Weiner: (Laughs) That would be a huge shift in tone for the show.

Moss: Season 9: The Syfy Channel. We're in the future. We're all in Spandex. [Costume designer Janie Bryant] would be so excited!

Sally Draper has obviously changed significantly through the years, moving from making cocktails for her dad into the heart of the eye-rolling adolescent years ...

Weiner: We've had conversations along the lines of: "I don't know if she should roll her eyes here." And [writer] Maria [Jacquemetton] would say, "It's not enough. She should roll her eyes more."

Jones: It's true. When you're 13 or 14, your eyes are rolled 24/7. Mine were.

Shipka: I think throughout the whole season, there was a lot of hope for Sally. She had friends. Nothing super-dramatic was happening. And then all of a sudden [after accidentally catching her father having sex with neighbor Sylvia] it just crashed and burned and I don't think it'll ever be the same. That's just too much guilt on her shoulders, too much shame that she now has to live with. And I don't think she trusts anybody any more.

Weiner: (To Shipka) That's amazing. Sorry, I've known [Kiernan] since she was 6. I can't even believe it ...

Jones: She was the same when she was 6. (Everyone laughs.)

Weiner: It's true. You know, you talk about shame. That moment where Don is talking to Sally through the door and she puts her hand over her face and I swear, she looks exactly like Don. I don't even know if you're thinking about it in your performance or if it's all from the inside, but my god, that's just what Don does.

Shipka: The characters just rub off on each other a little bit. You are living with them for six or seven years, so that's where a lot of that comes from

Weiner: Sally has a lot of problems. She's inherited a lot. I predict smoking. I predict alcoholism.

Shipka: Therapy. Lots of therapy.

Weiner: But the people we run into the most talk about Sally. There's a lot of women that say, "I'm Sally. I'm Sally's age." And they're all very successful.

Shipka: So there is hope.

BUZZMETER: Emmy 2013 pundit's picks

Actors don't have control over their characters' fates. But with just one season remaining for the show, do you have any hopes for where they might land?

Weiner: (To the women) Are you thinking about the end?

Moss: I just keep thinking about the moment when they say, "Cut" and "Check the gate," and that's it and I'll never play Peggy again. The people you'll see again. And you'll keep acting, hopefully. And you're not going to die. (Moss looks at Pare, and everyone bursts out laughing.) But that character ... I'll never speak as her again, and that to me is so weird. It's like a part of yourself is definitely dying.

Hendricks: I think about the end all the time. I think I'll go into hiding for a while. It's going to be really difficult. It's been the most special work experience in my life. I don't know how I'll deal.

Moss: We've always agreed that whatever we think of for our characters can't possibly be as good as what Matt's going to write.

Weiner: Well, at this point you all are pretty insightful about your characters, so ... keep your ideas to yourself! (Laughs)

You must have a few thoughts about that final episode, Matt. If "The Sopranos" ended with Journey, what song is going to play off "Mad Men"?

Weiner: "The Sopranos" was very rock 'n' roll and that was a very rock 'n' roll ending. This is more [Percy Faith's] "Theme from 'A Summer Place.'"

Wistful in tone ...

Weiner: I feel a pressure to make the ending feel like something that will not disturb the taste in people's mouths that they've had from eating this meal for seven years. That you can go back and look at the pilot and not think it was all a lie. I don't want anything to disturb that reality.

Hendricks: Does that mean my "Thelma & Louise" ending isn't happening?

Moss: Well, not now!