By now, “Mad Men” fans have probably all heard the theory that Don Draper’s second wife, Megan, subtly represents Sharon Tate, the star actress who was brutally murdered by the Manson Family in 1969. According to the theory, Megan -- herself an actress working her way up the ranks -- is likely set to die at the end of the season as “Mad Men” increasingly focuses on rising crime in 1960s Manhattan. For about a week, it was seen as one of the crazier “Mad Men” theories out there.
Now, another even more bizarre theory about Megan Draper makes the Sharon Tate angle seem completely normal. If Uproxx writer Dustin Rowles is right, Megan Draper isn’t set to die at the end of the season at all, because she’s already dead. According to this theory, when Don had his near-death experience last week and hallucinated Megan, it was somehow a psychic premonition that his wife was dead and gone herself, likely murdered in their Upper East Side apartment. Crazy, yes, but interesting all the same.
Rowles’ theory is all based off a scene from Sunday night’s episode. Don showed up at a Beverly Hills party with Roger and Harry, and in a very non-Draper moment, smoked a bit too much hashish and fell face first into a pool. While drowning, Don hallucinated seeing a pregnant Megan, as well as Private Dinkins, the soldier he met in the season opener. According to Rowles, not only is Don hallucinating, he’s clinically dead and speaking with other dead people, one of whom happens to be his wife.
Watch the scene below for a refresher.
“The wording during that sequence is very careful. During the hallucination, in addition to finding out that Megan is pregnant, Don asks, ‘How did you find me?’ Megan responds, ‘But I live here.’ The ‘here’ is not California; it can’t be the party. She’s clearly not actually there, but she could be in the afterlife. A few seconds later, Draper sees a dead Private Dinkins, who says, ‘I heard you were here.’ Again, ‘here’ is in the afterlife. ‘Dying doesn’t make you whole,’ he tells Don, which is when Don realizes that death won’t fulfill him, it won’t bring him the answers he seeks. He has to get out, back to the living because ‘everyone is looking for you,’ as Megan suggests. That’s when he is pulled from the pool and returned to life.”
There’s some more support for Rowes’ theory -- mainly based on the way Don acts in the next episode’s preview as well as the colors a seemingly alive Megan wears in the same preview -- but the crux of the argument hinges on the afterlife speculation.
Admittedly, Rowles has some support for his unusual claim. Don has, on several occasions, hallucinated seeing dead loved ones. Most notably, he hallucinated his dead half-brother Adam when while delirious with pain from a toothache. The night before Anna Draper died, Don saw her holding a suitcase. And when he was sick and bedridden last season, Don even hallucinates himself killing a woman after a sexual encounter. So we’ve established that Don has, on occasion, hallucinated people.
Except Don has never shown to have any sort of psychic forethought before, making this a pretty odd prediction. Yes, Don did hallucinate Anna Draper the night before she dies, and Rowles takes this as a sign that Don is prescient in some way. But remember that Don was well aware Anna had cancer and was not long for this world. Also keep in mind that earlier on that same night, his secretary told him to return a call to one of Anna’s friends in California, so she was on his mind anyway.
Don didn’t have any kind of psychic premonition that Anna was dead. He was stressed and worried for his closest friend, and rightly assumed that she would soon be dead. It’s similarly likely that Don’s near-death hallucinations correspond to other things in his life. He saw a pregnant Megan because of their recent miscarriage. And perhaps he envisioned her living in California because New York’s crime rate was rising fast. Don likely also envisioned Private Dinkins out of concern for the young solider. There could be any number of reasons for the hallucination, but a psychic premonition probably isn’t one of them.
So is Megan Draper actually dead? Probably not. But if you’re into “Mad Men” and love insane theorizing, it’s a fun thing to think about.