Warning: If you haven’t caught up on this week’s Mad Men, stop reading now. Seriously. Just stop.
MAD MEN: 5.12 “Commissions and Fees”
I watched last night’s episode of Mad Men at its regularly scheduled time, on its regularly scheduled channel. I didn’t wait until today. I didn’t DVR or stream it online. I actually watched it at its first airing.
It’s now 7:42 the next day, and I still have no clue what I’m going to write about this episode.
Lane Pryce killed himself. As someone who constantly watches TV, I enjoy trying to figure out what’s going to happen next in a show. Lane’s been going downhill for weeks, from his creepy moment with the woman on the phone (you know, the one who’s husband lost his wallet) to the tax problems all the way to a fight with Pete and a forged check. Even before, he wasn’t all that happy, with problems with his wife in previous seasons. But this season, he had his spiral downhill.
But it’s strange. It was all very subtle. Things just seemed down. They didn’t seem horrible. And offsetting these “bummer” moments, you had the times where he and Joan bonded and the moments where you just genuinely liked Pryce. It was a good feeling.
The moment that Don told him he was giving him an opportunity to reinvent himself, I saw it on Pryce’s face — and I even said it outloud: “He’s going to kill himself.” I said it before he even left Don’s office. I just knew. But then he went back to his office, he had himself a drink, he talked to Joan, he went home, and he threw up in a parking garage. Every step of the way, I started doubting — then confirming — then doubting. He’s going to his office: Ok, I was wrong. He argues with Joan: He’s totally going to do it because now she’ll regret the last words she said to him. He goes home and sees the car: Oh, he’s not going to do it on purpose! It will be a drunken accident and maybe his wife will die instead and he’ll be weighed down with guilt! He throws up: Ew.
Of course, that moment when the car wouldn’t start, you really started to wonder if that was fate telling us that it wasn’t going to happen (with a little Jaguar joke in the mix). But then, when he goes to the office, he finally succeeds.
In the end, I think the most accurate guess was that presumption about Joan. Joan was really Pryce’s closest ally, and the last interaction she had with him, he insulted her and she reacted. That’s certainly going to haunt her. More so, though, it’s going to haunt the rest of the crew at the agency, Don especially. If it hadn’t been for Don’s firing him, Pryce might not have hanged himself. But Don was merely the final push; Pryce was on the way there. We might not have seen it, but we did in some way.
But knowing Pryce killed himself wasn’t enough. We had to see it. We had to see the gruesome act that finally took his life. Seeing his lifeless, grotesque, grey face while hanging was horrific. We had to see the reality of it. Pryce went out in a way to make an impact, not some soft blow you just heard about. Just as his colleagues had to see it, so did we.
Not sure if any of you slept last night after that one, but it sure was a sad end to a character I grew to really like. I’ll miss Pryce, certainly. But man, I have no idea what’s going to happen next on this show.
So sure, I saw it coming. But I so didn’t.