Friday, April 17, 2015

Going Mad: "New Business"

Coming to the end of a series with an immense cast of supporting characters means finding the way to say goodbye in a lot of different ways. Sunday's episode, "New Business", was largely devoted to what could (possibly) be the last time the show would feature Megan. Plenty of time was spent setting up how her, and a couple others, will be sent off in exciting directions. Including one specific character who decided to leave her husband and sack up with Roger Sterling in NYC.

The episode kicked off with an odd sight. Don and his sons were hanging out. Not only that, but they were in the kitchen at Betty and Henry's place.

It is evident that Don has been trying to be a better father, so is it terrible that when I saw a blender in Don's hands, I just assumed he was making himself a blended boozey drink, perhaps a margarita? Oh, it's milkshakes! They had been out at dinner, but the restaurant was out of ice cream. Certainly making those for your kids is what a good father would do.

Shortly after Betty and Henry return home, Don hastily takes his leave, grabbing his fedora, which had been adorably perched atop his youngest child's head. Right before he exits the kitchen, he longingly looks on at his kids, their mom, and step dad.  The expression on his face says everything  - he's the guy who takes his kids out to dinner and looks after them every other weekend. He is bound to miss out on a lot of these smaller, everyday moments. Leave it to Mad Men to have a ton of subtext in what is just a simple two minute scene.

Slowly, but surely, Don is taking notice of things he didn't care much about before.  This all fits right into the rest of the episode, which is mainly focused on Don kicking out the old and bringing in the new. Everything from women to furniture to the evolving sense that his view on the world and himself are changing.

Over a telephone conversation with Megan in LA, it is revealed that Megan will be coming to NYC to finally move all of her stuff out of Don's apartment. The divorce will be official. She also doesn't have enough of her own money to cover the cost of movers or to live on in general. Apparently, that decision to move to Cali for acting wasn't so hot of an idea. She is not coming alone either - her sister and infamous french mother will also be along for the ride.

And they sure "help" alright. But first, there was more with Diana.

Last week, it felt like some parts featuring Diana (aka that waitress) were dreamlike and surreal. Well, since she showed up again this week and communicated with more members of the cast, I'm going to say that theory has been debunked. Don tracked her down working at a new restaurant. Apparently she went back to her hometown of Racine, Wisconsin for a while (a place I only know because of A League Of Their Own. Thanks, movies!). Now she's back in NYC and Don was able to deliver this smooth ass line, "I want to have dinner with you, even if it's for only five minutes at a time." You know, in between bringing him his dinner and filling his water glass. Diana isn't falling for that, but takes Don's number anyway.

She does call him later that night and they have a time together at his apartment. Things get a little tricky though the next morning, when stumbling into Sally's room, Diana sadly sits down on that seldom used twin bed. She admits to Don that the reason she left her husband in Racine was because they had a daughter who had died.

Don has had many a lady friend in the past, but while listening to Diana's story he shows a different side of himself. For one, he honestly looks sympathetic. It seems like Diana, being a regular gal from the Midwest, makes him feel connected to the real Don - or rather - Dick Whitman. "Don" may belong in the sophisticated set of upper class New York, but that's just the mask he wears. The identity that is a huge success, but funnily enough, really has never made him completely happy. Now that he seems to be more free with his past, that real side of him would long for a lady who is a waitress, apposed to having an affair with the wife who lives with her rich husband downstairs.We are reminded of this, when Don and Diana have a rather awkward elevator run in with Dr. and Mrs. Rosen.

As this new relationship is developing, so is one within the confines of the office. We really haven't seen Don doing much work in the last couple episodes, but everyone else, including Peggy, are working their buns off.

It's always a good episode any time Stan and Peggy are paired together. Peggy has just hired a new photographer for a Vermouth ad campaign. "Teen Wolf", aka Stan, seemed annoyed that Peggy hired this woman, Pima Ryan, who is a big deal in the photography world. Although, as the episode goes on, Stan's attitude starts to make sense. Stan admires Pima and wishes he could be an artsy photographer like her instead of working at an ad agency. Pima hits on Stan in a dark room, which he seems to like very much. Although, when Pima does the same thing to Peggy, things get a little more tricky. Obviously, she's a hustler baby (I just want you to know), who is just trying to push their buttons. We all know Peggy ain't going to put up with that.

Adding new characters like Pima for a single episode actually causes quite a bit to be revealed about already established members of the cast. Even though he has been on the show for a couple seasons, I think Stan has only been seen outside of the office a couple times, so it was nice to have a storyline that focused on him. We saw where he lived and that he has a girlfriend! Which also made that darkroom scene more critical. Stan, quit that cheating! Especially if you end up with Peggy. 

We're not saying goodbye to those two yet, but if this is the final episode for Megan, she sure went out on an interesting note. Megan, her sister, and her mother, Marie, showed up at Don's apartment to pack. Marie is notably upset over her daughter's impending divorce and is fuming over Don, noting that red wine stain in the carpet and proclaiming, You're lucky he didn't give you syphilis." Everything just sounds so much classier in a french accent. 

After seeing Marie in that state, most people would have second thoughts about leaving mommy behind with the keys and in charge of the moving operation. Alas, Megan has no choice, as she, in hopes of improving her acting career, has to run off to a meeting with SC&P's own TV man - Harry Crane.

Megan had originally planned on only taking a few things from the apartment, but she shall have it all if Marie has anything to say about it! She promptly called her past conquest - Roger Sterling (answering the phone with perfect comedic delivery, as always) - to ask for some money. Upon Sterling's arrival at the apartment, he hands the moving people some cash, and looking around, realized that there is not a single piece of furniture in sight. Marie had everything loaded up and taken away! Megan will definitely be getting her fair share now.

Sure, she needed some extra money to give to the moving company, but Marie obviously called Roger there for other reasons. This all really makes you wonder why she is so judgy about Don cheating on Megan - it takes one to know one.

Career lifelessly flailing, getting divorced, mom running off with a guy who isn't your dad - if right now you're thinking, "hey, I think Megan's life deserves to get worse", than you are right on target.

Before this episode, Harry Crane could have been credited as the least pervy member of SC&P. Well, he just moved up to number two (sorry Pete, you will probably always be number one). Almost instantaneously after Harry sits down to have lunch with Megan, he insinuates that if they went to a room in the hotel, he could - wink, wink - make some really good arrangements for her career.  First Joan in the last episode, now this. Megan should have taken a move from the Real Housewives book and chucked that wine in Harry's face, but she just stormed off instead.

This is definitely not the type of meeting she was hoping for and the next day she had to go finalize her divorce. Megan was never a favorite character of mine, but lumping all this bad stuff together makes it rather easy to hope that something works out in her favor.

After telling Don off in their lawyers office, basically playing the, "you ruined my life" card, Don said, "I'm sorry" with as much sincerity as when talking to Diana about the death of her child. He just seemed to really mean it. Does that make up for how to treated people? Maybe not entirely, but he's trying. With that, he wrote Megan a check, so that she can have the life she deserves.

It seems like a cool million big ones would seal the deal. She at first has the sassy "are you joking" reaction we all would have, but then quickly folded up the check and walked out of the room. Megan may never get to be a huge star, but while she figures that out, at least she'll have the funds to live luxuriously.

Now that he's got one woman down, Don ventured to Diana's place - the one room sort of dingy establishment a waitress in NYC could afford. While there, Diana revealed more of her story, as in, she had left out a few important details. She did have one child that died, but when she left town, she was also leaving behind another daughter. Ultimately, Diana decided that she must push Don aside, because he was making her moderately happy, an emotion she felt she doesn't deserve.

All throughout his entire life, Don has had a lot of people come and go, but he still seemed jaded by this exchange and only continued to look downtrodden upon returning to his apartment and finding it empty. No more Megan. No more Diana. No more couch. The final shot is of Don standing in his (very cool) sunken living room, staring out into the vacant room. There's nothing quite like a fresh start.

Just like every episode, we are left with countless questions. Was that a wrap for both Diana and Megan?  Will we ever seen Don and Peggy working together again? Will Pete keep wearing the worst costumes? How is Ginsberg doing!?

Hopefully, that's all to come - we only have five episodes left to find out.

Just a few other thoughts from "New Business":

  • "NAC": No afternoon calls. As in, some clients have this noted under their contact information, because they drink too much during the day and are then too sloshed to have coherent conversations with in the afternoon. Oh, business in the 60s and 70s
  • Historical information for anyone who (like me) didn't understand the reference in the following quote: "I've got two secretaries and three telephones. I feel like Marlon Perkins is chasing me on the Savannah. Hiding is pointless." - Roger Sterling. To quote the internet: "Richard Marlin Perkins was an American zoologist best known as a host of the television program Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom from 1963 to 1985."
  • Pete got upset with Don for smoking in the car. Remember, Pete just learned to drive a couple seasons ago! That epiphany really made me laugh - he's like a scared teenager who doesn't want any distractions.
  • Don's secretary Meredith had a HUGE can of Tab on her desk. You'd have to pick up that bad boy with two hands.

Until next time.

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