And on this Valentine's Day, Don Draper will take a lady out to dinner; the only woman he loves and the only one who loves him back. He speaks with her honestly about feeling ashamed and offers her a french fry. Her eyebrow game is intact and she has certainly inherited her father's accusatory stare. Let's begin.
It is 7:30. Then it is 12:34. It is a Thursday. Mad Men doesn't fuck around with its number usage, so this shit means something. Probably that is was 7:30, and then 12:34. Don watches some TV and watches a cockroach wriggle across his floor. He waves at Gregor Samsa, the existential bug. Don realizes that perhaps he is a bug, a beetle forgotten about by loved ones and left alone to ponder his existence until he wastes away. But then he remembers women, and how much he enjoys them! Don gets up and puts a suit on.
It's 8pm now and Dawn comes over. Don wears a suit with a pocket square and looks like when Marge is in prison and Homer wears a devil costume to see her because there are no more clean clothes at the house. Dawn is lovely and has more screen time than Roger these days. She relays some messages to Don and refuses to come in further than the doorway because last time she did that she saw a bunch of Kraft singles wrappers by the couch and ramen noodles in a turned over frisbee like a plate and she felt sad for eight days in a row. She refuses his money but Don makes her take it because he loves making women do the opposite thing than the one they want to do.
Sally smokes because her mother made her start once in a car ride to see schools. Someone is dead I can tell, but being coy is way more annoying, I mean fun. A red headed foxy friend with a real 90's 'tude has the idea to go shopping in Manhattan after going to dead someone's funeral. Sally says she'll wear a brown suede skirt and Foxy shatters a bourbon bottle over Sally's head. “Jesus, Draper, is this you're first funeral?” says Foxy, thereby foreshadowing so loudly that all the lightbulbs in my apartment exploded in crackily unison.
Cut to Pete kissing the blonde realtor lady that twice now I have assumed was Betty. I feel trolled! They are in the dark and Pete is frightened; mostly because of spooks, but also because he's heard tell of what ladies and mans do in the dark sometimes. Miss Bonnie Whiteside asks him to leave the lights off. “But how will I find anything?” asks Pete for real in this episode. He knows the boobies are near the butt, or so it was depicted on the drawing he drew a week ago. Ted comes through just as Pete finds her nose.“They're right below the shoulders, Pete” says Ted as he eyelessly goes into his own office forever.
“Masturbate” says Ginsberg in the elevator. Shirley has received six roses for each of her own long stems and Peggy thinks the flowers are for Peggy. Shirley makes a mildly bemused face that leads Peg to ask Moira to take a message for Ted. “Tell Ted that the Sweet Gesture factory has caught fire and will never be rebuilt,” says Peggy. “The fuck?” says Moira. “I mean,” thinks Peggy. “Tell Ted …that the Peggy account and the Ted account will never merge as long as Wife Industries is still booming.” Moira hangs up and looks at new job openings on Craigslist.
Don has lunch with Don in Glasses and I was actually relieved when someone mentioned the datey-ness of this meal. Glasses mentions that he's heard some rumors about No Glasses, that NG “got a major boner in a meeting” (I might of misheard this). They make plans to see the Knicks because that way there's no pressure on either to make a move if he or he isn't feeling it. A man named Jim Hobart interrupts the Dons' meal. Don hasn't flirted this charismatically with anyone since he talked Army lighters with drunk Dinkins at the bar on vacation.
Pete tells the New York gang a story over Skype. It's about Detroit and Chevy and dealerships and how to handle this whammy of an opportunity that Pete has somehow attained. Roger has an idea, but Jim Cutler hates it. Roger says its how he and Don used to business, Cutler titles Don the company's “collective ex-wife” and points out the sobering fact that Don is not there anymore. Cutler is a bull and everyone may as well be wearing bright red sheets to work. He's a bucking bronco who ain't lettin' no one ride. “Don't want the tail wagging the dog,” he says. Pete hates dogs 'cause of their loud woofs, so he hangs up, discouraged. Pete gets mad at Ted over a glass of Cutty 12. Later he'll tell Miss Bonnie Whiteside that he wants to chew her up and spit her out. Like gum!
Meanwhile, Sally gets off the train because mischief. She goes to Don's office and asks the question we all sort of want to know: Where is Don and why isn't he at Sterling Cooper where he belongs? She instead meets Lou Avery, whose bottom teeth look like those of a bulldog who chews rocks. She asks a few questions and then is like “where's Joan?” and Avery is like “YEAH GO FIND JOAN GOOD IDEA LITTLE GIRL” and pulls a bunch of mean chauvinistic bullshit involving women and their jobs and ugh, this shit was exhausting. You know you're a dick if Burt Cooper's marzipan face requesting a more racist arrangement of the office seems more pleasant than your any spoken line. Sally goes to Don's place and he drives her back to school. They are the same. He is so honest with her that I want to cry, as if supreme honesty overrides supreme corruptness. He stops for gas and sits once again across from another version of himself over dinner. He insists that his daughter know he's fine financially and fine with Meagan, and apologizes for the discomfort Sally felt about potentially seeing Linda Cardellini in his building. Then he makes a joke about dining and dashing and if she were into it he totally woulda done it—which, coincidentally—is his number one life rule.
Ring around the roses continues until Jim Cutler sticks his jaw into Joan's office to see what she looks like. He mentions that she does the jobs of about fifty employees, and that there are fifty offices upstairs that she can have. He then mentions that the offices are actually for account men, which will make it funny if Joan moves in there because LOL SHE IS LADY. Roger spots Ms. Harris moving her stuff out of Dawn's new office. He comments on his significance in Joan's life and then Jim and Roger share a moment in an elevator that felt like when a dude tries to get with someone else's girl in the club and the two dudes get super close and there's that thing where their chests all of a sudden become prominent and very full of air that wasn't there like five seconds ago? That.
Misc.: Geez, Mad Men is so very good at inventing new types of men to hate! Just when you think Don is the last crawling scum of the earth, we meet Lou Avery and we realize Lou could actually kill someone with his lack of charisma and decency. The sass-off in the break room and Dawn sitting in her new office are probably the redeemers of “A Day's Work,” now that I think about it. I am uncomfortable when Peggy is embarrassing, and prefer less muddled episodes than this one. But I know a builder episode when I see one, and I already feel anxious about the outcome. It starts!
Krista writes weekly recaps. Follow her on Twitter @poatatoemporium.