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‘Mad Men': Smoking Leads to Cancer, Things Get Weird for Don Draper

AMC series takes a dark turn before next Sunday’s series finale

(Spoiler alert: Please do not read on if you have not yet seen Sunday night’s penultimate episode of “Mad Men” entitled “The Milk and Honey Route”)

Reality struck even closer to home on the penultimate episode of AMC’s “Mad Men.” Matthew Weiner’s 1960s creations have been chain-smoking for 10 years going into these final episodes, and the sobering reality of the risks associated with that lifestyle hit home in a very real way for one character.

After collapsing at school, January Jones‘ Betty Francis learned the horrible news that she has cancer. Even worse, it’s a terminal diagnosis, with Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) ex-wife being told she has maybe a year to live.

Jones’ character was always one of the least liked on the show, but that doesn’t mean she deserved such a dire fate.

Meanwhile, things got weird for Don during his cross-country road trip. A breakdown left him stranded in a small town for a few days during which he made some friends and fell victim to a young would-be grifter who reminded him a lot of himself.

After having a genuine moment of happiness, bonding with fellow veterans, Don woke up to the same men beating him and demanding he return money he hadn’t stolen. The poor guy can’t even be allowed to enjoy one night of happiness without it getting all screwed up.

He fixed the problem, though he didn’t make any friends along the way, and moved on toward next week’s series finale. He took the kid along for his own sake, but then abruptly decided to give him his car, instead opting to wait for the bus.

If the fleeting happiness he was teased with this week is any indication, it’s getting harder and harder to imagine a happy ending for Mr. Draper. He’s now without a car in the middle of nowhere, directionless and lost. Will he find whatever it is he’s looking for?

Oddly enough, it seems to be Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) who may come out alright, this week reconciling with Trudy (Alison Brie) and on the cusp of a new job that would have him achieving all he’d ever hoped for. Will he manage to blow it all next week?

Matthew Weiner’s magnum opus comes to its conclusion next Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

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