Has this been the weirdest season of Mad Men yet? The entire season has had an odd, eerie quality to it, the kind of feeling you get in the seconds when you wake from a really intense dream and aren’t sure where you are, what’s going on around you, or if what you’re experiencing is real or not (this feeling also tends to happen after a serious drinking session, but a dream seemed a bit more poetic). Almost every episode has had either a dream sequence, or has had scenes edited in a way to make the viewer question whether what they are seeing is actually real (even the music this week had a sci-fi twinge to it).

Things that seemed incredibly like incredibly important plot threads have been nothing more than little blips on the radar, showing up one second, and disappearing just as quickly. For all the fighting and hooking and pubey chewing gum last week, Pete Campbell gets two quick lines tonight, while Lane doesn’t show up once. Same goes for Joan. What’s going on here? Is Matt Weiner just messing with us? Is this dreamy quality the budding of a theme that leads to an exploration of the hazy cultural quality that comes as we get deeper into the 60’s? Will we find out that this whole season is just something hallucinated by an LSD-addled Roger Sterling (oh yea, Roger takes acid this week. It is fucking incredible.)?

“Far Away Places” takes us through three different relationships on the same day, making the episode feel almost like three mini-plays that vaguely intersect during various points. The first and shortest (and amazingly, least bizarre) play is the story of Peggy and Abe and a random dude who gets jerked off in a movie theater, in one act. Peggy starts off the show rushing out of Abe’s apartment to get to her big Heinz presentation (this is one of the few consistent plot threads so far this season, and even still hardly any progress has been made).

Peggy, being the career woman that she is, has been neglecting her relationship with Abe, never having time to hang out or have sex and generally being checked out all of the time (working chicks are the worst, amirite brah?). Abe tells Peggy to “have a shitty day,” and she does, blowing the Heinz pitch for the second time (not being in advertising, I have no idea how realistic any of the scenes that involve pitching to clients are, but based on what I’ve seen from this show, having to deal with people all the time must be awful) because the client seems to have no idea what he wants. Peggy lets off some steam by running off to the movies by herself, smoking some pot with a stranger, and then after said stranger tries to slip his hand up Peggy’s skirt, jerking off said stranger to the lovely view of two lions fighting over a dead Zebra.

Now, a few questions:

  1. After Peggy seemed to have initially rejected the guy’s advances, did anyone else expect the stranger to try again, only this time putting the popcorn over his dick, Chappelle’s Show-style? No, just me? Okay then, nevermind.
  2. I’ve been trying to draw some sort or parallel between this incident and the Don Draper Fingerbang incident of Bobbi Barrett from season 2, but I can’t seem to find any meaningful connection. Just two awesome instances of manual stimulation from two different characters a few seasons apart.
  3. When you jerk someone in a movie theater, what exactly do you do with the, um, results? Seems messy to me.

Anyway, after blowing off some steam and jerking off some guy (sorry if I’m harping on this too much, but c’mon, Peggy gave a handy to a stranger! In a movie theater no less! She’s come a long way from the shy Catholic secretary we met in season one) her and Abe eventually make up over the strangeness of Ginsburg’s life story (born either on Mars or in a concentration camp). Peggy has always teetered just on the edge of rebellion and does the same thing here. Sure, she likes to shake things up every once in a while, but eventually, she will retreat to what feels safe.