Mad Men Gets Romantical

Written by  //  April 24, 2012  //  Televised Entertainment in Review  //  7 Comments

This Week’s Episode Focused on Three Very Different (But Still Similar) Show-mances

Warning – Spoilers Galore!

This week’s Far Away Places looks at Peggy, Don, and Roger, who are all in long-term relationships (Don and Roger being married to the secretaries they dumped their starter-wives for, and Peggy still dating the reporter guy that no one else on the web cares enough about to name – except for me, because I’m a TV-obsessed-nerdling, his name is Abe Drexler, and he’s played by L&O/CSI regular suspect/occasional pedo Charlie Hofheimer) – and all three have their kinks. The episode plays out over the same weekend for all three couples, as they go in very different paths.

Peggy and Abe are arguing because Peggy’s too consumed with work. He storms out of her place and she goes into the office and totally BOMBS the Heinz pitch for like, the umpteenth time. Seriously – what’s it going to take for Raymond (Heinz guy) to like something? I want to strangle his puffy face with his too wide tie. Peggy lashes out at him in total Don Draper style – but since she’s not in possession of a penis, this pisses Raymond off and he fires her from the campaign. She decides to go see a movie at lunch to um… blow off some steam, and ends up giving some rando dude a handjob after he shares his joint with her. She gets back to the office and falls asleep, gets wakened by Dawn who has a frantically cryptic Don on the phone, then she runs into Ginsburg, who tells her that he was a Holocaust orphan, which upsets her. She goes home and calls Abe and asks him to come over and I got the impression that he was pleased she did – he asked what was bothering her, and he probably thought he was going to get something work related, so when Peggy surprised him by telling him that it was something she heard that upset her, it humanized her in a way that Abe probably needed to hear – granted this is all me reading way too much into 2 seconds of airtime, but that’s the impression I got.

We then jump to Roger – who tries to convince Don to have a guy’s weekend with him and go scope out Howard Johnson’s. The “New and Improved” Don declines, and then decides he wants to take Megan instead, that could actually be a good idea, but he totally fucks it all up – I’ll get to that later. They split at Don’s office, with Don walking off and the camera following Roger as he gripes about now having to accompany Jane to a dinner party with her friends. We cut to the party, and it’s totally Dinner at Arabella Mansion – I started having flashback’s in more ways than one. We may be horrifically dysfunctional, but damn we know how to a throw a good dinner party.

Much like many an Arabella party ends, Roger and Jane’s party concludes with all the guests retiring to the den to drop some LSD. Hilarity ensues – you have to watch for yourself – they could’ve done a bit more with the audio, or with people’s faces – but the cigarette disappearing in no time, the music overlapping, looking at yourself from afar while you do all these things – totally right on, they must’ve done their research (at my house).

After they return home, still tripping, they take a bath and then lie down on their bedroom floor and stare at the ceiling and they reason out with one another that it’s time for them to end their marriage. It’s a very adult conversation, full of honesty, and not one you’d expect from Jane Sterling. Sure enough the very next morning she’s “forgotten” all about it and acts surprised when a peaceful and refreshed Roger starts jumping into plans for their divorce. Were any of us surprised? The man can conveniently forget that Jane told him beforehand she was taking him to an LSD party but give him an out in the relationship in the middle of an acid trip and you know he’s going to take that opportunity and run right to Big Red with it.

Moving on to Don’s story – earlier, when Peggy was getting her team ready for the Heinz pitch, Megan arrived and tried to dive right in and roll up her sleeves in her new role as Jr. Copywriter. I think that the men in the office assume she got the promotion because she’s married to the boss, and yes, she probably did – but Megan’s not the kind of girl to bag the boss and retire for life (cough, cough, Jane) – she wants to contribute, she wants to have a career and DO something – so she enjoys her new role, and Peggy seems to be on board with utilizing her. But before Megan can really get into the ideas she’s got about Heinz, Don pokes his head in and pulls her out – much to the consternation of Peggy (and Megan).

He informs her that she’s coming with him to visit the flagship Howard Johnson’s to scout advertising opportunities, and she tries to protest by telling him she’s supposed to be at the Heinz pitch – but he laughs that off and orders her to pack. This is the first act of the play I’ve been waiting for – “Don Fuck’s Everything Up”. I assumed that it would be due to his inability to keep his dick in his pants, but there was also his raging ego to contend with, and it looks like the ego won the “Drive her Away” battle.

It was a succession of fuck up after fuck up to the point that I’m sitting there shouting at the TV for this jackass to just shut up and be quiet already before he ruins everything. First he ignores her desire to see her parents since they’re going to be nearby, then he lights up a cig while she’s trying to sleep (with all the windows rolled up, no less) and when they get there he belittles her desire to work right before he launches into his own work, he disregards her food order and orders for her, and he basically just acts like a royal prick in general. Megan can’t stand it anymore, hilariously stuffs the stupid orange sherbet down her throat and huff’s off.

Now we get to the most gigantic fuck up of all – as Megan’s standing there trying to get through to him that he doesn’t listen to her he gets in the car… and DRIVES AWAY!!! He leaves her stranded! What the fuck?? Look – fella’s – I get it, okay – I get that bitches be nagging, and all that – but come on. Your wife?? Your new, nubile, French speaking, adorable, Chiclet teethed wife?? Really? That’s who you’re going to leave on the side of the road in a strange city?

I don’t even understand the logic behind that. Of course Megan bounces – I guess she went inside and asked for help and some gentlemen helped her find the bus station to go home – but she’s gone by the time Don realizes he’s an idiot, and the waitress tells him she was last seen with a group of guys – nice move, waitress! Make him sweat a little! We’re now on the “Oh this makes sense” end of the Don/Peggy phone call – and when Don finally drives home and discovers Megan’s there and she’s locked him out, he drives the last nail in his coffin by kicking the door down and chasing her around the room before he tackles her to the ground.

I couldn’t help but think about the growing feminist movement of the 60’s as I watched all of this – Megan is probably the most representative of the modern woman. She’s loving and domestic, but still ambitious and searching for respect from her peers. Jane seems to want equality a little too late for me to take her seriously. She’s fine with not working and having Roger support her, but then gets angry when he doesn’t listen to her and take her seriously. She acts like a child but wants to be treated like an adult and she can’t have it both ways. Peggy’s story in particular was the most interesting to me if taken in the angle of feminism – she’s no more career-consumed than Don or Roger, and while Abe has never expressed any desire for her to be more of a homemaker, perhaps what he wants is to feel needed, and more like a man in the relationship. Unfortunately Peggy’s had to shove down almost everything feminine about herself in order to get any kind of respect at work, and even that’s very flimsy. I think she went after that guy in the movie theater because it made her feel in control. She didn’t want him to touch her; she wanted to be the one doing the touching. She wanted to be the aggressor, the man. But once she got that out of her system, and she went back and bumped into Ginsburg, she became upset, and needed comforting – she slipped back into that feminine role, and Abe seemed pleased to be the one she reached out for support.

While this week lacked the awesomeness of last week (Lane Pryce’s left hook now has its own Twitter account), I have to admit it was just superb – incredible story ideas, questions raised, and there are so many things to ponder!

About the Author

"Two Fingers" Berben

Our illustrious managing editor, Vanessa “2 Fingers” Berben, gets in fights with her friends about how much deeper they should be feeling this episode of TNG. A researcher/curator for Nintendo's i.TV app, you can stalk her around the web at The Huffington Post, Starburst Magazine and FEARnet and in the latest issues of Starburst and Stiff Magazine. Follow her (preferably whilst humming the Imperial March) on twitter , facebook and tumblr.

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7 Comments on "Mad Men Gets Romantical"

  1. Mark in Omaha April 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm · Reply

    Thanks for the recap. It’s Tuesday, they aren’t spoilers anymore!

    Peggy’s story was probably the slimmest of the three. Are you sure Abe trotted over to her when she called him? Wasn’t he basically complaining he was just a “booty call”? Agree the Heinz guy doesn’t like much and what he really wanted was for Don to be in the presentation.

    If someone was going to take acid I would have put Roger pretty far down the list. Did you notice the Dr. woman was using a reel to reel tape deck? That was high audio in 1966, and I’m pretty sure they were playing Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, I looked it up, it came out in May of 1966. Not sure the presentation of an acid trip was all that believable, but when is it ever realisitic on TV or on film? The cemetary scene in Easy Rider, some of the weird stuff Ken Russell did? The vodka bottle that played Russian music was cute, the ball game being played on the floor of the bathroom, not so much. Is Roger old enough to know about the 1918 “Black Sox” scandal? Roger seems kind of happy that his marriage is over and he’s seemed pretty unhappy this season.

    The Don Megan debacle was just difficult to watch. Every step he took in that story arc pushed him farther and farther down a bad path. You drove off and left her there? WTF Then get contrite or guilted up and drives back, of COURSE she left you ignorant hillbilly. Then dirves all the way back to the city, finds her in the apartment and KICKS THE DOOR IN and chases her around the apartment. The only move he left out was the backhand across the face. Megan is not going to put up with that shit, she is out of there or Don is going to wake up some night with a butcher knife in his back. Do NOT fuck with French women.

    You left out the ending with Bert Cooper calling Don on the carpet for neglecting his job. Good to see Bert with something to do finally.

    • Alistair Blake Arabella
      Alistair Blake Arabella April 25, 2012 at 8:52 am · Reply

      I had too much to say! Had to create my own comment to answer yours:

  2. Alistair Blake Arabella
    Alistair Blake Arabella April 25, 2012 at 8:51 am · Reply

    Hey – I never know with readers, I warn them, I get flak, I don’t warn them, I still get flak – I can’t win!
    I got the impression that Abe wasn’t going to go see her if her problems were work-related, but he looked almost relieved when she said they weren’t – so yeah, I got the impression that he was either going to go over there, or maybe spend the night on the phone with her until she fell asleep? He seemed to like that she reached out to him. I wish that they’d spent more time with her story; I thought it was the most interesting, as it had so much social context.
    You know – I watched this episode twice, and the 2nd time I completely forgot about the Cooper/Don scene at the end – then totally blanked on it when writing about it. It was good to see Cooper, and he’s right that Don needs to get his head out of Megan’s ass, but his criticism was that Don’s letting a “girl” take over the firm, which to me is outdated – all of these men, Roger, Don, Cooper, and shit, even Campbell – need to get it through their heads that the “good old days” of women being meek and complacent are ending. If they can’t get with the times they’re going to get left behind by both their spouses and their clients.
    The whole tripping scene wasn’t necessarily accurate, but some things jumped out at me as correct – cigarettes go from fresh to ash in seconds, and if the trips in your head, you do get some of that weird out-of-body “I’m watching myself do this” thoughts. Songs can overlap, things you say in your mind feel like you’ve said them aloud, and vice versa. They sort of sped it all up, but I liked those points about the scene. Depending on what kind of chemical compound he was taking, he could very well have seen that baseball game on the floor – it would’ve been fun to show that so we could see it too.
    And dude. Talk about hard to watch! You’re right – I cringed the whole time – he just kept digging and digging himself into that dick-hole (gross) – I totally thought he was going to slap her when he caught up to her. I was watching it with the hubs, and when he saw Don grab onto her before she walked away he said “That’s him clinging to his youth” and that seemed pretty accurate – Megan represents a vitality to him – she’s like a prized bird in need of locking up or something. If he can’t let go a little and respect her as a human being, she’s got every reason to get out of there.

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