“You think you’re going to begin your life over and do it right, but what if you never get past the beginning again?”
Peter Campbell’s cynical, yet genuine, attempt to relate with Don about divorce and love resounds quite prominently throughout the entirety of “New Business.” Many of the characters — ranging from old to new — find themselves within the veil of Peter’s words. Obviously, one of the recurring themes in Mad Men is starting over; but while that concept seems fairly simple, getting it right requires a little more maneuverability.
For a brief moment, Don and his family are reenacting a scene from a time we’ll label “what could have been.” Don and Betty have a pleasant conversation while Bobby and Gene wait patiently for milkshakes. As Henry makes his entrance, Don leaves, but not before taking a long pause to watch as the scene continues to unfold without his presence.
The regret that paints his face isn’t up for interpretation. Letting go of love is hard, even for a man like Don. And in the wake of divorce number two, he seems to be grabbing at straws for a life raft to help buoy him out of his state of loneliness. The raft, however, is in the form of a waitress named Diana. (Yes, the same one he “got to know” in an alley last week.) It quickly becomes apparent that their not-so-subtle union is benefiting more than just Don. After all, he isn’t the only one in search of a new beginning.
While Don and Diana are busy blending into each other’s lives in an effort to run from their past, Megan is embracing the future. She’s moving her stuff out of Don’s apartment and focusing on her acting career, which has taken a plunge since the first half of the season. She decides to recruit Harry to help her revive it by finding a better agent. But, their lunch meeting is short and goes about how one might assume — akin to that time Megan walked in on him explaining to Stan what he would like to do to her after watching her perform “Zou Bisou Bisou” at Don’s birthday party.
Since disappointment sometimes has a tendency to breed more disappointment, it is only natural that she would return to the apartment to discover that her mother, Marie, has not only committed grand larceny, but has also invited Roger over for some, shall we say, companionship.
In the end, the façade Don created with Diana proves to be too unstable. His furniture becomes a powerful metaphor as he returns home to find it has disappeared. There, in the middle of his baron and abandoned living room, it becomes clearly apparent: He is all alone.