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Worldly Distractions: Mad Men 7.9 - New Business




Well, we're back. This is a day late because I was out of town. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my cousin, a French-Canadian actress just like Jessica Pare, appeared in this episode! She was also the voice of Lisbeth Salander in the English dub of the Swedish film, so I think I need to visit her more often. See if you can spot her (I might put some subtle hints in the review). In the meantime, let's see what's up for Don Draper and Crew this week!

Previously on: Lou is a curmudgeon, Don and Megan are splitsville, Megan's mom runs around with Roger, Don and Harry run around with the rest of the women on the continent, Betty has moved on. Opening credits.

Don is apparently babysitting his sons. Betty arrives, having also fallen for the Terrible '70s Hair epidemic. She tells Don that she's planning on doing a Master's in Psychology. YOU GO BETTY TAKE THAT LIFE BACK. And hey, they changed Bobbys again, no surprise there.

Don leaves as Henry and Betty start canoodling, and arrives home to a phone call from Megan. He's due out in California to supervise the sale of the house and work out the never-ending divorce (and what sounds like a stupendous amount of alimony). They snipe at each other for a while.

Roger and his 'stache are surprised to discover that they have two secretaries now, Shirley having signed on in addition to the long-suffering Caroline. The arrangement starts to feel some friction in approximately 3.5 seconds. Roger snarks at them while the secretaries cower.

Don actually tolerates Meredith now. MANSON FAMILY JOKE! MATTHEW WEINER'S PLAYING TO US, YOU GUYS! And Harry is apparently back now. Hi, Harry, you hapless human you. Apparently Megan is looking for a new agent and Harry is going to help her out. However, he wants permission from the ex first. Don rolls his eyes and goes back to business. (Is it my imagination, or is he talking about the fur coat guy who inspired that speech in "The Wheel"?)

Later on, he goes to a steakhouse to stalk Diana, the waitress from last week, who does have a certain downcast charm about her. Stan (who is looking HAWT these days) and Peggy discuss bringing on a new creative, Pima Ryan. Diana calls up Don after all. Cynical banter about divorce ensues. And sure enough, Don winds up with a (really weird) date. They are drunk and falling a bit towards the dark side, which is really hot. Honestly, so far I think she's my favourite Woman of Don since Rachel. After sex, he tries to give away Megan's coats (??).

Soon enough, they delve into the past - both are divorced and starting their lives anew. Despite what seems like a real connection, something about her is still very distant. She is especially taken aback by the children's bedroom. She confesses to him that she did have a child, who died of influenza, which apparently still happened in the '60s. Don tries to comfort her, but it sounds rather hollow. He decides to skip out on work and they spend the time together.

Peggy brings the creative team to a photoshoot, where the elusive Pima Ryan (Mimi Rogers), who dresses like Annie Hall and makes brilliant photos. Stan is instantly bowled over, though if the look on Pima's face tells me anything, she's much more interested in Peggy.

Don arrives late to find Roger in his office, hiding from the secretary pileup. Bert Peterson is mentioned despite having been off the show for like five years now. Roger counsels Don on proper treatment of second ex-wives. It appears that the former Jane Sterling is rather demanding. Don takes this with some indifference.

Stan the Babe gets a visit from Pima, who is unhappy with their photo processing. She asks that Stan show her his work, as he started off as a photographer. Confident in her skills, she promises to give him an honest critique, and a mentorship is born.

Megan goes to see her mother and sister, and OH MY GOD THAT'S MY COUSIN MY COUSIN IS MEGAN'S SISTER. The sister, Marie-France, is treating the trip to New York as a vacation, which is made difficult by their demanding (and drinky) mother. Heading down in the elevator, Don and Diana run into Arnold and Sylvia "Freaks and Geeks" Rosen, which is like eight different kinds of awkward. Diana sees right through it, of course.

We return to the Stan Show. He looks over his work while his nurse girlfriend we didn't know he had watches. He's losing his confidence despite her encouragement. Finally, she decides to undress and pose for him. Guess what - it works.

Diana and Don continue their Excellent Adventure, which now includes take-out in Don's magnificent apartment. I find their whole dynamic fascinating, to be honest. Unfortunately, it is interrupted by The Ex-Wife (#2, or possibly #3 if you count Anna), who has come for her stuff. Don asks Diana to leave, and wonders why she seems so unbothered by Megan's shadow in their relationship. As usual, she is rather elliptical.

Pete in hideous sweater and red pants next to the "Laugh-In" SC&P logo! The two guys go golfing with clients, which is surely a recipe for disaster. Megan, Marie and Marie-France get all packed up, or rather, Megan does the packing up while her sister nurses her hangover and her mother makes snippy comments. It soon becomes clear that Marie-France is a pre-Quiet Revolution type, insisting that divorce is a failure and Megan should get an annulment (erm, she's already been pregnant, that ship has sailed). "Let her go cry in church," Maman scoffs. Right on, Marie, I'll drink with you any day.

Don, Pete, and Pete's red sweater drive out to the golf course. On the way, Pete berates Don for not dressing properly, and also sympathizes about the whole ex-wife thing. I guess that means Trudy is all wrapped up, so no Alison Brie guest appearance this season? Waahhh.

Megan has taken absolutely everything, and the movers want more money. Ma-in-Law places an angry phone call to Don, only to be told that he is unavailable. So instead, she calls her ex-lover. Roger is only too happy to oblige. I can't wait to see what happens when Marie sees The Stache That Shook the World.

Pima visits Stan's darkroom, where she makes pithy comments about Elaine the girlfriend, though she also praises his talent. All in a rather backhanded way, of course. They engage in a darkroom hookup, which is the best kind of hookup (see also: Vicky Cristina Barcelona).

Roger arrives with a pile of money. Marie rants about her terrible son-in-law. Roger invites her out for a drink, but they wind up "defiling" the apartment instead.

Megan, clad in skimpy baby blue and a crapton of eyeliner, meets up with Harry, who puts his foot in it almost instantly. Her career is going badly, and she actually does get some good advice from The Awkward One. Along with some clumsy flirtation, of course. Oh god, they're going to fuck, aren't they.

And yeah, the casting couch thing comes up almost immediately, but no woman can ever downgrade from Jon Hamm, so she turns him down. Harry tells her that this is why she never gets jobs. He gets an empty seat for his trouble.

Megan comes home to find no furniture, plus Roger and her mom, who have finished defiling the place. "It wasn't my idea," says Roger lamely. Megan's mom tells her not to judge. She also insists that the furniture is just what Megan deserves after the way Don acted. I still don't quite get what the hell she's pissed off about, but we'll let it go for now.

Harry shows up at Don's office, to tell him that his ex-wife is crazy for not kowtowing to his every whim. Don diplomatically says that it's not his business. Pima shows up to talk business with Peggy. They talk about how cool it is to be single independent women. Then Pima hits on her, like we all totally knew she would. Hurrah for raging bisexuality! And you may notice that Peggy does not shut it down right away...

Don and Megan meet up at the lawyer's office, where they argue ad nauseum about who ruined whose life and how big a dickhead Don behaved like. He responds in his typical Draper way by writing her a check for "the life you deserve". Apparently, she is worth exactly one million dollars. Megan thinks it's fake, but Don insists he just wants it over with. After almost no hesitation, she takes it. Throwing down Anna Draper's ring, she brings down the curtain on Draper Marriage 2.0. Bye Megan, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

I have to say, I don't really remember what the Big Terrible Thing was. Sure, he cheated on her, but at heart it seems more like basic incompatibility. All this carry-on from Marie is kind of ridiculous, tbh. My guess is it has more to do with Roger than with Don.

Stan brags to Peggy about how wonderful Pima was, while they each try to pretend they haven't slept with her. It's awkward and hilarious. Peggy declares her a "hustler" who uses sex to get ahead, and refuses to give her another job. Stan is crushed. The gay copywriter in the corner just looks highly amused. (Deets on Peggy and Pima's encounter: "She didn't get as far", but we don't know how far. Come on, Peggy, you are totally a lesbian at heart.)

Marie-France is confused and upset when Marie tears up her ticket and runs off to "be with some man". Apparently, Marie is leaving Emile, and Marie-France is upset about having to explain this to her children. She blames Megan for her terrible New York influence. Megan savagely retorts that at least Marie did something about her unhappy marriage.

While Stan mulls over his guilt about Pima and Elaine, Don and Diana have another rendez-vous. However, she is upset for some reason. Don thinks she's scared about entering the relationship, and assures her that he is now all divorced and everything. Diana confesses that she actually left her daughter - see, she had two, and one died, but she left the other, so she's consumed with guilt. She doesn't ever want to feel anything again, so that means that she and Don cannot carry on. He walks out, leaving her to stew in her pain.

And then Don opens the door to his apartment, and holy shit the look on his face. He stands alone, in an empty room, and we cut to the end credits and Yves Montand.

Next on: Pete screws up, Ted and his dumb 'stache, Don appears to have some kind of crisis. These things never make sense anyway.

Well, Mad Men has never been a typical show, but I do wonder what kind of direction it's taking. Throwing in all these new characters with only a few episodes left seems like an odd move. We also haven't seen much from some of the long-established characters, like Joan and Sally, so let's hope that they appear/appear more often as the show goes on. (Though we are wrapping up the stories for other characters surprisingly quickly - Betty's storyline had a strange ring of finality to it, and I doubt we'll see Megan again). So it was an oddly constructed scenario. Don is starting to become unencumbered - no wife, no girlfriend, a steady decline at his job, children who essentially belong to another household, and finally no possessions. I feel like the final shift is coming up. But what form will it take? I'm excited for the possibilities.

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