In a long interview with Esquire, Mad Men’s Bryan Batt finally answers the question fans have been asking since 2009: Why didn’t we ever see Salvatore Romano again after his unfortunate firing in season three? (If you’ve forgotten, the closeted art director was let go after refusing to be pimped out to client Lee Garner Jr.) As Matt Weiner has indicated, the original plan did call for Sal to make a reappearance. “Matt mentioned along the way that Sal could come back as a big director, but I think the storyline took a different route,” Batt said. And though his years on the show were some of the best of his life, he’s relieved he was never asked to return.
“When Michael [Gladis, who played Paul Kinsey] returned for his Hare Krishna moment I asked him what it was like,” Batt revealed. “He told me, ‘Don’t do it.’ I guess it was kind of like living the last act of Our Town or having sex with an ex. You know it’s going to be great for that one time, but then it’s over. You know it’s over, and you can never go back.”
So what does Batt think Sal’s up to in 1970? He says he hopes Sal had the strength to come out: “Unfortunately he’d have to break little Kitty’s heart, but I think she had the clues by the end of the third season. I think his mother dies too. His Italian mother dies and it was an impetus to go, ‘You know what? I’m pretending for you, for all these other people. I’m going to be who I am.’ I imagine him walking through the West Village as Stonewall happens and getting swept up in it.” It’s not quite a happy ending, but as Batt says, that’s not the Mad Men way: “On Mad Men, what you think is going to happen doesn’t happen, but what does happen is wonderful in a sad way.”