04/13/2015 11:57 pm ET Updated Apr 14, 2015

Mad Men: Clearing the Decks for 'New Business'

In a sense, the title of the latest episode of Mad Men, "New Business," is a misnomer. For most of it concerns old business. Yet dispensing with old business as good a way as any to get on with the new, and this episode clears the decks of much that remains from the past.

Spoilers follow.

Even with Don Draper looking for something more meaningful in the wake of his successes in casual, er, dating, the two Mrs. Drapers are set on escape trajectories beyond the orbit of Planet Don. He's more than all right with that. An interlude with the Francis family, which aside from Republican pol Henry, is mostly Don's, finds Betty Draper Francis brightly announcing her intent to pursue a career in psychology. See, those shrink sessions Don employed early in the series as a means to find out what was bothering his neglected trophy wife out in the suburbs are paying off again.

People enjoy talking with her, Betty brightly announces. But of course they do. Just as they always have. Where did anyone ever get the idea that Betty was a pill? Don is wryly pleased for her.

Things with the much younger and decidedly still estranged Megan Calvet Draper are more complex. Having completely eschewed the advertising career she was so good at when they first married, she's still struggling to make it as an actress out in Hollywood. And she blames Don for, you know a lot of things, some of them fair, despite the fact that he's been supporting her in her quest to do something he's not interested in and would really rather she not.

Now it's time to settle up and move on, as Don and Roger Sterling discuss. Don insists that Megan is more reasonable and down to earth than Roger's young ex, Jane Siegel, was.

Which does not account for Megan's formidable maman who, unbeknownst to Don, takes it upon herself to empty Chez Draper of most everything in it! This, after again pursuing, ah, rogering with Roger.

This distressing development occurs after Don, to clear everything up, decides to present Megan with a check for a million dollars and his apologies for disappointing her.

Earlier in the episode, Don pursued a relationship with the waitress we met last week who reminded him of his most intriguing past inamorata, Rachel Menken, who passed away just before Don reached out to her again. Reminded more in look than in station in life, though she does read John Dos Passos during breaks. She also attracts because she harkens back to some of Don's hardscrabble Dick Whitman past.

Something kindles between them, but she seems as if she may be too frightened to continue. Perhaps now Don can not so much ricochet as actually move forward.

Elsewhere in the story, we dally with Peggy Olsen, who decides not to dally with a multilaterally seductive female photographer who does not fail to ensure Peggy's old pal Stan.

And Megan suffers through a career discussion lunch with Harry Crane, who begins by extolling her utter awesomeness and ends by deriding her after she passes on his crude pass.

What, he thought it was going to be that easy? That's our sleazy Harry, insincere and rat-like as ever, though occasionally clued in.

Not that Megan should have been too surprised. This is the fellow who, while they both worked at Sterling Cooper, regaled colleagues in the office with his fantasy of placing her legs and his shoulders.

Just four more episodes till we get to the conclusion of the "new business" to come.

Facebook comments are closed on this article.

William Bradley Archive