‘Mad Men’ mixes it up ahead of the Season 5 finale: love it or hate it? (spoilers)

**Note: This entire post is full of spoilers for this season of Mad Men, especially the last two episodes.

So, by popular demand, I will write about the past two episodes of Mad Men. This coming Sunday is the season finale of season five. I keep hearing Season 5 referred to as “difficult” and “different” and “not as good as before.” I think that’s rather unfair to the show’s writers and to Matthew Weiner especially. You know when I got tired of Mad Men? In the first half of Season 4, when Don Draper was just getting drunk all the time and spiraling out of control. Of course, that painful spiral made his comeback that much more interesting, but I’m just saying – THAT was the most annoyed I was with Mad Men. I’ve actually enjoyed a lot of this season.

Thankfully, the past two episodes – The Other Woman (Episode 10) and Commissions and Fees (Episode 11) – haven’t been all about Megan. After an interesting rise in the Mad Men world, the Megan character has plateaued, if not cratered. She’s so whiny and childish about too much, and she starting to remind me of Betty in uncomfortable ways. Thanfully, The Other Woman was all about Joan and Peggy and their different paths to success. And this past Sunday’s episode was all about Lane.

Let me just start with Peggy and Joan. After harboring grudges for years now, Peggy finally decided to move on from being “Don Draper’s protégé”. She managed her business affairs so, so well, didn’t she? She got another job first (with Don’s nemesis), then went in to give Don her notice right after he learned that they won the Jaguar account. As always… Elisabeth Moss and Jon Hamm played off of each other beautifully. Their scenes together are always my favorite. I will admit that I cried when Peggy went to shake his hand and Don pulled her hand to his mouth, his face breaking with emotion. GAH. I’m getting teary about it again. As for Joan… she “slept her way to the top.” She maneuvered and she allowed herself to be used, and she’s now a voting partner with the firm. Was it worth it? I think it was. I don’t judge Joan, I really don’t. It’s not like she was ever a dewy innocent, and I felt like I could hear her rationalizing her actions throughout the episode, without her even saying a word. Christina Hendricks is such an underrated actress.

As for Sunday’s episode with Lane Pryce. I have to admit, I thought Mad Men was going to kill off Pete Campbell. Didn’t it feel like that? I thought Pete was going to end up suicidal, but I have to admit… I think he’s too much of a weasel, too much of a narcissist to commit suicide. Lane Pryce, on the other hand, was a broken man. He was broken before Don Draper ever “outed” his embezzlement. But Lane was thoroughly broken after that conversation, completely unable to comprehend Don’s advise to simply move on and start over. So after a failed suicide attempt with the broken Jaguar, Lane committed suicide in the office. And Joan found him. And it was horrible. My theory: I think Don is going to go find Peggy and tell her what really went down with Lane. I think Peggy will be his confessor.

Incidentally, I came across this heartbreaking TV Guide interview with Jared Harris, who played Lane – you can read the full thing here. They asked him about how he was told about his character’s demise and all of that, and it really felt like Jared Harris feels really awful that his character is gone. He told TV Guide, “It was tough. I shed a tear in the car on the way home, I have to say. It was bad. It’s been a great experience. I’ve loved working there… I’ll miss working with all my colleagues there. I really, really enjoyed their company… I was very lucky to join the show after it was already a success. I know that it’s going to just get bigger and bigger as it gets toward [Season 6] and Season 7. And I won’t be part of that. That makes me sad.” So sad.

Some new photos of Jon Hamm over the weekend in England:

Photos courtesy of WENN, AMC/Mad Men.

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58 Responses to “‘Mad Men’ mixes it up ahead of the Season 5 finale: love it or hate it? (spoilers)”

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  1. Tiegs says:

    I cried when Don kissed her hand too. They both played that scene perfectly, and their faces more than their words were so eloquent. I just hope we don’t see less of Peggy now that’s she’s gone.

    Lane’s suicide wasn’t a shock, but I think that $50k loan will be to SCDP. I mean, there has to be something big in the finale, and he was filling out forms other than that boilerplate resignation letter.

    • j says:

      I’m wondering if Peggy will be the “new” Anna Draper in that she will be his confidant. I can see that happening because some of the seeds were planted last season but I wonder how Peggy will come back into his life.

  2. Bad Fairy says:

    Next week the Hamm on Graham Norton. Huzzah!!!

  3. Launicaangelina says:

    I’m with you Kaiser, I’ve really enjoyed this season and am glad they lightened up the Meagan story. Mad Men has been knocking it out of the park this season. I absolutely loved the scene between Don and Peggy, when she was putting in her notice. I can’t wait to see what further develops there. Also, how amazing we’re the scenes and chemistry between Don and Joan 3 episodes ago – Christmas Waltz I think. WOW!

  4. Eleonor says:

    Lane Pryce I was so sorry, because I loved the first episode, when Joan came back and he was so kind with her; he wasn’t the smartest one, but he always gave me a good vibe, but you’re right, he was a broken man and it could end only like this.
    And Peggy where is she now? We will see her again??

    • Sarah says:

      I didn’t cry after Lane’s death until I remembered that first episode of the season, and then I did. Poor Lane was not meant for the advertising biz! I need to go watch gifs of him punching the crap out of Pete now….

    • Susan says:

      Poor Joan must wish that her last exchange with Lane ended better.

      Why couldn’t the writers squeeze in at least one scene with the office’s reaction to Peggy’s departure? I waited all week for that and got the shaft.

      • Nakli says:

        Exactly! How is it possible that the office moves on without acknowledging Peggy’s departure? Remember last season when Don tells Peggy that he would spend the rest of his life trying to hire Peggy for SCDP?

  5. Me says:

    Im not sure Don and Joan will ever hook up. If you notice Don has chemistry with every female that he interacts with on that show outside the office. I think its their way of showing how the mean boss guy can be sweet and kind to women. I think the purpose is to show his softer side. What women dont enjoy seeing the softer side of a powerful man? And the show is for the ladies.

  6. BamaGuy1024 says:

    I knew Lane was doomed the moment he forged Don’s signature, but never suspected the delicious macabre way, how PERFECT that the Jag broke down, as they were so prone to. I thought he was going to jump from his window though, and the way they discovered him at the office was shocking. BUT what really devastated me most so far this season is PEGGY!!!! OMG Peggy COME BACK!!!! THAT is what I am crying about, not Lane… luv Elisabeth Moss, she is my absolute favorite next to Don. Best show ever.

  7. maemay says:

    MadMen at it’s worst is still good. The first half the of season was Megan instrusive and i hate Megan, so it was painful for me. Weiner was trying to push her as the next great thing and the truth is IMHO she can’t act or her acting falls short of the rest of the cast. When Meg quit her job the show found it’s mojo again. If Meg is going to stay UGH please backburner her.

  8. jamminatorr says:

    YAY THANK YOU KAISER. If you weren’t really far away I would bake you some cookies.

    I’ve actually really loved this season too! I have been watching Game of Thrones and Mad Men back-to-back and I feel sometimes Mad Men can be more riveting. The death foreshadowing has been ripe over the last few episodes so we all knew SOMEONE was going to die, I was thinking Pete too but everyone loves to hate Pete. Now that it happened, Lane seems the obvious choice.

    Its funny how Lane hanged (hung?) himself and Don was doodling nooses in the office not long ago. I wonder what the implications to the firm would be if he had actually suceeded in the Jag? I also wonder if the partners will actually tell anyone else about whether Lane committed suicide – they sent everyone home and I think they are going to just try and brush it under the rug.

    Key for the next ep – how is Don going to deal with this guilt? I think he’s going to go to Peggy too and NOT Megan which is going to be an issue. He had an opportunity to open up to her at the end of the episode and didn’t. I think Don is going to feel terrible but I can’t say I would have done differently. Lane DID embezzel money from the firm.

    Other questions: Do you think that Joan is simply going to take over Lane’s role in the office, further cementing her partnership?

    And what happened with Peggy??? I liked the way that episode was set up – where we saw Joan made a partner after prostituting herself and Peggy get a new position and walk away “clean” so to speak. I wish we saw Peggy in that last episode.

    • maemay says:

      I HOPE Peggy is in the last episode. Hopefully Megan will be preoccupied with her “acting” and Don and Peggy will get some good scenes.

    • Esmom says:

      I was glad that Lane didn’t succeed in the Jag more because his wife had just gotten it for him…can you imagine the added heartbreak for her?

      I can’t imagine they can keep Lane’s cause of death under wraps at the office. News/info/gossip just has a way of getting out.

      As for Don’s guilt, I imagined that he’d simply repress it and didn’t imagine him unburdening himself to anyone. We’ll see I guess.

      I can’t help but feel that Lane’s whole undoing could have been avoided if he’d just told his partners about his financial troubles instead of making the bad choice of how to solve them on his own. I gotta believe they would have helped him out. After all, like he said, it was “just a 13-day loan” and that kind of money is nothing to some of those guys.

      Yet Lane has been a broken man for quite some time so if this hadn’t occurred something else probably would have pushed him over the edge. Kudos to Jared Harris for his amazing portrayal. It is so sad that he can’t continue in a role and job he obviously loved.

      I have loved this season, found it just riveting. (Although to be fair this is my first full season watching.) The Megan overload hasn’t bugged me too much because I feel like it has to all be leading somewhere more interesting. I hope. And I have to believe they will follow Peggy’s story next season, I can’t believe she’d be cut from the show. She is one of the main characters.

      • Susan says:

        I agree that Don will manage his guilt well. He didn’t let his brother’s suicide slow him down for long and he knows that he may have been able to prevent it.

        Lane had such a bizarre expression on his face as he left Don’s office and turned back around.

        It’s real rich that Don acted like the moral police over $8k, considering he stole someone’s identity. I agree that Lane handled his problem in the worst way possible. But if Don was willing to pony up the money for it anyway, why couldn’t he give him a second chance with some extra oversight? It’s not like Anna didn’t give him a second chance upon discovering his fraud.

      • j says:

        Susan, I was thinking about this too. While Don could have been much more cruel, and actually handled the situation with some grace, there’s a lot of irony here: Lane got canned for forging Don’s signature, but every time Don signs his signature, it’s a forgery.

      • jamminatorr says:

        This is something that I have been pondering too. Don drew his invisible morality line and decided that what Lane did was wrong. I agree with what he did, because embezzlement is serious business and could have massive impact on the company – but given Don’s proclivity for lying and his whole false identity thing it seems a little heavy handed coming from him. I like that he was willing to let Lane go with what little dignity he could but at the same time, I think Don is really going to struggle with what happened.

        Oh and it wasn’t really a piddly amount of money – 8k in 1967 is equivalent to something like 40/50k now.

        And that meeting with DOW! is this going to be a big deal next week?

      • Nakli says:

        Don took the right decision. Embezzlement and forgery is not something that can be overlooked. It didn’t require for Don to be understanding of Lane because he (Don) stole someone’s identity once upon a time. I understand the argument that, Don, of all the people should have helped Lane by giving him a second chance. But, Don did the best he could – he promised Lane that the partners would not be informed of this nor would it come in the way of Lane seeking employment elsewhere.

        For Don, his stolen identity is his reality. I would like to believe that he has made peace with his identity issues post- the revelation days with Betty and Anna’s death. That is why it was easier for him to confess his past to Megan. And therefore his advice to Lane that he should start fresh, because Don has done that successfully many times. Also, I don’t think Don’s signature is a forgery because by marrying Anna, he managed to acquire the identity legally.

  9. Kaye1 says:

    I think this season has been terrible. Don has spent most of the time sitting around being smug and rude to the people he works with. Both Lane and Joan deserved much better treatment. I think their storylines were lazy and melodramatic. Peggy’s storyline was dropped. Are she and Abe happy? What’s going on there? I don’t mind Megan but I don’t really care if she makes it as an actress. Don finally gets some mojo back before the last episode. They have to do a lot in the last episode to make this a good season for me.

    • ssa says:

      I’ve loved this season but I have to agree with you on Don. The dude stole someone’s identity and cheated on his wife and mother of his children with anything that moved and he has the nerve to judge Joan and Lane? Ugh, get over yourself bro.

      • Susan says:

        Exactly, and Don was a dismissive jerk when he suggested firing Kenny if he held up a deal with Dow.

      • Nakli says:

        My problem with Don judging Joan is that Don had no sympathy for Sal in season 1 (or 2?) when Sal refused to prostitute himself for some dude from Lucky Strikes. It was okay for Don if Sal had to prostitute himself for the company but not Joan. But then again it was the 60s where moral reasoning was different, I guess.

    • pwal says:

      It was season three when Don was irritated that Sal didn’t put out for Lucky Strikes Jr.

      Man, I miss Sal.

  10. BW says:

    Is anyone going to talk about Glen? Old Nepotism Glen? I’m sorry, but the boy cannot act, and he looks even worse when he’s up against really good actors like Megan and SALLY.

    When Sally just disappeared on him, he seemed his monotone self when he ends up back at the Draper’s apartment. If I was a young man and my date, who was one of my best friends for years, DISAPPEARED, I’d be frantic.

    • Tiegs says:

      I know, it was so awkward when he yelled “I just need my bag, okay?” I actually cringed. But he’s not a bad actor most of the time, more of an inconsistent one.

    • Nakli says:

      Glenn is played by Marten Holden Weiner, Matthew Weiner’s son. I am guessing his middle name Holden is from The Catcher in the Rye, and the moments between Sally and Glenn are influences from the book??

  11. cannonball says:

    That’s right. A lot of people don’t like Megan so why does Don? I don’t get it? And he’s faithful?? not for long I hope.
    I take it Lane did not own a car to begin with to use for his second suicidal attempt and needed to take a train all the way to work for a second try. That must have been one long commute.

    • Esmom says:

      I know, just imagining him slogging from the parking garage all the way to the office, so determined to end it all, just added to the heartbreak. He was not going to quit.

      • Arock says:

        The fact that the jaguar didn’t start was ment to be a joke. In the 60s when the it was introduced-and up into the 80s- the joke was that something was always wrong- electric/gas/oil etc. The second play was lanes acceptance and “plodding on” british resolution when it did malfuction, essentially taking away his control of his death, a narsacistic act in itself. A kind of joke on stereotypical British culture at that time.
        I thought it was very tongue in cheek.

      • Tiegs says:

        @ Esmom & Cannonball, he also broke his glasses after he got into the car (no need for them anymore I guess) so he made that trip to the office half-blind as well. For some reason that broke my heart, picturing him alone on a train without his glasses.

        @ Arock, I’m pretty sure everyone understood the Jaguar bit. They weren’t exactly subtle about it….

      • Alex says:

        @ Tiegs: I thought when he walked into his office he was wearing his glasses, taped back together?

  12. kibbles says:

    Lane was such a gentleman. I will miss his character a lot. I have read a lot of online comments from people who blame Don for Lane’s death and found it hypocritical that Don of all people wouldn’t give Lane a second chance. I see it both ways. If Don could no longer trust Lane, there was no way he could remain in his position. At the same time, SCDP wouldn’t be in existence unless Lane had taken out loans to save the company. Considering that Lane had done so much for SCDP, if I were in Don’s position I would have given Lane a second chance given that he had every intention of replacing the missing funds and was simply too proud to ask the partners for a loan.

    This will eat away at Don because his half-brother also committed suicide by hanging himself after Don rejected him. That is a lot of guilt to carry around knowing that in some way he has lead two important men in his life to hang themselves.

    I agree with the other comments that the actress who plays Megan is the weak link in this season. Everyone always hates on January Jones, but I think she is perfect in her role as Betty. I have no complaints about her acting in this particular role. Megan is annoying but she hasn’t annoyed me to the extent it seems she has annoyed many other viewers. I’m glad that she is beginning to fade into the background but I also believe she will continue to play a significant role in the series. She’s very much a modern woman of that era who goes after what she wants. She got the job at SCDP, she got Don, and now she is after a big acting career. At what price will she pay to get it? Sleep with a director? Abandon Don when she gets an opportunity outside of NYC? I think anything is possible with her. She’s an ambitious young woman. Her actions might be the catalyst for Don’s own downward spiral in future seasons.

    • Nakli says:

      I like Betty too or the way January Jones plays Betty. Did you enjoy Betty’s call to Megan? I like how Betty never misses any chance to make snide remarks. How smoothly she tells Megan that Sally got her period and that she “needed her mother.” 🙂 I enjoyed Betty and Sally’s rare moments of mother-daughter bonding.

  13. lucy2 says:

    I’ve been greatly enjoying the season, especially once it eased up on the Megan-centric stories. I don’t dislike her, but don’t find her as interesting as the other characters.
    I hope Peggy is in the season finale – I loved the scene with her and Don, love that she took the leap and quit, and I can’t wait to see what happens with her new job.
    The young actress who plays Sally always amazes me. I really hope she keeps it together as she transitions from child actor to adult, because she’s so hugely talented.
    Loved the return of Intense Work Don. Hamm is so darn good at those scenes!
    Just when I thought no one but Don having any respect for Joanie was the saddest, the stuff with Lane happened. I figured he was going to at least try to commit suicide, but never imagined they’d show him like they did – disturbing, but gripping storytelling.

  14. Azurea says:

    The scene between Don & Peggy was perfection. I loved how when Peggy was breaking the news to Don, he was sitting & she was standing. These positions represented her deference to him & his authority over her. Then, as he kissed her hand, the meaning of these positions completely transformed. Now, Don was in the position of deference, and Peggy accepted his gesture as a Queen acknowledging his worship of her. It took my breath away!

    Also, after this last episode, I’m wondering if the always-wooden acting from the kids is an artistic decision.
    It is just too consistent and overboard to be an accident, especially in a show which provides so many eloquent scenes where many of the messages are contained in the unspoken.

    • Esmom says:

      Glen’s wooden delivery doesn’t bother me because he is supposed to be socially awkward and he does convey that very well. Plus one of my sons is extremely awkward, and can be just as wooden, if not worse, when trying to socialize. So I actually see it as a realistic portrayal, whether it’s due to limited acting skills by Weiner’s son or not.

  15. j says:

    The suicide was so interesting, because it just emphasized the futility of pretty much everything Lane does. After all of the financial blunders–which almost worked out!–he can’t even get the Jaguar to work. I imagine him trying to get to the office, glasses broken, tripping through the streets.

    And whereas the death imagery this season has emphasized falling and height (like the open elevator shaft), Lane ultimately can’t even bring that full-circle. He does jump, but only a few inches before getting “stuck” in a noose. It didn’t look like an easy death.

    The failure after failure is so sad. I really liked his character.

    • Esmom says:

      Yes someone on another blog said something like “You’re in NYC, Lane, why not just jump off a bridge?!” Good point except Lane always seemed to make things harder than they needed to be, including his own death.

      • j says:

        Yeah, I think it makes the juxtaposition between Lane and Don’s characters even more poignant: in the opening, Don is metaphorically falling in a gorgeous, dramatic way, while Lane can’t even muster a bit of that–even in a city with so many opportunities for grandiosity.

    • Susan says:

      It was sad. But I must admit I almost spit out my Shiraz when Mrs. pryce said “I wrote a check”.

    • apsutter says:

      Agreed. A terrible death for Lane. If he was going to hang himself you’d think he’d get some height so it’s not so painful. It was totally gruesome because his neck was all bloodied from the cord too.

  16. celine says:

    he has blue eyes. i didn’t know that.

    well the last episode was really cool, i like the little girl. but i agree toooo much megan action, she’s just not as interesting. oh and lane….well i thought he was being a coward. killing urself because u failed, common mr. pryze u could’ve done better. overall i found great that they finally killed a regular.

    i still think this season wasn’t as strong as all the other ones. i just kept waiting for it to start and now u told me next sunday is going to be the end, so that’s dumb.

    for all u bored people: please try to watch game of thrones, borgias and girls (a new and really really great hbo series).

  17. Eleonor says:

    @Celine: I get your feeling, I too have the impression that it’s started now, but I think the author wanted this. Everything that has happened was prepared before.

    Am I the only one who loved Glen driving Don’s car?

    • celine says:

      we’ll have to wait until fall…..

      no ur not i loved glenn driving and don sitting next to him, that was great!

    • Nakli says:

      That was my favorite moment in the episode, especially after Glenn talking about how everything in life is crappy and then when Don asks him what is the one thing he wants to do, the scene is cut to him driving the car 🙂 So much for Don’s take on happiness as a moment before we need more happiness 🙂

  18. Kate Kack says:

    God he is beyond gorgeous!! I love Jon Hamm so much!!

  19. Happy21 says:

    So glad for a Mad Men post!

    I was a bit surprised with the first few episodes of the season because of how Megan-heavy it was and how Don was so unlike himself. Everything turned a corner though when Megan quit. Don kind of returned to himself (not his womanizing ways but as close as he could get to being himself). I’m not a Megan hater and I loved the comment by Betty last episode about his “child bride”…LOL! I think the age difference with Don & Megan is apparent and I think it will only increase the distance between them as time goes on. He wants a wife like Betty, not someone with ambition.

    That being said I have missed Betty this season and am hoping she will have more of a role next season.

    I agree with Kaiser about Joan. She was never innocent. She had a very long affair with one of her bosses and ended up getting pregnant by him. She was promiscuous before. She only used her body to get something this time. I do think she will probably take Lane’s place within the firm.

    I also do agree that Don will go to Peggy to talk about his guilty about Lane. I miss Peggy already. One episode without her was enough!

    I love this show! I love it more than any show I have every watched and really can’t pinpoint the reason except that it is great TV!

    • ssa says:

      Yes! I’m already having Peggy withdrawals. She better be the center of next episode.

      • maemay says:

        Ditto I almost hate to get my hopes up over Peggy being in the finale. MM though great has been a dissapointment. Everytime Meg eats up storyline and airtime my head aches.

  20. ssa says:

    Megan is the worst! She’s so freaking annoying. I was ready to smack her when she threw her little hissy fit because Sally was going to spend the weekend. You married a man with children and they will always come first and having kids is full of stuff you can’t predict or plan for. Also, you’re an unemployed actress; how is it wrong for someone to assume you have nothing to do?

    • Susan says:

      Agreed, and yet she’s still more mature than Betty who joked “I don’t care if she sleeps with the doorman”.

  21. maemay says:

    One good thing about Peggy quitting is the new dimension it adds to Peggy and Don’s relationship. Can it grow outside the bonds of work? Will it change? Instead of mentor will they become competitors or equals? I hope Peggy still plays a prominent part on the show and in Don’s life.

  22. apsutter says:

    I was hoping that there would be a post about Mad Men! The last two episodes of this show have been freakin’ devastating. I’ll miss Lane and poor Joanie.

  23. ZenB!tch says:

    I’m with Kaiser, I was bored in Season 4. I even missed a few episodes
    (gasp!). I know I can catch up on Netflix but I am not sure if I want to.

    I don’t hate Megan. I love it when she is childish and immature. She’s 20. I love it when she put’s Don in his place and I am still mad at him for the HoJo thing. I would have walked but then again, I am not 60s woman.

    I see Megan as bridge woman. While Peggy more or less represents the modern woman and Betty is 50s entitled woman and Joan is 50s loose woman – Megan is kind of the bride between Betty and Peggy.

    Joan = once a slut always a slut may as well get paid for it. It’s the only reason she has a job and now she’s a partner.

    Lane = I couldn’t muster any sympathy. How many execs have lost their shirts in the last 5 years – I doubt they all killed themselves. Now his wife who has never worked has to figure out how to fend for herself… I’m sure she will.

    I can’t stand Betty. Glenn is still creepy and I’ve wanted Pete Campbell dead since the got Peggy to fall in love with him, got her pregnant and married Trudy.

    When is Season 6?

  24. Nakli says:

    I just read this. Cannot think of Mad Men without Peggy 🙁


    • Susan says:

      Damn, That sucks. I love Elisabeth Moss. I liked her in West Wing and loved her in Mad Men. I’ll follow her further.

  25. Issa says:

    Lane was too prideful too not to do himself in. His image was his immaculate manner and control. Pride in himself. Pete really has no pride, he’s has no worth in himself, just a slimy non-existent idea of his importance. He believes he’s the man he’s not. Joan is the highlight for me this season. She always has the guts to do what she needs to do, to survive on her own. Hopefully she doesn’t become the secretary playing the partner. Hope she steps-up and contributes as a true partner. At this point I think she’s actually the smartest one out of that whole group.

  26. Meadowlark says:

    My theory= Don and Peggy are going to have sex in the next episode. I know it sounds unlikely, and I know no one really wants it… but I just feel like it’s going to happen.