Okay, so Lane comes in all jolly with the news that he accepted the 4A's position on behalf of the firm, but Don doesn't even hear him as he thrusts the check into Lane's face. A moment of indecision of how to play it is all Don needs to know the worst and Lane does not exactly cover himself in glory when he tries to say that Don obviously signed the check, as if Don wouldn't remember the discussion they would have had to have before signing off on a check of that size for anyone. When Don refuses to waver, Lane tries to project offended dignity, but his heart isn't in that either. Don gets up, pours them both a drink and invites him to come clean, adding that he wants to know if the check in his hand is the only forgery. Lane gives him a long look, takes an even longer drink and breathes that it was supposed to be a thirteen-day loan, but the bonuses were delayed and then canceled and then they wanted the money for Joan. "And I'm the one who's committed the crime?" Leaving aside the fact that Don is not exactly the person to blame for the Joan thing, if Lane has any recourse here it would be utter honesty and he should be clear about his lie about the surplus as well. Not sure it would help, but to see him only admit the truth as far as he's been caught here is tough to watch and gives credence to Don's imminent pronouncement that he can't trust him.
Don asks if Lane has a gambling problem, but Lane bites out that he owed taxes on his portfolio, which he liquidated to put fifty thousand dollars into the company as per his partnership agreement after Lucky Strike left. Well, I should have realized that this is where Lane's financial problems started, but I'm surprised he agreed to this plan so readily at the time if it was going to cost him even more than he had. Also, now that I think about it, he did screw up in not negotiating to be exempt from further contributions, given that he didn't get rich off the sale as the rest of them did -- given how much they needed him to get away from the old SC, I think he could have swung that. Which, by the way, is a little detail I hope Joan was smart enough to catch -- there's obviously no way she could afford to put in a partnership contribution, although the likelihood that it'll be needed seems far less now. Don wonders why Lane didn't just ask if he needed the money so badly, but Lane -- his voice raised now -- says he didn't think it was worth "suffering the humiliation for a thirteen-day loan! That was my money!" I mean, look, it's not that he has no point at all, but we're still obviously talking about multiple felonies and he's also showing no contrition so as much as it hurts, I have to back Don's play when after some long moments he tells Lane he's going to need his resignation. Any color that's left in Lane's face drains as he realizes how badly he just fucked up and he tries to tell Don he's sorry and he's not sure how it came to this, but the company is in great shape and he'll make good on what he owes by Easter, even if he has to pull his son out of school. Don, however, points out that Lane not only embezzled money, he forged Don's signature and Lane tries to spin that bit by saying he chose Don because he's always been the most decent to him? I mean, the statement may be true as far as Don goes, but I still think Lane's only concern is whose signature was easiest to copy. Don counters that what he's doing is the most decent course available to him given the circumstances, to which Lane, suddenly half in tears, bursts out that he's never been compensated for his role in the company and he's operated on a loss for three years. He whispers for Don to please reconsider and honestly from a business standpoint, Don very well might, as Lane still knows a lot of stuff the rest of them don't and it's very likely that Don would have scared Lane straight for life here.