I’ve had a case of writer’s block the last few weeks but Season-5 of Mad Men continues to be exceptional so I’m going to throw some verbiage against the wall and see what sticks. First, a few comments on The Other Woman aka Campbell’s Indecent Proposal.
Pete The Pimp: Not only is Campbell sleazy, he’s a slippery weasel. (Apologies to A’s weasels.) The way he circled back to pimping Joanie was nearly as bad as the idea itself. Lane, however, had a better pitch and helped to finally land the Jaguar account as well as landing Joan in bed with that odious car dealer dude.
The reactions of the partners were quite interesting. Don was outraged and dismissive but didn’t stand and fight. The most horrifying reaction was that of Roger who claimed to be against it but in the end signed off if he didn’t have to pay. Don’s reaction at the end of the episode is less about morality and more about wanting to land the account because of the work and his pitch.
Joan will eventually rue the day she made what she considered to be a pragmatic decision. It’s bound to leak out and it will lead to her being treated as someone who slept her way to the top. The double standard is still alive and well in 2012 and it was much worse in 1967. It’s particularly unfair as the account guys have taken clients to brothels and strip clubs before. What is it with the Jaguar people and nookie?
Exeunt Pegster: She did the right thing. Don has been taking her for granted for quite some time. I’m glad she was reminded that Don was not the one who gave her her first chance: it was Freddie Rumsen. Don may have been her mentor but Freddie is her Dutch Uncle. I’m hoping that Ms. Olsen isn’t leaving the show completely but joins the ranks of recurring characters; especially since she’s gone over to the enemy. I always enjoy seeing Don’s nemesis, Teddy Chaough. He makes the Draperman look good, after all.
Okey dokey, on to the most recent episode, Commissions and Fees:
Lane Pryce, R.I.P. This was simultaneously stunning and unsurprising. The superficially unflappable Brit has looked and acted increasingly desperate since the embezzlement. Many Mad Men pundits have blamed Don’s reaction for Lane’s death. They *could* be right but in the context of the time, Don’s reaction was compassionate as well as self-interested: it was his autograph that Lane forged so his neck could have been on the line as well.
Lane’s decision to kill himself makes me wonder if this is the *only* time he has stolen money from SCDP. He immediately fessed up to Don about the forged check but declined to answer when asked if this had happened before. He could have just been overwrought but Don’s decision to cover up the theft gave Lane a chance to land another job and start anew. Of course, we’re not all as tough as Dick Whitman…
I’m sure I’m not the only one who enjoyed the sick humor of Lane’s failed attempt to top himself via carbon monoxide in his new Jaguar. I knew someone who had a Jaguar and every time I saw him I asked “Is it in the shop?” The answer was often yes. Some things never change.
In the end, it was better that Lane killed himself at work so his wife didn’t discover the body. It didn’t make it any easier on the SCDP gang though. Apparently, the Mad Men actors did not see Jared Harris hanging on the door until the scene was shot. Mr. Weiner and his merry band of pervs wanted to get their spontaneous reaction. They did. Pete was totally flummoxed but combat vetereans Don and Roger have dealt with death before. Hell, Don has faked his own death…
I’m interested to see how Don deals with Lane’s suicide in the next episode. It’s bound to conjure up memories of Adam Whitman’s hanging himself way back in Season-1 after being rejected by the man who used to be Dick. We saw the old ruthless Don in his dealings with the napalm gang but the new Don is apt to be devastated and blame himself for Lane’s death. Me, I think that Don was partially responsible but Lane was the one who couldn’t face recreating himself. I guess that Lane took literally Scott Fitzgerald’s aphorism about American lives not having second acts. Don never has: he’s Gatsby, after all.
Parenting Tips with Betty Francis: We saw Betts at her worst and best in the same episode. The worst: dumping our Sally on Don instead of “ruining” her ski trip complete with the classic line about locking Sally in the trunk. The scary thing is that I can imagine her doing it.
The best: Betty consoling Sally about having her first period. Of course, she can’t resist taking a shot at Don’s “child bride” by triumphantly telling Megan that Sally needed her mother. Once Betty finds out that Weird Glenn was on the scene, she’ll revert to form but let’s celebrate her acting like a decent human being for a change.
Finally, I *loved* the ending with Don letting Glenn drive himself back to school. It was Mad Men at its best, which sums up Season-5 as a whole. I’m alternately looking forward to and dreading the finale. It’s bound to be awesome but it’s the end of an exceptional season. Hopefully, the wait won’t be so bloody long this time…