'Mad Men' recap: Worst Valentine's Day ever

Dear Marisa,

I know we're on episode two today, but since I missed chatting with you last week I have one thing to say about episode one: If only a buttered roll solved all our problems.




What is up with roll-demanding Ken anyway? Do you think a part of him got a little...off kilter...post-eyepatch? It's like some James Joycean red flag or something.

Apparently the buttered rolls "from the lobby" are where it's at; the Au Bon Pain version to the Cumberland Farms-esque variety elsewhere. (Annnnnd, now I want one.) Note, I read a recent blog post that noted how the food on "Mad Men" is even changing; ever the trend-setter, Pete's all about his NYC bagels and California oranges.

And I had Cheerios for breakfast. Sigh...

But dearie, you have to tell me how you're feeling about the SC&P crew! Are you worried? Gleeful? Indifferent? Do you think Don's really changed?




Dear M,

Ken's a great character to watch and is just one of the SC&P crew melting down. Look at Peggy. She couldn't get any work done her personal life is in such shambles. And Don't replacement — what a scumbag.

Don't think Don has changed a bit. Do you? He's still up to his old tricks — thinking he can get away with anything on charm alone. I hated the way he treated Sally. Buy her a tuna melt and a Coke, tell her you lied about losing your job to protect her, and all is forgiven. I don't even like to look at him anymore. Loved when Sally told him to just tell the truth in writing an excuse for her school as to why she's late.

And wasn't it all about lying last night? Don faking he still has a job. Sally going shopping instead of going to the cemetery. Peggy's secretary too afraid to tell Peggy the roses are not for her. And the secretary chat in the coffee room. Dawn to Shirley: Keep pretending, that's your job.

Geez, I'm getting depressed. Is there no moral compass anywhere?

You have to hand it to Pete, he's embracing life in Cali — great outfits and all. At least he is alive. But he can't figure out why no one else can see how he's thriving. "No one feels my existence," he says.



Ms. Edgecomb,

I have to say I was super disappointed in the Peggy Valentine's shame spiral; I truly would've thought someone like her would be immune to the pull of something like a corporate card-giving holiday. Why in holy hell is she apparently grieving over Ted this long? She needs to get her head back in the game — funny how she loses her edge once Don's gone ... just sayin'. Not saying she NEEDS Don to do good work, but she does need a peer or two (read: not Stan and Ginsberg, who were spectacularly rude to her in the elevator. Didn't like that at all. Although, I DID love when flower-less Peggy barges into Joan's office to complain about Shirley, and we see Joan's beautiful, giant display of yellow roses right behind her. Everyone but Peggy got flowers, oh my! Heh...)

Listen, you're going to kill me when I say this: I actually think Don is changing, and it's possible Sally's the only person he can be honest with — but look how beautifully it paid off! Her wall of disaffected teenage disdain dissolved as soon as he showed her the slightest bit of adult recognition (read: in the end, coming clean about his absence from the office). I loved that scene in the diner; we see Sally get real and grow up, literally on a dime. I got a huge kick out of her conversation with her schoolmate. Soon as things took a turn for the mundane, she ends the conversation, politely, and heads back to the table, ready for her burger melt. Dunno, something shifted there, I think.

And I'm so glad you mentioned Pete's burst of existentialism. We know Pete's not the sort of guy whose prone to fits of fancy, so if HE'S remarking on the relativity of existence, I think it's a red flag. I'm worried about him. (Or, he's just been in Cali too long..)

As for a moral compass: seek ye Joan. Had someone not been sleeping in the next room, I would've been yelling at the TV during the Peggy-demands-a-new-secretary scene. You're right: she's a mess, and thank god Joan gets to move upstairs now. How's THAT for a turn? Think Jim's just another great admirer of Joan or do you think he's for real?

And another thing: I was flabbergasted when Bert told Joan to move Dawn from the front reception desk. What.the.hell? Mr. Buddhist is suddenly concerned about what society thinks?

And then we have the Jim vs Roger situation. That just made me sad; Roger clearly savvies a big change on the horizon and he's been in the biz long enough (and dropped enough lysergic) to know the end of something when he sees it. What that "something" is, I think, is yet to be determined.

Sheesh, now I'm depressed. Was 1969 this depressing, I wonder?

What's so funny about peace, love and understanding-ly,



My dear,

I don't remember the '60s being soooo depressing. I was young, of course, but I guess I lived a sheltered life. Kudos to my parents.

I'm not going to kill you for your feelings for Don, as misguided as they may be. We're all entitled to feel whatever. But REALLY! He snowed Sally. He belittles her — oh you're just like your mother; he lies to her — "I wasn't feeling well"; he pretends to have an adult conversation — "I wanted to protect you"? And Sally buys it, as he knows she will, because he's her father and she loves him unconditionally. Don has no idea about unconditional love. Really, I wanted to yell at the TV.

Speaking of Sally, love the scenes of her with her school peers. They're so superficial and she knows it. And she's wise enough to know she needs them to survive. But I see no joy in her life and I worry about that. The only way for her to survive is to move to California and get out from under both of her wretched parents and just start over. I guess, then she will then be exactly like her dad. I don't see much happiness in Sally's future.

I think I need a pair of rose-colored granny glass to get through this season,





Here's a perfect example of my mental fitness: But Sally STARTED it with Don! That was quite the scene though. They both so very bluntly called each other out; I had to rewind the DVR to make sure I heard correctly when Sally explained her attempt to maximize Don's embarrassment by letting him lie and lie. Worthy adversaries, indeed — which sort of illustrates your point that Sally doesn't seem to be heading toward the rosiest future.

So, here's my question: we see Dawn set up in Joan's old office at the end of the episode, and she smiles as she takes a load off. Do we suppose she got Joan's old gig as manager of personnel? I seriously hope so.



Dear L'M,

Dawn absolutely is getting the job! How great is that? The little smile at the end was perfect. I think it's going to be tough going, but she has the dirt on everyone and she's smart, so I think she'll do well. I hope to god they gave her a raise. She's one of my favorites. Do you think she'll initiate a dress code? Wasn't Shirley's dress a tad short? Or as we "Bull Durham" fans like to say, it was a bit excessive for the Carolina League.




Shirley's dress was absurdly short, and I did see another staffer in the office with a similarly-lengthed skirt. Suddenly everyone's a '60s-era officer on Star Trek over at SC&P! Here's hoping Dawn stops the madness.

PS. J'adore Dawn. So damn smart and more important, knows how to play the game without being bulldozed by its players and she's a master of discretion (unlike Shirley and the dippy chick who replaced Dawn on Lou's desk). And I think Dawn's willingness to help out Don says a lot about both of them. She and Joan are kindred spirits, and I love it.

And seriously, can we just talk about how much I HATE this Lou Avery guy? He's like the geometry teacher nobody wanted in high school. You'd think they were working in a sausage factory, and not a business that specializes in originality and art! And what was the constant barrage of, "It's not my problem" and "It's not about me" when he was unfairly screaming at Joan and Dawn about Sally's intrusion (and therefore Don's) into his little world? Methinks he doth protest too much, but the issue over which he's protesting eludes me. Yes, it was weird to have to give Sally the junior bum's rush, but his bizarro over-reaction was all on him. There was no need to freak out so entirely. Seems Don is ghost that haunts many more people than we thought...and all this on the heels of Jim referring to Don as SC&P's "collective ex-wife." Youch! A major bummer for Roger, BTW, which, in turn, bummed me out. (I know...I know...)





Last but not least, let's talk music.

Loved last night's ending. Sally gets out of the car and tells her dad she loves him. Don's face changes in an instant as "This Will Be Our Year" by The Zombies finishes off the episode. Brilliant.

But not as brilliant as last week's parting scene. Don on the roof, sitting in his bathrobe, his bare legs exposed to the frigid air. And what's playing? "You Keep Me Hangin' On" by Vanilla Fudge. I prefer the Supremes' version, but nonetheless, there's Don barely hanging on. Did that scene remind you of anything? Like the beginning of the show with the silhouetted man falling down the front of the building. I did get scared there for a few seconds for Don Draper ... but he's a survivor. He does what he has to do to survive.

Looking forward, as Paul Harvey would say, to the rest of the story.




OMG! K! I'm so glad you brought up the music! I was wondering what that song was and forgot to bust out Shazam on my phone! I fricking love the role of music supervisor on great television shows. The perfect song somehow glues everything together and provides a perspective that gets right into the heart of the matter.

And see? Indeed, Don and Sally DID reach some sort of understanding, based on the smallest bit of respect. Fingers crossed they pull each other up off that ledge.

Until the chips fall,


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