Uh, wow. So far my posts have come easily, but I have a feeling this one will be harder. Welcome to your weekly installment of WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN!?!!! After turning it over in my head for an hour before bed last night, I’m still not sure what I want to say, but I set my timer for 20 minutes, so we’ll see what happens.
Lane, obviously, is the place to start. Along with many others, I called that move awhile back, but it was still hard to watch (and surprising in its details). I am fortunate not to have had any close experiences with suicide, although I’ve interviewed a few surviving family members for news stories over the years. I think “Mad Men” told this story well: The inner turmoil that only bubbles to the surface in glimpses that can be chalked up by observers to “a bad day;” the unanswered questions. “It’s a resignation letter. Boilerplate.” What must his state of mind been, at that point? Was he trying to tell Don he was right? To torture Don? Was it simply one formality of by-the-books-except-that-once Lane Pryce? Don will draw his own conclusions.
I’m still feeling unsure about the necessity of showing the body. It had disturbing effect, that’s for sure. I thought a more powerful image, in terms of shock value, was Don reverting to his farm-boy ways and charging into that office to cut down the body. A full-on embrace of Lane was so different from the way he handled his brother’s suicide. I guess Lane’s body was a necessity to give us that image.
When I ventured onto Twitter after the show, a few messages I saw said, “That’s on Don.” Well, no, not in my opinion. Lane’s actions — his initial crime, his cover-up, his decision to take his life — those are his own, not Don’s. Don acted as a partner should, and really with more graciousness than he should have in the face of Lane’s “you took more than your share” accusations. Of course, there was irony in Lane forging the signature of “Don Draper,” a name that Dick Whitman stole in the first place, but one crime doesn’t excuse another. Should it have made Don more sympathetic? As he told Adam, Dick Whitman died a long time ago. (Feel free to disagree with me.)
In my opinion, Adam’s grievances with Don were much more legitimate than Lane’s. But again, Adam’s actions were still his own — not Don’s fault, as much as he might blame himself. Is his cutting down of the body indicative of how Lane’s suicide will affect him differently than Adam’s? Last season was so much about Don’s actions and their consequences: His stolen identity, his drinking, his recreational sex. This season has been Don’s reactions to others’ actions. We still haven’t seen enough of that, and I’m counting on a crazy-intense season finale of reactions: Peggy’s absence, Joan’s promotion, Lane’s suicide.
A few leftovers:
- Speaking of Peggy, not a single mention this whole episode?! You owe me, Weiner.
- Interesting dynamic between Don and Joan (and the rest of the partners, for that matter) during the opening meeting. Tell us how you feel, Don.
- Oh, Betty. A hug! You can do it! Do Betty’s warm-fuzzies toward Sally still count if they were spurred out of her internal sense of competition with Don’s “child bride”?
- As usual, I’m sort of “meh” on Sally and Junior Weiner’s escapades, but they did illustrate just how adrift Sally is. For all Don’s failings, his passive attitudes toward his kids might be the worst. Yes, he had a couple bad days of epic proportions, but even on his good days, Sally (and those other two) are afterthoughts to him. I’m not sure whether his offer to drive Junior Weiner home was an attempt to be more involved or simple to get the hell out of Dodge and distract himself for four hours, but I’m guessing the latter.
- “What happened to your enlightenment?” “I guess it wore off.” Roger! I can’t quit you.
I went 10 minutes over my self-imposed time allotment, and I’m still not sure I said anything insightful. Set me straight in the comments. To my friend Michele: If DISH drops AMC, I’ll see you in your living room on Sunday night!