*Caution -- You're About to Enter a (Black-Shrouded) Mad Men Spoiler Town
There's something about a favorite character dying that jars me a little. I think about the books and movies I loved as a child and how I felt when someone important lost their life. I would read those passages and watch those scenes wide-eyed and white-knuckled; desperate for a beloved character to make it out okay and angry that they met their fate because of literary or cinematic forces beyond their control.
So I'm sitting here irritated, because Lane Pryce was one of my favorite people to watch on Mad Men - -his charm, his graciousness, his tenacity -- it was a joy to see Jared Harris on screen. Many guessed it would be Peter Campbell to go, and the writers did a good job of making us think that could happen. We saw Campbell's life slowly unravel until it didn't seem like a stretch to think about him using that much alluded to shotgun. But instead we saw the end to a different man -- and his downfall, to me, was a little rushed; which is why I think I'm so disturbed by it.
Lane Pryce went from a mild-mannered gentleman to a broken one in just a few episodes -- before this season his biggest problem seemed to be whether or not his family was as happy as he was in America. But from the start of Season Five, he's been increasingly discontented with his role at SCDP. There was no warning that he was neglecting to pay his taxes back home, we just found out about it a few weeks ago when he decided -- completely out of character -- to embezzle funds from the company to cover his debts. His reasoning behind not asking Don or Roger if he could borrow the money -- the logical decision, given their proclivities to shirk the law when it suits them -- seemed out of place. He tossed it off as a matter of pride, however that same proud nature didn't seem to carry over to his decision to make a cowardly exit. For all the claims he made about loving his wife and family, he thought nothing of leaving them to deal with the financial mess he's left behind.
Perhaps it's the lit-nerd in me that's so unsettled by Lane's demise. The death of a good character is hard to swallow but their exit goes down easier when it's well done. I just feel unsatisfied with this. Much like Lane's treatment of SCDP's bank account, I can't help but feel a little cheated.
Read my full take on this week's episode at The Donnybrook Writing Academy.