Hey, Did You Notice the Whole “Death” Thing Last Night on Mad Men?


Don Draper has run from a lot of things in the five years we’ve been watching him.

He’s run from his wife. Well, now he’s run from two wives.

He’s run from his family — his true family as well as the one he made himself.

Most importantly, he’s run from himself, whatever that definition of himself might be.

welcome back, my good man. we've missed you.

But maybe all that running was related. Maybe it wasn’t separate running, maybe it was all interconnected running from the one thing Don can’t avoid, and the one thing that scares him the most — his own mortality. And if we gleaned anything from the season six premiere of Mad Men last night, that was it. That Don Draper is not just scared of death, he’s petrified of it.

It’s not just his death, either. He’s scared of anything death-related. It stops him in his tracks, effs up anything he’s doing at the time and turns him into a completely different person. If someone asked you to sum up Don Draper in five words, four of them would revolve somehow around the word “cool,” like “collected,” “calm” and those type of things.

Get him around a dying doorman? A GI destined for death in Vietnam? A doctor who just so happens to handle death? He turns into a helpless, blubbering moron. He either freezes in his tracks, gives away a bride of a man he just met or babbles on like a schoolgirl trying to figure out her algebra homework. None of which ever happens to Don in normal, everyday situations — it only seems to happen to him when death is on the line! A HA HA! A HA HA!!! A HA …


And just for good measure, in case you hadn’t realized how uncomfortable Don is around death, let’s get him blotto drunk at a dry funeral of a woman he barely knew and have him interrupt the eulogy by randomly yakking on the floor. Sweet.

So we’ve got it, Don is scared the death of death. No need to pull out the baseball bat knock us around with it anymore, Matt Weiner. He’s afraid of dying, he’s afraid of death, check and check. Let’s move on now, shall we?

But hoooold on, we can’t move on just yet because now we have to ask ourselves why we’re being beaten over the head with this new information. It can’t just be random and not thought out. We’ve got to be seeing some foreshadowing here, right? Seems pretty obvious to me …

Someone is going to die in Mad Men this year.

I’m not talking about someone random like Roger’s mother or his shoeshine boy, it certainly seems like someone majorly important in Don’s life — and the life of Mad Men — is going to die this year. We’re even talking more major than Burt Cooper, who, all in the name of foreshadowing, showed up for two minutes in the premiere at the funeral. And more major than Lane, who you can barely tell is gone.

So let’s start the speculation of who’s going to be dying this year in Mad Men:

trouble a-brewin'

DON DRAPER: It would seem to be the most obvious choice. And it would take the show in a really interesting direction. But this shows dies on the table without Don. ODDS: 100-1

BETTY DRAPER: I like this one. She was only in about half the episodes last year, so it’s almost like we’ve been getting primed for her departure. It brings into play the kids going to live with Don and Megan, creating a whole new dynamic for their relationship. ODDS: 2-1

MEGAN DRAPER: She finds out about Don and the neighbor and she offs herself right in front of him. Bing, bang boom, no muss, no fuss. I seriously doubt anyone would even miss her if she was gone. It’s almost too easy. ODDS: Even

SALLY DRAPER: She’s about to get roped into something nasty, I just don’t know what. But you better believe it’s going to be nasty. Probably not nasty enough to lead to her death, but nasty nonetheless. Wouldn’t it be interesting if it were Don that had to watch over that and guide her through it? ODDS: 20-1

ROGER STERLING: The other person in the show who’s not exactly handling death very well these days. In the span of a day after his mom’s death, he propositioned his first ex-wife, decided to invest in or fund some cockamamie refrigeration plan and then broke down bawling at the sight of a shoeshine kit. So he doesn’t exactly have it all together right now. It’s hard to envision to show without him, though. ODDS: 5-1

PETE CAMPBELL: Don might end up doing it himself if Pete doesn’t shut his yapper. But too easy. And without him, we don’t get Trudy. And I think you know my feelings on that. ODDS: 35-1

Random thoughts on the premiere:

ok, don. you win. it's probably worth it.

–A super big welcome back to Linda Cardellini! I’m not totally happy that she’s gotta be the one luring Don back into his life of infidelity, but whatever gets her back working in quality television, I’m all for it.

–The next time I get drunk enough to puke — and there will be a next time, thanks — I hope for two things: 1. That it won’t be in public, much less at a funeral. 2. That there will be someone around as cool as Roger Sterling to come up with kick-butt excuses like, “He only said what everyone was thinking.” This was the equivalent of running up the score on an undermanned opponent. Roger didn’t need to drop yet another hall-of-fame one-liner to cement his spot in one-liner history, so instead of taking a knee, he decided to go for three more touchdowns in the last minute just for the hell of it. The game is now unbelievably out of hand, and Roger can’t be touched in the world of one-liners.

–I’m a little scared of Bitch Peggy. I’m not alone, right?

–I never saw the whole Don-and-the-neighbor thing coming. I probably should have, but I completely whiffed on it. Maybe I just didn’t want to believe, maybe I was hoping he had somehow changed or grew. Let this be a lesson — Don Draper will never give up womanizing. It’s a psychological addiction. He even said he wants to stop, but it’s obvious now he can’t. Well it was obvious five years ago, but apparently I’m just catching on now.

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