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Mad Men Weekly Review-New Business

You think you’re going to begin your life over and do it right. But what if you never get past the beginning again?-Pete

Don Draper is the king of the fresh start.
When he switched the dog tags with the real Don Draper in Korea. When he told Lane to fire him and the rest of the partners at Sterling Cooper so they wouldn’t have to go work for McCann Erickson. When he asked Rachel to run off with him to California after Pete found him out. There’s no problem that cannot be solved by running away and starting anew.
Don’s always been able to live that away but it’s different when it’s reflected back on him. I would’ve assumed that Diana, the waitress from last week’s episode played by Elizabeth Reaser, was a one-off designed to allow Don to reflect back on Rachel. Instead she is back in an even larger role in “New Business” and reveals she has a bit more in common with Don than first anticipated.
Early on in the episode, after Don has pursued Diana at another restaurant where she’s a waitress, she reveals that she is from the Midwest and divorced her husband not long after her daughter passed away. Any sympathy for her situation takes on a different light though when she reveals at the episode’s conclusion that she also has another daughter who is still alive that she abandoned. Just like Don, she was unable to deal with the past so she ran.
The difference is that while Don hid the shame of his past cowardices with a new life that included a high-powered job in advertising and a family in the suburbs, Diana is living is in a state of self-punishment, living in a rundown one-bedroom apartment and working as a waitress. She knows what’s she has done and can’t forgive herself.
For Don, he has rarely, if ever in the span of the series, come across another character who shares his same “hobo code” sensibilities and maybe it will cause him to further reflect on the choices he’s made as we near the end. Just like his barren apartment where he stands in the final scene, Don has amassed a lot of material wealth, but what does he truly have in his life?
He now appears to be finalizing his divorce and we seem to conclude Megan’s arc on the series (though there were about two or three episodes last year that I would’ve guessed were her final ones as well). Jessica Pare has always been a bit of weak link on the show, mostly because she does little to elevate what's already a pretty uninteresting character, and this week’s episode didn’t really change that.
Megan seems to have done a lot of reflecting on her choices and after a meeting with Harry seems initially promising but is instead more evidence of his creepiness, she’s had enough. She seems to view her marriage to Don as some sort of pact with the Devil, telling him he has ruined her life and her floundering acting career. But it’s a pact that will likely still keep her living comfortably (as evidenced by the $1 million check Don hands her) and maybe her biggest regret, based on her telling her sister that at least their mother did something about her unhappiness by leaving their father, is not having gotten out sooner.
I suppose it all sheds more light on Megan and her place in Don’s life, but I’m not sure all of the machinations, up to and including her mother spitefully clearing out Don and Megan’s apartment and then calling Roger to pay the movers, were a necessary storyline with so few episodes left to go.
Back at Sterling Cooper & Partners, Peggy and Stan are battling it out as we’ve finally reached a point in
history where even Stan, who has always seemed at the cutting edge, is beginning to seem old-fashioned in contrast to Pima Ryan, the new age photographer Peggy hires for an account.
Threatened is a new side for Stan to play as he is usually the cocky, alpha male who always has a wiseass comeback even though he’s been proven to be all talk in the past. He’s left feeling inferior compared to Pima, but she’s ultimately a pretentious manipulator who basically plays Stan and Peggy against each other while flattering them to try and get work.
Some other notes:
*Still no Sally, but the rest of the Francis family show up in the episode’s opening scene.  While Don looks back poignantly at his family seemingly happy without him, he has no way of knowing they probably aren’t any happier than he is (Betty seems pleased with herself and tries to get a reaction out of Don by telling him about her plan to pursue a master’s degree in psychology, but somehow a career of listening sympathetically to other people’s problems doesn't seem like something at which she would excel).
*It was definitely a welcome surprise to see Meredith still working Don’s desk in last week’s episode and while she seems to be slightly more competent with her duties, she’s still pretty much a little girl pretending to be an adult. She also gets one of the funniest lines this week, questioning the safety of Los Angeles: “How do you go to sleep at night knowing the Manson brothers could be running around?”
*Not sure what to make of Don and Diana’s elevator ride with the Rosens. Arnold’s amused reaction to Don being with another woman seemed  to simply be him taking digs at Don running around with lots of women now that he and Megan are divorcing, but Don tells Diana that’s not what that was. I guess Sylvia’s Catholic guilt could have caused her to tell Arnold everything and now he’s rubbing it in Don’s face, but not sure.



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