Monday, April 23, 2012

Mad Men "Faraway Places": Oh the places you'll go!

My name is Roger Sterling and I have taken LSD... Please Help Me!

From the start, you could tell this was going to be a different kind of Mad Men episode. Between the non-linear sequencing* and the advanced drug use (Ok... who had Roger in their pool as the first Mad Men principal to drop LSD?), "Far Away Places" represented another example of the series experimenting this season.

*Normally, breaks for commercials aren't annoying when it comes to Mad Men episodes, but it was trying in this one thanks the non-linear trick. Even forwarding through ads via DVR made it more disorienting.

Speaking of experimentation, it was certainly appropriate to hear Brian Wilson singing the Beach Boys' "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" on the reel-to-reel*. Wilson's never fully recovered from his multiple trips, but for at least a couple years (namely Pet Sounds), the drug did wonders for his music. The drug does wonders as Roger and Jane's marriage counselor, allowing them to turn on, tune out and drop their marriage.

*I sadly didn't catch what Russian tune was playing out of Roger's vodka bottle, or what tune the Beach Boys' song melded into before cutting to Roger and Jane in their car. Anyone pick up on those?

The title of the episode refers to the various 'trips' that were taken, be it metaphoric Africa (in the referenced films of The Naked Prey and Born Free) for Peggy, Mars for concentration camp baby Michael, Roger and Jane's LSD trip, or the HoJo trip for Don and Megan. The two contrasting African films premiered in June of 1966, but aside from their settings (South Africa and Kenya, respectively), they were quite a different beast. Peggy's boyfriend wants to see The Naked Prey, but Peggy sees Born Free solo, as if her psyche processed his request for a manly adventure tale into something more akin to her emotional level -- lion cubs set free and left to fend for their own. Like Don leaving her in charge of the Heinz pitch, things could go easily go sideways.

Like Don kicking in another door (note how Don and Megan's landing on the floor parallels Roger and Jane's post-bath pose):

Previously: "Mystery Date" (Episode 5.04)

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