Mad Men Review by Henry Tran

Mad Men 7.2: A Day's Work

Mad Men 7.2: A Day's Work

Written By:
Jonathan Igla and Matthew Weiner
Directed By:
Michael Uppendahl

There is a surprising amount of upheval in the workplace now. This is initiated by the smallest of things. Peggy thinks she got some roses for Valentine's Day from Ted. They're not from Ted, but from her secretary's fiance. It's an understandable mix-up, though the consequences are unexpected. Dawn takes the wrath from the new creative director over Sally suddenly showing up at the office to see her father.

That came both as a result of Don's "career" now of working from home. Pete and Roger are both getting pushed out of contracts and business that they both brought to the firm, mostly through the small actions of Jim Cutler, and there's really nothing they can do about it. Joan is being pulled everywhere due to the fact that she really has two jobs within the company. It's absolutely understandable that she would snap at some time, then suddenly, she is given an opportunity for a new, better job as an accounts man. It doesn't matter that she has little experience in the field. She's a partner and she shouldn't be stuck in a stressful job that doesn't take advantage of her talents. This is a lot going on in one full day.

I do love how this show interconnects all of its events. There are consequences to the actions the characters take. Also, the women of the show dominate this episode, which is a nice change of pace. With Don operating out of his home, that has Dawn relaying messages and gossip in the workplace to him. It's a rather complicated operation once they get into it. I'm shocked that the arrangement has been working for a month now. A kink gets thrown in when Sally suddenly shows up in the office and finds that her father is not there. The scene with Lou and Sally is played with maximum awkwardness from both sides. Lou is clearly uncomfortable in dealing with anything to do with his predecessor in that office.

Sally is thrown by her father's replacement. That leads to the confrontation in Don's apartment and subsequent conversations in the car and diner when Don takes Sally back to her school. Sally and Don now have a more honest, open relationship now that she knows about his past life as Dick Whitman. Despite the lie that Don perpetuates about his work, they come to an understanding as to how the both of them got to where they are now. Don couldn't continue to lie to the partners, but admits that it was the "wrong time" to disclose the truth about his past.

The show's approach to this season (roughly a month passes in between episodes) does allow for the possibility that Don is allowed to come back to the firm and reclaim his office from Lou. If that does happen, it couldn't be too soon because Lou's obstinate ways are becoming grating. He keeps referring to everything that doesn't involve creative as "not being his problem," which is technically correct, but he could certainly make some concessions. Dawn makes a good point that she runs his personal errands, his business affairs, along with Don's business arrangement so she's stretched thin as it is. Lou is only concerned with getting "his own girl" and does so by subtly forcing the company's hand.

Joan is left shuffling the secretaries to her masters' whims, demonstrating how key the women hold up the office despite their lower place on the totem pole. Joan has always been ambitious, but has never been given the opportunities to showcase that ambition. When Cutler makes her an accounts man then moves her upstairs with the big boys, it is the first time acknowledging what has long been held true. She'll be able to learn the ropes and increase her business acumen, making her that much more of an asset to the company.

Frankly, it needs whatever it can get. Roger and Pete are slowly being shut out of what they've built over the years. Pete brought in Chevy, but his location on the opposite coast leaves him out of influencing key decisions that are being made by the parent company. He can't be a part of those decisions due to small flaws in new technology. Also, he's distracted by his pretty girlfriend and working with a disinterested Ted. It's not a recipe for building good business. Roger doesn't seem to be that invested in the business, which allows Cutler to wield more power and push him out in multiple fashions. It remains to be seen whether Roger and/or Bert will recognize what Cutler is doing and stop him before a takeover comes about. If that does happen, Peggy would seem to be the ideal candidate to stop, or at least slow down, those plans. She needs to get over Ted, however. She's too fixated on him and whatever their relationship has twisted into becoming.

The mix-up with Shirley's flowers is funny though simultaneously tragic in that sense. Peggy has internalized whatever frustrations come up at work, which leaves her vulnerable and emotionally fragile. Dawn told Shirley what would happen if she told her boss the truth about the flowers, and that was what largely came to pass. It wasn't right, just the way things worked at the time. Shirley was Peggy's secretary so she should have intimately known what her boss' mood was. Since Dawn gets Joan's old job of "traffic controller", perhaps she could be Peggy's emotional conduit better than Shirley ever was. The arrangement has changed. Now, we can see if it pays off for everyone involved.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • The office upheaval continues
  • The women dominate the episode in strong ways
The Bad:
  • Peggy is a bit over the top
  • Lou can't be tossed out fast enough

Henry Tran is a regular contributor of review for Critical Myth; The Critical Myth Show is heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @HenYay

Mad Men by - 4/23/2014 8:01 AM218 views

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