'Mad Men' Season 5, Episode 6 Recap - 'Far Away Places'
"What time is it?"
Three characters spoke that line tonight in various situations, and it was only fitting: the episode jumped around in time as well, and it wasn't always clear when.
Since we saw three separate storylines in sequence, let's revisit them in order, shall we?
Our first hero in this three-part anthology is Peggy, who is having one of those days. Nothing's in its place, she has a fight with her boyfriend, Don leaves and takes Megan with him right before the Heinz pitch (you'll remember that the first one didn't go particularly well), and then said pitch goes extremely poorly. In fact, Peggy tells Raymond off and ends up booted from the account.
After a day full of smoking, drinking, and giving handjobs in the movie theater (yep, that happened), Peggy has her discombobulating passage of time as she naps in her office, only to be awoken by a call from Don, who looks and sounds desperate. What the heck happened to Don? We find that out later.
Peggy works with Ginsberg for a while, and having witnessed a couple of conversations between him and his dad, asks him about his family. "He's not my real father," replies Ginsberg. "I'm a full-blooded Martian." That distances him from his supposedly real story, which is that he was born in a concentration camp and ended up at a Swedish orphanage.
Later, Peggy patches things up with Abe, and things seem to be okay. Well, besides all the internal struggle, discontent and stress at being a woman in this partiular workplace.
If you find that you have run out of ways to show that your character is fearing growing old, just give him an acid trip. That's Roger's discombobulating event in this trilogy, as he and Jane (the two of them, at first, as miserable as ever) take LSD with Jane's doctor.
You might find this hard to believe, but I've never taken LSD, so I can't testify as to the accuracy of Roger's trip. But the scene is fantastically shot, just disorienting and strange enough to let us know of the state change, without resorting to drug trip visual cue clichés.
Among the things Roger experiences during his little search for truth are an ad for hair dye (the man with half-black, half-grey hair is a perfect visual metaphor for Roger), hearing a full Russian chorus when he opens a bottle of vodka, and seeing the 1919 World Series with the Black Sox. That last one highlights his and Jane's divide, as she tries to see the game and the Model T's, but exclaims "I can't see it!"
Eventually, the two end up very effortlessly and honestly talking about their marriage, which is a refreshing change of pace for this show. Maybe every character should drop acid at some point. The conclusion is that the two of them need to split up, which was a long time coming.
Of course Don is the third to get his bad day storyline, as he drags Megan out of the office to take her up to a Howard Johnson's to do some scouting. Only here does the time jumping of the episode become clear, as we see that the events thus far have taken place on the same day, but not been shown concurrently.
Megan is a bit miffed that Don took her away from Peggy and the team right before the pitch, but she doesn't stop to say it until it has built up to the point of a full-on fight (the catalyst of which is Megan not liking orange sherbet... what? Really?). It's clear that Don has been a little controlling, but of course he isn't about to admit that, so instead he sentences Megan to the worst kind of hell: being left at a Howard Johnson's.
When Don returns to get her, she's nowhere to be found, and that hell is put right back on Don, who ends up having his little discombobulating moment by falling alseep in the HoJo's. Eventually he just goes home, to find that Megan has locked him out. He kicks in the door and proceeds to actually chase Megan through the apartment, finally grabbing her and both of them falling to the floor. It's odd and a bit unnerving.
"Every time we fight it dimishes us a little bit," says Megan, who clearly isn't used to the Don Draper lifestyle yet. But some actual vulnerability from Don, clutching her and saying "I thought I had lost you," patches things up.
Things were a bit on the nose today, especially with Roger's experience, but this proved an interesting way to delve a little deeper into the troubles of our main players, now that we have sufficiently examined Pete and Lane.
Interestingly, as irrelevant as Roger has seemed at work, Don isn't getting much done either: Cooper tells him that he's been on "love leave," and that he can't keep leaving everything to Peggy.