Review AMC’s Med Men: Episode 506 “Far Away Places”

Mad Men producers have never been afraid of messing with your head (see episode 504), but this weeks theme has that very notion at it’s heart. The “Far Away Places” we travel to in this episode turn out to be Platssburgh, NY, Mars and wherever it is that LSD takes you.

This week’s episode, in continuation with it’s theme, also uses the now ever-popular technique of disjointing the timeline through overlapping stories shown out of sequence ala Pulp Fiction. This trick seems wholly unnecessary apart from keeping Don and Megan’s story line uninterrupted, and seems a ploy to make certain plot points, ie. Don’s frantic phone call, more interesting. Thus the week starts with Don and Megan skipping yet another Heinz pitch session much to the chagrin of one Peggy Olson. Unfortunately Heinz is yet again indecisive about what they want for their ad campaign and while Peggy gives them the verbal abuse they much deserve, her misplaced frustration with Don gets her booted from the campaign.

As an aside: the only time we see Pete this week is when he levees the bad news to Peggy and we don’t see Lane at all so the two of them must’ve needed some recovery time from last week dust up. No lingering black eyes for the make up department to deal with at Mad Men HQ! Peggy is beginning to feel the crush of being the creative lead and having to make up for Don’s absentee office work. In this episode it leads her to fight with her boyfriend, work late hours, drink too much and have random sexual encounters with strangers. Hmm sounds a bit like the old Don eh? I guess the new straight-lace Don, or the love-leave don as Bert Cooper phrases it, has had residual effects on his underlings. Someone’s got to be boozing and sexing to get the advertising done it seems, and there’s only so much Roger can handle.

Don, on the other hand, is in a bit of a puzzling place himself. While on the one hand he seems to be truly in love with his new bride, he still acts like a brute who can’t think outside of his own wants and needs. He acts like a man from the 50’s when it’s actually the late 60’s and his wife is young and becoming accustomed to the more progressive times they live in. While Megan was happy to be taken away for a romantic trip, she’s upset when she finds out that Don is “working” and that he has no concept that she enjoys her work in the firm and wants to be respected by her peers on her merit. So yeah Megan is being immature when she gobbles down the orange sherbert mockingly, but is that less mature than flying into a rage and leaving your newlywed in the middle of nowhere? I don’t think so.

The whole sequence leading up to the fight between Don and Megan was strange in my book. Because I have a lot respect for the intelligence of the crew operating the Mad Men world I will chalk it up as intentional as opposed to weird editing, but there was some weird editing going on. When Don is showing the orange novelty back-scratcher to Megan there must have been about seven cuts back and forth and with the sequence coming so soon after Roger’s LSD trip I wasn’t sure if they were continuing the trippyness or just trying to build drama without using the stereotypical dutch shot. I guess they were successful anyhow as I was left sitting there trying to figure out what the hell was going on. The whole thing leads to Don flipping out, driving around like a mad man and eventually find Megan back home where he has to kick the door down and chase her around the house to prove his love. So far they have survived their fights and Don has slowly come around to learning to deal with a woman who’s not happy just to be a housewife. Don’s final admonishment of the episode comes from Bert Cooper who of course is right to put Don in his place. It’s high time for Don to get back to office work instead of forcing Peggy toe the load. The other major story line of the week was Roger’s trip down LSD lane.

After having his idea of a boy’s weekend out shot down by Don, Roger begrudgingly accompanies young Jane to a dinner party where the high brow dinner talk is followed by the 60’s wonder drug, LSD. The trip as it were is pretty tame by televised depiction standards, but soon Jane and Roger have come to the point that they were promised, “the truth”. The truth as it turns out is that there marriage is a sham and under the influence they come to amicable terms of separation. The next day of course, as it always is, is another story, but Jane cannot deny the harsh truth and agrees to the divorce after all.

Like this review, this weeks episode was not particularly the best effort, but did include some interesting tidbits. We learn that Ginsberg is a concentration camp baby, a little of the old Don is resurfacing, and Roger is newly single. Watch out Joan!

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