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'Mad Men' recap: Season 5, Episode 12: 'Commissions and Fees'

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Towards the end of this quiet though affective episode, Glen Bishop asks Don, "Why does everything turn out crappy?" Yikes, the kid is right. Well, in this hour anyway.

First things first: Saddled by severe money woes, a perceived failure in business and general unhappiness with his life, Lane Pryce hangs himself behind the door of his SCDP office.

It was a disturbing scene, clearly. But made even more so by the look in Don's face when he urges the group to cut him down instead of wait for the coroner.

Don doesn't show much emotion -- a flash of anger, a furrowed brow -- but earlier he's the one who tells Lane he must submit his letter of resignation after Bert Cooper finds the check Lane wrote himself earlier this season and forged Don's signature on.

"I will make good by Easter," a desperate Lane tells Don.

"I'm sorry. I can't trust you," Don simply says.

As much as I never really liked Lane, it was tough watching him cry and look up at Don like a bad puppy.

"I feel light-headed," Lane ultimately says.

"That's relief," Don says, urging Lane that the best is yet to come.

Clearly not. We'd been building up to Lane being discovered all season. We'd been expecting him to be fired, but I'm not sure we expected him to kill himself.

He tries it one time earlier in the episode -- opting for a carbon monoxide suicide inside the new Jaguar his clueless wife gives him. The engine doesn't start, so I'm sure Jaguar will not have some kind words for the "Mad Men" writers. Despite all the name-dropping, all last episode was spent calling the car unreliable and now "Mad Men" stages a failed suicide in one? Ouch.

It's Joan who discovers something's wrong with Lane when she tries to enter his office and smells something. She goes and tells Pete, Harry and Ken, laughing it up in Pete's office next door. And when Pete peeks over to see Lane, he covers his mouth and, without saying a word, Joan bursts into tears in a very powerful scene that really didn't need words.

Don and Roger find out when they head back to the office after a fantastic pitch to Dow Corning (subtitle: Don Draper gets his groove back) to offer their services. Earlier this season, the company executive Ed Baxter, who just happens to be Ken Cosgrove's father-in-law, told Don that his Lucky Strike ad made him persona non grata among the big names in business.

Don, wanting to show that he's still got it, makes an impassioned speech about getting Dow to the top (he's even OK with them making napalm), which makes the juxtaposition between this moment and the discovery of Lane even more jarring.

"He hanged himself," Bert simply tells Don.

When Pete says they're waiting for the coroner to come, Don angrily says, "We can't leave him like that!"

Roger discovers a letter. "To my fellow partners," it's addressed.

"It's a resignation letter," Roger says. "Boiler plate."

Don doesn't say a word (he likely wont), just looks away.

Sad stuff. Sadder: One of Lane's last meals was an English muffin.

There was an interesting denouement: Don comes home from the office and Glen Bishop, who was visiting Sally (more on this later), needs a ride home to his prep school (his early-puberty mustache needs to be maintained, after all).

Glen talks to Don about how everything in life ends up crappy.

"If you could do anything, what would you do?" Don asks.

Later, we see Don letting Glen drive Don's car back. Perfect end to a tough episode.

And then there's Sally: Meanwhile, most of the rest of the episode was devoted to a pretty insufferable Sally. I mean, who really wants to go on a ski trip with Henry and Betty, but is it really necessary to whine about wearing hand-me-down ski boots?

Betty can't take it anymore, so she lets Sally stay with Don and Megan for the weekend. Don, of course, doesn't tell Megan, so Sally shows up at the door and all Megan can focus on is having to go to an audition the next day (because she's a child, too.)

Sally acts like a little girl wanting to be a grown woman because that's just what she is. She complains about daddy having a big meeting and orders coffee with Megan and her friend and casually mentions she has a boyfriend.

Cue creepy Glen (and his mustache) who comes to visit when Megan high-tails it to her audition. Sally dresses up but looks all of her 12 years while Glen, not much older, looks about 15 or so.

They have awkward not-quite adult, not-quite kid conversations at the American Museum of Natural History, bantering about the dioramas while Sally says she wants Betty and Henry to get a divorce.

Then the Creepy Glenness: He admits to telling bullies at school that he came to the city to "do it" with Sally (reminder: she's 12). Sally, complaining (yes, more complaints) of not feeling well, says she doesn't think she feels that way about him and runs to the bathroom where she discovers she got her period for the first time.

Great. Now Sally will forever connect her first period to Glen Bishop saying he told kids at school he was going to do it with her.

Sally is understandably freaked out, but decides to go back to Betty instead of Megan. Betty very, very awkwardly comforts here, acting freaked out herself that her daughter would hug her. Just think of Sally as a Christmas ham, Fat Betty.

Betty calls Megan to tell her that Sally ran home to here and rub it in her rival's face that Sally really just needed her mother. Way to turn this moment into a one-upmanship battle with Megan, Betty.

Maybe this is a turning point in Betty-Sally relations, because she later lies on the bed with her daughter and gives her a nice speech about being a woman and whatnot. However, do most moms use this moment to tell their daughters that this will mean that a baby is in the future? I mean, I get what she's saying, but perhaps now is not the time.

But perhaps now her time with Glen Bishop is done, so that's good at least.

P.S. I was sort of surprised that there was no Peggy this episode after she quit the agency last week. I expected at least something with her, maybe a call from Don or Pete. Still, they were a little preoccupied. We can only wait to see if anything happens with Peggy in next week's season finale -- and how the office will cope with Lane's death.

 

 

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