We are fast approaching the end of the line for a Mad Men season that has been a roller coaster —and not necessarily in a good way. This is a show that likes to tread water, teasing the audience with mysteries and symbols that might foretell something later on... only to lead to a big reveal near but not at season's end — a reveal that's probably not what you expected. Last season, Lane committed suicide in the second-to-last episode. The season before, Don proposed marriage to Megan in the final installment.
We're girding ourselves for something big in the last three episodes of Season Six, but we're also tempering our excitement, knowing that creator Matthew Weiner probably won't let us have what we want, or give us what we thought was coming. So let's look at the mysteries that remain (there are conspiracy theories!), plus whether or not they will amount to the show's big surprise heading into the show's seventh season, its last. Because it's Mad Men we're going to measure this likelihood in cocktails. The more cocktails (out of 10) the more likely (because the more cocktails you will need to drink to process the reveal).
Bob Benson Does Something Crazy
The shock-in-waiting: Bob Benson, the two cups of coffee-wielding, short shorts-wearing, seemingly jolly account man is perhaps the ultimate question mark this season. He appeared out of the blue, smile on his face, eager to help, but something about him seems... off. Just what does Bob Benson want? The Internet, specifically Reddit, has certainly speculated. Blaine McEvoy of Rolling Stone wondered if Benson might be a government agent or an investigative journalist. Lindsay Weber of Vulture added other possibilities. Like he could be a murderer! Or someone's secret son!
In the most recent episode, Jim Cutler first deputizes Bob, only to place him on the Chevy team. So Bob Benson's moving up in the world. But is the truth about Bob really big enough for a climax? Or are the Benson conspiracy theories, as McEvoy suggested, just a "red herring" for something else to come?
Chance it's the big shocker: Six cocktails. Benson's been the big unexplained question critics and fans have been openly wondering about all season, and it would be unfortunate if his storyline didn't get revolved a little. And resolution might happen, since actor James Wolk is doing a CBS series next year. Resolution might not happen, because Matt Weiner loves to toy with emotions, and he listens to his audience, with or without satisfaction.
The shock-in-waiting: Pete's been a ticking time bomb for a while. Last year there was speculation as to whether Pete would commit suicide. Of course he didn't (poor Lane), but that's not to say that Pete won't still make a big move. He's been discontented with his life at home and at the office, he met with Duck the head hunter, and after being told by Don, at the end of last night's episode, that "maybe it's time to get out of the business," well, Pete smoked a defiant joint.
Chance it's the big shocker: Eight cocktails. Something has to happen with Pete, right? His major twist has been a long time coming, and the marijuana moment felt like a near-climax.
Megan Gets Murdered
The shock-in-waiting: Death has been hovering over the entire season, from the first shot. Which only makes sense, since the show is taking place amidst the turmoil of 1968. However, Megan was drawn into this equation last week when she showed up wearing the same shirt that actress Sharon Tate once famously wore in an Esquire photoshoot. Tate, who was married to Roman Polanski, was murdered by the Manson family while she was pregnant. As Uproxx noted last week, Reddit went wild over this, and costume designer Janie Bryant said the shirt similarity was "no coincidence." Dustin Rowles at Uproxx also pointed out how the Tate connection may relate to the police presence in the poster for this season. This week, in Don's hashish-induced hallucination, Megan, dressed in a California flower power style, announced she was pregnant. This, of course, only led to more Tate-related wonderings.
Chance it's the big shocker: Four cocktails. The symbolism is undeniable, but Mad Men's characters have often been observers of history, not a participants in it. Meanwhile, Bryant indicated to the Daily Beast that perhaps the shirt was more political than anything else. (Don't count on that pregnancy, either: She just said she had a miscarriage, and this show's dream sequences — like those in the penultimate season of Weiner's old gig at The Sopranos — tend to be heavy-handed but not foretelling.)
There's Something Going on with Ginsberg
The shock-in-waiting: Ginsberg stood up to Jim Cutler's blasé attitude about Vietnam last night in an act of what was basically insubordination. He then had to be talked into going to a Manischewitz presentation by Benson, after saying he was ill and acting as if he was having a nervous breakdown. Flavorwire wondered if he was schizophrenic.
Chance it's the big shocker: Two cocktails. Somehow Ginsberg has always seemed more like a background player, spouting his conscience.