‘Mad Men’ Review: “Far Away Places”
‘Mad Men’ Season 5 trips on its sixth episode of the year, as Peggy has difficulties pleasing the Heinz people with their beans campaign, while Don and Megan take and impromptu trip, and Roger and Jane Sterling try to expand their minds a bit on their night out.
Last week’s ‘Mad Men’ episode “Signal 30” added new glory to the season that already introduced Fat Betty by pitting Lane Pryce and Pete Campbell against each other on Marquis de Queensbury rules, so what will the latest episode bring? Even less Fat Betty, to be sure!
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Mad Men’ episode six “Far Away Places!”
Seeing as “Far Away Places jumped around in time a bit, we’ll do our best to keep this organized…
A morning argument with Abe over her rigid ways, lack of sex drive, and propensity to treat her boyfriend like a focus group puts Peggy in a bad mood, heightened somewhat by Megan and Don announcing that they won’t be around to attend Peggy’s big Heinz beans presentation at the office, instead leaving for a Howard Johnson’s upstate. Later, Peggy presents her work well to the Heinz men, incorporating all of their ideas about attracting the college crowd, though they once again shoot down her pitch claiming it isn’t exactly what they want. Exasperated, Peggy picks a fight by claiming the Heinz man just likes arguing, and while Kenneth does his best to smooth things over, after they leave Pete comes by to announce that Peggy’s officially off the account.
After a drink, Peggy retreats for the day to blow off steam by seeing a movie, but that isn’t all she ends up blowing! I’m talking about smoke, people. The weed that she smoked while she gave a handie to a random stranger. 'Mad Men,' everybody.
Back at the office, Peggy runs into Michael Ginsburg (Ben Feldman) shooing away his somewhat affected father, before herself taking a long nap on Don’s couch. She’s awakened by Dawn close to 8:30, with Don calling for her. Rather than listen to any talk of the failed Heinz presentation, a disheveled seeming Don asks if anyone has called the office, than hangs up before she can explain further. Over in her office, Peggy works a late shift along with Michael, who (jokingly?) claims to be a Martian, and that the man from earlier isn’t actually his father. Instead, Michael was supposedly born in a concentration camp, and found in a Swedish orphanage when he was 5. The only communication he ever received from his parents was to “Stay where you are.”
The story keeps Peggy up at night, calling Abe to come over, and insisting that she needs him.
Going back to the beginning, Roger plants himself in Don’s office, trying to lure him into playing hooky from the office with some research to a Howard Johnson’s upstate. Instead, Don decides he should take Megan and Roger his wife Jane, but Roger sullenly backs out. Instead, Roger begrudgingly agrees to attend a dinner party with Jane, with whom he’s still bickering with regularly.
At the party, Roger, Jane and the intellectuals discuss the nature of truth, and neurosis, when everyone retreats into the neighboring room. Apparently Roger didn’t pay enough attention to the invite, which was for all of them to drop LSD together, which Jane begs Roger to accompany her for! One couple excuses themselves, as Jane’s friend Catherine passes out the cubes. Now pay attention people, because this is going to get trippy.
At first, things seem pretty normal, with flashes of strange occurrences like a vodka bottle playing Russian music, or a cigarette folding into itself. Although advised against looking in the mirror, Roger finds himself becoming a man with half grey, half black hair from a magazine ad, and envisions himself dancing with a tearful Jane. A vision of Don insists that he go to his wife, and the two share a cab home, Roger noting Bert Cooper’s face on a five-dollar bill.
At home, Roger and Jane share a bath, still somewhat tripping as Roger envisions the 1919 world series and Jane grows insecure. They dry themselves (nice wrap, Roger) and stare at the ceiling from the floor, cryptically talking about their own marriage, Jane admitting she’d never gone through with an affair and Roger admitting he never fell for anyone else. Jane admits she’s told Catherine that she thinks their marriage is over, but has been waiting for Roger to be the one to say it.
The next morning, Roger peacefully goes to leave, offering to stay in a hotel while they sort things out, but Jane has a foggy memory of what was said the previous night. She doesn’t accept that their split is as beautiful and amicable as Roger claims, but lets him go.
Don’s story begins with his first telling Megan about the impromptu trip to Howard Johnson's, which though she seems taken aback by, agrees to. On the road Megan worries about having abandoned her team like that, but Don insists she can table work for now. After some lunch sampling everything on the Howard Johnson’s menu, even doting a little back-scratcher gift on his wife, Don begins assessing the place from a business standpoint, which bothers Megan as he’d shut her down from work earlier.
The two bicker over her reaction to orange sherbert, the real issue being that Megan doesn’t like having to choose between when to be Don’s employee and when to be his wife. When she insults Don by retorting that he should call his mother, Don drives off in a huff, leaving Megan behind in spite of her protests. Of course, guilt sets in and he eventually goes back for her, but she’s nowhere to be found, having apparently driven off with some other patrons in the interim.
Hours pass at the Howard Johnson’s with Don still waiting for some idea of what to do, calling Peggy (seen earlier), calling Megan’s mother, but to no avail. Don eventually drives back home, flashing back to a happier memory of their car ride home with the kids from the events of “Tomorrowland,”
When Don finally arrives home to Manhattan, he finds the chain on the front door, with Megan refusing to let him in. Kicking it down in an exceptionally manly fashion, Don chases a hysterical Megan around the house, both furious at the other for how their fight went down. They collapse on the living room rug, with the ultimate result being Don on his knees, clutching Megan, afraid that he’d lost her.
The next day at work, things seem to have slightly warmed between the pair, and Don finds a note from Bert Cooper asking for a brassiere ad to be re-done. Cooper seems to think that a client left unhappy because a woman was heading up the campaign, and that Don’s been too busy on “love leave” to keep his head in the game. Don then watches as Peggy walks by the conference room window sorrowfully, her team walking in the other direction, and Roger steps in to announce that it’s going to be a beautiful day.
Honestly, sometimes it just seems like 'Mad Men' throws crazy plots at the wall, and expects us to fill them in with meaning and metaphor. So yes, Peggy got friendly with a stranger in a movie theater, and Roger dropped acid, but are any of these on par with Fat Betty, or the glorious bout between Pete and Lane? Either way, they're bound to have people talking, and we have only a week to wait before Matthew Weiner drags out the next crazy '60s shenanigans.
Did you get your fill of swingin’ ‘Mad Men’ action? What did you think about the episode? Join us next week for an all-new episode recap of ‘Mad Men’s latest effort “At the Codfish Ball” on AMC!