Spoiler alert: Read no further if you haven't seen the episode [the penultimate one in season five].
Context: Faced with a then-hefty debt of $7,500, Lane forged Don's name on a check and embezzled the sum from the firm. It would have been a shoirt term loan, he argues, but Don feels he has no choice but to force the Englishman's resignation. ("I can't trust you.") Lane is honoirable but weak. Losing his job would mean losing his visa as well as his source of income. How will he face his wife? She little suspects her husband has gotten himself into so serious a jam. What will he say to his son? The humiliation is total. It is a splendid irony that his wife has written a check to buy him a surprise present of a Jaguar, the account the firm has landed, at the very moment when their finances can least afford such an extravagance. But then she is as much in the dark about her husband's work as Kurtz's fiancee is of the deeds her hero has done in the Congo. The irony is beautifully compunded: the Jaguar fails to start when Lane chooses death by carbon monoxide as his "elegant exit" (Don's phrase), and he floods the engine. What does he do instead? Bad pun department: I won 't leave you hanging for long.
In the teaser for next week, Don is seen calling on someone at home. Stacey thinks (predicts) that he is visiting Lane's widow, paying her a condolence call, telling her what "really" happened -- possibly in the way that Marlow calls on Kurtz's fiancee and lies to her to keep her illusions intact. The less prescient of the two of us thinks he is showing up unexpectedly at either Joan's or Peggy's apartment.
Samuel Johnson it was who said that "nothing concentrates the mind like the knowledge that one will be hanged in the morning." -- DL
Tragedy struck the Mad world last night. Lane killed himself. Emotional defeat spread from his career to family to personal dreams, and he decided life wasn’t worth living.
I can’t say I was surprised. After the confrontational exchange with Don, I felt he might be vulnerable to such an act. Among the suits, Don is the exception to the rule. Rather than disgrace Lane publically, he fires and castigates him privately while also offering his version of encouragement. When Lane says he doesn’t know what he’ll tell his wife or son, Don replies, “you’ll tell them that it didn’t work out, because it didn’t. You’ll tell them the next thing will be better, because it always is. Take the weekend. Think of an elegant exist.” But some exits in life are too harsh and lonely. When Lane returns to his office after that exchange, gulping down whiskey by the glass, I visualized him in a snow globe, completely detached from the world, utterly consumed with the pain of recent moments. There is a miniature Statue of Liberty behind him but at that instant she means nothing to him.
Lane doesn’t find peace and solace when he goes home but more pain. The wives, Lane’s and Don’s, stick to type. They want to prepare and serve dinner or go to a restaurant -- wanting the best for their husbands, who are falling apart at the time. Even when Lane vomits after his wife shows him the Jaguar she bought for him, the poor woman believes it’s simply because he has drunk too much. She cannot possibly see that her well-intentioned gift is a dagger to his heart.
It’s always a joy to see Sally. She’s precious, stubborn, mischievous, feisty, yet singularly clear in wanting honest relationships with others. Her communication with Glen, her phone pal, is guided by honesty. It’s hard not to adore a boy who’d rather go to the Museum of Natural History than stay at Sally’s home and get into any level of trouble. Yet when Sally discovers she has started her menstruation she runs away, ashamed and unprepared to explain what she’s going through.
While Lane is caught in an emotional tornado, Don is trying to resurrect his warrior side: the side of him that used to aggressively search for business opportunities and not wait for them to come to him; the side of him that, as he tells Roger, is “tired of living in this delusion that we’re going somewhere.” He wants to pursue his dreams of handling big accounts and working for major American companies (American rather than Mohawk airlines, Chevy rather than Jaguar). The conversation with Lane is decisive for him, too -- it reminds him to focus on what he really wants to do, but it leaves him clueless as to the danger Lane is in. His version of starting over in life isn’t the same as Lane’s. When he hears of Lane’s suicide he immediately knows that the best he can do for him then is to give him some dignity in death and cut him down from the noose..
-- Connie Aitcheson