Why couldn’t Lane start over?
It may not have been a long fall out a window or down an empty elevator shaft, but the allusions to untimely death and suicide were not misplaced or misleading. Farewell, Lane Pryce, and may you rest in peace. I suppose on some level Lane’s death makes sense of the last few weeks and the man as we’ve come to know him: profoundly invested in his ability to steer the ship (of his life, of the company) and mortally fearful of emasculating humiliation. When he breaks down with Don and says he can’t go back to England, I mostly thought of his father and presumably other men like him in Lane’s life for whom this humiliation would be worse than death. But is Lane right? Need it be so bad? Why can’t he take Don’s advice to start over, think of an elegant exit? Maybe the question I am really asking is why can’t Lane be more like Don? When he confesses light-headedness and Don tells him this is relief, the first step of everything getting better after the worst has happened, he doesn’t seem so sure. When he vomits violently behind the garage pillar in front of his forest green Jaguar, it seems fairly certain he does not feel relief at his prospects of reinvention. But why? Is it that Lane is too old and well-established to steal a dead man’s identity or trick his way into an ad firm? Is it that he is too British for such flagrant lies and deceit all under a practiced cool?
I have two guesses. The first is basically what I suggest above: that the combination of Lane’s personality and biography make public humiliation too great to bear and he lacks the gifts for cheerful deceit to hide the whiff of failure in an elegant exit. The second is that we did not seen the depths of Lane’s real despair. Was this the first time he embezzled from SDCP (now SDC)? Don repeatedly asks him if the check we saw was the only one and Lane never answers him. Was there more than guilt and shame in his violent reaction to the new Jaguar? I can see why he wouldn’t want to drive it, knowing he was going to off himself, so his wife could re-sell/return it (though how easy that would be to do once it was known he committed suicide therein is hard to imagine). But if paying off the tax man was not his only debt, the car would represent a downward spiral he cannot hope to save his wife and son from. With one more episode left, I wonder what else we might learn about the newly departed?
For an episode that killed off a partner, this one also had a lot else going on. Glen sneaks out of school in time to catch the train to Grand Central at 8:25, takes Sally on a first date at the Natural History Museum, kills time with the new Mrs. Draper (who, thankfully, seems immune to his man-boy charms and he to her child-bride allure), and fulfills his boyhood dream of driving home with a distraught and thoughtful Don. Was it just me, or was it hard to imagine Don sharing a moment as raw and intimate with any of his own children? Sally, on the other hand, “becomes a woman” and realizing how much blood, humiliation, and panic that state can involve, rushes home for her first real moment of maternal connection in, well, it seems like years. I loved Sally and Glen’s awkward, sweet rapport and the way they confirm their affection and flirtation with each other while they try to figure out where the line between friendship and romance is supposed to fall. That Sally could go from heartlessly wishing Henry would divorce her mom to rushing home in a $25 cab ride to be comforted by her mother was a perfect expression of the terror and confusion of early adulthood. Given her violent and fluctuating emotions, however, I wonder if Betty is in for some serious backlash, or if Megan is going to get cast as the evil stepmom soon?
And what do you all make of Don’s outburst to the Dow executives? I like the hungry, angry Don back in the workplace, but I can’t help reading his tirade against the ephemerality of happiness as proof that his own domestic bliss – and the sangfroid toward the workplace it seemed to inspire – is really over? Will his new workplace hunger fuel all his old appetites?
Natalie is still on her pilgrimage in Italy, so chime in and share your thoughts! After this week, what in the world can we expect from the season finale?