Mad Men has always had planes on its mind. Betty flew to Reno to get a divorce from Don. Pete’s dad died in a plane crash. Ted’s a pilot. Don loved — and then lost — Mohawk Airlines. He met Neve Campbell’s never-seen-again Lee Cabot on the redeye. The promo art for season 7 was set in an airport. In last week’s “Lost Horizon,” Don wistfully looked up at a plane flying over New York City. A lot of people think Don is D.B. Cooper.
But even for a show normally obsessed with air travel, Sunday’s “The Milk and Honey Route” felt like a statement. There were so many plane references, overt and not, that if Mad Men doesn’t end with someone in flight, it’ll be an upset. Ahead, three likely coincidental plane references during “The Milk and Honey Route” that could help us anticipate what happens in the series finale.
Pete is going to work for Learjet in Wichita, Kansas.
Thanks to a return appearance by perma-Lost Weekender Duck Phillips, Pete wound up getting a plum job at Learjet, reconnecting with Trudie (sure?) and making plans to move to Wichita, Kansas. Good for Pete! Not good for Pete? During the episode’s time period — early October 1970, which we know because of a letter Betty wrote to Sally — a plane carrying members of the Wichita State football team crashed into the Rockies killing 29 people, including 13 players. (Two more passengers later died from injuries sustained during the crash.) Campbells and planes are not a good mix.
That big North by Northwest reference at the end.
At the conclusion of “The Milk and Honey Route,” Don sits on a bus bench in the middle of Nowhere, U.S.A — and while he was wearing civilian clothes, it was hard not to draw comparisons to the crop-duster scene in North by Northwest. (Presidential historian Michael Beschloss, in fact, did just that.)
No plane swooped down to spook Don on Sunday, but is this shot just the calm before the storm of the finale?
Oh, and the last song was by Buddy Holly.
Buddy Holly died in a plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959, but that didn’t stop Matthew Weiner from using his song “Everyday” over the show’s closing credits. Because planes.
The Mad Men series finale airs Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on AMC.