Found: Matthew Weiner's 'Wish List' for 'Mad Men' stories he wanted to wrap up
'Sal -- what happened to him?' Good question.
Everyone knows what it’s like to reach the end of the day with an unfinished to-do list. Mad Men happened to reach the end of a decade with the same thing.
At a Writers Guild Foundation Q&A last night celebrating the storytellers of the AMC series, creator Matthew Weiner and his team of scribes were interviewed by none other than The Simpsons creator Matt Groening about their favorite scenes from the show and the parts of their own lives that became fodder for plotlines.
But in the lobby just outside the doors of the theater, the manager of the foundation’s library and archive, Joanne Lammers, presided over a display that had a real treasure for longtime fans of the series.
Collected on her table was a collection of notes and scripts from Mad Men‘s writing team, including this torn sheet of printer paper: “WISH LIST: Things We Want To Deal With Before the Series Ends.”
It’s not clear when the list was written, but it probably goes back a few seasons. UPDATE: Weiner tells EW the list was something they kept in the writer’s room, and that it does date back several years.
(The wear and tear suggest it was bumping around for a while, and Pete’s mother fell off a cruise ship in season 6, which may be why her section is crossed out.)
Weiner said during the Q&A that he began thinking of the show’s conclusion about four years ago, when he was in the midst of tough negotiations with AMC. He told the audience that if he was forced to leave, he wanted to be able to tell everyone how he planned to wrap things up.
Despite crafting a thorough run-down of loose ends (was anyone pining for more of Pete Campbell’s jai alai college friend “Ho-Ho”?), most of these plot points ended up going by the wayside.
The baby Peggy gave up for adoption did come back in a conversation with Stan; the writers said they felt those two had to discuss that part of her life at some point if they were going to end the show with Peggy and Stan starting a serious relationship together. That talk did not end up necessitating the death of her mother Katherine (misspelled in Weiner’s note as “Catherine”) to revisit that story.
Perhaps most vexing to fans was the departure of Bryan Batt’s Salvatore Romano, the closeted gay character who was fired after rejecting the advances of a major client—Lee Garner Jr., who’s also mentioned in the note and apparently kept getting a Christmas gift from Roger Sterling until one of them died.
Sal’s story was among the show’s most heartbreaking, which is saying something. Although his dismissal had its own tragic closure, clearly Weiner was aligned with fans in a desire to find out a little more about Sal’s fate. We never got it, though.
Missing from the list: Chauncey, the dog Duck Phillips abandoned on the streets of Manhattan in a drunken rage. Since the show never specified his fate, we’re free to imagine that Chauncey wandered into Central Park that night and befriended a dejected man sitting alone on a bench. Then, let’s say, he and Sal wandered off toward happier days together.