“COMMISSIONS & FEES”
There was just far too many anvils and references to not see this coming. Be it the talk of life insurance, car crashes, drawing of nooses on a notepad, the Richard Speck murders, an empty elevator shaft that is still undefined of whether it was a literal image or an illusion, and the falling man that though always apart of the show had changed this season with advertisements showing the falling man going straight down alone and not through a rabbit hole of retro advertising. I and many viewers spent this season looking at the possible characters who would die. It became clear it was going to be somebody at the agency. It then thinned out to somebody high up in the agency. Then it became clear that Lane Pryce was our fallen man (though perhaps not the falling man).
Many have written in previous episodes that this fall from grace felt shoe-horned and random, akin to Joan agreeing to the proposition (that I still defend was consistent with her character and people have had this false mythology about Joan even before the transpiring events of the previous episode). But back to Lane. The man since Season 3 had already shown a side where he had this inferiority complex and self-loathing that came from an upbringing by a cold, cruel father who re-appeared in Season 4 who caned him and subsequently stepped on his hand when he tried to retrieve his eye-glasses knocked down. His class had put him at odds with the English toff employees in Season 3 and he never felt an equal to Don, Roger, Bert, or Pete even when he had his name on the door. Nobody really knew his story with Joan and Don getting very small glimpses. Lane kept a front of bottling it up, too proud and too stubborn to admit defeat over anything. It was his fatal flaw that dug himself deeper and deeper to the point his wife had not had a clue.
I do not think Matthew Weiner set this suicide up as some shocker but rather a dreading event that had been in play for some time. Nobody knew more about Lane and his situation than the audience. The discovery of the check by Bert Cooper reflects what would have probably have been the general response from people of the agency, that it was far more likely Don wrote a bad check than Lane forging it. Don offered to Lane what he thought was mercy, and I am frankly surprised by the reaction toward Don when I thought he was pretty well-mannered given the stakes in the Don Draper avatar. Don is a shedding snake. He can adapt. He can make ‘the elegant exit’. Lane cannot. Losing his job means returning to England as a failure which doubles the failure since I am certain him leaving the motherland to America was viewed as a failure for many in his inner circle. His breakdown in front of Don is heartbreaking because to Don this is not the man he knows but here is a man more emotionally naked than ever before. Credit to Jon Hamm and Jared Harris in that scene.
When Don finds out about Lane’s suicide, I think the suicide of Adam Whitman immediately crossed his mind. He kept Adam at a distance and when Adam tried to re-enter his life, Don pushed him away. Don was never as cruel with Lane but that this was another instance with somebody in the agency leaving his side, in such a violent fashion, certainly effected him. That scene of Don letting Glenn Bishop drive his car on the State Thruway, though a bit jarring, showed a man trying to be kind, even to somebody practically a stranger to him. I think Don hearing that Glenn is already in a pessimistic state of mind led him to do it. He was projecting Adam onto Glenn. Somebody deserved to be happy that night.
This has been a season of people getting what they want and feeling a bit empty if just perplexed by the fact it turned out to be different. The other sub-plot of Sally trying to be the assertive, young adult inviting Glenn to spend the day with her, only to have it end with her taking a cab back to Rye in a panic after getting her first period, shows the teenage side of things where on one hand, wanting to be in the adult world but the other implications of that world are a bit frightening. Sally went for the material things first with the mod clothing shopping with Megan and getting hair and makeup done to look older much to her father’s shock. Then there came the mannerisms, such as eating the ‘adult food’ of codfish, drinking coffee, and suddenly conversing with Megan like she is one of the gals. Then there came taking control of getting out of the ski trip, sneaking out of The Draper Love Nest, and having ‘date’ with Glenn. There were obvious cracks in this development, mainly her bratty nature to Betty, her precocious Holden Caulfield salvos of labeling people as ‘phony’, her gossiping about ‘Bluto’ and the ‘dirty’ city, and the fact that she had a completely different mindset for what a boyfriend meant than Glenn did. Thankfully it seems these two are just friends.
Betty getting to have her satisfaction in that her daughter came to her, much to her shock, seemed to be a satisfying moment that she of course, rubbed in the face of Megan, aka Don’s ‘child-bride’ who seems to know not to cave to the passive aggressive smog monster that is Elizabeth Hofstadt Draper Francis. Of course, her daughter suffering embarrassment caused her to have great new role to brag about. Fat Betty, you are the best and I hope you stay the way you are- just in limited doses.
Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce at this point may be in a false position of assurance that seems dashed when Lane’s body and letter of resignation is discovered. Don feels betrayed by the people he works with and who have left him though his deal seems more with who surrounds him as of now be it the partners or even mild-mannered Ken Cosgrove who’s father-in-law could mean hot business for the agency. Don’s pitch to Dow Chemical (and oh my ain’t napalm going to be the new cigarette?) is one of the most aggressive pitches I have ever seen him give. I am not sure whether it was too aggressive or hit the right notes, but this is a man taking out his anger in his work but that tunnel-vision determination may have had him miss what has gone on with Lane. Hell, this whole uneasiness about new business reflects learning about the possible ramifications of ‘The Letter’ and that the Jaguar speech to the office was more desperate than determined at the time. Realizing that even a good campaign to win Jaguar required prostituting a co-worker turned that desperation into anger. It almost seems spiteful that Don is going for the big guns, to show that the agency is not only better than that but they can get companies that are worth their time and effort. Damn, Jaguar must really be pissed about their involvement in this season’s dread.
Whether Don is still angry with the fire and passion to really make SCDP a brand or this Lane incident has put him and the agency in a funk is going to be interesting to watch in the finale. I have honestly no idea what can is going to go down. Well, I do have my ideas, but I do not mind being surprised or reminded about what this show is about. Great episode.
When Don made a reference to the partners making back-door deals when he leaves the room, the look of hurt on Joan’s face was so palpable.
I think just about everybody shed a tear when Joan cried realizing why Lane’s office was locked and barricaded.
It would be a shame if their last conversation had Joan kicking Lane out of her office for making a lewd comment about her in a bikini.
Come on, it crossed your mind that Glenn may have his new sights set on Sally’s stepmom.
I did not really take to Megan’s acting friend Julia in the beginning but I really enjoyed their TMI conversations with each other in front of Sally.
It seems the only person so far who may have put two and two together in terms of why Joan is a partner is Ken and that makes a lot of sense given he knew of the proposition, knew that Pete did not immediately say ‘no’ to the idea, and considered the Jaguar deal DOA. Major kudos to him for making his negotiation with Roger include not having Pete at any meetings. Man of integrity right there.
I enjoyed the hell out of Betty making vague threats about strangling Sally when talking to Don on the phone. She actually sounded like a mother.
Finding out from Jared Harris that the reaction by Hamm, Slattery, and Kartheiser was actually them seeing his corpse for the first time, is pretty interesting. Roger’s reaction, when you account his reaction to the Ida Blankenship death, was especially interesting to see.
Again, Jaguar was such anti-product placement. From Lane puking at the sight of the E-type and his first botched suicide attempt stemming from the fact the Jaguar did not start.
I am sort of have hoping the agency cannot land Dow Chemical. So much shit will hit the fan with napalm and I can only imagine the conflicts within the agency getting super-politicized for representing/defending napalm even though Don is politically apathetic abd unaware of how jingoistic and out of touch it will be, even more than cigarettes.
No Peggy this episode or even a mention of her. It appears to be early to mid March so enough time has passed and there was no signs of creative for her presence to even be spoken about in passing. I hope she is on the finale.
Really good comparison shots of Don reacting to the Adam and Lane suicides that I found on Alan Sepinwall’s blog: