"Far Away Places".WHAT IS THIS MADNESS !?
Not going to do my usual rundown.
Sorry about that. I was going to type more, then decided to do it later, and must have clicked submit out of habit. Anyway, I didn't want to do the usual rundown since I didn't take a lot out of last night's episode. In fact I didn't like last night's episode all that much. But, if you insist...
the t3cii rundown....?
I don't like gimmicks when it comes to television, and last night's episode was a gimmick. It was a gimmick we have seen in a countless number of television shows. We have usually two or three different story arcs that are somehow connected, and take place usually in the same time frame. We then jump back and forth to see how each characters day went. Mad Men doesn't follow this plot device exactly in this episode, but we do have these separate arcs, and we get an early glimpse of Don's arc before we delve into it. I'm not really sure why shows do this. There is almost never any real benefit from doing this, and if you were to take away this gimmick, I think you would discover not much happened in this episode. Nothing really worth digging into, at least.
It's hard to believe, but we're halfway though the season. And to be honest, I'm finding myself a bit unimpressed, not engaged with it all. The problem is, I think, that Mad Men ended its season 3 very strong, and that carried into season 4. In way it reminds me of Lost (yeah, yeah, doesn't everything?). Lost's season 3 was a bit meandering, then it ended on a massive twist that revitalized the series. Season 4 then seemed really fresh. Same with Mad Men, although as I've said a few times, season 4 seemed to peak half way through its run. Now, it seems as if Mad Men is back to its old pace. Maybe the last two or three episodes will bring the goods, but so far I feel like the show is showing off. It has earned its accolades, and now rather than create a compelling story line, we're back to these character studies, which are becoming more and more uninteresting to me, and experimental episodes such as this one. I just feel like there is less and less new revelations to be gained from these characters.
- The episode starts its focus on Peggy. I like Peggy, but I feel like we have been treading on the same ground with her over and over again. I've seen very little actual new character development with her this season. She's just in a bit of a rut. She gives some guy a hand job in a movie theater, and I guess that's adventurous of her, but I feel like they're laying on the Don comparisons rather thick. I also think she's peaked at SCDP. She doesn't seem to have recaptured that spark she used to have.
- The most significant thing to happen in this episode is Roger's breakup with Jane. I've never really liked her all that much, so the fact they broke up isn't that big a deal with me. I'll say this, though, she gives some nice side boob. Were those things held together with tape?
- Roger's arc also is the experimental one, and gives the writers a chance to play around with some surrealism, as he, Jane and her friends take an LSD trip. Because the show is grounded in realism, I've never liked these, for lack of a better word, fantasy moments. Now, I don't necessarily mind extermination on television. Seinfeld had done the odd experimental episode when it was still on, but the experiments usually added something. Having an entire episode confined to a parking garage, for example. That was a bit out of the ordinary for a sitcom. But it provided a lot of laughs, and was a well written. With last night's episode I'm just left thinking "yeah, that was kind of funny, but what was the point?"
- By far this season's biggest disappointment for me has been Don, and his marriage to Megan. First of all, Don leaves Megan at the restaurant. Dumb move. He eventually finds her, and gives her hell for going home. So the whole point of his arc was...what? That his marriage isn't as strong as he hoped it would be? Haven't we already established that? I just don't care about this plot at all. But the biggest problem I have with it is Megan. Megan sucks. I'm sorry, I've given her a shot, and I just don't like her. Not in the same way I didn't like Betty. January Jones at least is believable as Betty. Megan is just an uninteresting character, played by and uninteresting actress. Jessica Pare is out of her depth. And she kind of brings the story down, since she's not at Hamm's level. Remember when I predicted Megan might commit suicide by season's end? I think that's the only thing that would give this arc (and by extent, this season) a shot in the arm.
I hope things pick up in the next episode. I hope I become more engaged with the plot. But Mad Men has a habit of forcing the viewer to put more of themselves and their ideas into the show, without really giving much in return.