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The Dose: Mad Men ‘New Business’ recap

The Dose: Mad Men ‘New Business’ recap

The Dose: Mad Men ‘New Business’ recap
April 15
23:48 2015

Harrison Long / Staff Writer

As we return to the “Mad Men” world again, we are struck with an impending push against the status quo of the shows previous seasons. To open, we find Don Draper blending a shake for his two boys, Bobby and Gene, but as we look around we notice he is not in his usual kitchen, but that of his ex-wife, Betty, and her husband Henry Francis.

As Betty enters the kitchen, we find the rapport between her and Don, and more interestingly, Don and Henry, pleasant. They invite Don to stay, but in the usual Draper way, he declines and promptly leaves. This is a far cry from the relationship between the three adults, especially from season four, when Don and Betty’s divorce was fresh, and we felt that at any moment Don and Henry might come to blows over their relationship with Betty.

This newfound friendliness could have ties to the reunion between the former spouses last season, when they spent a night together visiting Bobby at summer camp, and thus, the hatchet between them was buried.

What is similar to that time period, however, which would have been about 1964 in the show’s timeline, is Don and Megan can no longer stand one another. Although initially they attempt to be civil in each other’s company, we find by episode’s end Megan no longer wishes to have any association with Don, and Don only wishes to finish up the divorce and move on. It’s almost as if the story of the end of Don’s first marriage is being retold again years later: a parent of Don’s wife can’t stand him, the politeness in correspondence as they attempt to do away with their vows slowly fades, and Don finds himself all alone once again.

What was telling during this episode was the romantic embraces of so many different characters. Stan, an artist at SC&P falls for a rival photographer, Pima, who has been hired freelance for the company. Harry Crane, in his usual scumbag way, hits on the not-yet-single Megan Draper, (we also get a small allusion to the world of ‘casting couches’ in the entertainment industry). Lastly, Roger Sterling reunites once again with Marie Calvet – Megan’s mother.

It is unclear, at the end of the episode, where things stand between many of the characters. Megan’s sister informs the newly divorced actress that their mother has run off with another man and intends to leave their father. Is this man Roger? Where will he be in the next episode? We get to see a further connection between Don and the waitress, who we find out is named Diana, and has a similar past to the once suave, now crestfallen ad man. We also witness Peggy take charge and refuse to hire Pima again, despite Stan’s infatuation with her. We are now seeing the final course of her transformation from friendly co-worker into a serious and somewhat ruthless boss.

But the most telling scene in “New Business” is without a doubt the confrontation between Don and Megan at the lawyer’s office. We find Megan already there as Don enters the room; she is cold and detached, and refuses to even look him in the eye. He offers her a cigarette, and she turns it down.

“I want nothing else of yours,” is what she tells him. It’s a complete turn around from the Megan we have come to know and love, who has, despite the flaws of her and Don’s marriage, always had a positivity to her. This surprises Don despite the fact Roger informed him earlier on in the episode this would take place. This is telling of their positions in life. Both are extremely wealthy, suave and powerful men in the business world, and each has now had two divorces in the course of the show.

Although it can be said Roger has not had a breakdown, or even hit rock bottom, the old phrase, “Oh how the mighty have fallen,” does indeed come to mind. You can only get away with so much for so long.

It is heartbreaking to see, despite everything we’ve come to know about these characters, and all we’ve watched them peril through over the last seven seasons, we now find them beside themselves with only four episodes left.

It’s cathartic, even if slightly uncomfortable to watch as Don cuts his ties with Megan by writing her a check for $1 million, and then promptly leaves the room. After a brief chat with his new love interest Diana, we find him alone, once again, in a completely barren apartment. Megan has taken his furniture as well. What will happen to Mr. Draper over these last few episodes?

What we should also concern ourselves with is that, early in the episode, Harry Crane is speaking to Don’s secretary about his time in California. They both bring up concerns about spending any time there because of the Manson family. This is disconcerting, as 1969 was the year of the famous murders of Sharon Tate and her friends and family in her home by the Manson family. As Megan returns to California, we have to wonder, will she fall victim to these savage killers?

Mad Men is all-new Sunday, April 19 at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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