Friday, April 25, 2014

Mad Men Episode 7-2: A Day's Work

In this episode, Don’s story and Sally’s story are intertwined. The episode begins with Don sleeping until past noon on a Thursday. After spending his afternoon in his bathrobe watching TV (Our Gang, That Girl), flipping through Look Magazine (presumably for ads), eating Ritz crackers, measuring how much alcohol he’s had, and not appearing to enjoy himself, he gets dressed in a suit and tie to answer the doorbell. It’s Dawn, his former secretary. She brings him a file plus Sweet & Low and Coffee Mate. Acting businesslike, Don invites her to stay for coffee, but she says it’s 8 p.m. and she can’t stay. She also provides an update on what’s happening at the office in terms of business activity and who is handling it – specifically a meeting with a Mohawk Airlines representative. Don tries to pay her for her trouble, and she says she’s been thinking about that and “there’s something about the money that feels wrong.” He argues that she’s doing extra work so she deserves extra pay, and he ends up paying her anyway. Dawn also says she was unable to make the photocopies Don requested because they’re locked in Peggy’s office, and Don reassures her that he wouldn’t want her to break in to access the papers. On leaving, she tells him the cleaning woman comes tomorrow. After Dawn leaves, Don loosens his tie and looks unhappy again.

We next see Don at a restaurant, sharing a meal with a business associate from another agency – Wells, Rich & Greene. The associate confronts Don with the rumors he’s heard: that Don was in California managing his wife’s career, that Don pulled a major boner at Sterling Cooper and cried or punched someone in a meeting, and that he got let go. Is any of this true? he inquires. Don replies: “I didn’t know I was going to be interrogated by the Hooterville telephone operator.” But Don doesn’t deny anything. Next, Jim Hobart from McCann comes by to say hello. “I see a sheep and a wolf, but which is which?” When he begins to taunt Don, the other guy tells Hobart to go away. Don says softly, “I almost worked there, twice.” The other guy reassures, “But you didn’t.”

Meanwhile, Sally and her roommates from school are invited to their schoolmate Sarah’s mother’s funeral, and they’ve been given permission to leave campus to attend the funeral. The girls talk about Carol’s mother telling Carol in a veiled way that she looks like a prostitute. Then Carol mentions that Sarah had a picture of Sarah’s late mom in a bikini. However, in looking for it, it turns out that Sarah took it. At some point, Sally mentions that she wishes her mom were dead. Sally discusses what she’ll wear at Carol’s mother’s funeral, and another girl asks if this is her first funeral, which seems to embarrass Sally.

Next we see Sally and the two roommates on a train, ready for their day off campus, but Sally discovers that her purse is missing and guesses she left it somewhere. Sally hurries off the train and says she’ll meet the other girls later. We next see Sally at Sterling Cooper, looking for her dad. Sally discovers Lou Avery’s name on the door to Don’s office. She speaks to Lou, who says “Don’s not here.” Sally then goes to Joan’s office to talk to her, but the door is locked. Lou advises that Joan’s probably out to lunch. Sally leaves, and Lou slams his door.

When Don gets home from the lunch meeting, he’s surprised to find Sally sitting in the living room waiting for him. He says he was at the office, but left early because he didn’t feel well. Sally knows that’s a lie although she says nothing at the time. Don asks if something is wrong, and Sally says she went to a funeral and then lost her purse and needs money to get back to school. Don offers to drive her, and she says dryly, “No that’s all right, you’re not feeling well.”

Don drives Sally back to her school (a long drive) and they’re both tense. During the ride, Don demands to know why Sally went to his apartment, as if she’s done something wrong. Sally demands to know why Don wasn’t at work, and he says, “This is not about me.” Sally says Don doesn’t understand how hard it was for her to go to his apartment, knowing “that woman” might get in the elevator, and that she would have to smile while she felt like puking and would have to smell the woman’s hair spray.

Sally then says she wants Don to stop talking. Sometime later, Don takes Sally to a restaurant, claiming he needed to stop for gas. Sally sits at the table with Don but refuses to order food, and asks whether he really had to stop for gas. She asks if she can make a phone call to tell her roommates where she is. Don puts down 2 coins for the phone call, and when Sally attempts to take them, he covers them up, stares at her, and says: “The reason I didn’t tell you I’m not working is that I was embarrassed. I said the wrong things to the wrong people at the wrong time. I told the truth about myself at the wrong time.”

Sally: “What did you say?”

Don: “Nothing you don’t already know.” (not likely to be true, unless he’s specifically told her about the Hershey bar story at the whore house).

Don: “I was ashamed.”

Sally: “Why don’t you go and stay with Megan? …Do you still love Megan?”

Don: “Of course I do. I fly out there every other week, and I talk to her all the time.”

Sally: “Why don’t you just tell her you don’t want to move to California?”

Don has no answer for this.

Sally makes the phone call to her roommates, and meanwhile Don orders her a patty melt. When she returns to the table, she says, “What’s this?” – but she can’t resist and begins eating.

Don: “I don’t like you going to funerals.”

Sally: “I hated it. Sarah’s mother was yellow. She had a wig.”

Don: “Life goes on.”


Next, Don plays a little trick on her.

Don: “Do you see the car?”

Sally: “Yes.”

Don then tells her a scheme, whereby he’ll walk out and get the car running while she’s still eating. Then he says she should just walk out of the restaurant, and they won’t pay for the meal.

Sally (puzzled): “Really?”

Don smiles, pulls out his wallet, and pays for the meal. Sally smiles.

Back in the car, they reach the school where Don drops Sally off. He asks her if she wants him to come in with her. She says no, she has a note. Sally then exits the car, and just before she slams the door she says, “Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you” and walks away to enter the school. Don seems taken by surprise, and his emotions well up.

Another collective story revolves around the ladies of the office. This story begins with Dawn, who we see in the first scene when she visits Don’s residence to provide supplies, information, and the arrangement of a housekeeper. Back at the office, Dawn (now Lou’s assistant, but also assistant to Don while he’s out) is now hanging out with another African-American secretary on the floor, Shirley, Peggy’s new secretary. Peggy walks by Shirley’s desk and sees a bouquet of long-stemmed roses sitting there without a card attached. Peggy starts to ask Shirley who the flowers are from, but doesn’t complete her sentence, guessing they are for her (Peggy). Shirley starts to respond, but doesn’t complete her sentence, guessing Peggy understands they are for her (Shirley). Having assumed the flowers were sent by Ted, Peggy takes the flowers and vase off Shirley’s desk and brings them to her room. Surprised and dismayed, Shirley doesn’t know what to say or how to tell Peggy the truth, for fear of upsetting her.  

In the interim, Stan sees Peggy with the flowers and comments: “Hard to believe your cat has the money.” Meanwhile, Shirley explains the flower fiasco to Dawn in the kitchen, and Dawn asks Shirley why she didn’t say something. Shirley says she didn’t have time to say anything. Then Dawn advises Shirley to “keep pretending – that’s the job.” Dawn adds, “I have two bosses, and one of them hasn’t told his wife he’s on leave.”

Throughout the show, Peggy gets madder and madder about the flowers she thinks Ted sent her, and she at one point refuses to answer a call from Ted because of it, demanding that Shirley relay a coded message to Ted’s secretary that would make no sense to Ted. Shirley eventually breaks it to Peggy that the flowers were sent to her from her fiancé, Charles, and Peggy blows her stack at Shirley. With contempt, Peggy muses, “Are these some symbol of how much we’re loved?” Clearly jealous of Shirley’s relationship situation, Peggy yells and tells Shirley “You have a ring on your finger. You didn’t have to embarrass me. Grow up” – as if Shirley is motivated by how she affects Peggy. Meanwhile, Shirley does nothing but apologize and attempt to act conciliatory.

The result is that Peggy marches to Joan’s office and demands that Shirley be moved off her desk. When Joan asks what Shirley did, Peggy refuses to say; she insists that she doesn’t want Shirley fired, only removed from her desk. At another point, Lou Avery blames Dawn for not being there when Sally showed up looking for Don, which made Lou feel awkward because he didn’t know what to say. Dawn apologizes, but when Lou demands that Dawn be reassigned to someone else’s desk, she speaks up and says that she skipped her lunch to buy his wife perfume; if he had bought it himself 10 days earlier when she first reminded him, this wouldn’t have happened. Lou replies that it’s not his problem and contends that he’s the one owed an apology.

Joan moves Dawn to the front reception area where Meredith has been working, and she moves Meredith back to work for Lou. Next, Bert Cooper walks out of the offices and sees Dawn at the front reception desk. He immediately turns around and goes to Joan’s office to tell her to get Dawn out of the front office because “people can see her from the elevator.” Faced with the musical-chairs problem of where to put all the secretaries, Joan feels frustrated and angry. Just then, Jim Cutler enters Joan’s office to discuss an account and Joan snaps at him. When Jim realizes that Joan is handling both a personnel job and a sales position, he sympathizes. He then offers her a full-time sales position upstairs. In the end, Shirley is placed as Lou’s assistant and Dawn is given Joan’s office, presumably to handle personnel issues. Also, we see Joan moving her things upstairs and thanking Roger for the Valentine’s Day flowers that were supposedly “from her son.”

We first see Pete on Thursday night in an office in California, where he explains with no success to a drunken Bonnie something about his business concerns. She approaches him and they start having sex on the desk. A man walks into the room and they immediately freeze in place. The man, perhaps a business associate of one of them, walks in and asks “How did it go?” to which Pete responds that it went well. Next the man, who continues walking through the office but never looks directly at the couple, exits the room and says, “Goodnight Bonnie.” Pete and Bonnie burst out laughing.

On Friday, Pete and Ted are at work on a conference call to the New York office of Sterling Cooper. Pete tells the group that he’s landing a large amount of business with the Southern California dealership association. His pride is cut short when Bert Cooper expresses utter boredom with Pete’s enthusiastic but long-winded story about landing the business; Pete’s mood turns darker when Jim Cutler says they’ll fly Bob Benson from Detroit out to California to help finalize the deal. Pete, who cannot stand Bob, objects, and so does Roger in New York. Essentially, this disagreement becomes personal between Jim Cutler and Roger Sterling, and Jim says to Roger: “I feel caught off-guard…about something that seems rudimentary.” Meanwhile, off in his own world, Ted wonders how much of Peggy’s account was lost. Eventually Jim wins the debate about flying Bob Benson out when Bert sides with him.

Roger calls Pete privately to break it to him that it’s best to get Detroit (Bob Benson) involved. During that call, Pete begins to rant, and Roger hangs up on him. Pete also complains to Ted about feeling overlooked, and says to Ted, “What you’re supposed to say is: we should start our own agency. What’s our goal? Why are you here? All you do is mope around.” Before Ted can figure out how to respond, Pete yells “I’m not talking to you anymore” – to which Ted hardly responds.

Later on, Pete enters Bonnie’s workplace mid-afternoon when Bonnie is still working to sell property. He first attempts to get Bonnie to leave work early and go with him to a hotel to have sex. Bonnie says something like, “I love you, but I also love the 15 people who might come here today and buy this dump.” After she listens to Pete’s sob story about how “the system is rigged,” she tells him a horror story of her own about working for a year to make a sale, only to have the property burn down two weeks afterwards. She says, “Our fortunes are in other people’s hands and we have to take it. That’s the thrill.” She follows up with, “I’ll see you at 5:15 unless I get an offer.”

Finally, the story of Roger and Jim begins during the conference call with Pete, where Jim determines that Bob Benson should be involved with Pete’s business transaction and Roger not only loses the argument but also figures out his status at the company has been reduced and that Jim rules. The story picks up later on when Roger sees Joan moving upstairs to an accounts position and learns that Jim suggested it. Joan asks him whether he agrees with the move, and Roger, realizing he is no longer in charge, says, “It doesn’t matter.”  Finally, we see Jim and Roger getting into an elevator and riding down at the end of the day. Jim says to Roger in a threatening way: “I’d hate to think of you as an adversary. I’d really hate that.”


One of several themes in this episode is claiming the moral high ground in adversarial relationships.

·         When Don has lunch with an advertising guy from another agency, the guy confronts him with the many rumors going around about Don (he was dabbling in the LA office, cried or punched someone at a meeting and was let go, etc.). Instead of being defensive and admitting or denying the rumors, Don comes back with offensive lines like: “I didn’t know I was going to be interrogated by the Hooterville telephone operator” – as if the guy was small-minded for bringing it up, as if Don’s somehow better than that. 

·         Despite Don’s lies, he does everything to claim the moral high ground with Sally, both because he wants to defend himself and because he’s still her father, and as such, is called upon to provide moral leadership. When she confronts him with his lie about working at the office as well as other lies, he says, “This is not about me” and turns the topic of conversation back to her behavior, yelling: “Why did you go to my office?” He also demands, “Why didn’t you say something?” after he realizes Sally knew he wasn’t at the office earlier that day, and allowed Don to make up a story about it instead of admitting what she knew.

·         Likewise, Sally claims the moral high ground toward Don, confronting him again and again and demanding to know the truth. Even though Sally breaks rules at times, she feels morally justified in confronting and subtly berating Don.

·         When Lou is forced to interact with Sally at the office and realizes that she doesn’t even know her dad no longer works there, he gets very angry about being put in that position. After Dawn returns to her desk, Lou takes the moral high ground and yells at Dawn for not being there to handle the interaction. Although he’s clearly out of line, he believes he’s entitled to dump his frustration onto Dawn and blame her for his discomfort. Regardless of what anyone else says, his self-righteous response is: “It’s not my problem.”

·         Dawn, in turn, takes the moral high ground when, having been fired as Lou’s secretary, she speaks up and tells him something to the effect of: “I skipped my lunch to buy your wife perfume. If you had been thoughtful enough to buy her a gift 10 days ago when I reminded you, this wouldn’t have happened.”

·         Pete rants about the New York office’s decision to get Bob Benson involved, as though they’re all unfair to him (Pete), not even noticing him or paying attention to his existence. He also scolds Ted, telling him he’s a mope and should have goals for their office – as if Ted is morally inferior.

·         When Bonnie hears Pete being self-pitying and morally indignant about his misfortunes at work (“I realize the system’s rigged against me”), she takes the moral high ground in a mature way by telling Pete the story of one of her professional losses, when a house she sold burned down just after the sale. Although she doesn’t treat Pete like an adversary, she stands up to him by refusing to buy into his pity-party and rejects his offer to ditch work just to play with him.

·         When Peggy learns from Shirley that the flowers she thought were for her were actually a gift to Shirley from her fiancé, Peggy claims the moral high ground by demanding to know why Shirley didn’t tell her sooner, and she completely rejects Shirley’s explanation that she tried to do so but was unable. Peggy lashes out at Shirley as if Shirley had intentionally tried to embarrass Peggy. Shirley just keeps apologizing, as if Peggy in fact has the moral high ground, although privately Shirley has to know that Peggy is being unfair to her.

·         Peggy claims the moral high ground with Ted when she receives a phone call from Ted and gives Ted’s secretary a coded message that she thinks Ted will understand, based on her belief that Ted sent her the flowers and that there was some twisted or manipulative intention behind both his flowers and the phone call.

·         Joan takes the moral high ground with Bert Cooper when Bert requests that Dawn be moved to a more invisible spot in the office. She asks whether she should discriminate against Dawn because of the color of her skin, and yet Bert’s reply indicates that he feels no moral compunctions about protecting the image of the agency, even if it means keeping the “advancement of colored people” reduced.

·         Jim Cutler claims the moral high ground at the office when he criticizes Roger for disagreeing with his “common sense” decision to involve Bob Benson in Pete’s California business dealings.


A second theme is put forward by Bonnie Whiteside: our fate is not in our own hands, and when things fall through, you have to accept it and not feel sorry for yourself. This theme stands in contrast to the blame-filled environment of Sterling Cooper, but certain individuals embody this enlightened attitude:

·         Bonnie, which she demonstrates through her tale about the house that burned down

·         Dawn and Shirley, who accept the severe constraints of their minority status and more or less accept that their fate is determined by the majority white powers that be, especially given that they work in a white office in support roles

·         Roger, who by the end of the program realizes and seems to accept that he is no longer the master of his fate at the office (although we don’t know if he’ll pout in the future because of it or otherwise stop accepting it)

·         Meredith, who blithely goes along, moving from her front desk perch to a secretarial desk for Lou when Joan deems it appropriate, then being shifted around again without a worry when told to do so

·         Sally, who accepts her fate of losing her purse without panicking too much about it or crying or feeling victimized as some would

·         Joan, who finds her fate in Jim’s hands when he grants her a choice, either to remain where she is or move to an accounts position (of course this means her fate is partly in her own hands thanks to Jim)


A third theme is wins and losses in power struggles.

·         Jim struggles with Roger and ends up dominating him when he rejects Roger’s storytelling moment near the beginning of the episode, and later when he wins the argument over getting Detroit involved with the LA office’s business.

·         Pete tries to control Bonnie, but Bonnie ends up dominating Pete by setting the agenda during each of their encounters.

·         Pete argues with the New York office but New York ends up controlling Pete.

·         Peggy dominates Shirley, not because Shirley couldn’t stand up to her, but because Shirley doesn’t dare for fear of losing her job.

·         Peggy dominates Joan when she yells at her to “Fix it!”

·         Don wins back the right to dominate or control Sally (as much as an independent-minded teen can be controlled).

·         Lou controls Dawn (although Dawn doesn’t go without a good fight).


We also see a large number of misunderstandings and truncated communications in this episode.

·         Don complains to Sally when he realizes she knew he wasn’t at the office that day: “Why didn’t you tell me?” implying that Sally blocked a communication that should have occurred.

·         When Peggy sees flowers on Shirley’s desk, Peggy and Shirley both utter incomplete sentences and then assume they are both thinking the same thing, which they’re not.

·         Peggy delivers a strange, coded message for Shirley to relay to Ted’s office, revealing her gross misunderstanding of the situation. Moira, receiving this message, misunderstands Peggy’s intentions and takes it literally to mean that there’s some business that’s been lost.

·         Peggy complains to Shirley when she learns the flowers were for Shirley: “Why didn’t you tell me?” implying that Shirley blocked a communication that should have occurred.

·         Shirley tells both Dawn and later Peggy that she tried to tell Peggy the flowers were hers, but she didn’t get a chance (because she felt cut off by Peggy).

·         Ted tries to call Peggy, presumably to find out what’s going on after she called him angrily in the morning about the flowers she thought he’d sent, and Peggy refuses to take the call.

·         When Pete provides a long-winded story during his and Ted’s conference call with New York about how he snagged the new business, Bert Cooper cuts Pete off, telling him he bores him.

·         Roger hangs up on Pete on hearing Pete rant about Bob Benson becoming involved with his sales efforts.

·         When Roger tells Lou his story about being called a “kike,” Lou disses him, effectively cutting of the personal level of communication, and changes the subject to business.

·         When Jim Hobart comes over to Don’s table at the restaurant, Don’s lunch associate cuts Jim off by telling him to move along.

·         When Sally comes looking for her dad at Sterling Cooper and finds Lou Avery there instead, Lou responds to her in brief, truncated communication, saying as little as possible.

·         When Sally calls her roommate Carol to let her know where she is, Carol starts telling Sally a story about a creepy salesman on the train who invited them to the smoker; however, not being in the mood, Sally cuts her off and ends the phone call.

·         When Sally asks Don what truth he spoke about at work that caused him to get let go, Don says as little as possible, claiming that it’s nothing she doesn’t know.


A broad theme in this episode is the question of ethical decisions.

·         Dawn agrees to help Don gather information at the office about what’s happening within Sterling Cooper, but she draws the line at breaking into Peggy’s locked office to get papers that Don wants photocopied.

·         Dawn has thought long and hard about accepting money from Don for her extra work for him, and she’s decided it wouldn’t feel right ethically.

·         Don has also thought about whether Dawn should be given money for her extra work for him, and he’s decided that extra work merits extra pay.

·         When Dawn learns that Sally had come to the office looking for Don, she immediately calls Don at home to inform him, which could be considered ethical since she’s working for Don and accepting money from him for her help, both personal and professional.

·         Don drives Sally back to her school, giving them a chance to confront and discuss his past ethical failings as well as hers, and giving Don a chance to make amends by being more honest with her.

·         At the restaurant, Don plays a trick on Sally by putting forth a scheme whereby they would slip out of the restaurant without paying – an unethical plan that startles Sally; she is then reassured when she realizes he was kidding and presumably would never do such a thing.

·         Lou’s lack of ethics shows when he blames Dawn for not being there when Sally popped in and when he has her removed from his work area because of it, when in fact it was not Dawn’s fault.

·         Ironically, Lou feels Dawn should apologize to him, as if Dawn were the unethical one.

·         Peggy’s lack of ethics shows when she clobbers Shirley for supposedly trying to embarrass her, which was totally unfair.


Finally, there’s the underlying theme of Valentine’s Day, the holiday that celebrates romantic love.

·         As contentious as it was, Don and Sally’s road trip ends with Sally having some idealized feelings of love towards her dad, leading her to say, “Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you.”

·         Peggy’s terrible, horrible, very bad day probably happens mostly because she feels deeply crushed and bitter over not having a romantic relationship with the man she loves.

·         Joan finds a little bit of romance at the end of the day when she receives flowers from Roger, although the card says it they’re from her son, Kevin.

·         Pete has his passionate love relationship, at least late on Valentine’s Eve, when he scores with Bonnie in his office.

·         Shirley enjoys the flowers from her fiancé, Charles, despite the mess it causes at the office.

·         Meredith is filled with the spirit of the day in her little pink dress at the office, wishing Sally a happy Valentine’s Day with gushing enthusiasm.

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