The first half of the final season — which aired last spring — ended with Don saving his job by quite possibly selling his company's soul, as well as a song and dance number from a ghost. (If you tuned out of Mad Men a while ago, we are not making this up, and you should get caught up.)
The final episodes should be really remarkable because essentially anything could happen in them. Most of the show's major conflicts — the rift between Don and Peggy, the fate of the firm — are wrapped up, which means that these seven episodes can dig ever deeper into the show's central existential question: what will happen to all of these characters' souls?
What we hope happens
It's always foolhardy to try to predict Mad Men, famous for zigging when you expect it to zag, but we definitely hope this final batch of episodes finds a way to work in many of the characters who've been written out of the show over the years, just so we can see what they're up to. (We'd particularly love to see Midge and — this is a long shot — Sal again.) Creator Matt Weiner's a bit of a sentimental guy, so this might actually happen.
But we're mostly hoping the show finds a way to give its characters powerful emotional conclusions to their story arcs. We're not so worried it will for Don, Peggy, and Pete, the series' three main characters, but we hope it can also find some time to wrap up the stories of less central characters, like Don's first wife, Betty. And it goes without saying that the final episodes must hint at the ultimate fate of Don's daughter, Sally.
One thing we don't expect to happen is for anyone to literally become the famous "falling man" from the show's opening credits by committing suicide. That's always been a fan theory we've put little credence in.
Since last spring's midseason finale ended on the moon landing, it seems likely Mad Men will leave behind the '60s for the '70s. In historical fiction, that often means leaving behind an era of promise for one of malaise. It will be interesting to see if Mad Men leans into that or avoids the cliché. We'll find out when the final season has its release date in April.