'Mad Men' Recap: Resignation Letter
'Mad Men' Recap:  Resignation Letter
This week on Mad Men, SCDP lose one of their own, Sally gets a few visitors, and Don pitches a big account. The theme of the penultimate episode of season five was happiness: the never-ending quest to attain it and what happens when it disappears from sight.

At the show's heart, Mad Men is often about the feeling of incompletion, the feeling that happiness is just out of reach. That feeling, after all, is what advertising preys on. Advertising wants to sell you a dream of happiness, attainable but just out of grasp. Don Draper has always been the perfect ad man because he understands the elusive chase for happiness more than most. Throughout his many affairs and through his professional accomplishments, he's often been chasing the phantom of happiness. 

"You're not happy with anything," Don tells Baxter, the big account he suddenly has on the line. "What is happiness? It's a moment before you need more happiness." It's a great line because it sums up so much about not just the episode or the season, but the show in general. These characters are always striving, always seeking the dream of happiness, but never close to actually achieving it. Don realizes by now that happiness, like identity, is a fluid concept. It ebbs and it flows, and you can remake it whenever you want.

If only Lane had taken Don's advice. But not everyone can remake themselves from Dick Whitman to Don Draper. Some get trampled in the never-ending search for happiness; in the world advertising has made for us that tells us material things are the most important.

A Loss

Critics and fans alike have been calling a suicide all season, maybe even earlier. Most had their bets placed on Pete this season. And Pete truly has seemed especially unhappy and contemptible. But Lane's victory in his fistfight with Pete was short lived and his cooking the books at the company could only go on for so long.  

Bert notices the forged check from Lane and chews Don out about it. When Don confronts Lane, he first tries to play it off and then gets defensive. It seems like genuine remorse is not exactly in the cards for Lane. He explains that he's put a lot into the firm and yet has gotten nothing back in return except for taxes he can't really pay.

Don just can't have him at the firm, knowing that he's untrustworthy. Even when Lane begs and explains he'll be deported back to England (which is apparently the ninth circle of hell as far as Lane is concerned) Don stands firm. He tells Lane that he'll allow him to resign and won't tell the firm. He explains how it's actually easy to remake yourself. The part he's at now is the hardest.

Lane, however, just doesn't possess the adaptability of Don Draper. After seeing that his wife has gotten him a Jaguar they absolutely can't afford, he attempts to commit suicide in the new car. But of course, it's a Jaguar and as we learned last week, they're unreliable. So Lane goes to the office to end his life instead. I have to say, Jaguar must be just over the moon about their portrayal on Mad Men this season. Jaguar: good for prostitution, not really good for anything else (even suicide!). What did Jaguar do to Matthew Weiner?

At the office the next day, Joan tries to return some books to Lane and immediately realizes something is wrong when the door to his office is jammed by a piece of furniture.  In the next office, she asks Pete, Harry, and Ken to take a look and see what's wrong. They do and the look on their faces tells the whole story. Those upper office windows have certainly been used for a lot of storytelling on Mad Men, but this was by far the grimmest.

When Don and Roger get home from the pitch, they find Pete, Bert and Joan waiting for the coroner's to come pick up the body. Don freaks out because no one cut Lane down and charges into his office to do it. Personally, I could have gone the episode without seeing Lane's hanging body. After lying Lane on the couch, Roger finds a letter addressed to the SCDP partners. It's a boilerplate resignation letter, clearly meant for Don.

By the way, how many people have died in the SCDP offices so far? Two? Next season are we going to find out the whole place is cursed and Mad Men turns into Paranormal Activity: 60s edition?

The Ghost of the Other Letter

Meanwhile, another powerful letter is haunting Don. This time it's the Lucky Strike letter. Don complains to Roger that the firm isn't aiming high enough. So Roger schedules an appointment with Baxter, Ken's father-in-law. Ken agrees to the deal as long as he can get in on the account. Oh, and if Pete gets nowhere near it. It's interesting to see Ken get a bit more in the game. Clearly after the slimy move Pete pulled last week with Joan, Ken is done playing ball with him.

Don's pitch to a hostile Baxter is that his company shouldn't be complacent. Just because they're good doesn't mean they can't be great. It's interesting to see Don advise the company to not get complacent and change with the times, especially since Don has seemed increasingly left behind in the cultural shifts of the late 60s. With Don out of honeymoon mode and Roger finally out of his LSD-remembrance phase, could there be bigger (more reliable) things on the horizon for SCDP than Jaguar?


While the drama unfolds in the office, at home Sally and Betty fight about a ski trip. Betty might be the witty one-liner MVP this episode, narrowly stealing the honors from Roger. "Fine I'll leave you locked in a trunk," Betty tells Sally when she says she doesn't want to go on the trip. I can't wait until Betty Draper writes her parenting book. On the phone with Don, Betty says Sally wants to spend time with his "child bride", referring to Megan.

When Don and Megan both take off and Sally is left alone, she has creepy Glenn come to visit her at the apartment. Oh Glenn, you might be older but you're still so off-putting. When they go to the museum, Sally suddenly gets her period and freaks out. She takes a cab ride all the way home and she and Betty actually have some sweet scenes bonding over Sally's rite of passage. 

Of course, this leaves Megan and later Don to figure out what to do with Glenn. After a terrible day at the office, Don offers to drive Glenn home. Glenn complains about his own unhappiness and Don asks what would make him happy. Apparently what would make Glenn happy is dying horribly in an automobile accident, as Don let's Glenn drive himself home. (With some steering wheel help of course.)

Next week is the Mad Men season finale. According to the promo someone will both open and shut a door, someone else will look concerned, and Peggy is still nowhere to be seen. If the season finale is half as shocking as these last two episodes, we better buckle up like we're being driven home by Glenn. It could get bumpy.

What did you think of the episode? Are you sad to lose Lane? Sound off in the comments!

Morgan Glennon
Contributing Writer