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Review: ‘Mad Men’ Season 7 Episode 9 ‘New Business,’ or ‘Ghosts of Exes Past’

Review: 'Mad Men' Season 7 Episode 9 'New Business,' or 'Ghosts of Exes Past'

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: ‘Mad Men’ Season 7 Episode 8 ‘Severance’ Asks Is That All There Is?

Don’s Level of Happiness: 3

Oh, Don. When are you going to learn that a new woman isn’t the secret to happiness? Life is not an endless turntable of options, picking one at random — as he pretty much did when he ran off with Megan to begin with — and then another and another until you die, alone and broke, or attached and indebted to two or three ex-wives. How, in anyone’s mind, does that sound like happiness? In what may as well have been “A Non-Christmas Carol,” Don was confronted not only with a number of his exes, but also with men who’ve already been divorced. 

Roger and Pete — arguably Don’s closest friends, if he has any at all — both told him about their own bad experiences with divorce. Neither has found the road to happiness in new marriages (Roger by choice, Pete by choosing against it), but why that didn’t click for Don is anyone’s guess. Women have always been the only gender to have an effect on him, and only one unbiased option appeared before him. Diana certainly took the wind out of his sails, which is exactly what he needed. He may be a bit perplexed, especially when arriving home to that empty house, but whether or not her message landed is yet to be seen.

Our Happiness With Don: 2

In a despicable week for the men of “Mad Men,” Don may have fared the best, but he didn’t do well. After a fun day out with the kids, he left his former home life in a state of envy. Clearly, he wants that nuclear family back, even if it’s for the wrong reasons. In the final minutes of “New Business,” Don told Diana he was “ready” for a serious relationship. The fact that he did this after having his predominant exes paraded in front of him only makes his presumption more absurd.

First, he saw Betty, who’s going to get her Master’s Degree in psychology(!). Then, he ran into Sylvia, in the elevator with her dick-bag husband. Finally, he had a troubling confrontation with Megan where he again relied on his massive bank account — seriously, how rich is Don? — to get himself out of moral consequence, and all of this came a week after confronting the death of Rachel Menken, who also made her mark on the man.

Part of me wanted to see Don tell Megan off for her cold, misplaced insults. It may not have been the right thing to do, but — as odd as this sounds — Don needs to learn to stand up for himself. First, he needs to find the traits to stand up for, and hopefully that quest got a good kick in the pants from his final confrontation with a truly sorrowful Diana. By looking in the eye of true self-hatred set Don on the straigt-and-arrow, or at least the search for it? With only five episodes left, we sure hope so.

READ MORE: Jon Hamm on ‘the Big Picture’ of ‘Mad Men’ Season 7b & the Challenges of Being Don Draper

My Name is Peggy Olsen, and I Want To… Try Something — or Someone — New

Peggy didn’t get a lot of time in the spotlight this week, but we did find out where she draws the line. The hot new photographer with an eye for advertising made a move on both Peggy and Stan, and Peggy knew better than to be swayed, or so she said. Peggy has always been eager to rain on someone’s parade if her own parade is under a downpour. When Stan first walked in to gush about his latest lay, Peggy seemed to be in a good mood. Certainly, she was under Pima’s sway in her office, in what would have been a much more interesting plot development than anything to do with Stan.

But when Stan bragged a bit too much, Peggy was quick to cut him down. If she couldn’t have Pima, no one should, and the light shined on the “artist’s” true nature dawned on Peggy in her angry retort. “She tried the same thing with me, but she didn’t get as far. And that’s why I’m not going to give her another job.” What made the engagement so interesting, was Peggy’s openness to Pima’s pitch. If Don had such an open mind right now, perhaps he wouldn’t be making the same mistakes of his past.

Employee of the Week: Stan Rizzo

PIma may have been disappointed by her dark room excursion with the artistic Stan Rizzo, but — like he said — he sure wasn’t. Stan may be a little mixed up, priority-wise. He shouldn’t be worried what some hired hand thinks about his own artistic ambitions. He should just get to work himself. Like he told his far-too-supportive girlfriend, he hasn’t done anything new in ages. Hopefully Pima’s presence was enough to bump him in the right direction. You can be a 9-to-5’er and still create meaningful, culturally-relevant art. Stan just needs the push to do so. Since it doesn’t appear a promotion is in the cards anytime soon, hopefully Stan can stay on the positive side of things and get some stuff done in his off hours (stuff that’s not cheating on his girlfriend with a manipulative floozy).

The ’70s Have Arrived

“You’re going to rent pants?” If only it was that easy, Pete. Sure, plenty of golfers still sport the ’70s era look of the links, but the ensemble our dear, outraged Mr. Campbell was sporting doesn’t come easy. I’d love to have seen Don attempt to match his one-of-a-kind style, even if he is “vain.” Hell, I would’ve loved to see him take a swing at all. Still, Pete offered enough of a highlight all on his own. 

Comedic Relief

“You already emptied the place out, you want to defile it as well?” – Roger
“Please. Take advantage of me.” – Marie

Honestly, Roger being caught with his pants down (well, shirt unbuttoned) in Don’t empty apartment by Megan after sleeping with her mom is pretty classic, as well.

Marketing Speak

“You’ve never had a worse day than me.”

As personal as Diana’s closing statement was, the above sentence seemed to speak for all the women of “Mad Men” these past two weeks. Between Joan and Peggy’s disastrous meeting in “Severance,” Harry’s horrific treatment of Megan here and even Stan’s kind, supportive girlfriend who was nonetheless made a fool of by her cheating boyfriend, feminism is having a tough time thus far in Season 7. (Though, personally, I’m rooting for Betty to save it with her upcoming studies in psychology. Now there’s a spinoff I want to see.)

Still, Diana’s statement should be shocking enough to resonate. Bert may have sang “the best things in life are free” to end Season 7a, but he certainly wasn’t talking about what Diana’s doing. Don really hasn’t had a day as bad as her, and that’s including his time at war. The sooner he realizes what true bottom looks like, the sooner he can figure out how to feel on top — without shortcuts. Getting remarried, even to a woman not concerned with status and money, isn’t his true north.

“New Business” addressed what people need to do to find themselves. Megan moved on from New York. Diana is trying to get past the events in Racine. Roger and Pete haven’t recovered from their (last) failed marriage. Don is, again, starting over. Where may not matter, but hopefully he won’t waste his clean slate.

Grade: A-

READ MORE: Review: The Final ‘Mad Men’ Season Premiere Asks If Don, or Anyone, Can Ever Be Happy

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