All season long, fans and critics alike have fallen into the habit of shaking every episode of Mad Men like it was a Magic 8-Ball, desperate for answers from a series that provides few. Even the trailers feel like subterfuge as multiple characters appear on the screen delivering simple phrases and single words without any perceivable connection. But with the show nearing season 7, its final season, everyone wants to know if Mad Men will leave us with some concrete answers or just simply come to a stop.
In a new interview following Sunday's season 6 finale, show creator Matthew Weiner is careful to avoid painting himself into a corner, admitting that he only has an "image" for the "very, very end of the series." However, he does talk a bit about whether there will be a resolution to Don Draper's search for self, while waxing about the open-ended nature of life - something that maybe, possibly, could offer a hint about what is in store for the final season of Mad Men.
Here's Weiner on Draper and the existential question of who he is and whether that will ever be resolved:
I don’t really know what I’m going to do, and I don’t know that the show will ever offer anything [concrete]. I find it difficult to even express resolution on the show. It’s not a creative problem for me. [...]
Resolution in itself is a mystery in this world. I don’t know what to say. Other than death, and even in death, I don’t know that there is that much resolution in [real] life ever anyway, and I’m always trying to approximate that on the show. But in terms of the last season, without being coy at all, I haven’t really thought about it. I have something that I think is the image for the very, very end of the series. Other than that, I just sort of leave things where they are. I think you can feel all of the basic tensions of the series, of the premise of the series, are still intact. I haven’t protected them in any way. The people have evolved; we know more about them than ever, and I just want to be able to leave people with some sense of satisfaction that they were glad that they were on this journey for all these years.
Of course, the question is: can fans walk away from Mad Men with satisfaction if Weiner doesn't provide the chance to see some kind of grand payoff? That all depends on your perspective and your preferences, but recent history suggests - in the case of similarly-celebrated dramas like The Sopranos (which Weiner wrote for) and Lost - that the gallery seems to collectively demand answers.
Recent history also suggests, though, that Matthew Weiner isn't likely going to let anyone or anything sway him from ending Mad Men on his terms, and it also suggests that none of us are any good at predicting his actions - you can consult your scribbled Bob Benson theories and your hastily-thrown-together Megan Draper/Sharon Tate evidence board for proof of that - so this could all be useless speculation and word parsing. I guess we'll just have to wait to watch and see.
Mad Men season 7 premieres in 2014.