Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Mad Men: Far Away Places Are Often Too Close To Home.

Let me just start with saying that I LOVED THIS WEEK'S EPISODE.
WHAT FUN! and no, I'm not talking about the LSD trip , well not exclusively anyway ; although my interest has been duly piqued.  I just loved it al, I loved the direction, the crisp writing and just how finally, things are beginning to disintegrate and the fun is about to begin.
I thought the narrative technique used by the episode's director was amazing. The one starting scene at the office and the different stories that started from there. The divide between each of the office member's personal and professional life was eloquently shown. A fellow mad men devotee actually pointed this out yesterday to me; how we are so unaware about the actual occurrences and affectations in people's lives. How we only know what we are shown. 'You don't know what their yesterday was', and that's true you don't. That's life for you, and that's Mad Men for you.
The great thing about the plot narration of the episode was how we were able to get really involved in all of the three characters stories. With Peggy especially, if they hadn't shown her day all the way through w perhaps would've not gotten any of it, especially not that debaucherous cinema outing.But since they did, we understood that she has come very close to her breaking point.This was just that. And perhaps that she can make the male species happy  (since her bf and her client seem to be unhappy with her). It starts off with Peggy, then Roger then Mr.D himself. At some point, I remember thinking; oh Don isn't in this episode at all; and somehow that wasn't  extremely distracting. like the story was still gripping enough- which is just another thumbs up for MM given how may viewers just see it for Don. I used to be one of them.. I wonder if still am.
In this episode, the 'far away' places are not so far. Its not the external journey as much as it is the internal journey that the characters have taken and how far they have come, or how in some cases, despite the journey they still find themselves standing at the same point; in a sense. Its about going somewhere and not going anywhere at all-all at the same time. Thinking you've come a long way only to find that you're backat where you started from.

Peggy never takes a trip, in any sense of the word - unlike Roger or Don.Her trip, especially is internal. O.  We,as the viewer see how far she has come, hell, we have witnessed her growth. We have seen how she has been roaming around the office like little-miss-know-it-all, which is a remarkably far from how she started off int he first season. Yet, her battles are the same to a great extent. She is still fighting to be taken seriously as a woman in a man's world.No matter how far she has come, she's still where she started from ; a woman whose only supposed gratification can come from a Man.Her behavior in this episode is remarkably like Don, Well old Don's atleast- yet she his rudely reminded that she can't get away with it. She pitches a (in my opinion brilliant) campaign to Heinz, only to be shot down by a man who does'nt know what he wants, and when she tries to go all Don on his ass, he gives right back to her. In any other show- we could've expected the client to be like, 'Oh, I've never been spoken like this but I'll make an exception because I'm so impressed' .In fact we are set up for that reaction/ When Mr.Heinz say to Ken G 'Can you believe this girl', and Ken - deliberately planted to play us says -umm i dunno, do you?- and so for a sec we think oh, redemption,only to have the client, a moment later, slay Pegs. We are returned to the real world. That kinda stuff only happens on the rest of the TV world, not Mad Men .Its not a show about miracles. It never was.

Jane Sterling was probably hoping for  miracle when she suggests that her and Roger take LSD. She wanted to experience the truth with him. Except, maybe she hoped that truth would be a fantasy that they could perhaps live in.Well, she got her truth, except it was'nt as fanatstical as it was detrimental to her marriage.
I loved the depiction of the trip. Usually we are shown in movies and all weird camera angles and psychedelic shots and just general weirdness. Here, they kept it simple. I loved how Roger, a borderline alcoholic if there ever was- hears symphonies when he unscrews the liquor bottle and how they stop when he screws the cap back on. You get it. For him alcohol is like that. The most amazing scene for me in the entire episode was when Roger and Jane are lying down on the carpet I matching towel wraps and just talking. They have the sanest, most mature, most chill conversation about the reality of their marriage. No accusations, no finger pointing- just plain honest. I loved the exchange. I loved the genuine surprised Roger displayed on finding out she had never cheated on him, and how she mentions 'one kiss' in such a ho-hum way. Towards the end of that scene, Jane says ' you don't like me'- and we as viewers have known that in this season, so his reply is refreshingly honest-' I did, I really did'. No b.s. No lies. Makes me think couples should take LSD together instead of going for couples counseling.On the morning after, Roger is just so happy and liberated. Like the weight of the world has been lifted of his shoulders. Jane doesn't recall the conversation for a sec; until she does; and then that's it. She doesn't fight it. Just one little line which might be relevant for the future - It will be expensive. Jane and Roger's trip might not have been too far away, but it took them somewhere they both didn't expect to be at the end of it. Roger went to that dinner party thinking another night of  mega suckiness, and he came out happier than we have seen him in ages.

Then comes Don's trip. An actual trip. This was so gratifying. I have been waiting for the  petals to wilt off Megs and Don's rosy picture  for a while now. They finally did. I was so happy. Don leaves her at Howard Johnson's. It was just so thrilling to see Old Don return, even if it was just for a little bit. After everything was said and done, he did go back whimpering to Megan; which under other circumstances would've been excruciating, but in this scenario seemed legit. Banta tha. I mean, he LEFT her. That was cold. We did not expect that at all. Aik tho, even Megan plays him really well too na. Well not play, but handles him. She doesn't back down. She is not oooh Don Draper like the rest of the female population. She's like, hey, I'm someone too. The rest of us are willing to burn our own existence and self respect to the ground for him, but I guess after some months of marriage- she's over all that. And that scene with Don kicking down the door. OhMyJesus. Especially after last week's faucet save that he did. That guy is just so manly. In that second I forgot everything. I mean- he's soooo strong.Then the running around in the apartment chasing each other. What a great piece of physical acting. It seemed so real. I remember thinking at that point that if they get it on again on the floor I will blow my brains out. But they didn't. They fell to the floor and cried. Megan cried. And it was such honest crying. As much as I hate her  for being with Don, I really felt what her crying meant. The frustration, the sudden facing of reality that the person who you love, and are making a life with; is capable of doing things you never imagined he would do to you. It kinda tied in with the theme of 'far away places' , because it was if she could'nt believe where she had come, where life had taken her. Things happen to you , you often catch yourself in situations that you would have never imagined for yourself. It wasn't like it was earth shattering, and I-want-a-divorce as I'm making it sound like- but the its was the shattering of ideals, which is always hurtful, now matter how big or small they are.

The end , was just the cherry on top of the Sundae. Don finally gets it from Bert. He's duly reprimanded and told to pull up his socks.I t seems like the end of the happy Don. His marriage is not as great as it once seemed ( it could still bounce back), and work's not happy with him either. Life is on shaky ground again.  Perfect for the return for brooding old Don.

Special mentions:
Both of Jane's outfits. The awesome cutout, bejeweled jumpsuit, the massive earrings and the OTT styling- I loved it, Id wanna be dressed up like that- and that J.Lo-esque night gown. Is it me or did she looked positively angelic after the LSD trip

Don; It's none of your busines
Bert: it IS my business.

Also, interesting how at the start of the episode Peg's bf wishes her a 'shitty" day, and how at the end Roger announces that today is going to be a beautiful day.Nice touch.

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