Mad Men Midweek Fix: Far Away Places

Mad Men Midweek FixHere we go with this week’s take on the latest Mad Men from the Feministing crew. This episode was pretty wild and got seriously intense. Let’s jump in and get discussing.

As always, tons of spoilers follow.

Peggy

I absolutely loved this episode. Coming off 4/20 I thought it was perfectly done. Peggy’s temper tantrum in the Heinz meeting made me cringe, first because I’m generally rooting for her but I felt that she came off as such a petulant sore loser in this scene, and then because I realized how much more willing I had been to accept such behavior from Don’s character than Peggy’s. #internalizedsexism -Lori

Peggy’s acting out–and with good reason. She works her butt off, she’s frustrated and she continues to feel powerless–while men can be as aggressive as she was in the meeting. It’s true, she went off the deep-end but the reaction was frustrating, from the Heinz guy threatening her, to Pete Campbell’s smug, “you’re off the business,” to Bert Cooper. Add to this her social justice darling boyfriend having a “normie” moment of being threatened by her work and her movie-going, weed-smoking, hand-job adventure makes sense. It was partially in theme with the show this week about “going away,” escape and fantasy as opposed to reality, but I also think there was some element of her wanting to feel powerful. -Samhita

The handjob scene also showed that Peggy DOES get off on pleasing others, as long as it’s on her terms. “Just watch the movie,” she coos when her anonymous smoking buddy tries to kiss her. In this scene, we learn that it’s not that Peggy doesn’t have the “man-pleasing” instincts that the men in her life are always telling her are so important. It’s just that she resents (and rightly so) the double standard that means she’s expected to have that as her default personality trait, even in a professional setting. -Lori

So let me get this right – Peggy prioritizes work over her relationship, she’s passionate and forceful in meetings, she’s empowered by cheating, but leans on her partner for support – and she’s a “little girl?” Sounds to me like she’d be one of the guys, except sexism. -Jos

Yeah, what I thought was striking about Peggy’s reaction in the meeting is that Don has totally done that shit too. I wish someone (Orange Couch?) would go back and splice together some of those scenes–where Don takes a risk in a meeting with a difficult client, dishes up some real talk that everyone’s worried is too much for a second, but then the client is totally won over by his manly, authoritative confidence. But those are the kinds of risks Peggy can’t afford to take. -Maya

Michael Ginsburg is an alien

I had a feeling by the way that Ginsberg reacted to the pictures of the Nurse killings that it was a reference to the atrocities of the holocaust, since there were so many people at that point who had survived the holocaust and it was a memory very much alive in the 60s. You get a sense of the fantasy that Michael is living in, when he tells Peggy he is a martian–because, how do you ever believe, understand or accept that you were born in a concentration camp? We also see, that similar to Don, Michael’s origin story is a mystery, so maybe Michael is the next Don. -Samhita

Your life beginning in a space of death. In a space meant for the annihilation of all people like you. I can’t even imagine. That one scene said so much about what’s been going on below the surface with Ginsburg. You can just feel how much Matt Weiner’s wanted to address Jewish identity on the show. I’m so tired of sentimental treatments of this very real issue, so it’s pretty powerful to see something so human. -Jos

Roger and Jane

“She wants to stand alone in the truth with you.” This was a side of Roger and Jane I was not expecting to see–as Marc mentioned on the Orange Couch–someone was going to do LSD at some point on the show, but I don’t think any of us were expecting it to be Roger and Jane. I found this to be incredibly peaceful and charming, realistic and despite LSD being a “trip,” like many proponents of exploratory, psychological or medical consumption of drugs, it actually brought them closer together. They experienced the trip differently, since at the end, Jane didn’t realize this was them splitting up, but Roger’s navigation of the trip shows he has some kind of resilience and sense of humor about life, I don’t think it was clear he might have. -Samhita

I love that it was Roger and Jane who tripped – LSD wasn’t always countercultural, it used to be popular in “high society” (Clare Booth Luce was a fan!). It’s basically impossible to depict an acid trip on film (Easy Rider is the gold standard), but I thought the show did a great job of communicating the overall experience. I was really glad to see it framed as positive, uplifting, and productive, which is frankly much more accurate to a trip entered in the right mind set than the depictions of bad trips we usually see. Roger and Jane had one moment of being on the same page – and then they weren’t, which is pretty great evidence that they don’t belong together. LSD can do a great job at clarifying relationships. And a re-energized Roger talking about it being a beautiful day when he’s in the afterglow of the trip? Awesome. So accurate.

Also, it’s so great to see Faye Miller happy. Thanks for throwing us that one, Mad Men. Apparently the actor just looked a lot like Faye. And I was so excited! -Jos

Don and Megan

That chase scene was so intense! I had such a moment of dread for Megan when Don was kicking the door down. -Lori

Their relationship is a toxic, violent, all consuming love. Megan, repeatedly silenced and increasingly frustrated, releases Don’s “dark passenger” by invoking his mother–which of course, made Don run away like a child, but then come back and look for Megan all night long. Megan is working more than we realized to keep Don happy–but it is clear that all his control freak tendencies are not a turn-on for her, she feels truly trapped by them. And Bert Cooper puts Don in his place which is the moment it becomes clear that Don went from being the wiz kid, to the old man chasing a young lady and essentially falling off his game. -Samhita

I think our cultural idea of “provocation” is incredibly gendered. Which is why it’s possible to read Megan as provoking Don after he’s silenced and provoked her the whole episode. I saw her comment about his mother as a quick and fairly unintentional bit of lashing back. And, obviously, even though it hit a nerve with Don, in no way was her comment responsible for the physical abuse that followed.

I totally agree Don’s the child in this episode, way more than Peggy. He demands that the world revolves around him, refuses to hear it when Megan asks for something else, and then throws a series of temper tantrums when she actually stands up for herself. Of course, he’s a grown man, so his tantrums aren’t just yelling at the sky – they’re abuse. I’m glad the show went all the way to make this clear.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Betty when Don and Megan were fighting in Howard Johnson’s. Megan and Betty are very different people in a lot of ways, but it’s getting easier and easier to see the role Don’s behavior played in shaping Betty into the character we met back in season 1. He treats his wives as objects of desire, there to please him, make him happy and make him look good and validate him and maybe be his mommy too. He sure as hell doesn’t treat them as people. -Jos

Totally agree with Jos. I especially loved when Megan was gobbling down the ice cream. It’s such a perfect illustration of that toxic dynamic. He treats her like she’s an object he can order around; she understandably acts out like a child. -Maya

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2 Comments

  1. Posted April 25, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    I think the actress you mean is actually Bess Armstrong, who plays Patty, Angela Chase’s mother on My So Called Life. I had to look her up, because she did look so familiar.

  2. Posted April 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    So, Roger and Jane? Joan and her loser husband? I think it’s really convenient (bad story telling) that it’s happening so soon. I bet they’ll be together by the season end. And I think they can make each other happy. But also bad story telling.

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