Mad Men Recap: A Thorny Matter Indeed

Mad Men Season 7 RecapIt’s Valentine’s Day on this week’s Mad Men, and it’s a very long holiday indeed for Peggy, who in a moment’s time goes from elated to crabby and then stays there for the rest of the episode. (At least she’s got company; Lou lives there.)

Elsewhere, Don and Sally gain a better understanding of each other, Joan switches offices and Pete sputters ineffectively – except no one can hear him all the way from California. Foiled again, Campbell! Read on for what went down in “A Day’s Work.”

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CUPID’S ARROW HURTS | Peggy shows up at work, sees a vase of long-stemmed roses near her desk and automatically assumes they’re for her – despite the lack of card. “Hard to believe your cat has the money,” Stan deadpans. (Ha! Sorry, Pegs; that was mean but funny.)

The flowers are actually for her secretary, Shirley, who doesn’t have a chance to say so before Peggy assumes that Ted sent them to woo her back. A whole lot of awkwardness starts… now! Peggy calls Ted’s secretary and leaves a message in not-well-thought-out code, then later gives Shirley the roses, then even later asks her to throw them out, saying, “I am sorry, but they’re cursed.” (Excellent line reading there by Elisabeth Moss.)

When Shirley refuses, explaining that the delivery was actually for her, Peggy’s embarrassment comes out as jealous fury, and it’s a terrible look on her. “You have a ring on. We all know that you’re engaged. You did not have to embarrass me. Grow up!” she shouts, storming away. Later, she angrily requests that Joan assign her someone else to answer the phones, but won’t say exactly why. And when Ted calls, she doesn’t answer

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‘YOU’RE SUCH A BIG DEAL’ | Pete and Real Estate Barbie Bonnie celebrate his landing a big account – the Southern California Chevrolet Dealers’ Association, he patronizingly explains to her – with some late-night office sex on the desk. (Ted surprises them by being there so late, but he averts his eyes, so it’s all good.) The next morning, however, the partners put the kibosh on Pete’s business move by saying that the much bigger main Chevy account, headed up by Bob Benson in Detroit, should have the right to say yay or nay on the smaller – yet related – SoCal dealers deal. (By the way: The fact that Pete overhears most of this via an underperforming conference call system doesn’t help his ego at all.)

Pretty soon, he’s drinking in Ted’s office and throwing out ideas like starting their own firm and/or them never talking to each other again. He’s so full of hotheaded bluster that I absolutely love when Bonnie gently but firmly explains to him that they’re both salespeople, and that means sometimes you’ve gotta just suck it up. The uncertainty of the gig is what makes the game so thrilling, she says. “Our fortunes are in other people’s hands, and we have to take them.”

WHAT DON’S REALLY UP TO | Don’s out-of-work existence goes something like this: Sleep until afternoon, eat Ritz crackers, watch TV in pajamas, ignore a giant cockroach crawling on the other side of the room — or, as I liked to call it, my senior year of college. One day, his only important meeting is with his former secretary Dawn, who we learn is helping him keep Megan in the dark about his dismissal and is feeding him intel about accounts and such.

On Valentine’s Day, however, he has a date… with someone from another firm. (That’s JAG‘s David James Elliott as Dave Wooster.) Apparently, rumors are out there about Don’s bonked Hershey pitch and subsequent leave of absence (the candy giant eventually signed with Ogilvy, Roger informs us), but no one knows specifics and Don’s not confirming or denying anything. Given his impressive body of work, it’s not hard to believe that several agencies would be interested if one of Sterling Cooper & Partners’ show ponies suddenly indicated he might like trotting in a different ring.

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BUSTED – AGAIN!  | But while Don is out at his meeting, Sally’s in the city for her roommate’s mother’s funeral – and when she loses her purse during some not-school-sanctioned shopping after the service, she swings by dad’s office for assistance. Sal quickly puts together that Don hasn’t been in the building for a while; she later finds him at home, and on the ride back to school, she lets him know that she knows something’s up. (Side note: Shtupping the neighbor, lying about getting fired – what’s Sally going to catch her father doing next? Smoking a crack pipe?)

Don evades, Sally dishes attitude, and it’s business as usual for father and daughter Draper until they stop for dinner on the way to her dorm. He confesses, via the understatement of the year, that he’s not at SC&P for the time being: “I didn’t behave well,” he says. “I told the truth about myself, but it wasn’t the right time.” His honesty seems to change something for Sally, who’s much more relaxed with her dad as their time draws to a close. She even says “I love you,” before closing the car door and scampering to her room – and from Don’s reaction, I’m guessing he hasn’t heard that from her since she was in diapers.

MOVIN’ ON UP | When Lou complains that he doesn’t want to share Dawn with Don anymore – he’s mainly ticked that she wasn’t there to handle Sally – Joan counsels the secretary to hold her tongue. What I love about Dawn is that she doesn’t. She pointedly tells the old man that she wasn’t at her desk because she was spending her lunch break buying his wife a last-minute Valentine’s gift – something he should have done when she reminded him about it weeks ago. Lou is slightly cowed, but he still wants a new girl.

But Joan’s fix for that – moving the front-desk airhead to Lou’s area and putting Dawn at the entrance – doesn’t sit well with Bert, who loses many points in my book when he remarks that he doesn’t want an African-American woman sitting somewhere “people can see her from the elevator.” Joanie rubs her face as if to say How in holy heck is it still my job to handle this ridiculousness?

As if in answer, Jim soon enters her office, realizes that she should have a space upstairs with the other account execs and extends an offer. So now Joan’s up with the big boys (toting some flowers Roger sent her via Kevin), Shirley is Lou’s new assistant and Dawn is in charge of personnel – a move that the smile on her face seems to say suits her.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!