Towards the end of season two of Mad Men, e-girlheaven Don Draper joined Pete Campbell for a business trip to Los Angeles that saw Don going AWOL and ending up in the desert with a bunch of aristocratic oddballs. It was the weirdest episode of the series…until this week.
Far Away Places, the title of this week’s adventure with Don and the SCDP gang, could have been directed by David Lynch, with its jumbled narrative, trippy themes, and general sense of unease. It’s an installment where great distances are explored – from feelings of alienation to the bridging of great relational chasms to the literal separation of two people over a great distance. It’s hypnotically fascinating, and like every other twist and turn in this wonderful series, I saw none of it coming.
The episode opens with a half-dressed Peggy, at home, frantically looking for a good luck charm pack of candy that Don gave her. She’s preparing for work and a big presentation for Heinz, the bane of her existence. Her boyfriend Abe has spent the night, but worry about the Heinz presentation has made her aloof. He puts on a happy face and tries to distract her, but she’s having none of it. Lsd for sale
As the conversation shifts to Abe’s frustration at Peggy’s emotional distance, she tells him, sounding more than a little like Don when he was married to Betty, “I need a second when I walk in the door.” “You sound like my father,” he snaps, going on to explain that he’s a boyfriend, not a focus group before storming off. This conversation will play out again, like an echo, but with a different man.
At the office, Peggy and her office-mates are all uptight and crabby. Ginsberg, who’s been nothing but agitated since being hired (except for when Don pops-in for a rare appearance), is annoyed at Peggy when she walks in on a private phone call. Stan blows in late and pissy because he couldn’t find a place to…piss on the way to work. The one ray of hope for Peggy comes when she finds her lucky pack of candy, but it’s short-lived. Just as Megan says “hello,” Don takes her away, for a last-minute trip to see a prospective client. Peggy is stunned at this news, and Don downplays his absence, asking what good he would do just sitting there watching her do all the heavy lifting. She sees it as bad news, as does Ginsberg (who’s been right 100% of the time since showing up). Stan tries to boost her by telling her it’s a supreme vote of confidence from their hero. get paid for pictures of your body
The scene is an example of how good Mad Men is. In that brief moment, we get so much information, but it comes in the form of behavior, not clunky, expository dialogue to telegraph the dynamics at work. This is a two-part set-up that is paid off first in the conference room with Heinz, and more significantly, at the end of the episode, between Don and Bert Cooper.
The Heinz presentation appears to be going well, with Peggy giving a Don-like presentation of the proposed campaign. The problem is, she’s not Don. While Don Draper can tell a story about baked beans that gives it the gravitas of a Russian novel, Peggy can’t quite pull it off. Not yet. Instead, doyourblogwithme the guy from Heinz is frustrated, much like Peggy’s boyfriend Abe.
When the Heinz guy complains about the pitch, Peggy reminds him that they’ve done exactly what he asked for. And then the Heinz guy nails her to the wall by telling her to stop writing down what he asks for and start giving him what he wants – the classic client lament. Peggy’s instincts are right. She turns the tables on the client, as she’s seen Don do dozens of times. She accuses the client of liking the campaign, but liking a good fight even more. She insults the guy in front of the room, giving him little room to save face. Ken Cosgrove tries to ease the blow, but only manages a stalemate, and the client agrees to let them try again. Abcalsa
Stan and Peggy are left alone, to gather the boards and pick up the pieces, and Stan, who was once Peggy’s adversary, bucks her up with a back-handed compliment, telling her that he respects her “suicidal move.” Stan’s own insecurities have surfaced today, and he seems to admire Peggy’s hard work and incremental progress at winning a foothold in a man’s world. “Women usually want to please,” he tells her, not finishing the thought, the damning part where she did the opposite of pleasing her man with her words. Right after that, Pete sticks his head in the conference room and tells her she’s off the account, and then disappears. Nice.
So, why did Peggy fail? Being a woman didn’t help, that’s for sure. Mr. Heinz guy even told her that it was lucky he had a daughter, or he wouldn’t be so understanding, meaning he has experience with temperamental little girls. Peggy has given a Don-like speech – both the pitch and the attempts at salvaging it – but like Pete, Peggy is missing that X-factor, that charisma that Don possesses, that gets him over the top, that allows him to sometimes insult clients who don’t get it. Don understands the power game. Peggy can’t blame it all on being a woman. She’s missing that power dynamic that Don has cultivated and honed to a razor sharp edge. And it costs her a spot on this account, at least until Don can get in front of the client and hopefully save the day.
Peggy retreats to Don’s office to lick her wounds and wash down this temporary setback with some booze. She has a cry, then packs up and leaves for the movies passing Bert Cooper, who reads a paper in the lobby. “Everybody has someplace to go, today,” he says as she leaves. bantal togel
Peggy ends up in a nearly deserted theatre, where Born Free is playing, and yells at a guy smoking a joint. She takes a hit, though, when it’s offered, with a shrug and a “What the hell.” Following the rules has gotten her nowhere on this day. The young guy moves to her side, and they finish the joint. As she gets high, Peggy talks to the movie, saying, “she’s not going to make it out there on her own,” speaking of a lioness in the movie, but maybe about herself. The joint smoked, the young guy puts his hand on Peggy’s thigh, but she removes it. When he puts her hand on his crotch, she does him one better, getting him off as she watches the movie. It’s a bizarre moment that plays off the earlier conversation with Abe, who accused her of not being present with him. It’s another echo. It’s also another Don move – going to the movies in the middle of the day. But with a difference.
Rather than go home, Peggy goes back to the office, where she runs into Ginsberg and his father, who flirts and introduces himself as the original before his embarrassed son shoos him away. The father wants access to the copier. He says it’s for his case, whatever that means. More agitation from young Ginsberg.
Peggy crashes on the couch in Don’s office. Don so dominates her life, and his office seems womb-like to her. She’s completely dedicated herself to following in his footsteps, no matter the cost, and in this episode, we get a fresh look at how isolated she is from everything but the finite space of the SCDP offices.
Peggy is awakened from her sleep by Dawn, who is also working late. It’s 8:30, and Don is on the phone. He’s frantic, and asks if Peggy has received a call. She launches into a mea culpa over the Heinz debacle, but that’s not why he’s calling, and he hangs up on her, mid-apology.
With nowhere else to go, Peggy retreats to her office to busy herself with work. Ginsberg is also there, burning the midnight oil himself. When Peggy comments on Ginsberg’s father and how nice he seemed, he tells her that the man is not his real father. His real parents are from a far away place – Mars. Peggy laughs at this admission, and from Ginsberg’s reaction, you sense that he’s told the story before, to similar reactions. He assures Peggy that his Martians aren’t the earth-destroying kinds, like the ones depicted in HG Wells. He refers to himself as being displaced. He goes on to say that the truth was hidden from him, that his so-called father, the man Peggy met, told him that he was born in a concentration camp, and that his mother died giving birth to him in the camp. He says that the man who raised him found him in an orphanage and tried to hide his Martian heritage from him. He says that he received one communication from home. It was a simple message – “Stay where you are.”
Peggy waits for a punchline that never arrives, and when she realizes this, her attitude towards his fantastic tale changes. Finally, she asks him if there’s others like him. He looks at her and says that he doesn’t know, that he’s never been able to find any. Ginsberg seems to have found his actual origin story so hard to swallow and painful that he’s traded it for one even more fantastic, but more benign. Sound familiar?
This is the kind of thing that really gets Peggy going. He’s someone like her, someone like the oddball outsider she was trying to convey to Dawn. Even though she’s only from Brooklyn, as far as Peggy – and most of Manhattan – is concerned, she might as well be from Mars. There’s a future with these two, though it’s anybody’s guess what it will look like. I’m still trying to decide whether young Mr. Ginsberg is a genius or a madman.
Peggy goes home and calls Abe. She’s spooked and needs company. Luckily for her, Abe’s a mensch, and he obliges her need.
It’s at this point that Peggy fades to background of the story, and the episode starts over. Literally.
It’s the morning of the Heinz presentation, before Don steals Megan and Peggy blows it. Roger arrives at work before Don (who doesn’t, these days?) and hides in Don’s office with some scheme up his sleeve.
Don arrives, and Roger hatches the plan. It turns out that Roger’s old buddy from Double Sided Aluminum (remember the night of Roger’s heart attack with the twins?) has moved over to Howard Johnson, and works up in Plattsburgh, NY, near the Canadian Border. Roger even has a road map. He’s thinking debauched road trip.
When Don balks at the plan, Roger entices him. “Ever hear the one about the farmer’s daughter?” he asks. “This is where it all takes place.” Roger’s forgotten who he’s talking to – the new Don. And before Roger can say “howdy,” Don is inviting Megan and Jane along for the fun. Roger pleads for Don’s help. “Alone, I’m like an escapee from an expensive mental institution,” Roger explains. “Together, we’re a couple of rich bachelor perverts.”