TV Recap: Mad Men, ‘New Business’

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New Business PLOT SUMMARY:

The divorce of Don (Jon Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Pare) looms over the entire episode as the time to sign the papers is drawing to a close. Don seeks out Diana (Elizabeth Reaser), the waitress he had a quick tryst with last episode. What starts out as a mere sexual fling, begins to evolve into a relationship, but Diana has something that’s tearing her up inside. Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) volunteers to help Megan find an agent. Stan (Jay R. Ferguson) and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) are at odds when Peggy brings in a famed photographer for a new client shoot.

The Cameos: Mimi Rogers pops up as celebrity photographer Pima Ryan, who ruffles the feathers of Peggy and Stan. Julia Ormond returns as Megan’s mother. Linda Cardellini returns, briefly, as Don’s secret former lover Sylvia Rosen.

Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

Favorite Performance: Jessica Pare as Megan Draper. ‘New Business’ is most likely the swan song for both Pare and her character. Megan has truly been one of the most ever-changing characters on this series and Pare has done an excellent job evolving with her character. It seems like just yesterday that Megan was that wide-eyed receptionist, and before we knew what was happening she was ‘Zou Bisou Bisou’-ing her way into our hearts with smoldering sex appeal. However, if you think about it Megan Draper might be one of the hardest characters on the series for any actor. Unlike Betty Draper, who is just unlikable (so much so that she’s gained quite the cult following), Megan is both a sympathetic and selfish character — sometimes in the same scene. That’s the beauty of Pare’s performance. She is able to make you love and hate her character at the same time. You know Don’s wronged her, but she’s milking him for everything he has and is gladly doing so. Her final speech to Don was both pure and petty, sincere and (once again) selfish. She blames Don for everything that has gone wrong in her life – to some extent she’s right, but to others she’s wrong — and Pare conveys that in every word she utters.

The Little Thing We Loved: Not even that ridiculous mustache can keep the ladies away from Roger Sterling. One of the biggest things this writer will miss about Mad Men is how fresh and funny John Slattery is every single week. He hasn’t done anything to change his game, but week in and week out he’s a beautiful piece of comedic work. His utterance of, “It was her idea” when Megan catches Roger and her mother post-coitous was classic Sterling.

The Supporting Scene Stealer: Rich Sommer proved once again that Harry Crane is one of the biggest jerks on Mad Men. Harry is constantly doing something dumb or underhanded every season and his scene where he tries to “help” Megan’s career is vintage Crane. Harry, much like Kenny last week, has been a character shuffled to the back for the past few seasons. However, unlike Kenny, he’s still always in the mix of the main drama. ‘New Business,’ however, proved that Harry is just a complete asshole. Sommer shows this beautifully by keeping his performance as subtle and low key as possible.

Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC
Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC

The Best Part of the Episode: Watching Don and Megan’s final scene is a great Mad Men moment. We never saw a scene like this between Don and Betty, and it makes sense, nor would we have. Betty and Don brought out the anger and bull headedness in each other so easily, this scene would’ve never have been possible. Don’s edges have definitely softened (so far…we think) and he’s always promised to take care of Megan, so his million dollar check comes as no surprise. However, the surprise came when he actually accepts his faults in the marriage. Normally, Don would’ve pointed out Megan’s contributions to the downfall of the marriage (real or not), but Don actually owns it. He rarely owns his mistakes, but here he does so with silent resignation. Megan, as we stated previously, spews her final, stinging venom at Don (you could tell it hurt when she called him old), but it’s unsure if she truly believes it. Why? She condemns Don for everything, but then accepts his money…like she always does.

The Part We Could’ve Done Without: The whole Stan/Peggy/Pima storyline was very superfluous. It didn’t really add much outside of some odd sexual tension, and it really didn’t (for now) move either Stan or Peggy forward for the finale. If there’s one thing that frustrated me to no end about last ‘half season’ — there were so many throwaway plotlines like this.

Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/AMC
Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/AMC

Final Thoughts: Still can’t figure out how this one is going to end. The new Don/Diana relationship is actually quite intriguing. For once, Don is not the emotional train wreck of the relationship, he’s now on the opposite side of the coin. He wants to save Diana, like so many women have wanted to save him. Diana is just as vague, mysterious and messed up as Don, and for once it seems like Don has found a true emotional connection with a woman, not just a physical one. Sure, he’s had emotions towards other women, however it’s been superficial and fleeting. This could be the same here — he’s still sleeping with Diana, and he’s diving in way too fast…but it seems different. It seems like he’s found that kindred spirit who he can level with not, a woman who idolizes him like Betty, Megan and countless others have.

As for the episode itself, this was a nice send-off for Megan and we finally got one more chuckle out of the Roger/Megan’s mom relationship. Did it progress the story to a clear ending? Absolutely not. Four episodes remain, we have to hope that we have something, anything come down the pike for us to sink our teeth into for the ending. So far, there’s no merger, no sickness, no death, no tumult that we can see on the horizon. Could there be a potential heartbreaking end for Don and Diana? Absolutely. But, is that a series ender? No. Guess we’ll just have to hang around for a few more weeks to find out.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Mad Men airs Sundays on AMC

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Bill Bodkin is the Owner, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beauty daughter, Sophie. He is beyond excited that Pop-Break will be six years old in 2015 as this site has come a long, long way from the day he launched in it in his bachelor pad at the Jersey Shore. He can be read every Monday for the Happy Mondays Interview Series as well as his weekly reviews on Law & Order: SVU, Mad Men and Hannibal. His goal, once again, is to write 500 stories this year (a goal he accomplished in 2014). He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom
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Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site’s podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites