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Is Elisabeth Moss Leaving Mad Men For Good?

Read no further if you aren't caught up on this season of AMC's Mad Men!

Peggy's recent departure from Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce was actually one of the high points of the season, as far as I'm concerned. Of course, I don't like that she had to leave SCDP, nor do I want to see less of Elisabeth Moss' character on the series. But she had to do what she had to do, and it seemed like the set-up for a new kind of dynamic between Peggy and Don, with her going on to be potential competition for him. It hadn't occurred to me that Elisabeth Moss might be on her way out, but now that question is being addressed, thanks to a comment Jared Harris made when discussing his own character's recent (permanent) departure from the story.

The Daily posted an interview with Harris, who played Lane Pryce in AMC's Mad Men. When discussing his own send-off, Harris referenced Elisabeth Moss leaving the show…

How did the cast send you off -- was there a big going-away party?They didn’t. You know, we’re always ending things. Actors are always ending jobs. It isn’t a big deal in that sense. Also other people had left the show that had been there since the beginning. Elisabeth [Moss] left the episode before and she’d been there since the beginning. Michael Gladis (Paul Kinsey) left in season three [though reappeared for one episode this season]… Bryan Batt. People leave and it’s just part of it. They didn’t make a giant fuss.

It's entirely possible he misspoke when he said that. When asked to confirm if Peggy was "dead from the show like Lane is," he denied any knowledge of Weiner's plans for Peggy ("…and even then I couldn't tell you.") So it may be stretching it to assume that he was saying that Elisabeth Moss was gone from the show permanently. But it's entirely possible that she is, or that her status on the series going forward is uncertain. As TV Line notes, Moss has other projects on the horizon.

TV Line also says:

It would make no sense for creator Matthew Weiner to ditch Ms. Olsen now. In terms of plot, Peggy and Don are Mad Men’s two guiding lights. There are good arguments that the show is as much about her journey as it is his, and that it wouldn’t be the powerhouse it is if either of them jetted off.

I want to agree with them there, and if this were almost any other series, I might be 100% in support of this way of thinking, but I don't know that I consider Mad Men to be nearly as predictable as that, nor the type of show to treat anyone - save perhaps Don Draper - as entirely vital to the show's success (regardless of whether or not that proves to be the case).

I'd also consider Peggy's departure as further evidence that Moss might be on her way out. Peggy got snatched up by a competing advertising agency that saw what she was worth and more than met her asking price. That's as happy an ending as Peggy could deserve, isn't it? What's left to conclude? That Don sees what he lost? That he realizes he took her for granted and she went on to find work somewhere where she's appreciated? I think the magnitude and the reality of the situation hit him when she left. The more I think about their final scene between the two characters, and Peggy standing by the elevator, the more I could see that being her real final scene. It would be a rough way to end Peggy and Don's relationship, but Mad Men certainly hasn't shied away from a gloomier approach to relationships in the past.

Or maybe I'm just playing devil's advocate here. Really, I'd love to see Don and Peggy back on screen together, perhaps on more even footing as she establishes herself elsewhere and rises closer to his professional level, a feat I don't think she could have done during her tenure at SCDP. Maybe Moss is set to take an extended break from the show to pursue other projects, with a planned return. That's another possible scenario worth considering. We'll have to wait and see what's reported on this down the line.