UK TV review: Mad Men Season 7 Episode 2 (A Day’s Work)
Chris Bryant | On 27, Apr 2014
It’s Valentine’s Day 1969 and, as far as our advertising executive’s lives go, the game has changed. Struggling against their old ideals and their own success, the heavy-drinking colleagues navigate the inter-office politics with the same misunderstandings and grudges they always have. But more regularly now, the last man standing is not a man at all.
Pete Campbell, the ever ridiculous Vincent Kartheiser, has finally achieved his goal. A little fatter, older, drunker and balder, Pete is a successful account man who has young blondes on his desk at will. Pete, in his eyes, is Don. Just 10 years too late. Don himself is still a master of everyone’s heart but his own. He’s forced to confront his tainted relationship with his daughter in a brilliant series of scenes that show Sally’s progress into adulthood. Having been given such poor role models to aspire to, Sally’s created her own identity, a stunning mix of Don and Betty plus a dash of rebellion against the two. (Kiernan Shipka steals the episode, evoking Betty’s manipulation and Don’s stubbornness while remaining one of the show’s major female characters.)
Don’s replacement, Lou Avery, takes a step away from the bland, by-the-numbers creative director of the first episode, becoming a more dislikeable – and potentially nasty – character. Spending more time directing spiteful comments at the strongest women in the office, and less directing any actual creativity, it must be only a matter of time before he gets what’s coming to him.
The renowned and adored “beautiful girls” of SC&P are also fighting the tide. Shirley tussles with Peggy over love, Dawn continues to battle Avery’s whims – and Cooper’s outright racism – while Joan balances her newfound accounts with running the social side of the office. Despite their oppression, the women of the office are ensuring that as the sun sets on the working man’s heyday, it rises on theirs.
Within the conference room, the technology of the age gets away from the old-school minds that are forced to use it. Cooper and Chaough seem tired, Sterling and Cutler disagree over manners and Campbell reprises his role as the in-house toddler. Peggy, the only mind shown to be working, is haunted by her affair with Ted and yet business seems steady. Without Don, the boat floats better, but the crew are in turmoil.
SC&P, though, is valiantly heading towards the iceberg – and it looks like they could lose their tormented genius forever. Soon, no doubt, we will all discover how much Don needs SC&P, and how much SC&P needs Don.
Mad Men: Season 1 to 7 is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.