June 2, 2013 at 11:15 AM ET
Is Megan Draper long for this world? Or rather, is she long for the world of “Mad Men’s” New York in 1968, a place that is rapidly going downhill?
Those used to the scrubbed-clean New York of today may forget that in the late 1960s the Big Apple was getting wormy, fast: Sirens wail almost constantly outside the high-rise apartment building on Central Park Megan shares with her husband Don Draper; Don’s co-worker Peggy is so afraid of their neighborhood’s fellow residents she actually stabbed boyfriend Abe; and Don’s apartment has been the scene of a spooky home invasion. Is this the world a wide-eyed soap opera actress can live in?
Or is she gonna die? Because since “The Better Half” episode of May 26, viewers and critics have begun speculating on whether show creator Matthew Weiner is telegraphing a grisly end for the “Zou Zou Bisou” crooner -- and have begun piecing together clues that would tie her to the real-life murder of actress Sharon Tate, the late wife of director Roman Polanski, who was pregnant when she was stabbed by followers of Charles Manson in August 1969.
It would be a very strange turn for the series if that happened; it’s not as though there’s never been sudden death on “Mad Men” before, but something of this nature, with a well-established character who’s been given a lot of screen time ever since she popped up in the third season -- well, it seems hard to imagine.
But let’s go over some of the imaginings that have cropped up elsewhere.
Where it started:Redditors started the discussion about the shirt Megan wore while standing on her balcony and telling Don he’s been emotionally distant. The shirt, a striking white T with a red star emblazoned across the chest was an exact copy of one Sharon Tate wore in a 1967 (Warning: Partial nudity at link) photo shoot for Esquire. It also kind of looks like a target.
Where it got “confirmed”: @BhisaRockstar -- who says her dad was behind the Esquire photo -- asked the show’s costume designer, @JanieBryant on Twitter whether that was a coincidence. The answer? “No coincidence!” Still, in a chat with The Daily Beast, Bryant said that viewers might be doing too much of a liberal interpretation: "In terms of the T-shirt, Matthew Weiner had just said, 'It would be great to have something political.' I had done so much research of different political T-shirts, and found a picture of Sharon Tate from Esquire magazine. It's the Vietnam star. We saw a little bit of how Megan was so upset after Bobby Kennedy was shot, it really is so much a part of the turmoil happening during that period -- really this is the time filled with civil unrest. (And New York) was really a decaying city."
Where critics seemed to know things ahead of time: Back in March, when black-and-white promotional photos of the cast were released before the new season started, bloggers Tom & Lorenzo likened portrayer Jessica Pare’s duds specifically to a “Sharon Tate kind of route, which fits her character.”
Where even the promoposter held clues: The folks at Uproxx noted that the colored-pencil drawing used to promote the series new season featured what could be perceived as two Dons, each heading in different directions down a one-way street -– one in a dark suit, walking away from a crime scene holding a woman’s hand, the other in a lighter suit, walking toward a policeman in the background. “It’s worth noting this: Sharon Tate’s murder was one of mistaken identity,” added writer Dustin Rowles, a comment that hearkens back to Abe's stabbing and that Megan is playing twins on her soap opera.
Where everybody gets into the act: Others have noted clues dropped elsewhere throughout the season, both on the show -- Sally was pointedly reading “Rosemary’s Baby,” which was directed by Polanski (Zap2It); the photo of Tate in the T-shirt was reportedly taken on the set of “Rosemary’s Baby” (Philly.com); and so on.
But, as the folks at Slate.com make sure we understand: “Mad Men” is not necessarily about drawing literal conclusions; writer June Thomas notes that creator Matthew Weiner is a master of “misdirection” and point out that Pete’s driving school episode, “Signal 30,” had a title that referred to a driving safety movie in which images of dead and injured drivers were shown. So far, while he’s not happy, Pete is still intact. Still, adds Thomas, “I am very worried about Megan.”
An AMC representative declined to comment.
And so it seems are many other fans of “Mad Men.” Stay safe, Megan –- and don’t go walking in Central Park after sundown!
Got an opinion about Megan's fate? Cast your vote above and leave a theory in the comments below.