"Mad Men" conspiracy theory season is officially upon us. Due to a perfect storm of creator Matthew Weiner's infamous secrecy, a season packed with dark symbolism and a mysterious new character, "Mad Men" speculation has exploded into a national internet pastime.
People are freeze-framing the impossibly vague "Next week on 'Mad Men'" teases like they're the Zapruder film. The "Mad Men" Season 6 poster has been analyzed more than the cover of The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's" album.
There are some fascinating theories out there. Is Megan Sharon Tate? Is Bob Benson a government spy? Could Megan already be dead? We are through the looking glass, people.
So let's break down five of the most widespread "Mad Men" theories and vote on which ones we think are actually plausible.
1. Megan is Sharon Tate, and she's going to be murdered.
Evidence: This theory first developed on Reddit when people noticed that the white t-shirt with a red star on it that Megan Draper wore in "The Better Half" was the same shirt actress Sharon Tate wore in an Esquire photo shoot in 1969, shortly before she was murdered by Charles Manson's followers.
Speculation escalated when a "Mad Men" costume designer tweeted that the wardrobe choice was "no coincidence."
They do have similarities. Both Sharon Tate and Megan Draper were up-and-coming actresses. Sharon Tate was stabbed to death by home intruders and "Mad Men" was recently coming off its Grandma Ida episode when Don and Megan's apartment was broken into. There had also been a run of stabbings on the show, including when Peggy accidentally impaled her boyfriend Abe and also when Ginsberg threw an X-acto knife that hit Stan's arm.
Sharon Tate was pregnant at the time of her death, while Megan Draper had a miscarriage earlier in the season. Could Weiner be sending his discerning audience a signal that Megan might be murdered soon?
Flaws in the theory: Weiner has a history of throwing out symbolism mixed with misdirection. "Mad Men" fans were speculating about a possible Pete Campbell suicide for much of Season 5, but it was Lane Pryce who ended up killing himself.
Also, "Mad Men" has not historically been a show that kills off characters. Lane Pryce's suicide and Ms. Blankenship's expiration are the only two shocking central character deaths in the show's six seasons. "Mad Men" is not "Game of Thrones," "Dexter" or "Boardwalk Empire."
And where would killing off Megan leave the show? If Don Draper gets out of a marriage that isn't working because his wife is brutally murdered, that could make it even harder to empathize with his womanizing ways.
2. Megan is already dead.
Evidence: The Megan is Sharon Tate theory took another step after "Mad Men's" most recent "A Tale Of Two Cities" episode. Dustin Rowles at Uproxx.com re-analyzed Don's near-death hash trip experience as a brief visit to the afterlife.
In Don's vision, he saw both Megan, who told him that she was home, and the soldier he met in the Season 6 premiere, who was missing an arm and said he was dead. Check out the video of the scene here:
Don has seen apparitions before, the theory goes. Remember when he saw a vision of Anna Draper before he knew she had died?
Flaws in the theory: Just because Don was having a hash hallucination while he was passed out in a pool, doesn't necessarily mean he has psychic powers or visited the afterlife. His visions of Megan and the dead soldier can just be read as a dream sequence. And when Don saw the vision of Anna, he knew she was very sick with cancer. He has no real warning about harm coming Megan's way, although there sure have been a lot of ominous sirens sounding through the Drapers' apartment recently.
Also, Jessica Pare just conducted an interview with Esquire, which -- if taken at face value -- sure makes it seems like Megan is going to be around for awhile. "I'm in the extremely luxurious position of knowing that I have a job," Pare explained. "I mean I don't know how much ... well, anyways. I have something coming up. I don't want to do anything that's less good than what I'm doing right now."
Later in the interview, Pare directly addressed the question of whether Megan might be murdered, saying she didn't know the answer. "In terms of whether that's going to happen or not, I'm pretty sure that Matt spoke to it, but I just want to say, I don't know."
3. Bob Benson is gay. Or a spy. Or a gay spy.
Evidence: Bob Benson has been "Mad Men's" man of mystery. Ever since he mysteriously appeared in the premiere and offered Don a cup of coffee in the elevator, people have been wondering what he's up to. Is he gay? Is he a government spy? Is he a gay spy? Is he Sal Romano's gay spy on a revenge mission? Is he an undercover lobbyist for the coffee industry?
The theory that Bob Benson is a government spy sent to Sterling Cooper & Partners to investigate Don's double identity first originated on Reddit. The feds were already on to Don's false identity after he submitted that government security clearance to work with Dow Chemical, the theory goes, and they're still on his trail.
The other major Bob Benson theory is that he's gay. Between his tight white swim trunks, his seemingly non-sexual hangout with Joan and Ginsberg's recent intuition, this is looking plausible.
The Bob Benson theories have gone pretty far down the rabbit hole. Could he be Don's lovechild? Maye he's Peggy and Pete's lovechild back from the future, as James Wolk joked in an interview with The New York Times.
Flaws in the theory: Bob Benson could just be a "How to Succeed in Business"-style striver who's trying to make powerful friends at the agency. He did just land the Chevy account, by the way, so his two cups of coffee approach is working.
Matt Weiner addressed the Bob Benson is a spy theory in an interview Friday with Jospeh Kapsh of The Wrap. "I'm not going to comment on whether or not he's a government spy, but James is a great actor, and he is definitely mysterious. And that's deliberate," he said.
4. Peggy and Joan are going to leave SC&P to start their own agency.
Evidence: HuffPost TV critic Maureen Ryan has been developing a theory that Peggy and Joan could leave SC&P to start their own spinoff agency. Stuck in the middle between Don and Ted, Peggy seems less happy than ever, and coming back to Sterling Cooper wasn't her decision. Joan, who knows the ad business inside and out, clearly isn't happy just running the office.
Flaws in the theory: Starting an all-female ad agency could be quite a struggle in the context of the late 1960s. Plus, would Joan be willing to give up the security of her partnership for a risky start-up venture? Probably not. Unless good ol' Bob Benson joined them and took some of his accounts with them.
5. Don is going to die.
Evidence: Don has been obsessed with death for two seasons now, since Lane and his brother's suicides. His fixation has only increased this season, from drunkenly asking his doorman what death was like, to his accidentally suicidal ad, to winding up face down in a pool. It seems like Don might have a death wish. And fans have been speculating that he is the man falling out of the building in the show's opening credits for years now.
Flaws in the theory: Would the show kill off its main character with another season left to go? Not unless Don's real father is actually Ned Stark. It's also possible that Don's near-death experience could help him move past his death fixation.
Are there any other "Mad Men" theories you're following? Share them in the comments.
"Mad Men" airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. ET on AMC.