Film and TV

Mad Men: Good-bye, Lane

If you were like me, you had been thinking for a few weeks now that someone is going to commit suicide on Mad Men. Last night, sadly, this suspicion came true. Last night's episode was rather dark as compared to the show's usual focus on relationships and business; this episode saw Lane's entire life quickly unravel before him and come to a screeching halt.

It was only a few episodes ago that Lane forged Don's signature on a $7,000 check he made out to himself. The money was to cover a debt he owed in the UK and, he thought, would be quickly repaid with his Christmas bonus. Then the Christmas bonuses were canceled, and Lane struggled to figure out what to do next. He didn't have to do anything because he was caught red-handed.

Bert Cooper finds the check and reprimands Don for being a softy and giving Lane the money. Don calls Lane into his office and confronts him. To give credit to the actors and the writing, we've all been caught in a lie before and the fear in Lane's face, his stammering to find another lie, it gave me knots in my stomach. Lane has proven time over to be an odd bird, creepy and weirdly sexually repressed (remember the wallet incident), but what underlines him is a sadness. He struggles financially, a verbally abusive father raised him and sometimes he hates his wife and wishes he was with a Playboy Bunny. He is a loner in the company of other loners, and when he finds companionship, i.e. with Joan, he mucks it all up.

Don, naturally, has to fire Lane. He has stolen money from the company, and despite what you or I might do, it's the right thing. There is almost a glimmer of hope for Lane, Don tells him he has started over many times; it will work out. Lane is to give his resignation by the following Monday.

Lane drinks himself into a stupor, and when he arrives home, his wife surprises him with a new Jaguar. Zing! Jaguar represents everything Lane was trying to have, was working to have and yet never quite got to.

Over in the Draper household, Sally refuses to go skiing with her family so her mother ships her off to Don's for the weekend. Both Don and Megan are too busy to take Sally to school that Monday, so they leave her to her own devices. She persuades Glen, her not boyfriend/pseudo-boyfriend, to take a trip to NYC and spend the day off. They visit the Museum of Natural History, where they have some very grown-up conversations about sex and adulthood. Glen has a mustache, which Sally is not a fan of. And then the worst thing that could ever happen to a young woman hanging out with a boy by herself happens. She gets her period.

Rather than explain to Glen what's going on because that would be the most embarrassing thing in the entire world, she hops in a cab and runs into her mother's bewildered arms. I suppose when you are in that situation, you would prefer the comfort of your mom, rather than your dad's girlfriend, but I have my doubts that this is what she would have actually done. She hates her mother.

Sally and Betty cuddling up together, bonding over the hard work it is to be a woman, is a lovely moment. This may have been the first time these two have ever hugged in the history of the show!

Don is grumpy, as usual. The shining moment of landing Jaguar has quickly passed and he wants more, bigger, better. He doesn't want some piddling foreign car company; he wants Chevy. He and Roger decide to take on Dow Chemical, who you may recall 1) Told Don they would never work with him and 2) are headed up by Ken Cosgrove's father-in-law.

In a Don-like spiel, he remarks that Dow is only at 50 percent of the market and 50 percent of anything is never good. There is always room for more. Is Don talking about Dow's market share or his own constant dissatisfaction with life? Probably both.

After unsuccessfully trying to asphyxiate himself inside the Jaguar because the piece of crap won't start (zing again!), Lane goes to the office and hangs himself. Joan finds him there the following Monday, and when Don and Roger return from Dow, they are given the news. They find the dangling Lane along with his letter of resignation.

How could Don not blame himself?

The episode ends with Don driving Glen back to school, after Sally has mysteriously ditched him at the museum. Glen comments that nothing is ever good; nothing works out how you want it to. Life sucks! In an odd moment, Don asks Glen what it is that would make him happier than anything else. The last scene is of Glen driving Don's car with Don assisting him at the wheel. Maybe life is only as bad as you see it to be when there is still satisfaction over something as simple as a kid getting to drive a car?

I loved this episode; maybe I am a morose soul, but its darkness was refreshing. Every office scene saw snow falling lightly outside; New York City appeared cold and dark. The moments between Glen and Sally in the Museum of Natural History were very Salinger-esque, two kids talking about becoming adults in front of stuffed bison.

Lane's suicide was not as shocking as it was just plain upsetting. He just got himself into a pickle. There are ways out, but as Glen put it, everything just feels like it sucks sometimes.

Best line of the show: Sally asks Glen what he wants to do. Glen responds, "Are you kidding, the Museum of Natural History is right across the park." Duh, Sally, what else would you do?

One more episode left of the season.

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Abby Koenig
Contact: Abby Koenig