I won’t retread overly familiar ground here on Uproxx about the Sharon Tate/Megan Draper Mad Men theories, though if you’re interested, here’s a primer, and here’s 15 possibly Sharon Tate connections over the last two seasons. Basically, the gist of it is this: There’s are some eerie similarities between Megan Draper and Sharon Tate, who was killed by Charles Manson in August of 1969.
But maybe the theory has nothing to do with Megan, and everything to do with Stephanie?
Look: I have laid off of the Sharon Tate theories, and since the premiere episode, I have completely left out allusions to Manson in the recaps because I honestly don’t believe that Megan Draper is going to die. But, Megan Draper does live very close to where Sharon Tate was killed, and August 1969 is fast approaching in the show’s timeline. In a series that frequently addresses huge events in history, it’d be weird if the Charles Manson killings weren’t even mentioned.
So, I think that Weiner is kind of dropping little hints to Manson throughout this season, not as a clue as to what is coming for the characters, but to keep Charles Manson on our minds. This, I think, is what he did a few episodes ago in introducing Emily Arnett, who bore a striking resemblance to Don’s niece Stephanie, who made a return appearance last night. Stephanie’s reappearance was less jarring because we remembered that she existed.
In last night’s episode, we also see that Stephanie is 7 months pregnant, and she mentions to Megan that the father is a musician she met in the Bay Area who spent some time in jail. This describes Charles Manson (a musician who lived in the Bay Area who was arrested in 1968 for possession) perfectly. This doesn’t fit the timeline exactly, but interestingly, Charles Manson did rape and impregnate a woman in 1967 (and the son didn’t find out until much, much later in his life that his Dad was Manson, which has to be the worst discovery ever).
As some have mentioned, during Megan’s party last night, there was also a man in attendance who bore a striking resemblance to Manson.
And that’s just the thing: The allusions and connections are loose, just enough to play with our heads. For instance, during last night’s episode, if you know about the Sharon Tate theory, and you know that a pregnant woman is staying with a Megan Draper — who has a very similar life to Sharon Tate — in an area of Los Angeles very near Sharon Tate’s place AND that the husband (Don) couldn’t catch a flight, maybe you feel slightly more tense about the fact that these two women are alone in the canyons.
In other words, I think that Weiner is both f**king with us, but also keeping Manson’s presence in the back of our minds, not because Manson himself is going to make an appearance on the show, but because those murders are likely to affect the characters in the same way that Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.’s deaths affected their characters. So, for instance, let’s say that Megan and Don are separated in August 1969, and Don is in New York, and he hears about the Charles Manson murders and he freaks out because Megan fits the profile of one of the women who was murdered. So, maybe he jumps on a plane to make sure that Megan is OK, and they end up rekindling their relationship (I’m not saying any of this will happen, I’m just providing an example of how Manson might affect the narrative).
As for Stephanie? With her living in Oakland, I might be even more afraid of the Zodiac killer, whose murdering spree began in the late 1960s in Northern California. That would be a devastating end for her and her baby.
In either respect, I have a feeling that August 1969 won’t arrive on Mad Men until next year, and with Woodstock and Manson taking place in that exact same month, it might be a very busy time for the show.
(p.s., this is a huge stretch, but Manson also wrote a song that was altered and recorded by the Beach Boys and released in 1969 under Capitol Records, which is the building Stephanie was standing in front of while on the pay phone).