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Mad Men recap: A Day's Work

Don and Sally bond while Peggy struggles through Valentine’s Day in ‘A Day’s Work’

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Mad Men 01

Mad Men

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Elisabeth Moss

I don’t think my Valentine’s Days will ever be the same after “A Day’s Work.” Whatever romantic sentiment was wrapped up in the holiday was gutted by Ginsberg’s remark to Peggy in the elevator, then set afire by all the Old White Men in the office. Yet it’s hard to recall an episode of Mad Men that was as funny as this.

Don is still in professional limbo, SCP’s “collective ex-wife who still receives alimony” for staying away from the office. But on Feb. 13, he has an important meeting. Fortunately, it’s not until 8 p.m., so he preps for it by sleeping past noon, watching The Little Rascals while stiffing Ritz crackers in his mouth, ignoring trespassing cockroaches, and moderating his drinking so he’s all slick and Draper’d up when the doorbell rings. It isn’t Lee Cabot at the door, or Betty Francis dropping off the kids. It’s Dawn (or is it Shirley)? She’s unofficially keeping him in the loop on SCP business, especially Lou Avery’s meetings with Mohawk Airlines, while also arranging Valentine’s flowers for Megan in California. Dawn is quickly in and out, and as soon as she’s gone, Don’s tie is pulled loose and the TV is back on. Dawn and Freddie Rumsen aren’t cutting it. Don needs to get back in the action.

The last time we saw Peggy, she was sobbing on her living room floor because her ex-lover was in California with his family — and her most notable recent encounter with the opposite sex was with the upstairs neighbor’s boy who complains about the clogged toilet. Rather than dwell on that fact, Peggy’s diving deeper into her work. Of course. On the elevator up on Friday, Feb. 14 — a date that will live in infamy — she commends Ginsberg and Stan on their recent work, and pleads with Stan to hand in some artwork before the end of the day. (Because Peggy is definitely working all weekend, right?) Stan hints that he has plans after work. When Peggy obliviously fishes for an invite to his social gathering, the guys have to remind her of the day’s holiday significance. And that’s when Ginsberg drops the hammer, with an embarrassing ripost that lets Peggy know that her depressing social life isn’t as bad as she thinks it is. In fact, it’s much, much worse, and everyone at the office is aware. Needless to say, Ginsberg’s crude assessment that Peggy had an evening of “masturb[ating] gloomily” lined up definitely was a new low for Peggy. However, it wouldn’t prove to be the lowest point of her day.

NEXT: “Just cash the checks. You’re going to die one day”