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'Mad Men' Season 7 Episode 2: Flowers And The Hung-Up Phone

April 21st, 2014 9:25am EDT | Paul Levinson By: Paul Levinson

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A really fine Mad Men episode with all sorts of funny and sage moments, spread out over at least three story lines.

I guess the funniest was Pete talking on the phone to Roger, after Roger had hung up the phone.  This perfectly typifies the story of Pete's life, in the firm and out, making his points, playing the game with sincerity, often to have his words fall on deaf or closed ears.

Back in New York - the Pete thread was half in California, half in New York - we have a brilliant vignette of flowers, assumptions, racism, and their consequences.   Shirley's fiancé leaves flowers for her - it's Valentine's Day - which Peggy wrong thinks were left for her from afar by Ted.   This also has been the story of Peggy's life at the firm. Always being cut short from what she may or may not want, smart as can be yet misunderstanding crucial things. The error is understandable - Shirley is Peggy's receptionist - but it sets in motion an unpredictable, hilarious, and in the end profound chain of consequences.

When Shirley finally tells Peggy the truth, she directs her fury at Shirley for not telling her sooner, and wants her out of her receptionist desk.   Dawn has already gotten marching orders - actually given to Joan, who must enforce them, as office manager - by the boring guy who's in Don's office, and who doesn't want Dawn doing Don's business on his (the boring guy's) time.   Joan has put Dawn in the front of the office as the receptionist people see when they first come in the office, and moved the receptionist who was previously there to the boring guy's (ok, Lou's) office.   But Bert doesn't want an African-American woman to be in the front of the office (Dawn and Shirley are both African-American).  He tells Joan to get her out of there.

What does Joan do? The solution is given to her when Jim suggests that she move upstairs and work just as an account executive, and find someone else to be office manager.  In an ingenious, superb stroke, Joan makes Dawn the new office manager - a nice promotion.   It's unclear where Shirley will be - maybe Joan's receptionist - but Joan has really excelled in doing the right thing in spite of the bigotry and pettiness of the office.

For dessert, we get one of the best sequences in years between Don and Sally, in which Don, for once in his life, is entirely truthful with Sally, and even manages to fake her out - to use that great 1960s expression - about pretending to be plotting not to pay the restaurant bill.

Just the kind of Mad Men worth waiting a year to see.

Photo Credits: AMC


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