Valentine's Day, 1969. Peggy receives an unexpected bouquet of flowers, Pete grapples with new office politics, Joan handles a difficult decision at work, and Sally Draper realises the truth of her proud father's situation...
Don Draper's (Jon Hamm) slightly self-delusional in believing his "short break" from the company's exactly that, as it became clear during a later conference call scene that nobody at SC&P expects him to return, and they resent having to pay him "alimony". But he does have the foresight to try and engage with other agencies and see if they'll snap him up, although it appears word of his breakdown during the Hershey's pitch is spreading and he's considered damaged goods. Don's a has-been? Are we about to witness the total collapse of the show's alpha male this final season?
If that happens, I'm guessing the upside will be Don's improved relationship with daughter Sally (Kiernan Shipka). After she arrived at SC&P and realises her father doesn't actually work there now, she was given a front row seat watching him lie through his teeth about his employment status. Fortunately, Don eventually salvaged the situation by coming clean to Sally once he became aware that she knows the truth of the matter, and by the end of the episode they were much closer. It would be sweet if Don ended the show unshackled from the burden of being a top ad man, and could truly be himself with his children.
The most tragic storyline belonged to Peggy (Elisabeth Moss), as she mistook a bouquet of roses on her secretary's desk as a romantic offering from old flame Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm), and spent almost the whole episode both enjoying the fact she had an valentine (as everyone is treating her like a spinster), but also disgruntled Ted was trying to wheedle his way back into her good books. The fact that wasn't at all true, and more the invention of Peggy's hopeful imagination, was heartbreaking. Don's on a downer this season, but Peggy's woes aren't too far behind her mentor. More than that, she's starting to come across as a horrible person who bears grudges... which I hope is intentional writing.
Last week, it appeared Pete (Vince Kartheiser) was setting into his new sun-kissed Californian life with ease and cheery enthusiasm, but the cracks were more evident in this hour. He certainly appears to have a fun romance with gorgeous Bonnie (Kessy Schram) that probably made his Valentine's Day the most successful (will Alison Brie not appear this season as his ex?), but he's also feeling unnecessary and marginalised from the firm's main New York office. As someone who's used to being in the thick of things, Pete's not dealing too well with his new situation in the second largest office to Ted, struggling with conference calls to a bunch of older men.
- It was interesting to see how Don's keeping tabs on SC&P in his absence. Last week we saw that he's feeding Freddy Rumsen pitches to impress people, and now we discover that secretary Dawn (Teyonah Parris) is filling him in on all the gossip. She's so loyal she doesn't even want paying for her trouble.
- Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) has been such a funny and endearing presence for much of the show's run that it was a little shocking to see his racist attitude bubble to the surface, when he notices Dawn has been moved closer to the front door where she can be easily seen by passers-by.
After the season 6 finale, ongoing ripples are beginning to become clearer, now Don's exiled and SC&P has become a growing bi-coastal business. Roger (John Slattery) and Pete aren't as integral to the decision-making meetings, Joan (Christina Hendricks) has transferred her skills into accountancy, erstwhile secretary Dawn has taken over Joan's vacated job as head of personnel, while the firm's new creative director Lou Avery (Allan Havey) and founding partner Bert Cooper are coming across as prehistoric relics.
written by Jonathan Igla & Matthew Weiner | directed by Michael Uppendahl