Veteran actor Jared Harris shined this weekend, appearing in both AMC's Mad Men and Fox's Fringe as two very different characters. I'm taking a nerd moment here and gushing -- how delightful is he as Lane Pryce? He's pulling double duty right now as Pryce and David Robert Jones on Fringe -- an ill-fated show that used to be good but now is only worth watching so you can see Harris play the super cool villain again. He's been a prominent character throughout this season -- to the point that it makes the hard-to-follow "alternate-alternate universe" plot-line worth it just because it brought Jones back from the dead. He's back to try and destroy the universes again -- the show's still vague on his motivation, but the Other Side's team finally uncovered that their Lt. Broyles' been working with Jones to help end the world so Broyles can save his son.
Don't ask me to follow his logic, since helping someone end the world to save your sick son would inevitably lead to that son's demise, so what's the point of helping Jones in the first place? Wishing that Fringe would make sense anymore is a little pointless, but the episode was still fun to watch just because you get to see Harris' freaky bad guy Jones again. It's incredible to see someone that can play a merciless killer just as easily as he can play a charming sweetheart. Honestly, I'm more focused on Harris' role in Mad Men, since that show is better and his part is bigger (sorry, Fringe, just saying).
The title of this week's Mad Men, "Signal 30," refers to the 1959 public safety shock video viewed in many a Driver's Ed class which showed the results of horrific car crashes in an effort to scare kids into making smart decisions behind the wheel. That lovely film and this week's episode focused on an important lesson: think before you act. We saw a lot of rash decisions being made this week: Campbell, in particular, had a "Night of a Million Great Choices" -- getting turned down by a high school girl in his Driver's Ed class (ick), bedding a prostitute after he took Lane Pryce's potential new client out for a night on the town (double ick), and there were allusions to his being depressed and owning a gun. Kudos go to Draper though, who wisely kept it in his pants to stay in the good graces of Megan, who's quickly growing on me as one of my fave characters -- she's such a great match for Don, I'm just waiting for him to inevitably screw it up. But for now he's being a good boy, so me and Draper are squaresies.
Pryce almost nabbed a new account by catching a soccer game with Edwin Baker from Jaguar motors. He went against the advice of the others who think he should've handed it off to an account man and chose to pursue it himself. Roger gives him some pointers on how to finesse people, but they don't work on Baker and the others get worried he might've blown it. Campbell and Roger step in and offer to take over -- he agrees and Draper, Campbell and Sterling take Baker out and find out he's just a big perv that wants to experience some good old American freakiness. Who else but Roger comes up with the brilliant idea to take this guy to a whorehouse? Dude goes home and his wife finds gum on his nether-regions (or pubis, as Pryce says so adorably), flips her shiz and they end up losing Jaguar anyway.
Pryce is livid, and what followed was the best TV I've seen all weekend, and maybe the best time I've ever had watching Mad Men: he storms into the partners meeting and is totally furious, and gets even more enraged when the others laugh at him. Campbell especially says some pretty messed up stuff and Pryce -- ever the gentleman -- challenges him to a match of fisticuffs. I've been waiting all five seasons to see this little weasel get a beat down and it finally happened: he totally kicked the crap out of Campbell! I think I giggled like a small child seeing Pryce put his dukes up like an old-timey prizefighter. He whooped up on Campbell, who whined later to Draper that he didn't stop it, and Draper, a scrapper himself, just shrugged it off like, "What do you want me to do about it? You're the one that said it." It was spectacular.
As I said, this was an episode all about making decisions, most of them rashly -- and Pryce wasn't immune. After the fight, Joan brings him ice for his hand and in a move I saw coming a few episodes ago, kisses Joan. She took it in stride, though; she's got a soft spot for Pryce, just not like that. She allowed him to kiss her, then quietly got up and opened the door, making it clear without having to say anything that she isn't down for that. But can you blame Pryce for trying? If anyone had the brass ones right then to try and plant one on Red, it would be Pryce. And if anyone could appear in two completely different shows playing two completely different people, it's Jared Harris.
Follow Vanessa Berben on Twitter: www.twitter.com/2FingersBerben