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Mad Men's Final Season Review: "New Business"

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Welcome back!

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"STICK TO SPORTS!"

But as we've covered in this space before, we're all more than that. Yes, even me, the guy who watches 24 (sometimes 26!) Syracuse football games per year. So follow along with us as we'll be recapping Mad Men every week for the final six episodes. We're now down to four more after this. Here was last week's review if you missed it.

SPOILERS AHEAD! TURN AWAY IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED SUNDAY'S EPISODE YET

Mad Men, The Final Season: "New Business"

The Diana storyline gets some backstory and depth and convoluted intrigue, as you probably weren't expecting. It also adds yet another specter of death to Don's growing tapestry of ghosts both real and imagined. For those who haven't been keeping a formal scorecard, here are all of the actual characters who've died during the show's run (this doesn't include the real-world assassinations which also took place during the show):

  • Don's mother, Evangeline Whitman (not during the show but a core part of Don's character)
  • Archie Whitman (see above)
  • The real Don Draper (obviously)
  • Dick Whitman
  • Both of Don's marriages
  • Anna Draper
  • Adam Whitman
  • Grandpa Gene
  • Roger's mom
  • Andrea Rhodes (dream sequence)
  • Lane Pryce (whose office Don still inhabits once inhabited; and Don took Lane's Mets pennant)
  • Ida Blankenship
  • Bert Cooper
  • Rachel Katz

I'm sure I've even left out a few folks above, but you can add Diana's ("Di"... holy shit) daughter to the mix after she reveals the story to Don on Sally's bed. That last bit is especially creepy, because of the Sally Draper patricide theory. Also, Sally is now the only primary character unseen through two episodes, but her absence is as loud as ever. We know she's at boarding school, but the shadow of her relationship with her father was a large part of that scene with Diana. In other "death" news, Meredith mentions the Manson brothers when talking of California, reintroducing the very real possibility of a Sharon Tate ending for Megan Draper (née Calvet). That million-dollar check sort of helps matters there too, to be honest.

All of the looming death stuff (which could still include Don, himself, dying) aside, though, did anyone feel last night's episode closed the door on very few plot points? Maybe that's a good thing considering there are just four more episodes left. But a lot of loose ends are still sitting out there, and several of those have only been recently introduced. Guessing Don's own conclusion is like throwing darts at a wall, while you could make cases for/against Megan, Betty, Pete and others' arcs already reaching completion. Peggy has seemed lost in a sea of herself through two episodes, while Roger is Roger and seems content to stay that way. If it hasn't been his downfall to this point, I doubt it will suddenly be his undoing.

***

Last night was also high on comedy, despite the heavy narratives between Don and Diana, and Don and Megan, respectively guiding the proceedings. "Worst person alive" Harry Crane's advances toward Megan were a stunning bit of gall on his part, and his cowardice toward Don afterward reeked of everything you've always hated about this character. Pete's general disgust at Don being able to charm people while golfing in a suit is a great call-back to the former's desire for approval from the latter. And Marie Calvet's exclamation of "to think he drinks red wine; it's a wonder you don't have syphilis" had me laughing out loud for a bit thereafter. "Should be fascinating for all involved" (Don, to Betty) was also a winner.

***

Anything else I missed? What do we think this episode sets up? How does Don redecorate his apartment? Sally has to come back next week, right? We can all agree that Bobby sucks, and Baby Gene provides no value. And Henry... I dislike you, but the milkshake line was a nice touch as Don prepares to leave your home that you live in with his kids and ex-wife.

Share your own thoughts below.