In many ways, the ending Don Draper received in the Mad Men finale made perfect sense (just ask Danger, who predicted it in April). It’s the cycle of Don Draper. He rises. He falls. And like a phoenix rises from ashes (sponsored by Coca-Cola), he rises again. Don was reborn in the Mad Men finale: As Don Draper. An even better, albeit shallower more soulless Don Draper, the guy who came up with the most iconic commercial of the 1970s.
It’s what has happened throughout all of Mad Men: Don plateaus, then he crashes, and then he rises again, better than he was before. It’s how he evolved from the creative director of Sterling Cooper to a partner in Sterling Cooper & Partners to a creative director in McCann Erickson to, undoubtedly, the creative director of McCann Erickson (and you know, Peggy and Stan helped him make that ad, and Peggy got the legacy moment she wanted). For Don, every crash and burn is followed by an even bigger role in the advertising world.
Don Draper is invincible.
That’s not to say that Don didn’t find his Shangri La, as has also been predicted. That’s exactly what he found in Big Sur. It’s the ocean that brings him inspiration. He found peace, and contentment, and enlightenment. It’s just that Don’s enlightenment is finding the perfect ad. That’s his shallow little heaven. It’s like hearing an Ocean Spray ad in his mind.
Of course, the Coca-Cola ad has been hinted at from the day that Sterling Cooper got bought out by McCann Erickson, when Jim Hobart promised Don Coca-Cola, and it was reiterated when Don was asked to fix a Coca-Cola machine in Kansas. Hell, it even goes back to season one, when Betty starred in a Coca Cola ad for McCann Erickson when the firm first attempted to hire Don.