Sometimes I think Mad Men is testing me. The show sometimes dishes so much devastation, sadness, and grisliness that — on occasion — creator Matthew Weiner seems to be placing a moratorium on fabulosity, which is Mad Men’s key ingredient. Well! Unfortunately I’m better than Mr. Weiner’s anti-fab streaks, and I still retrieved five moments of gay-magnifique deliciousness from last night’s particularly grim episode. Like Don Draper in the passenger side of his own car at episode’s end, let’s ride.
1. Sally hates Glen’s moustache and issues a SUPER SMIRK.
Sally Draper’s stilted versions of rebellion are always so weird and unsettling. She hates Betty, antagonizes Megan, confesses weird things to weird people, and sometimes spits such terse, pointed rejoinders that she seems more like a doe-eyed Magic 8 Ball than a person. But then there are occasions like last night’s episode when Sally, thrilled to be defiant in the space of Don’s empty apartment while he and Megan are out, recruits Glen for a little hooky and ventures into the city for sightseeing. How very Ferris Bueller, no? I’m actually waiting for Sally to be less like Ferris and more like Jeanie (Jennifer Grey’s character) — bitter, believably funny, and vindictive in a boiling-over way. Bring me a Charlie Sheen makeout at a police station, please! I see a Dancing with the Stars victory in her future too.
But Sally’s city foray with Glen was a big, sassy step forward for the budding minx. When she noted that creepy-ass Glen had grown a moustache (the puny, splintered, coarse thatch of squiggles that it was), she smirked odiously like Amon Goeth from Schindler’s List and snapped, “I don’t like it.” Bam. Over. Moustache dismissed. That was some fiiiiiine/Fiennes stank. Hurtfully aloof. Effectively callous. If she were my age and male, I’d want to date her.
2. Megan’s glamor is the true major arc of season five.
Megan began season five with an unthinkably ferocious moment — her swimmy, seductive performance of “Zou Bisou Bisou” for a befuddled Don at his surprise party. She’s enjoyed similarly glamorous moments since, including a Jeannie C. Riley hair monument and a Genevieve Bujold jewel story. But in the past few episodes, aside from the occasional eye-popping audition dress, we’ve seen Megan assume a more comfortable presence in the Draper home, and that means less ambitious dress-up. “Ugh” is my first reaction to that fact, but looky here: Megan looks chic and unpretentious in this cordoruy (?) monstrosity. I mean, even scary Sally is outglamming her, and Sally’s version of glamor is usually disturbing. I, for one, embrace the laxer Megan, even if it means she also wears that same damn green sweater from three episodes ago. I’ll get over it soon, I’m sure.
3. Lane’s breakdown is extreme and total. And now I care about Lane.
Obviously Lane wasn’t going to close the season without receiving proper comeuppance for stealing money from the company. And obviously Don would be the man who’d stare him in his Rango-licious eyes and ruin him. I’d love to say that Lane’s eventual suicide — which we luckily did not see onscreen in real time — was a surprise, but a major death has been teased for so long this season, I’m not shocked to see that Lane’s the dead hangman. I also wouldn’t be surprised if next episode, the last of the season, yielded a bigger death. For now, Lane’s shame-based suicide is a gruesome, but not unexpected development. R.I.P. Boring Owl Gecko Man.
But Lane brought the fab when he devolved into an excuse-spewing, hard-crying mess in front of a diplomatic Don, who said he had to fire Lane on the spot. Jared Harris was a revelation in this scene, vacillating between meager self-defense and an outright meltdown with organic ease. I love seeing uptight men grapple with moral crises! Fills me with endoprhins. Like when Ralph Fiennes coped with being a big cheater in Quiz Show? I was pretty abjectly turned on. Now is a good time to note that I believe Ralph Fiennes is Earth’s most elite organism.
4. Lane’s wife buys him a special car (to perish in!)
Mrs. Pryce had no idea that Lane’s budgetary plan of “Steal Money —> Get Away With It” didn’t work out for him, so she bought him a Jaguar to show her affection. Awwww. Too bad this chic, hearse-esque machine would only lead to Lane’s long drive with DEATH. His wife’s generosity forces him to lie about getting fired, which leads to his shame-centric suicide late in the episode. He even tries to arrange the suicide in the car, but he decides that SCDP’s offices deserve his dangling corpse more. Which is so true. While Lane never got to properly handle this pine-green Jag, at least we were rewarded with a glimpse at its smooth splendor. Sort of looks like Ace and Gary’s penismobile from “The Ambiguously Gay Duo,” no? What a way to go out, big Lane. Thanks for keepin’ it gay, Mrs. Pryce.
More fabulous yet: Do you think this means Peggy will be hired back as a full partner to replace Lane? We can’t be done with her character for good, right? Come on. Peggy’s the soul of this soulless operation.
5. Betty Draper’s soul makes a cameo!
Mad Men must’ve invited Judy Blume to write Sally Draper’s storyline this week, because her climactic moment of burgeoning adulthood — when she got her period in the museum and sprinted home to ALWAYS ANGRY BETTY for comfort — was the stuff of YA glory. I almost choked up when Betty cradled Sally. And you know why? Because I am sick of evil Betty. I’m sick of her one-note resentments, predictable cattiness, and unending anger. I miss the bird-shooting Betty of season one, the shallow ex-model who still had moments of brilliant nerve. Even though Betty basically bragged on the phone to Megan that Sally “wanted her mother,” I dug her empathy. Now: If only she could resume those long-missed sharpshooting skills and hunt caribou for museum-loving children to gawk at for generations. Then Betty’s three-season hostility would be forgiven.
What were your favorite fab moments of last night? Did Ken Cosgrove’s flair when sparring with Roger Sterling stir you? What of Joan’s beautiful crying? And Don’s late night car ride with weirdo Glen? Hit me up below.