It’s Valentine’s Day at SC&P, but that doesn’t mean that everything is coming up roses.
Actually, roses cause a number of problems throughout “A Day at Work.”
A vase of a dozen red roses causes some major problems after Peggy believes that the roses are for her — and from Ted, at that. This assumption causes a chain of events that involves Peggy yelling at Shirley (her secretary) and telling her to “grow up,” Peggy yelling at Joan and Peggy yelling at Ted, via their respective secretaries.
Rarely is an episode of “Mad Men” — especially one set during a romantic holiday — complete without Don treating the women around him like prostitutes.
Don — who spends all day long in his pajamas only to put on a suit when Dawn comes by — simply doesn’t know how to interact with women unless he is bedding them, which may be why the only type of interaction he has with them involves some sort of transaction.
Dawn has agreed to keep Don up to speed on what is happening at the office, because she is loyal to him. But Don can’t accept this and forces her to take cash even though she says she doesn’t want it.
Don also uses money as a bargaining chip with his own daughter at the end of the episode.
Sally tells him at the diner, “I’m so many people,” because she has so many secrets that don’t even belong to her. It’s something that she probably inherited from her secretive old dad, but also something that afflicts everyone in the “Mad Men” world. (Jim Hobart’s line, “I see a sheep and a wolf, but which is which?” when he sees Don out at lunch was another signifier of how many identities everyone has.)
“Keep pretending,” Dawn tells Shirley (who are both black secretaries with short haircuts) in the office kitchen after they role play as each other. “That’s your job.” And it seems like that is supposed to be everyone’s job.
Joan has two jobs (at least until the end of the episode); Dawn is both Don and Lou’s secretary (until she gets promoted, too!) and Peggy has both the job of copy chief and of keeping her shit together at work. She seems to be unraveling due to this Ted Chaough situation and I wish I could shake her out of it because he is SO. BORING.
Don’s encounter with the widow in the season premiere signaled that death would be a motif throughout the season. The funeral of Sally’s roommate’s mother laid death on pretty thick yet again. And when one of Sally’s boarding school friends asks her if this is her first funeral, it wouldn’t surprise me if that means it won’t be the last this season.
Sally’s own admission that “I would stay here [at boarding school] until 1975 if I could get Betty in the ground,” is also rather ominous. (Not that I think Sally is going to kill her own mother, but still. It means something.)
The funeral causes Sally to — yet again — discover one of her dad’s secrets unwittingly. Last time, she found out Don was cheating on Megan with the neighbor by catching him in the act.
This time, Sally finds out that he’s not really part of SC&P anymore, but instead of confronting him, she lies “in wait,” which is something Don suggests Betty would do. Ouch!
Sally is — with the exception of Bert Cooper — the sagest character on the show. She’s just 15, but she implores her dad to “just tell the truth” when writing her a note on why she is getting back to school so late.
There are two good things that happen in this episode. One: Joan and Dawn both get promoted and it’s all because of the problems Don and Peggy created. Joan essentially gets a promotion and a new office up on the second floor next to the other Account Men, which Roger may or may not be too happy about, and Dawn takes her place as the office manager. Yay for both of them.
The second good thing is when Don drops off Sally at boarding school and Sally says, without any sarcasm, “Happy Valentine’s Day, dad. I love you.”
But because this is “Mad Men” and nothing gold can stay, I don’t expect this sentimentality to continue.
Other notable moments:
- Ginsberg suggests that Peggy does, in fact, have Valentine’s Day plans, which involves “masturbating gloomily.”
- Pete’s existential crisis (“No one feels my existence”) is so ridiculous that it’s hard to feel sorry for him.
- Does this mean Bob Benson will be back this season to face-off against Pete? I hope so.
- Who did Stan have a Valentine’s Day date with and why doesn’t he just ask Peggy out already? (But since nothing in “Mad Men” ever works out, I doubt this will happen.)