Valentine's Day, 1969. Peggy got a contrived bit of an arc this week as her secretary gets flowers from her fiancee that Peggy thinks must be for her from Ted. In anger she leaves a coded message with his secretary which mentions him "losing an account" or some sort. When Peggy (not so altruistically) gives them to her secretary and Peggy is informed that they were always her's anyway Peggy demands that her secretary be moved. Poor Peggy, given a lonely story last week and resorting to having her chew out her secretary for being too polite to correct her initial error. I hope this isn't indicative of her material for the whole final season.
Pete and Ted sit in on a partner meeting about all current accounts and some conflict strikes up about setting up meetings with an auto client representing part of all of southern California that Cutler shoots down while Roger isn't sure of. Pete of course, being the weasel he is, blubbers on about it to poor Ted in their tiny office about how he's never given enough to do and his value isn't recognized. Pete really has changed from the semi-remorseful sad sack we saw last season to now. His new real-estate girlfriend even has to remind him to keep a chipper attitude and not to cry over spilled milk in regards to the account. Poor Ted, one of the only decent guys left on the show, is forced to have to share an office with Pete. His line in ignorance about, "We didn't even hear anything about the account Peggy lost," make me really feel sorry for his character who made a very moral decision to move across the country to keep his marriage together. Of the new blood he is the most fleshed out while Cutler is slowly showing his stripes and Avery (Don's replacement) is just a total jerk-wad.
Sally Draper shows up for the first time this season going into the city under the guise of a friend's mother's funeral and instead going shopping with her friends. When she forgets her purse in a store she tells her friends to go ahead without her and that she'll catch up. The big happens when she goes to the Time Life building and finds that her father's office is now Mr. Avery's office. Avery, being the scum that he is, naturally blames Dawn for this (because why not?) and demands that Dawn be removed from his desk for not being able to anticipate the potential visitings or employees' kin. His continued insistence on how the whole situation is "not his problem" is even more infuriating. Sally shows up at Don's apartment and asks why he wasn't in the office when he insists that he was. Don agrees to drive her back to school with a note of excuse. On the way they stop for a meal and Don admits that he isn't working at SC&P at the moment and that he doesn't want anyone to know. This isn't the first time Sally has seen behind the curtain, last season she catches Don and his girlfriend in the act, and he tells her that he was simply comforting her. I think this is a sign of his openness with his daughter. His line "nothing you don't already know" when explaining that he lost Hershey for being a little too honest is actually what happened and what made the pitch go sideways. But it was nice to see Sally bring out a side of the this changed Don, in a way. He's still boozing uncontrollably but at least he's got a bit of a focus besides television in his struggle to get his life back together. Maybe his turning over a new leaf begins with him turning down casual sex (as in last week) and being honest with his daughter.
Joan is put into a rather awkward situation when she has to move the only two black secretaries around for perceived slights. When she seemingly gets Dawn into a new place by putting her at main reception Bert (being a racist of course) says that he "doesn't want her to be what people see when they visit the So this is a frustrating bit of period interoffice politics as she struggles to shuffle Dawn and Peggy's secretary into new allotments. The silver lining is that Cutler discovers that Joan (as a partner and Accounts person) has too much to do and gives her an office upstairs amongst the partners and Joan is then able to give Dawn a promotion as Head of Personnel. It's good to see that as much of a glass ceiling as there is Joan doesn't always has to sleep with a client to move up in the world, and that Dawn can get promoted too. Not Joan won't always have to burn the candle at both ends and be a struggling single mom (although her own mother does help out a lot).
In closing, this was a great chapter of Mad Men. Worth noting that this isn't the first episode to be set on Valentine's Day (Season 2's "For Those Who Think Young" being the other). The details, especially that Dawn is keeping Don in the loop on all things SC&P, are great touches that show us that the show is truly going into the sunset very shortly. But with signs of things to come it leaves me optimistic that show will resolve and intrigue as much as it always has and will give us a good clean conclusion (I still wish it wasn't split into two parts though) when finally ends next spring.
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