It is said that sometimes we hate the thing we create. In Matthew Weiner’s case, that thing is the elegantly neurotic Betty Draper (January Jones), who will never truly be Betty Francis in this viewer’s eyes. As last night’s Mad Men episode, “The Milk and Honey Route,” proves, Weiner loathes what has been birthed from his mind, and therefore must kill it.
From having Don (Jon Hamm) cheat on her serially throughout their married years, killing off her father, Gene (Ryan Cutrona), and forcing her into a fat suit in season six, it’s been clear for a long time that Weiner relishes toying with Betty’s frailty the most. The fact that last night’s penultimate episode fell on Mother’s Day and found Betty being diagnosed with lung cancer (as if every other character on the show didn’t smoke, yet Betty bears the consequences) and then giving her rebellious daughter, Sally (Kiernan Shipka), written instructions on handling her death–both literally and emotionally–seems especially cruel on Weiner’s part.
In a way, the noble martyrdom Weiner is attempting to instill upon Betty will end up making her story one of the most memorable from the Mad Men canon. At the same time, stripping away her dignity by writing her into a death that will destroy her pride and affect her aesthetic is the most depraved fate her creator could give her.
Whether or not we’ve seen the last of Betty (Weiner undoubtedly wants to give Don the entire focus in the final episode) remains to be known until next Sunday. Regardless, her destiny is sealed. She’ll never become a psychologist, get the satisfaction of watching Don die before her or live to take amphetamines with Sally. Her bitter end is Weiner saying, “Pretty girls make graves.”