“The New Girl”
August 24th, 2008
Don Draper is not a man who likes things. This seems strange to say, but it’s true: our protagonist is a man who desires things, who thinks he deserves things, who certainly feels things, but he is the type who has totally disallowed himself from liking things in a normal sense. He is a man who avoids more than he gravitates – he defends against his past while indulging in desire, deciding what he doesn’t like before he ever decides the other way around.
So, while the episode spends a lot of time struggling to discern what Don likes, it’s really through his actions that we are able to understand what he likes, or respects. Of the thing he lists to Bobbie, only movies seems to be true, as we saw him use it a few weeks ago as his work escape unrelated to his affairs. What he really likes is people who are reliable, people who are there for him and to whom he can reveal parts of himself others don’t see. In this episode, he runs into one of them and it sends him into a downward spiral; when he needs to escape it, he turns to another, one who owes him a favour.
What it boils down to is a discovery of how, precisely, Don Draper decides to live his life – and, like all good Mad Men episodes, it says as a little about everyone else on the show too, although the episode was less interconnected than others. With a glimpse of the past and a look to the future, “The New Girl” does manage to say a lot…even if I still am not sure who the title refers to.