With one episode left in the season, they finally delivered on that long-promised suicide.
A friend of mine pointed out to me the parallels between what happened in this episode, and an event back in season one. In this week’s episode, Don tells Lane that he can start fresh. No one else knows about the embezzlement, and Don himself will cover the $7500 that Lane owes. Lane can just move on. “The next thing will be better, because it always is.”
Don is totally sincere. Starting over is something that Don has always had a special gift for, which is why his perfect protege is Peggy. Back at the beginning of the show, after Peggy had a baby and a breakdown, Don advised her to “move forward. This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened.” And she did. Like Don, Peggy is a master of the restart. In the last episode, after she said goodbye to Don and SCDP, she stepped in the elevator with a smile on her face and the Kinks in her heart. Crisis doesn’t defeat her, it energizes her. It gives her a chance to wipe the slate clean.
Not so with Lane. And for good reason — he has a wife and a son who depend upon him, and whom he loves (however imperfectly). He can’t just wipe the slate clean without disastrous impact on people who need him. And, radiating outward from his family, he has a whole network of people whose good opinion he cares about — the firm, the 4A, Rebecca’s family, the whole of England apparently. In other words, Lane is a member of society — he feels too much responsibility to the people around him to sever his connections so easily.
In this, Lane is like Adam Whitman, of whom Don must have been thinking when he learned of Lane’s suicide. Don made a similar speech to Adam back in season one, exhorting him to just start over. He gave Adam $5000 and told him to leave New York, to forget he ever had a brother, and to begin a new life. But like Lane, Adam couldn’t do it. He had someone he cared about too much — in that case, Don himself. And, like Lane, rather than cut his ties and begin anew, Adam opted to end his life.
I wonder if Don would still be capable of starting over, if he had to. For the first time, it seems, Don is himself a member of society. Don’s ability to leave his past behind him was dependent upon the fact that he — like Peggy — had always been curiously devoid of close attachments, to family, friends, even his wife. But now, Don is married to a woman he loves and needs. He genuinely cares about his kids. He’s becoming a real boy — but he may have to lose his superpower in the process.
Okay and seriously. Why was this episode so fucking gross? No one needed to see a close-up of Sally’s clotty menstrual blood. Or the empurpled face of Lane’s corpse, for that matter. Come on, AMC. Let’s keep it classy.