‘Mad Men’ Season 5 Episode 12 Review: ‘Commissions and Fees’

by Alan Danzis on June 4, 2012 · 3 comments

in Mad Men

Mad Men isn’t usually a show you can predict. Who could have predicted Don has a wife until he showed up at home at the end of the first episode? Or that he wasn’t even really Don. Or you know, that one time that a tractor went through the office…

But this season, it seems like all signs were pointing LOUD AND CLEAR to someone dying on the show. We had the open elevator shaft. Pete casually bring up the notion of suicide as it relates to an insurance policy. And the reminder of the fact that Pete has a gun in his office.

I always thought it would be Pete and Roger to do it; Pete, who could never, no matter what, be truly happy. And Roger, who seemed to be in a perpetual state of unhappiness, thanks to his failures at new business of late and the dissolution of his marriage.

But of course it would be Lane. He really had no way out, right? Once Don of all people – Don who forged an identity that could have caused serious problems for his two firms over the years – caught him in an embezzlement scheme, that in the grand “scheme” of things, wasn’t even that much money.

Was there any other way for Lane to go?

No.

But.

I still don’t buy Lane wouldn’t have asked for that money from Don or anyone else. I don’t think his pride is that strong, that he would risk his reputation, career and everything else, to embezzle it.

And because I still can’t get past it, as moved as I was by Jared Harris’ performance throughout the episode, I’m still having trouble appreciating the decision to have everything play out as it did.

Inevitability ruled the day, however. Whether Lane was either looking for one last happy moment with his crush Joan or he somehow, sadistically almost, wanted to see if he still had a shot with her, once Lane was crushed by her again he retreated home. Perhaps if his wife hadn’t bought the car, he could have felt like he could reemerge, but it was probably still inevitable.

It was inevitable that his car wouldn’t start… after he had already broken his glasses. (Can anyone answer me why he did that? Did he just hate them so much and he’d rather them not be on him when he actually did kill himself?)

And it was inevitable that once he was typing at his typewriter, he was going to kill himself in that office. But with what? (I thought of Pete’s gun almost instantly.)

That inevitability is what grew the tension in the episode. Knowing that he truly was dead when Joan couldn’t get into his office. Wondering what gruesome sight the guys saw when they peered over Pete’s window. (Again, I figured he blew his head off with Pete’s fun and it was splatted all over the office.) And then waiting for Don’s reaction when he returned to the office, slightly drunk from his liquid lunch with Roger.

Now the question is… will Don say anything? Or will this be a terrible burden that he carries, just as he knows Peggy’s secret? “It will shock you how much it didn’t happen.”

OK. I think that’s enough said about Lane. Some other last minute thoughts:

  • Joan is not only a partner—but she’s kind of running the partners’ meeting now too.
  • Glenn is back. And again, kind of hitting on Don’s wife. With a creepy moustache. (Sorry Matt Weiner—I know he’s your son, but still.)
  • Sally got to wear her go-go boots after all. But she wasn’t quite as ready to become a woman as she thought…
  • Ken didn’t get fired, but he smartly decided to step away so SCDP could go after his father-in-law’s business. (I knew when they cast Ray Wise in that role, we’d see an awful lot of him.)
  • How happy was Betty when she got to remind Megan that the reason Sally came home to her, was because she needed her “mommy.” She may not be as skinny or as attractive as Megan is anymore, and while Sally clearly sees Megan as her friend, Betty knows that she’ll need her mommy every so often. (Even if 95% of the time, she’s a terrible, terrible mother.)
  • No Peggy this week. I doubt we’ll see her next week in the finale, but I imagine next season we’ll see a ton of her at her new agency with some new faces.

*This article has been updated

  • NC

    Umm… his name is JARED Harris. 

  • http://twitter.com/TankHughes Bri Hughes

    I wasn’t sure why Lane broke his glasses, either, but he had been drinking so I thought it might be another way for him to stay unfocused while the car filled up. On some CSI episode they said that people jump off buildings they usually remove their glasses so they don’t have to see what’s coming. 

  • nikkiskate

    Loved all the Catcher in the Rye references in this ep. Mad Men:
    The Catcher in the Whiskey http://wp.me/p1xVI5-12C

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