'Mad Men': Don Draper stares death in the face


Lane Pryce is a dead man. On Sunday's (June 3) penultimate episode of "Mad Men's" fifth season, Jared Harris' character fulfilled the prophecy that a Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce employee was headed for death when he was found hanged, by his own hand, on the coat hook on the back of his office door.

Both Lane and Pete Campbell were on the short list of candidates for the grim reaper, but in the end it was Lane who couldn't hack what his life had become. And, if viewers were paying close attention, things had been looking up for Pete in the past couple of episodes. As soon as he stopped wrestling with his demons and embraced his inner Gollum (by selling Joan to get the Jaguar account and deciding he needs a city perch to entertain women not named Trudy), things started falling back into place for him.

Lane, on the other hand, was a man backed into a corner. One of his own making, but one from which he couldn't see his way clear. Saddled with taxes he couldn't afford, he'd embezzled money from the firm by forging Don's signature. When Don found out, he fired him. You watched the show -- I don't need to go into the grisly details of Lane's ultimate act or spend time talking about the pathetic image of him trying -- holding his broken glasses up to his face -- to fix the Jaguar his wife had just given him so he could commit suicide in it.

It almost feels disrespectful to the (fictional) dead, but it's worth noting that whatever Lane was in the past and whatever his potential might have been, he had truly arrived at a bad place in life.

"I suppose I picked you because you've always been the most decent to me," he says when he he realizes he's been caught. It was embarrassing to watch. Not to mention the lewd remark he makes to Joan.

Lane Pryce was no worse, or better it seems, than Pete Campbell in the end. And for the sake of story, Matt Weiner made the right choice. Lane's death made a grim sort of sense in the trajectory of the show. But he will be missed.

Other things worth noting from Sunday's episode:

>> Don's half-brother, Adam Whitman, committed suicide in Season 1 after Don gave him $5,000 and told him never to contact him again.

mad-men-512-jessica-pare-kiernan-shipka.jpg>> Sally Draper is a woman. Can we just say Brava! to Kiernan Shipka for bravely acting her way through a pre-teen girl getting her period? And for demonstrating, though she may not realize it yet, that she needs both her mom and Megan.

>> Sally P.S.: Also, she's utterly awesome for wearing makeup and her forbidden-by-dad white patent leather boots for Glen's visit. She's such a teenager.  

>> Glen Bishop ( Marten Holden Weiner) continues to be awesome with his weird friendship with Sally and his obsession with the entire Draper family. How awesome is it that he ditched school and took a two-hour train ride into the city to see a girl and just wants to go to the Natural History Museum? And then talks that girl's dad into letting him drive his car?

>> Kenny Cosgrove makes his move. His father-in-Law is the chairman of Dow Chemical and so he's always shied away from Dow business for SCDP. But now that Don's demanding meetings with Dow, Ken's ready to play ball. But he doesn't want Pete Campbell on his team. Will he get his wish?

>> Sweater weather. It bears saying just because it was so clear -- Megan and Don do sweaters way better than Betty and Henry.

>> Don continues to be back -- he practically foamed at the mouth when he was "abusive pitching" (we just made that up) Dow. But will Lane's death cause him to reevaluate his re-found predator instinct?

Share your thoughts below about this episode and any predictions for next Sunday's season finale.
Photo/Video credit: AMC