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Commissions and Fees

by • June 3, 2012 • News, TVComments (1)8

MAD MEN Recap: Season 5, Episode 12 – “Commissions and Fees”

I love the snow. Granted, I don’t get much of it up here in Portland but I’m still drawn to it. It’s beautiful, there’s no doubt about that. The way it drifts from the sky, silently and slowly. It’s white, pure, hypnotic.

But there’s also something very depressing about the snow, right? It only comes in Winter, when spirits might already be a bit dampened. Plus snow is confining, it can lead to claustrophobia. It piles up, makes a mess of the streets outside and seems like it might never stop. It surrounds and consumes everything.

This is all my very roundabout way of saying there was something beautiful in tonight’s snowy MAD MEN. And, like the snow, there was something scary and tragic. We’ve all seen the episode, I can just come out and say it: Lane Pryce is gone. One of the founding members of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce took his own life after his fake check scheme was found out by Don. Feeling betrayed, Don asked for Lane’s resignation. The reasons for his departure would be kept under wraps, Don said, no one will know. But that didn’t change the fact that Lane was losing his job, probably his visa and most certainly his pride. It was just too much for him. After a failed attempt in his new Jaguar (which, ironically, wouldn’t start) Lane took his life at the very place he devoted so much of it to: the office.

There is no show like MAD MEN. Let’s repeat that: there is no show like MAD MEN. This series has balls, brains and flat-out brilliant performances, it takes us to some surprising and original places. Tonight is another example of MAD MEN going above and beyond. That being said, this isn’t the first shocking and gut-wrenching thing the show has done but for me it is the hardest. It’s hard because I really, truly cared about Lane; he might have been my favorite character. It’s also hard because of what Lane’s suicide does to the people around him.

The opening credits of MAD MEN show a man falling from the heights of a building, presumably to his death. Despite that dark beginning, we have yet to see someone lose him or herself. We’ve seen people sink low (Duck comes to mind) but we’ve never witnessed a character be completely conquered. Until tonight. That’s it for Lane, he’s dead. He’s the first true causality to the cut-throat, composed world of advertising. I’m not blaming his career for his death, the fault lies with him and him alone. But that doesn’t change the fact that Lane is gone. He died in the same office where people drink, have sex, smoke cigarettes and laugh. I can’t imagine the folks of SCDP making merry after Lane’s passing. Game changer? You bet.

But where does his death lead us? How does this change the company? How does it change the partners, especially Don, the only one who knows why Lane really took his own life? Next week brings us the season finale and I honestly don’t know where we’re heading. I can only assume that the closing conversation with Creepy Glen paired with Lane’s suicide will lead Don to change directions in life. He knows he’s unhappy (his pitch to Dow Chemicals was proof of that) both at work and at home. I don’t think he’s willing to let that stand anymore. I’m afraid of the choices he’ll make. I’m afraid of what it’ll mean for business and for Megan. He cares for his wife, he really does, but his marriage isn’t bringing the happiness he’d hoped for. There’s something dark and restless brewing inside Don and he needs to silence it. He doesn’t know how but the status quo will no longer work.

When Don asked Glen what he’d do if he could do anything, Glen chose to drive. That isn’t the same answer Don would give.

Meanwhile…

While the passing of Lane was the major event of tonight’s episode, a whole hell of a lot else happened. The second biggest story involved Sally, who chose to stay with Megan and Don instead of going skiing with her pesky mother, step-father and brothers. Sally showed her maturity tonight, from drinking coffee to going out with Glen to…well, “becoming a woman” as Betty put it. But while Sally acts as though she’s ready to grow up, she was scared when confronted with the reality of the situation. I can’t blame her, girl problems are scary indeed.

I’ve got to give it to Betty, she was a competent mom at the end of tonight’s episode. Gold star!

I’m curious to see where things go with Dow Chemicals. It’s safe to say that Don came on a little too strong, partly due to the fact that he just fired Lane. He’s a good salesman but he hasn’t landed a client in awhile. That’s one of the reasons why he’s grown restless and unhappy.

I know it’s gruesome but I really have to commend the make-up department on their job with Lane’s corpse. It’s rare that a show (especially this show) confronts such an ugly reality. The disturbing detail they gave really elevated the scene and made me uncomfortable in a way that made it all the more upsetting, which was the point.

And, of course, hats off to Jared Harris for the truly amazing performance, not just in this episode. The guy has been aces since he first arrived and he will be missed.

God dammit, Lane.

 

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