MAD MEN: 5.06 “Far Away Places”
A fellow blogger tweeted about last night’s Mad Men: “This episode is Matthew Weiner daring weekly reviewers to make sense of it. I’m totally convinced of this.” That was only about halfway through the episode, right around the time Roger had his LSD, I think. Of course, having just watched a horrific and confusing episode of Game of Thrones right before, I felt like I was in my own hallucinogenic daze watching Mad Men. Toss in three different timelines, so to speak, and my mind was reeling. But one things for certain: This was one episode that was so funny, so sad, and so grim that you know it was well done.
We started with Peggy. In retrospect, Peggy really had the most normal of all the storylines, which is saying a lot since she got drunk and high and gave someone a hand job in a movie theater (ew). Facing the clients at Heinz again, Peggy was tense; after all, they didn’t like her bean ballerina idea a few episodes back. But as it turned out, they didn’t like her new idea either. And much like last time, Don wasn’t there to support Peggy — in fact, he wasn’t there at all. So Peggy tried to pull a Don. Only, being pushy and, well, honest doesn’t come across the same way from a woman. And she was removed from the account.
And you’d think that’d be it, except that we had a mysterious phone call from Don, asking if he had gotten any calls. And then we had an interesting interaction with Ginsberg, where we discover that he was born in a concentration camp, where his mother died. He believes himself to be a Martian, since it’s impossible for anyone to be born there. It was a sad story, and it was a big moment for Peggy, putting aside her petty fight with her boyfriend and asking him to be with her.
Meanwhile — and I literally mean meanwhile, since this happened at the same time — Roger is going to a party with his wife Jane, who looks more like Cleopatra than a 1960s housewife. Roger begrudgingly went to his wife’s friends’ party, and to his surprise, she was serious when she said they’d be taking LSD. Now, I’m sure that there is some rather severe significance of everything that happened to Roger during this time — the music in the liquor bottle, the 1919 baseball game — but really, it was all just damn funny. Sure, we can see his battle with a younger and older self when he looked in the mirror, but would the phrase, “Don’t look in the mirror,” mean more than that? Could it be that none of the people in this episode — Don, Peggy, and Roger alike — should be looking too introspectively for fear of what they’ll see.
For Roger, it was divorce, and while he was thrilled with the result, once the drugs wore off, Jane wasn’t. It was a sad realization — for us and her — but it looks like we’ll get our old Sterling back again.
Finally, we had Don and Megan, who were going to Howard Johnson’s for the weekend. Don pulled Megan away from the Heinz post to do it, and she wasn’t too pleased. In fact, I loved seeing her actually stand up to Don. Megan and Betty are two totally different people, and this was both proven and disproven in this episode. Megan has no problem with lashing out at Don, telling her what’s wrong. But her outbursts are accompanied with a little bit of the same childlike tendencies that Betty had. I’m thinking of her gulping down every bit of that orange sherbet.
But Don’s not without his own tantrums. Leaving Megan at that Howard Johnson’s was certainly a low point, and I’m glad we got to see the regret on his face shortly thereafter. And then, the panic. True, Don did eventually find Megan safely at home, but the chase around the house and angry words clearly show that there’s trouble in paradise. Don shrugs it off but Megan knows the truth: Each one of those moments just makes another dent in their marriage. And her implication is that it won’t last, no matter how desperate Don is to keep it.
It’s grim times ahead, especially with the final scene. We’ve said it from the start of this season: We’ve got a different Don this year. And frankly, it’s time to stop. The agency needs Don back at work, and his “love leave” is over. His department is in the hands of Peggy, and she’s not doing well.
So what’s next for Don? Will we see him in his advertising glory all over again? And what about Peggy? By the way we saw her walking away, going the opposite direction from the rest of her creative counterparts, I’m thinking she’s got some trouble ahead as well.