Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
In comparison to every other episode of Mad Men in Season Five, or any season for that matter, last night's was the most intense. Sure, client meetings and sexual office innuendos were business as usual, but something much bigger also happened last night: We lost a cast member. Thinking back, the series has already seen two characters pass away: Grandpa Jean and Anna Draper, who both died from natural causes. Also, though both had prominent roles for a considerable amount of time, neither of them were exactly main characters. Last night's was.
Since Don going to the barber shop or Joan filing papers isn't going to top this, we should probably just get right to it. After an uphill financial battle that just hit its peak, Lane commits suicide at the end of last night's episode. And here's what lead up to it.
At a partners' meeting, Pete explains that Jaguar wants to pay Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce through a fee structure, as opposed to a straight commission. He adds that Dunlop wants to do the same. This is all pretty confusing the way he explains it, which prompts Burt Cooper to go through the company's books to look into it. This is when he finds a canceled check, written out to Lane and signed by Don, for the amount of the Christmas bonuses.
Don tells Burt that he'll take care of it, and calls Lane into his office and asks, "Is this the only one?" Unable to admit the forgery until after he's had a drink, Lane argues that it was only a 13-day loan, and that technically, it was his money. Don, thinking he's doing "the most decent thing" he could do, asks for Lane's resignation and tells him that no one will find out. We then see Lane break down and cry in front of Don.
Lane's resignation wouldn't only be a suspicious departure from SCDP. It would also mean the end of his visa, and he'd have to return home to England a failure. He'd also have to admit to Rebecca, his wife, that he embezzled funds, after leading her to believe they were in good financial shape.
When he returns home that evening drunk, Rebecca insists they go out to dinner to celebrate him being appointed the head of the 4A's Fiscal Control Committee. On their way out, Rebecca leads him to the brand new Jaguar she just bought. Partially because he's drunk but probably more so out of shame, he throws up in the parking garage.
The next morning, Lane assures Rebecca he likes the car. Later that evening, he tries to kill himself in it by funneling the car's exhaust into the driver's seat. The car fails to start, further proving that Jaguars are extremely unreliable. By this point, he had already broken his glasses in half, and he uses what's left of them to try and fix the car, and it seems as though this jolt of reality may have been enough to sway his suicide attempts.
Except that the next evening, he goes to the office and types a boiler plate resignation letter. And then presumably sometime shortly after that, he hangs himself from the back of his office door. On Monday morning, Joan tries to open it, and when she's unable to, she goes next door to and tells Pete, Harry, and Ken that she thinks something is wrong. One by one they peer over the wall (which maybe just one of them should have done) and realize what's happened.
When Don and Roger return to the office, after taking a meeting with Ed Baxter at Dow Chemical, they find Burt, Joan, and Pete sitting at a table. Burt lets them know that Lane hanged himself, and Don insists on cutting him down. Anyone who would prefer not to see Lane hanging from his door might want to take a bathroom break at this point. Roger and Don grab his body, while Pete cuts him down, and the three men lay him on the couch while they wait for the coroner.
Everything else in last night's episode seems relatively unimportant in comparison, though that was most likely the point. Sally refuses to go on a ski trip with Betty and Henry, so she spends the weekend at Don and Megan's. On Monday morning, she's left alone in the apartment, so she invites Glen to come for a visit. They go to the Museum of Natural History, and after commenting that she doesn't like his mustache, Sally rushes to the bathroom because her stomach hurts. Turns out, she got her period for the first-time.
She runs out of the museum and takes a cab all the way home. Not home as in Don and Megan's apartment, but home as in Betty and Henry's house. Sally explains to Betty that she didn't know what to do, and then hugs her. Betty, completely unprepared for that, lets the ice drip from her bones and reciprocates the affection. She brings her a hot water bottle, explains that periods mean "everything is working right," and spoons her on the bed.
And to think: That wasn't even the season finale. Which is happening next week. Based off the previews, Joan hands Don a letter, and then Megan opens a letter. Maybe they're the same letter? Probably not. Probably just a coincidence that two people received mail that day. Since it's going to be hard to top this episode, it's pretty possible that next week's finale will be one of those where not much happens. Or, where everything that could possibly happen at one advertising agency does, in fact, happen. Stay tuned!
· All Mad Men Coverage [Racked]