Tag Archives: Lane Pryce

AMC’s Mad Men: Episode 512 “Commisions and Fees”

The other shoe finally dropped. That is the inevitable matter of Lane Pryce’s embezzlement came to the attention of one Donald Draper this week, and though the initial confrontation played out as one might expect, the conclusion was shocking. Bert Cooper, thinking Don was trying to assuage Lane’s constant griping about the bonus, brings the canceled check to his attention which leads Don to bring Lane in for proper questioning. The true tragedy of Lane’s transgression is that if pride didn’t get the better of him, and he simply went to Don to borrow the money that he didn’t even wind up stealing everything would have been fine. Through embezzlement and forgery however he has lost the trust of SCDP’s lead man and Don will have nothing other than his resignation and in fact thinks he is doing Lane a favor by giving him a clean new start, and the opportunity to resign without any black marks on his resume. Unfortunately, as is often the case when you get embedded in a nest  of deceit, Lane can’t come clean with his wife who has made matter even worse by purchasing a new Jaguar as a reward to her husband “who never treats himself”. Here is where the brilliance of Mad Men‘s writing comes in. The Jaguar is the perfect symbol for all of Lane’s problems. It is not only a literal symbol of the firm’s success with the client he failed with despite his best efforts, but is also symbolic of the nouveau riche who can afford an impractical luxury car like Jaguar, and the lie he is representing to his wife. If it wasn’t abundantly clear that AMC would never get Jaguar as one of their advertising clients, last night’s episode sealed the deal. In a moment of true black comedy we find Lane trying to kill himself by using the Jaguar to asphyxiate himself, but the car is such a lemon that he can’t even get it to start up and do the job.

It’s too early in the Mad Men era for a Nixon reference, but if Lane Pryce had an exit speech I think it might be somewhat similar to tricky Dick’s exit; “You won’t have {Lane Pryce} to kick around anymore gentlemen, because this is my last {episode}”. Lane’s suicide is the second Mad Men death when characters face off against Don’s tough love and you’ve got to imagine this is going to weigh heavily on Don’s conscience, and it will be interesting to see what happens when word eventually slips out about the true circumstances of Lane’s “resignation”. I’m not sure if this was the case of Jared Harris getting to big for the show or not, but either way it was an expertly crafted character arc, and despite it all you didn’t want to believe that Lane had killed himself until you literally saw the bloated corpse that Don and company cut down from the ceiling.

The other big developments of the week revolved around Don lighting a fire under his own ass and Sally Draper becoming a woman. Don isn’t happy with the direction that SCDP has taken on and wants bigger fish to fry. As he says, “I don’t want Jaguar I want Chevy!” which leads Roger to set up a meeting with Ken Cosgrove’s father-in-law, the Devil incarnate, aka Ray Wise aka the chairman of Dow Chemical. Ken has long been against SCDP getting involved in his family business, but he concedes on two main factors. That he has been “dragged” on board, and that in no way can Pete Campbell be involved in their business, chalking up Cosgrove as yet another of Pete’s inter-office enemies. We won’t find out until next week whether or not his tactics were sound but Don’s approach to winning Dow Chemical was to literally yell at them and berate them for being happy with 50% market success, and it’s as much of a speech for himself and SCDP as it is for the client.

Roger, for his part, is happy to see the feisty old Don Draper as his LSD induced free thinking has begun to fade. We also get to experience another typical Don and Megan squabble when Don forgets to inform her that Betty is dropping Sally off at the apartment:

  • Don: (Demeaning comment)
  • Megan: (Bitchy response)
  • Don: (Some serious shit happened)
  • Megan: (Let’s kiss and make up)

That’s pretty much how Don and Megan interaction go these days as she feels defensive and marginalized, and he feels defensive and overly stressed. It’s always hard to tell what’s going to happen in the Mad Men teasers, but it seems like there might be some new wedge between Don and Megan coming and you wonder if the loss of Lane might push Don back into his self-destructive ways.

Meanwhile we get a fun little aside with Sally and her weirdzo boyfriend Glen this week as when she realizes she will have the apartment to herself Sally convinces Glen to come to the big city for a visit on the sly. These two characters both have been subject to creepy sexual undertones over seasons past so it was a relief that when Glen arrives at Sally’s apartment his greatest desire is to go to the Museum of Natural History.

There we are treated to the awkwardly sweet interactions of Glen’s dry jokes about the exhibits, and the exploration of what their relationship actually is. All of this is interrupted when Sally, feeling ill, makes a startling discovery in the bathroom and then freaks out and takes a cab back to the suburbs and her mom, leaving Glen in the lurch. This whole sequence is yet another fine example of the quality of writing in this show as the awkwardness of youth is naturally captured. Having Glen be as concerned over completing his book report as he is about finding Sally just feels so natural to their ages. Sally freaking out and providing her mother with another bitch chip to play against Megan also feels very natural as despite young Sally’s mistrust of Betty when important things happen it’s still her mother’s arms in which she seeks comfort.

Next week, regrettably is the season finale of Mad Men, and it should be a good one. In the past two weeks of what is normally a pretty even keeled show as far as dramatic changes are concerned they have had Peggy Olson leave SCDP and Lane Pryce kill himself. What kind of bombshell did they leave for the last week?

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AMC’s Mad Men: Episode 511 “The Other Woman”

It’s 1967, a whole new year for the Mad Men crew, and nothing seems to be more important to the SCDP staff than landing their first big automotive contract in the form of that elusive beast; Jaguar. There are so many people working on the Jaguar pitch that characters we’ve never seen are coming out of the woodwork. Seriously, there are two extra guys in the room with Ginsberg, Stan, Cosgrove and Draper working on the pitch that I can’t ever remember seeing before. The elusive perfect pitch line is not coming easy for anybody but as we soon learn their sale may depend on an altogether different type of pitch. It’s not mentioned lightly that the “car people” are a bunch of sleazeballs, and it quickly comes to the forefront that the lynchpin of the Jaguar deal has a proposition that he says will seal the deal; Joan. If it had been anyone but Pete Campbell taking the meeting you might imagine that the deal would end right there. In fact if it was Don taking the meeting he might have hit the guy right in the face even in the middle of the restaurant. Pete however not only has the nerve to bring it up with Joan, but also to follow-up with a partners meeting to see how much they can raise to bribe her. Thus begins one of the elements of this weeks major theme: upward mobility of the 1960’s woman.

For Joan, who has an absentee husband who is divorcing her, a young child and nagging mother at home, and 13 years invested in the firm as a secretary, the opportunity of hitting a huge payday for a night of her services provides too much of a temptation. Lane, who is still freaking out about bonuses and the money he embezzled, has convinced Joan that her best bargaining chip is a 5% stake in the company, becoming a minor partner as opposed to a lump payoff. While certainly good advice for her long-term security, it is ultimately underhanded of Lane as he is also highly concerned that if he uses the $50,000 extension to bribe her, he won’t get his bonus and will be found out. It turns out that there “Will be no bonuses this year!” as Cooper booms so it seems like Lane’s fraudulence will be somehow linked to the season finale. Joan’s whole encounter with the sleazy salesman is handled with typical Mad Men brilliance, as we are treated to a bookended scene of Don’s efforts to keep Joan from prostituting herself. In the middle of the bookends we see Don making the sales pitch of the unattainable, which has become attainable (the Jaguar) crosscut with the unattainable (Joan) who has become attainable for a price and the metaphor is complete.

Two of the other women in Don’s life are also making their way forward as best they can. Don and Megan continue their domestic power struggle as Megan’s successful casting call gives her an opportunity to be in a play which is being staged in Boston. The thought of Megan being away for three months ignites the internal conflict of Don’s wish for his wife’s success coupled against his desire for her to be at home in the traditional sense. Megan, in her fiery way, recognizes this and accuses Don of not having thought of her leaving because he never believed she would succeed. Don, as he also proved with Joan, is at heart a good person who wants whats best for the people he cares about comes around to make peace with Megan and her dreams. Megan ultimately doesn’t get the part, and similarly to Joan is herself judged as a sexual pawn as she is ogled and asked simply “to step forward and turn around” in her second casting call.

Lastly we get to this week’s developments with Peggy Olson. It has been a long time coming that Peggy has been feeling more and more neglected, jaded and under appreciated at SCDP. Similarly to Pete Campbell copying Don’s lecherous past, Peggy is also following in the footsteps of her idol and doing what she thinks he would have done. The pact between Peggy and Ken Cosgrove to move on together has been mentioned frequently in the past weeks episodes, and Peggy has flirted with other advertising companies in the past, but the day that no one ever thought was really going to happen has come. After lunching with former Sterling Cooper salesman Freddy Rumsen, Peggy gets herself a meeting with Don’s arch-rival in ‘Cutler, Gleason, and Shaw’ who butters her bread and makes her an exceptionally attractive offer. 

As we learn from Peggy’s heart-wrenching dialogue with Don as she gives her notice, it’s not about the money. Don initially thinks she’s making a power play to get her much deserved raise, but quickly realizes that what Peggy really wants is to make a name for herself out from under the shadow of Don Draper and to further become the model of a self-made woman. Hopefully for Mad Men viewers Peggy doesn’t make herself a stranger as she promises to Don as she is one of the more enjoyable Mad Men characters.

Notably absent from this weeks stories of the burgeoning Women’s Lib movement is Betty Draper. This is because like her counterpart Trudy Campbell, an increasingly rare Alison Brie appearance, Betty is still a throwback to the 1950’s housewife who has built her life around being a debutant and keeping her efforts on the home front. Unlike Trudy however Betty doesn’t seem to relish in it, and will likely experience more conflict between being a housewife or a professional in the Mad Men future.

Overall this was another example of Mad Men at it’s best, interweaving multiple story lines with social commentary in a seamless and cinematically beautiful way. It’s sad to say that there are only two episode of Mad Men left this season so enjoy it while it lasts. Hopefully these last two weeks will be as amazing as this one.

AMC’s Mad Men: Episode 510 “Christmas Waltz”

This week’s episode was called “Christmas Waltz” but really could have been called “Hey remember me? I’m a character on Mad Men who hasn’t gotten much attention lately.” as the episode focused on Lane Pryce, the now seldom seen Harry Crane and the recently neglected Joan. There was even an appearance by the once regular character Paul Kinsey who has turned his devotions to Harikrishna.

I must admit I was a bit confused by some of this weeks elements and I’m not sure how much was my own failings, and how much was the complexities of Mad Men and their room of writers. First the episode starts with Lane talking to his British lawyer who informs him that he is in desperate straights financially and needs to come up with $8000, a hefty sum at the time. (More than a top-of-the-line Jaguar {$5600}) I couldn’t quite follow what the money was for (back taxes?), but it’s hardly important, and we see Lane’s desperation to make good on his debts while trying to avoid outright embezzlement. As the bonuses that he has concocted are delayed again and again, Lane finds himself trapped at episode’s end having already forged Don’s name for a check he now shouldn’t have had for another month. It will be interesting to see how this develops. Will Don ultimately be more upset that Pryce acted criminally desperate or that his British pride kept him from telling Don the truth of the matter and ask for help? I would expect the latter. This week’s next ultimately unimportant confusion for me was Don and Joan’s “Ali Khan” reference. Don has rescued Joan from the office after she has been officially “served” by her douchebag husband. After cutting a check for a brand new Jaguar to tool around in, Don and Joan find a bar in which to down a few drinks and wax nostalgic. The whole scene is oddly mixed with the music from the bar being realistically loud in the sense that it’s hard to hear Don and Joan’s conversation very well. What’s clear is their sexual tension but their flirtation is that of two people who know that their time has passed and they have reached a level of mutual respect and admiration for each other right down to Don attempting to set Joan up with the gentleman across the bar. Don, for his trouble, is greeted by an infuriated Megan at home who is just another in line trying to figure out where Don’s motivations are coming from these days. It seems she can handle his love for advertising, but can’t handle his new-found casual attitude towards work much better than Pete Campbell can.

The other major storyline of the week involved the aforementioned Season-Three-Era Crane/Kinsey centered drama. Kinsey’s only real talent apparently is recruiting for the Harikrishnas, something that doesn’t fulfill his soul. We learn that he has been in and out of every ad agency in town and his ultimate dream is settling in with his new love Lakshmi and writing for the up and coming TV serial Star Trek. He has turned to Harry for his television connections and hopes that he can get his script passed on. All of Kinsey’s heart-felt trust in Harry is misplaced as it is Crane who quickly double stabs him in the back. Lakshmi, played by an actress who will one day play the lead role in “The Juliette Lewis Story”, forces her way into Harry’s office in an attempt to sexually and physically blackmail Harry so that Kinsey will remain with the Harikrishnas. Unfortunately for poor Paul Kinsey he is getting played from all sides as Lakshmi only wants him for his recruiting talents and Harry shows his true cowardice by buying away his problems by sending Kinsey away to Los Angeles with false hopes, crushing both his dreams simultaneously.

Next week we should be getting more into the meat and potatoes of the season’s upcoming conclusion as we wait to see what lies in store for SCDP in 1967, and what goes better with steak and mashed than a stiff finger of Scotch?

3 out of 5 Grizzlies

Review AMC’s Mad Men: Episode 505 “You’re My King”

This weeks episode of Mad Men should probably really have been called “Pete gets his ass whooped”, but that would have ruined the surprise of what is especially rare in Mad Men; an “action” scene. The central theme for the week seemed to be the balance between the usefulness and inadequacies of men and who better to focus on than one petulant Peter Campbell. Pete’s biggest problem is not that he is a whiny, conniving little twerp in a slight frame, but that he compares himself to Don Draper.

First under the microscope this week is the P in SCDP, Lane Pryce. As one of the figure heads of SCDP Lane feels his position in the company is somewhat useless, so it is fortuitous when he meets the American Jaguar representative whom he hopes he can bring under the SCDP advertising umbrella. It should be noted that the English pronunciation Jag-Ewe-Arr is used prolifically and it was all I could do to keep from adding a “Yeahh Baby Yeaaah” every time it was mentioned. Unfortunately for Lane his client is more of an Austin Powers type Englishman than a proper gentleman, and all sales technique handed down from Roger is wasted.

Lane must turn to the “A-team” in Don, Roger and Pete to reel his client in and “show him a good time”. It quickly becomes abundantly clear that Lane’s client is looking for more than a sales pitch which makes it Roger’s time to shine. Other than setting the groundwork for one of the more hilarious reason for losing a client, his wife discovers “chewing gum in the pubis”, we get to see Peter compare himself side-by-side with the new Don Draper and here is where his youth shows. Pete feels like Don is being hypocritical and unfair by judging his indiscretions at the brothel, while giving Roger a free pass.

What Pete is missing is that Don was holding him to a higher standard than Roger, and is almost fatherly in his hope for Peter to make better life choices than his own. If anything this reveals that at some level Don actual cares for Pete. And maybe no scene in the history of the show said more about Campbell then when he is instructing his “lady friend” as to what character she should play in the bedroom – hence the episode’s title: “You’re My King”.

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