UK TV review: Mad Men Season 7, Episode 9 (New Business)
Chris Bryant | On 16, Apr 2015
Episode 9 opens with a few surprises. Don seems more comfortable in the Francis’ home, Betty is getting a master’s degree and Harry Crane has a lunch-date with Megan – amid her moving out of Don’s apartment, no less. It also introduces the least surprising piece of office organisation possible: Roger Sterling’s address book is ordered by likelihood of drunkenness during business hours.
As the backdrop of New Business indicates that Don feels comfortable to move on from his second wife, the foreground centres on a figure of great intrigue to everyone: Diana the waitress.
Episode 8 painted her as a doorway to Don’s emotional troubles with Rachel Menken, but here she’s given more room to breathe and express herself. Matching Don’s straightforward flirting and remaining irresistibly intriguing, Diana seems perfect for Jon Hamm’s well-dressed dreamer. She’s witty, honest and, underneath it all, unmistakably forlorn. Elizabeth Reaser (Diana) makes a profound impact within the episode, as she interests Don – and the viewers – on a level that can only result in one question: Who is she?
It would be no surprise to discover that this disheartened enigma has a serious impact on these final episodes.
Elsewhere in Matthew Weiner’s world of beautiful suits and silver tongues, photographer Samantha “Pima” Ryan (Mimi Rogers) is brought into the offices to help Peggy and Stan. Hoping to create a mix of art and advertising, Peggy seems more optimistic than Stan, whose own photography ambitions are belittled by the big-shot artist. Kind and confident, the duo quickly discover that Pima has some big ideas about her role on the project. Writer Tom Smuts leaps at the opportunity to put Stan Rizzo in an embarrassing position in front of Peggy, a theme that’s quickly becoming a warm staple of Mad Men’s ability to mix comedy and relationships.
Another staple of the show is also displayed well: Harry Crane making a fool of himself. This time around, however, his usual bumbling idiocy is poorly hidden by his usually good nature. As the series has progressed, Crane has forgone his status as Pete’s slow-witted friend in return for power and a title. Collecting the respect due from neither, SC&P’s Head of Media proceeds to step on the toes of everyone at some point. This time around, it just happens to be Megan’s turn. Again.
With the majority of New Business focused on Don’s closure regarding Megan, her moving out of his apartment provides ample chance for drama. Megan’s mother, French in both her pleasures and pains, assists with the move in her own unique way; it’s unclear whether she helps or hinders Megan’s transition, but either way, she does it with style to spare. Julia Ormond’s stint as Marie Calvet is as dramatic and emotionally brave as ever, and her arrival on-screen is always a welcome precursor to phenomenal dialogue flamboyantly delivered.
New Business raises the tension from its predecessor, with everyone still appearing tentatively happy. Don is single again, and his back-and-forth with Diana is as riveting as with any love he’s had. With most of the action occurring in the character’s personal life, there’s yet to be a possibility of a struggle for business – in spite of the episode title – and audiences await the first trademark Draper pitch of the season. Even in its twilight hours, the show as a whole is in full stride; Mad Men is still witty, still captivating and still effortlessly the best-looking thing on television.
Mad Men: Season 1 to 7 is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.