Literally no one besides those who participated in it have any idea what will happen in Sunday night’s Mad Men finale. While it’s been fun to speculate this week (for for the last several seasons), the truth is that we don’t know Matthew Weiner’s mind. You can pick apart the last seven seasons and make a prediction for any number of endings and realistically base them in the text of Weiner’s scripts.
But the truth is, we just don’t know, and the possibilities are wide open and endless. This is not like The Breaking Bad finale, where the biggest question was, “Will Walter White live or die?” Weiner has so much more to play with. He can jump ahead a month, a year, a decade, or more. He can go back and revisit Don Draper’s past some more. He can continue the stories of other characters, who many of us may assume are done with the series. It’s what makes the ending of Mad Men so thrilling: We genuinely have no idea.
But we can look to the pilot and make some educated guesses. After all, while the pilot didn’t predict the presumed endings for Betty, Pete, and Joan, it certainly informed their fates. And what conclusions can we draw about Peggy from the pilot?
Well, for one, I hope to God that Peggy’s story is not finished. Granted, there would some satisfaction in knowing that the last image of Peggy from Mad Men is of her strutting through the halls of McCann Erickson with a cigarette in her mouth while carrying a painting of an octopus going down on a woman.
However, based on the Mad Men pilot, there has to be more to Peggy’s story. After what Peggy went through in the opening episode, she deserves even more than redemption. She deserves revenge.
Let’s just take a brief moment to revisit what happened to Peggy in “Smoke Gets in their Eyes.”
1. It was her first day of work as a secretary at Sterling Cooper. Before she even got into the office, Ken Cosgrove was sexually harassing her in the elevator.
2. Before she’d even sat down at her desk, Joan insulted the way she dressed, suggested that she work on her body, and insinuated that she’d need to sleep with her employers to get ahead. Peggy, naturally, took notes.
3. In her first interactions with Don and Pete, Pete insulted the way she dressed, sexually objectified her, and humiliated her in front of her new boss.
4. In the gynecologist’s office — where Joan sent her to get birth control — she was subjected to the doctor’s judgements. He basically called her a whore, telling her that if she “abuses” her birth control pills, he’d take her off of them. “Don’t think you have to go out and be the town pump just to get your money’s worth.”
5. Then, after being told repeatedly that she should sleep with her boss, she reluctantly made an advance on Don, and he rebuffed her and humiliated her. “I’m your boss, not your boyfriend.”
6. Peggy couldn’t even get some relief once she went home. After Pete got drunk and rejected at his bachelor party, he arrived at Peggy’s apartment and forced himself on her. Given what Peggy had been told all day, she must have felt like she had no choice but to allow him to do so.
Keep in mind that all of that happened to Peggy on her first day of work. So, I’m not going to be satisfied if the last image we see of Peggy is that of her walking through McCann Erickson like she owns the place. I want to see an end where Peggy actually does own the place. I want to see her take Don’s job as creative director. I want to be able to see her treat the men like they treated her in 1960, or at least, be in a position to do so.
Look, from what we’ve seen so far of the women of Mad Men, Joan got screwed out of her job by men, and Betty got screwed out of her life by the very products those men were paid to advertise. At least one woman on Mad Men deserves a happy ending. At least one woman deserves some justice. I’m not saying that Peggy should get the Kill Bill ending — this is not that kind of show — but I would love to see Peggy get the Mad Men equivalent of that.
If that means that Weiner has to jump ahead in time ten years, I’m okay with that. If Weiner needs to take it ahead 25 years, that’s okay, too (McCann Erickson didn’t name its first female executive creative director until 1994). Whatever ultimately happens in the finale, I dearly and truly hope that Peggy gets the opportunity to put those who treated her so badly in 1960 in their goddamn places. She played by the rules. She worked her ass off. She navigated the gender politics of the advertising world. She deserves more than Bert Cooper’s octopus painting. She deserves more than just being another face in the McCann Erickson crowd.
Whatever Weiner might have in mind, my perfect ending sees Peggy Olson forcing Jim Hobart out of his job, and though it would never happen in this series, I wouldn’t mind seeing her stub her cigarette out in his face, either.