‘Mad Men’ recap: All in a [Valentine’s] Day’s Work

Oh Sally Draper, welcome back.

“Just tell the truth.”

Oh Sally Draper, welcome back. Sally’s sudden appearance in the second epsiode of this season’s “Mad Men” is (a bit of) a reality check for Don. He’s the most pathetic character of 1969, sitting alone at home eating Ritz crackers and watching roaches take up residency in his once fabulous apartment.

Think back to season one, when Don was balancing a family, three affairs and his superstardom at the office. Now, he can hardly handle a surprise visit from his daughter. His interactions with her aren’t very fatherly and Sally’s wonderfully tough distaste for BS almost effortlessly guilts him into coming (somewhat) clean. We can only hope this is Don’s first step toward straightening out his life — and drinking problem — because really, how much worse can it get?

Roles are also shifting back at the office on Valentine’s Day, where Roger Sterling’s opinion no longer holds much weight and Bert Cooper is not ready for the ’70s. Peggy’s desperation is getting, well, more desperate, as she embarrasses herself in front of her secretary then demands Joan moves her. And Lou, Don’s replacement, is proving himself quite the jerk — blaming Dawn for his uncomfortable run-in with Sally while Dawn was out buying perfume for his wife. All in all, this group’s Valentine’s Day is self-centered and cringe-worthy.

Dawn and Shirley, the only black secretaries, are struggling in the office. Racism among the old guard is blatant and despite the falling stature of Roger, Bert & co., their names are still on the door. The women are very aware of their still-uncertain role in this place — but lucky for them, someone else is fed up. Joan, long the problemsolver with a smile and a wink, has had enough of everyone’s complaining. Jim suggests she takes an office upstairs and a position in Accounts, which solves a few problems — Joan moves on up, Dawn takes Joan’s old position (also a promotion) and Shirely heads to Lou’s desk. 

It’s hard to imagine the Joan of the early ’60s spending Valentine’s Day breaking glass ceilings rather than comparing diamond rings. And for all that she’s been through for this company, it’s satisfying to think she’s headed on the best path of the lot. Clearly there’s a major shift underway, as the cocky men of Madison Avenue just aren’t what they used to be. 

Even tan Pete out in California is whining — but don’t worry, his new gal told him to suck it up and not think for a minute that his job is harder than her’s. 

Apart from Peggy’s ongoing meltdown, this might be the best Valentine’s Day yet for the women of “Mad Men.” 

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