Last week, the final Mad Men promotional poster was released into the world, and we got to see just what symbol may be driving the final half of Season 7: Don’s Cadillac Coup de Ville, setting off from (or beyond) New York into (or away from) the setting sun. Don is well dressed, with a loosened tie, looking into his rearview mirror.
It conjures up so many questions: Why a car, when there were recent promo shots at the airport? Where is Don going? What is he looking at? In an interview with Vulture, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner offers some answers: “We see him in his car, and we see that he’s alone, and I think you just have to basically feel that there’s going to be a sense of motion.”
Along with reading this season’s tea leaves from the forever-spoiler-averse Weiner, we’ve looked back at the previous seven Mad Men season posters to determine how much these images really ended up revealing about episodes that followed them.
Remember when Mad Men debuted on AMC? No? That’s because it was the first great original series on a station known better for other entertainments (for the 2015 edition, see Manhattan on WGN America). Our introduction to Don Draper was the same image we’d seen in the next seven seasons’ opening credits: his silhouette. A shot of the back of his head, draped across a chair, his cigarette in his right hand, unlit, this black silhouette tells us that the man at the center of Mad Men is a delicious mystery. He could be every man. He could be the one perfect Übermensch. Fun fact: another iteration of this poster features the tagline: “Where the truth lies.” But what does that even mean?
And so, the silhouette of Don has appeared in many iterations, from the pilot…
… to any episode featuring one or more of the following elements: Anna Draper, California, rebirth symbolism.
Then there was the Season 5 finale, where Don turned into a straight-up silhouette as he walked away from Megan on the set of her commercial, and we learned that newlywed bliss wasn’t going to last because he was turning back into a wolf: