It’s Valentine’s Day On Mad Men and something’s in the air. “A Day’s Work” unfolds on February 14, 1969. Love isn’t in the air for everyone but drama is definitely on the agenda.
- Director: Michael Uppendahl
- Writer: Jonathan Igla and Matthew Weiner
- Cast: Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss, Robert Morse, Rich Sommer, Aaron Staton, Kiernan Shipka, Christopher Stanley, Jessica Parè, Kevin Rahm, Jay R. Ferguson, Mason Vale Cotton, Ben Feldman, Harry Hamlin, Teyonah Parris, Allan Havey, Sola Bamis, Jessy Schram, David James Elliot, H. Richard Greene, Juliette Angelo, Christine Garver, Stephanie Drake, Kira Jump, Gabriella Weltman
Episode Title: “A Day’s Work”
Sally pays Don a visit and Peggy frets over flowers. Meanwhile, Pete brings in new business as Joan makes a decision.
- Young Hope: Sally’s planning a shopping excursion by way of her roommate’s mother’s funeral. Leaving her purse in the city leads to her stumbling across another of Don’s secrets. Sally stomped through Sterling Cooper & Price without noticing their altered masthead but Lou Avery’s presence in Don’s office was a big clue. Sally exists to make her father confront his issues, and his struggle to fess up and meet her mark endears him to us. Watching Sally draw out Don’s lie and confess his limbo status at work alluded to their frequent role reversal. In some respects Sally is raising him. The beauty of their day together was the impression it left that their interactions will always end with a joke, like Don’s dine and dash attempt and Sally’s love.
- The Good and the Damned: Don is in a good bad place. He’s very much out of SC&P and no one seems to miss him but Pete and Peggy. By day, he watches Little Rascals, snacks and critiques magazine ads while watching cockroaches crawl by. Don’s prideful enough to clean up and dress for Dawn’s message delivery, and his repeated insistence that she stay for a minute looked polite but had strong tinges of loneliness. Since he’s still angling for his SC&P, perhaps his lunch with the Wells Rich Green representative is to fill that void. Driving Sally to school isn’t something he’s normally had time for, but at this point he might have made the effort anyway. Finally admitting he’s not working and alluding to his lack of desire to move to L.A. with Megan is key. Don is coming to terms with what he didn’t expect. They didn’t push him away when they learned his name. They bailed when the cracks in his assumed character began to grow.
- Roses: Peggy stuck her foot in it this week, but before we get to that, let’s discuss the manifestation of her stress. While surfing through the complexities of her strife she lay on the couch smoking cigarettes in one of the most quintessential Don Draper work poses. This show may not be Peggy’s story through a through but it’s her something. We might need a break whilst surfing assumed contact from the formerly adulterous partner. Poor Shirley’s flowers are mistaken for Peggy’s after Michael and Stan hilariously ribbed Peggy’s Valentine dateless status. Remember Michael and Stan? The writer with a great opportunity for growth/a story arc and the artist with charm and the best lines? We miss them. Peggy’s look after telling Shirley off proves she knows it wasn’t her secretary’s fault, but someone had to pay for reopening the lines of communication with Ted, her assumed Valentine. We’re half sure Peggy got rid of Shirley because she couldn’t stand to see the error of her perception every time she look out of her office. Her confused coded messages to Ted are sure to lead to worse.
- The Parents: Joan and Roger are constantly on opposite ends of everything, and it seems they’ll never meet. This time it’s the sliding scale of work power; while Roger is fast sliding down, Joan is on her way up. By the look of it Joan’s ascension is coming about accidentally, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. After spending the day being harassed to fix secretarial scuffles she’s gifted an office upstairs in accounting. Too bad it had to be Jim Cutler, the guy pushing Roger out of the office that noticed. Yes, Roger is still very much in the office, though it’s obvious there’s little point. There’s no camaraderie; Lou Avery has little interest in what racial slur Roger was mistaken for on the way to work. He has no authority; every decision he made in the partners meeting was shot down by Jim and no one pretended to come to his aide. With Bert stopping Joan from running after him to give some comfort and Jim driving home his domination with the king of passive aggressive threats (“I’d hate to think of you as an adversary.”) there’s little room left for the old guard.
- California Girls: Pete is killing it in California. Everything we see about his new lady enamors us. Bonnie is rabid sales animal with another racket. Her story of the flaming real estate property would have motivated anyone to action. Bonnie’s reason’s to bolster Pete’s faith in the craft are the real concern; Pete’s current position is completely lateral. His frustration is valid bringing in the Southern California Dealers Association is major because as he said, “Chevy’s the factory but they’re the store.” At the partners meeting Jim was quick for Bob Benson to get Pete’s new business and Bert was quick to fall behind. With nowhere else to go but Ted’s slightly better office Pete tosses out the idea of starting his own firm before storming off. Whether he actually makes moves to start one or angles for a better standing at SC&P, as much as we loved Trudy, Bonnie might be the right woman to push him along.
- S and D: Shirley’s new so being unable to take the sting of losing her flowers first to Peggy’s confusion and then her ego was too much to bear. Dawn’s day was a little more serious. While skipping lunch to buy Lou’s wife a present, Sally’s appearance in the office caused Lou so much grief (cough *none* cough) that he needed a new secretary. Here’s where the African-American quota comes into play. She can’t be fired, but thanks to Bert she can’t sit in the front office either. The shock was seeing Dawn lose her temper after telling Shirley to keep hers. Roses aren’t enough to rile, but standing up to the callous manner Lou referenced her inability to be fired more than meets the standard. Much like Joan her ascension is accidental; with nowhere to go and Joan moving up she gets a deserved promotion to office manager, leaving Shirley to tend to Lou. At least that will give them something to gab about when they get coffee.
- Peggy: “Maybe if you invite me you can have until Tuesday.” Stan: Now we all know you don’t have plans for Valentine’s Day.” [uncomfortable pause] Michael: “She has plans, look at her calendar: February 14th,masturbate gloomily.”
- “I’d stay here until 1975 if I could get Betty in the ground.”—Sally
- “Don who? Our collective ex-wife who still receives alimony?”—Jim
- “Just cash the checks; you’re going to die someday.”—Ted
- “Well I’m all for the national advancement of colored people but I don’t believe they should advance all the way to the front office. People can see her from the elevator.”—Bert
- Bonnie: “An act of God Pete, that’s how you know when things are really against you.” Pete: “You don’t seem very upset about it.” Bonnie: “’Cause that’s the thrill. Our fortunes are in other people’s hands and we have to take them.”
It looks like romantic hardships are hardening Peggy, hopefully not to the point of no return. We’re happy for next week’s Harry sighting. It’s time to lay eyes on Betty and the rest of the Draper kids. Last night was all about establishing how the old guard—Don, Roger, Pete and Peggy—are being pushed out. Now we want to know what they’re going to do about it.
Mad Men airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on AMC
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