Ever since their office fight a few episodes ago, Lane Pryce and Pete Campbell have seemed to be on a race to see which of them could hit rock bottom first. The look on Pete’s face when he stepped down from his sofa after peering into Lane’s office in this week’s Mad Men episode, Commissions And Fees, showed that he lost (or, rather, won) this particular race.
One incident involving a lawnmower and a foot aside, Mad Men has always steered clear (so to speak) of majorly dramatic events at the workplace, and of deaths involving major characters (Betty’s father being the only possible exception). But as soon as Bert Cooper confronted Don with Lane’s dodgy cheque, the game was up for Manhattan’s favourite Englishman, the only question would be how far he would fall. It turned out that he never even reached the ground.
His increasingly desperate attempts to salvage a Christmas bonus to pull himself out of some tax issues back home had been quite comedic at first, but this week we saw them come home to roost and there was nothing funny about his plight this time. Well, apart from the grimly humorous gift of a Jaguar car that his wife bought him on the day that his fraudulent financing came to light, and then the ignition trouble in that same car at the start of his final journey. But that was it.
It was another fine performance from Jared Harris as Lane, a character who could so easily have been a typical ‘Englishman in an American TV show’ (and there have been some terrible interpretations of our national characteristics in otherwise fantastic shows – like The West Wing), so it’s a shame that his time on it has come to an end. But he brought great dignity in dire circumstances and the final suckerpunch was delivered expertly, as you’d expect from Mad Men.
From the moment his secretary brought the financial books to Joan, telling her that his office was locked, there was a clue that something was wrong, and when she couldn’t get the door open, it became clear. The reactions of Campbell and Co in his office as they peered through the windows to see were spot on, as was the emotional reaction of Joan, who was very close to Lane. For a while it looked like we wouldn’t see his body, but Don’s insistence on cutting it down meant that we were confronted with the horror of what had happened, and, again, it was done very well and was all the more dramatic for its rarity in this show.
What effect Lane’s suicide has will become clear next week, but clearly Don will be feeling guilty as the one who confronted him about his deception and told him to resign (which Lane did, in writing, before his death). Interestingly, he and Roger found out about the hanging after coming back from a big pitch that could change the fortunes of the company and really give Mr Draper his mojo back, but will he be in any condition to make the most of it? He ends the episode allowing a schoolboy to drive his car, so who knows what state of mind he’s in.
Ah yes, the schoolboy. Crazy Glen from the block, who has been on the phone to Sally Draper earlier in this series and meets up with her in Manhattan after she has refused to go skiing with the Francis family. That was largely due to the resentment she feels towards Betty over her attempted shenanigans around Don’s first wife, and her bond with Megan, but when she cuts her date short after getting her first period, it’s her mum she runs home to, much to Betty’s satisfaction. Is it genuinely motherly affection that she feels, or just glee at getting one over her younger rival? Notably, Megan is just happy that Sally’s ok and looks after Glen, something Betty probably wouldn’t have done.
It was a turbulent episode after last week’s epic developments and there was no sign or mention of Peggy after her departure. Hopefully we’ll see something of her in next week’s finale, but it’s hard to imagine exactly what direction it will go in. Will Lane’s suicide lift Pete out of his own downward spiral? Will he finally get his name in the company name now that Sterling Draper Cooper Pryce will be looking for a rebrand? SDCC? Surely things can’t get any more bleak than they have done so far this season? One thing’s for sure, it will be an episode not to miss.
Valar Morghulis, the finale to Season 2 of Game Of Thrones, had a lot to live up to, following on from the epic Battle Of Blackwater, and trying to live up to the expertly-executed revelation at the end of Season 1. There was also plenty of plot threads to pick up, so it's no surprise that this was a finale packed with little vignettes as well as big moments of drama