Mad Men
Commissions And Fees

Episode Report Card
Couch Baron: A+ | 7 USERS: A+
YOU GRADE IT
Birth and Death In The Same Episode

Roger and Don stumble into the office, but both their good mood and their lubrication immediately vanish when they see the place is empty except for the three other living partners sitting around a table in one of the communal areas, a bottle in front of them. Pete suggests they sit down, but when Don asks what happened, Bertram tells him and that sends Joan into wracking sobs again. Don, the only one who can understand this, sinks down as Pete goes on that Bertram sent everyone home, telling them there was a building emergency and I commend the quick action but wouldn't the SCDP people have wondered why they were the only ones getting out of there? Oh, look at me... like I'd question a holiday were I in their position. Roger asks what happened, but of course there's no answer forthcoming, so he offers to take Joan home. She, however, says she wants to wait with Pete adding that the coroner is coming to cut Lane down, to which Don looks up wild-eyed and says they can't leave him like that. Even beyond his secret knowledge of the circumstances that led to Lane's action, it's not surprising Don would have this reaction, given his close relationship with death; the real Don Draper and his own father are two people I can think of off the top of my head he's seen die right in front of him, not to mention that -- as I said in the recaplet -- he also indirectly drove his own brother to hang himself. As Don pushes his full weight against the door (it's not the time for jokes, but I couldn't help picture the PA on the other side), Pete urgently tells him that they were instructed not to disturb the body as it's a crime scene, but Don emotionally repeats that they can't leave him like that and gets the door far enough open that the three of them can enter. Roger removes the obstructing table and once the door swings shut again, they see Lane hanging there and the mottled, purple skin of his neck is not a sight for the faint of heart. (If you didn't read the linked article above, Jared Harris revealed that he was indeed hanging there, and what's more, Matt Weiner didn't allow the other players in the scene to see him in his makeup before they entered, which I guess means they did no camera rehearsals with the real actors.)

They all stand around uncertainly for a bit until Don removes his coat and asks Pete to find something with which to cut Lane down and Pete gets up with a pair of scissors as Don and Roger brace the corpse and it's here you can really see for the first time the purple lips and ashen face and even though this is a trick of makeup it makes you appreciative of how funeral cosmeticians earn their pay. With Lane safely on the couch, Pete quite reasonably suggests they withdraw, but Roger -- who looks as affected as anyone -- notices an envelope on the floor containing, presumably, the letter we saw Lane typing. He retrieves it and then puts a hand on Don's shoulder and whispers that they should go. When they get outside, Joan and Bertram are waiting expectantly and Roger sees that the envelope is addressed to the partners. Pete tells him to open it and he complies: "It's a resignation letter. It's boilerplate." Don winces, but hey, he's the one that told him to make an elegant exit. As everyone tries in vain to make any sense of it, the camera pushes in on Don, who's burdened with information that both for Lane's sake (to preserve his reputation) and his own (so people don't think he drove Lane to it) he's probably going to have to keep secret. Of course, Megan does know about Lane's misdeeds, which makes me wonder if she's going to be gone by season's end too.

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