, and she's attending Miss Porter's boarding school in Farmington, Connecticut. In just six months, a certain music festival will welcome nearly half a million hippies and freaks to Bethel, New York — only a two-hour drive from Miss Porter's.
Sally's been rebelling a lot lately: smoking cigarettes, sneaking boys into her room, ditching a funeral to cavort in the city. It makes almost too much sense that she'd want to check out the groovy vibes at Woodstock. And with each episode of "Mad Men" covering roughly a month of real time, we could see Sally swaying to Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin by the end of this half-season.
More than anything, though, we just want to see this awesome GIF come true.
Chances It's True: 80 percent. But that might just be a lot of wishful thinking on our part.
4. Roger's daughter is in a cult.
The Season 7 premiere gave us an odd scene where Roger sat down for brunch with his adult daughter, Margaret, who said she forgave him for all of his "transgressions." We just figured it was another portrait of Roger screwing up and being forgiven by the people who love him yet again.
But the more we thought about Margaret and the language she used, the stranger it seemed. She told Roger she's come to understand that "anger can be vanquished by love." When he asked if she's going to church, she replied: "Not in any way you'd understand." Where is all this New Age-y talk coming from?
Looking back on the late '60s, it's easy to guess. A lot of touchy-feely pop-psychology movements were emerging around that time; "I'm OK, You're OK" was published in 1969. More ominously, the Peoples Temple (the cult movement that led to the Jonestown mass suicide of 1978) was taking root in California. Is that the kind of "church" Roger wouldn't "understand"?
Maybe she's becoming a Hare Krishna, like that nut Paul Kinsey. Or maybe she's just discovered psychedelic drugs! Then she and her father would have a lot to talk about, right?
Chances It's True: 60 percent. We can't shake the feeling that something is off with Roger's little girl.
5. Joan and Peggy will strike out on their own.
This one has been percolating for a while, but it's coming to a head this season. Peggy is clashing with her new boss, Lou Avery, and feeling unloved and unappreciated in general, just as Joan is branching out into handling her own accounts like Avon and Butler Footwear. Could they soon team up to stick it to The Man (and men) and form their own ad agency?
There is precedent here. Case in point: Mary Wells Lawrence, the ad-exec pioneer who worked as a McCann Erickson copywriter in 1953 (!) and formed her own firm, Wells Rich Greene, in 1966 (!!). Signing clients like American Motors and Cadbury Schweppes, Lawrence was reportedly the ad world's highest-paid executive in 1969 — the year Season 7 is taking place. Surely Peggy has heard of Lawrence, and has daydreamed about following in her footsteps.
Sadly, though, Joan and Peggy already missed out on creating the iconic Virginia Slims "You've come a long way, baby" campaign; that launched in July 1968, the brainchild of Chicago's Leo Burnett agency. But both women have still come a long way, baby. Maybe the next step is them making their own way, sans Don and Roger.
Chances It's True: 70 percent. There'd be a bit of poetic justice to the series ending with Peggy hiring her old boss Don, wouldn't there?
"Mad Men" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on AMC.