Mad Men has an A+ episode that is hilarious, heartfelt, builds up tons of characters and moves the plot forward in every direction. It’s episodes like this that remind you that Mad Men is the best show on TV.
Don fails to get back in the office, again, this week and we get to see the continuing effects that is having on everyone around him. First and foremost, it is allowing Jim Cutler to take over the company as no one is there to back up Roger, who barely has enough energy to put up a fight in the first place. In this one episode he weasel’s Pete off his big new account, pummels Roger into submissions, sweet talks Joan onto his side, positions strongly against Don’s return and his replacement for Don, Lou, continues to be the absolute worst. The Machiavellian strategy that Pete calls Jim on to Ted out in LA isn’t wrong, and that final shot between Roger and Jim on the elevator implies that if Don might have a very hard time making his way back into those offices. The sooner the better though, as I despise Lou. Did I mention he is the worst?
Lou’s terribleness led to a big secretarial shake up in the office as everybody seemed to want to trade secretaries on this Valentine’s Day. Dawn is moved off Lou’s desk (the worst), then gentle racist Burt Cooper kicks Dawn off of the front desk, then Shirley gets booted off Peggy’s desk (more on that later), before Dawn lands a promotion taking over for Joan as she moves up to accounts. It was a great episode for Dawn, as Teyonah Parris finally gets to show off her acting talents and finds herself in a real position of power around the office. Dawn and Shirley actually had the highlight of the night as their in joke about none of the white people being able to tell them apart had me pausing the episode I was laughing so hard. “Hello Dawn. Hello Shirley.” Shirley also had some great material as well, bouncing off of the hilariously tragic heartache of Peggy, who continues to be more lost than anyone without Don at her side. Just forget Ted dude, he isn’t worth it (though he had some great one liners in that scene with Pete).
LA Pete continues to get stronger, and even though he couldn’t land that trip to Detroit, Bonnie is doing something to that kid’s mojo. Their scene at Bonnie’s open house is laying the seeds for a killer instinct in Pete that could finally put him over the power hump and I would love to see what would happen if we get another new company, with Pete taking on Ted and Don as his creative powerhouse. Wishful thinking, but oh how awesome that could be. Just be sure to get Peggy.
The centerpiece of the episode was Sally and Don as we got to see both of these characters grow and be honest with, well maybe anyone for the first time in a long time. Don has been turning over a new leaf ever since he was relieved of his duties, but in that diner booth, I felt like it was the first time he actually blamed himself for being put out to early pasture. Sally comes to a lot of realizations as well on that car ride, standing up for herself and her dad to stop treating her like a child and that scene at the diner is one of my all time favorites on the show. Sally is mature beyond any of her peers, but maybe she is finally learning that doesn’t mean she is an adult. Still, seeing these two finally understand each other again, and able to have a little fun was so sweet and great, it was just what both of these sad characters needed and they didn’t even know it.
A fantastic episode of Mad Men this week and one that sets a high bar for the season going forward. Last week felt like settling in after a long time off, but this week put the pedal to the metal without losing a beat. Great, great stuff, lets hope Weiner and team keep it up.