Mad Men Recap: A Long, Strange Trip

It’s a toss-up for whose life will change the most as a result of what happened on this week’s Mad Men. The same set of hours unfolded three times, from the perspectives of Peggy, Roger, and Don, and gave us a lot to ponder. Let’s review “Far Away Places.”

Peggy is becoming Don | Peggy, nervous about her second attempt to woo the Heinz people after her disastrous bean-ballet pitch, picked a fight with boyfriend Abe when he asked her to meet him at the movies that evening. At work, she was shaken even more when Don and Megan took off, leaving Peggy as the lead for the client meeting. The slogan she pitched, “Home is where the Heinz is,” didn’t meet the beans exec’s standards. “You have to run with this,” Peggy demanded. “It’s young, and it’s beautiful, and no one else is going to figure out how to say that about beans.” Now imagine Don saying those exact words, coolly, just after a tobacco-filled exhale: It would’ve sealed the deal. Scotches all around! But Peggy was angry, and female, which was just too much for the Heinz guy; on his way out, he demanded that Pete take her off the account. (He did.) Irked, she downed some booze and left the office to see a movie. Though Abe probably wouldn’t love that she was at a flick without him, I’m thinking he’d probably care more about the happy ending she gave a fellow moviegoer who offered her a toke of his joint. (That wasn’t a double entendre. They actually smoked pot first.) Back at the office, Peggy washed her hands (ha!) and briefly met Michael’s father before falling asleep on Don’s couch. A call from him woke her at 8:30; Peggy apologized for booting the pitch, but her distracted boss didn’t seem to care. Later, during a late night work session in the copy room, Michael told her that he’d been born in the concentration camp where his mother had died, and that the man Peggy had met earlier had adopted him from a Swedish orphanage when he was five. But he’s Michael, which means he told the story in a weird way, unsettling her so much that she went home and beckoned Abe to her apartment for a little TLC. “You need me, huh?” he said. She replied, “I always need you.” Congrats, Peggy! You can now cross “leave work in the middle of the day,” “commit skeezy sex act,” and “use others’ sincere emotions to blunt your pain” off your “How to become Don Draper” list.

Roger is becoming enlightened | We rewound to the previous morning to see Roger selling Don on a business trip to a Howard Johnson motor lodge in upstate New York. Don thought the trip was a great idea… for him and Megan. So he grabbed her from the copywriting room (which we saw earlier from Peggy’s POV), leaving Roger to suffer through dinner with Jane and her friends. But the real fun began when those assembled gathered in the parlor to drop LSD as the Beach Boys played on a reel-to-reel. “I told you, we’re going to take LSD with them,” Jane said in her best weary wife voice. “You were supposed to clear your schedule.” After the cubes melted, Roger declared that the drug had no effect on him. Yeah, Rog, those auditory and visual hallucinations, including seeing Don appear in a mirror advising you to share “a moment of truth” with Jane, would seem to say otherwise. And FYI, Jane’s Princess-Leia-at-the-awards-ceremony ensemble, complete with pearls woven into the braid wrapped around her head, wasn’t a drug-induced vision. But it was totally awesome. Anyway, when the party ended, the tripping didn’t quit. The best visual of the night came from an overhead shot of a fresh-from-the-tub Mr. and Mrs. Sterling, laying on the floor, their heads wrapped in identical pink turbans as they had a detached discussion about their marriage’s imminent end. (Revealed: She never cheated on him, but she thought about it a lot, and the dinner hostess/LSD supplier was actually Jane’s shrink.) “You don’t like me,” she concluded. “I did,” he said wistfully. “I really did.”

Don is becoming Betty Another rewind brought us back to Don whisking Megan away for their trip north, with her unhappy about missing the Heinz presentation. In the car, as he nattered on about how they would get the royal treatment and how she just had to try sherbet, her anger built. When they reached the motel in all its glorious orangeness, they sat in a booth very similar to the one where the spilled milkshake of desperation love kicked off this whole fiasco. But this time, it was Megan’s turn to have the freakout. “You like to work, but I can’t like to work,” she spat, rejecting the sherbet, which sent him storming out into the parking lot. “Get in the car! Eat ice cream! Leave work! Take off your dress! Yes, master!” she shouted as a fed-up Don hopped in the car and three-point-turned his way outta there, alone. When he returned, she was gone. Don waited, worried, called Peggy, and then drove home to find Mrs. Draper had caught a bus back to the city and had locked him out of their apartment. He kicked down the door, she lunged for him, and the ensuing chase around the apartment made it pretty clear that this argument wasn’t going to end in black lace housecleaning sexy funtimes. He ultimately caught her and stumbled, sending them tumbling hard into their sunken living room. “How could you do that to me?” she sobbed, and Don looked like he wanted to die. As she stood, he kneeled and buried his face in her belly. “I thought I lost you,” he whispered. It’s interesting to note that while Megan has pretty much stood her ground so far this season, Don is the one who’s doing a lot of apologizing, worrying, and paranoid fretting —much like Betty did when they were a pair. Anyone else think that a lot of his anger came from the waitress’s story that Megan had been talking to a bunch of guys after Don left her stranded? And did you pick up on him nastily assuming that she was complaining about him to her mother in French on the phone? All he needs is a riding crop and an odd friendship with a neighbor boy, and he’s Season 1 Betty. Regardless, it looks like the new Mr. and Mrs. Draper realized that the fighting-as-foreplay thing they do might just be fighting, and that might be a really bad sign.

What do you think? Will Don heed Bert’s advice to get his head back in the ad game? Will Roger’s impending bachelorhood have any effect on Joan, now that she’s a single mom? And most importantly: What’s up with Don’s weird sherbet-pushing? Let’s hear it in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Alex says:

    Don and Megan’s relationship is fascinating. They’re good for each other when it works, but she’s also the only real adversary that he’s ever had, so it’s really interesting to watch them together.

  2. Erin says:

    Biggest problem of the episode? Don can’t pronounce sherbet correctly. THERE IS ONLY 1 R IN SHERBET, DON! ARGH! (Sorry. It’s my #2 Pet Peeve)

  3. niks says:

    I dn’t like what Don has become. The guy used to be a power to reckon with and now he is in a marriage where he hardly has any power. I hope this midlife crisis is over soon.
    Peggy was awesome. Its hard being a woman in the man’s world and it is certainly having an effect on her. She is moving away form her feminine side and her journey is going to be interesting. Roger was great and it was good to see him for more than a few moments. Bert needs more screen time too and it was nice to see him reminding Don that this was his business.

  4. cathiecat says:

    For me the most important moment was the last scene between Don and old Mr. Cooper when Cooper told him to get it together, end his “love leave” and focus on the business. I think the old Don is on the horizon.

  5. the next mrs. sterling says:

    you didn’t mention that kicked the howard johnson’s fight into high gear when she mentioned don’s mother. that was the big “oh no you didn’t” moment for them.

  6. Maryann says:

    Michael Ginsberg, not Morris.

  7. jdanknich says:

    It was awesome to see Bert finally speak his mind. I think a lot of us had just assumed that Bert was a dottering old man, but this shows that he’s far more aware of what’s going on that he lets on. Let’s hope that this is the kick in the pants that Don needs.

    • Laney says:

      I thought it was kind of awesome that even though Bert was complaining about Peggy being left in charge, he was also saying the exact same things Peggy’s been saying about needing the real Don back.

  8. Laney says:

    Was I the only one who thought Megan was pregnant? Between all the food, not liking how things were tasting, suddenly having a problem with Don’s cigarette smoke, and flying off the handle when normally she tends more toward the passive-aggressive…?

    • Jen says:

      Did not even consider that! Oh I hope not….we do not need another innocent to come into the picture here.

    • Erin says:

      I don’t think she is. Last week when he said he wanted a baby, she quickly said that it wasn’t possible (or something to that effect). I think she’s either taking birth control, or can’t have kids, and “forgot” to tell Don.

    • justjack says:

      Yep that is exactly what I thought. We’ll see.

    • Julie says:

      That’s what I was thinking too! And then at the end Don rested his head on her stomach…

  9. Coolio Jackson says:

    I found myself hoping that Megan had been kidnapped and killed in the HOJO Parking lot. Instead of taming the beast, she has neutered him and she has become as unlikeable as Betty. Maybe Weiner just hates women? I think that Megan has realized that her prince really isn’t a prince at all…just a flawed, womanizing pseudo-jerk. They are toxic together and they need to split ASAP. The best thing about this episode-very little Pete and no Betty. Peggy seems to want to be the male Don…verbally abusing her boyfriend, smoking, drinking, leaving work and giving a stranger a handy in the movie theater.

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      Ha! I like the way you think. I was so happy he left her in that parking lot. I felt super guilty about it as I can imagine how horrible and scary it would be if a man did that to me, but still…c’mon, it’s Megan.

  10. susela says:

    Loved the counterpoint between Roger and Jane’s thoughtful, wistful talk as they lay on their rug, and Don and Megan’s misery as they collapsed onto theirs. But the LSD scenes were pretty awful, and clearly written by someone who has never ingested the stuff.

  11. Bastien Busnel says:

    Who is this beauty next to John Slattery??

  12. Don’s reaction was due to the mention of his mother. Losing Anna spurred on teh Megan attachment. He was looking for his replacement for Anna. Notice that Megan knows about his true past. When she threw it back in his face by mentioning his mother (his deepest shame before his Army desertion), then she became Betty. He could storm off angrily. His better angels caused him to go back. The confrontation at the apartment and its ending show the shine is off Megan. She isn’t Anna, and she isn’t Betty that he can placate with the ‘burbs, a few kids and riding lessons. She has the ability to hurt him and hurt him deeply. He’ll spend the next part of the season becoming Don again. If he marginalizes her, she’ll cheat. If he doesn’t, she’ll try to be his equal provided he is kind to HER.

    The Roger and Jane scenes were a trip. Roger- enlighted? Too funny. He wants to be Don, but he’s too old. Tranfers that knowledge to his marriage and becomes her father. Omnipotent really. That disturbed her even though it makes it easier. She’ll still openly play to type and go for the cash anyhow. He should’ve trusted Don and Joan on her when she was Don’s secretary. Dumbass.

    The Peggy stuff was great. But noticed unlike Don she was the one used. No matter how much she wants to be in control like Don, she’ll still be a woman and the deepest sentiment Weiner has on teh subject of feminism.

  13. Britta Unfiltered says:

    I was so disgusted by Peggy’s story tonight. Up until this point she has been the one person on the show with some self-respect (with the exception of a couple of incidents with Pete in the first season, but that was before she grew as a person), and that all went out the window last night. What she did was gross and extremely demeaning, and I don’t like seeing Peggy demeaning herself in that way. I actually kind of liked Don and Megan’s story, though she is still not my favorite person. And Roger’s story was the best of the night just to see him freeing himself from that gold digger. And I do hope this means something wonderful for him and Joan.

  14. Nero theTVFiddler says:

    “I have an announcement to make – today is going to be a beautiful day”….maybe. Things are about to get very interesting at SCDP. Long live the trippin’ Roger.

  15. JR says:

    Fascinating episode. But Don and Megan have some serious issues. I don’t care what Megan said to him about his mother, he drove off leaving her, stranded, with no way to get home. And he’s angry??? And then after he kicks in the door and chases her around the apartment like he wants to kill her, as they are lying on the floor, he nonchalantly says, ” “We had an argument. It’s over.” Yeah, right. Sorry. but Don is becoming a real jerk.

  16. Jen says:

    I didn’t much care for this episode. Perhaps I need to do some LSD and become enlightened. It was just weird to me.

    I was disturbed at the way Don treated Megan. And the chase around the living room at the end. It was kind of scary to me. I don’t love Megan, she annoys me more than anything, and I don’t love who Don is when he is with her, even though he is a “better” person in some ways. He has lost his “Drapperness!” Lying on the floor “apologizing” reminded me of Hamm’s character in Bridesmaids… “I don’t want to be a #$%$@, but I really want to ask you to leave.”

    As weird as the LSD trip was, I am glad for the resolution it came to. I didn’t want Roger to be with Jane anymore or ever. I don’t have any delusions that he will make an honest woman out of Joan either though.

    The episode needed more Joan and where is Betty? I know January Jones had a baby, but I miss really miss seeing her!

    And @Erin: Sorry but I also pronounce it sherbeRt. I never even realized it was incorrect!