With the way Mad Men ended its fifth season, some were left wondering if Jessica Paré would be returning as Megan for Season 6 now that she’s on her way to succeeding as an actress, just like she’s always wanted. It certainly seemed like Don was walking away from her as she was shooting her first commercial, but was it literal or metaphorical? Did he go to that bar to pick up where he left in his former life as a womanizer, or did he remain faithful to Megan? The ending was certainly up to interpretation, but I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
According to TVLine, creator Matthew Weiner commented on that scene by saying, “We see her on the [Butler Shoes commercial] set and we realize that she’s gone,” but what does he mean by “gone?” You can hear from Weiner and others in this inside look of the finale at AMC. If you recall, earlier in the season, Don was shocked to learn becoming a serious – and paid – actress meant Megan would have to leave New York for long stretches of time, whether to do Broadway musicals in Boston or film movies in Los Angeles. He almost forbids her achieving her dream, but it’s not that Don wants her to fail; he just doesn’t want to lose her. It’s not said, but his fear is clear; if he lets Megan leave she won’t come back.
But then he watches her acting reel and falls in love with her all over again, and he realizes he has to let her go. So he sets her up with her first job, knowing where it could take her. It’s a sacrifice for her happiness. So this comes back to the original question: is Megan leaving the show? In my opinion: absolutely not. There’s too much fallout that could be explored from this. Weiner would be a fool not to take this opportunity to see how this plays out for Megan, Don, and ultimately their marriage.