Mad Men 5.10 – Christmas Waltz

“It’s not about honour, it’s about the fact we created a human life. We made a baby!”
“Yes, and now it’s some other lucky girl’s turn.”

It’s Christmas in New York, and I’m sure everyone in the world of Mad Men is going to be full of holiday cheer this week! Ho ho ho, just joking.

Oh dear. Lane is in a spot of trouble with the taxman, and if he doesn’t come up with $8000 in two days, he pasty white British ass is going to jail. Guess what? He doesn’t have $8000. This poses a problem, doesn’t it?

Paul Kinsey, late of the firm and who I completely forgot existed even though I liked him and his pipe of pretentiousness, has been calling Harry Crane to get together for lunch. Harry does NOT want to see him, as the last time they met (at Ken Cosgrove’s bachelor party), Paul was high as a kite and a little bit weird. Lane interrupts to interrogate Harry as to how much money is going to be rolling in this month from new advertisers. Answer: not much. Oh oh.

Next stop for Lane is the firm’s banker, who thinks they’re getting together for a Christmas drink but is happy enough to extend the company’s credit line by another $50,000 when Lane asks for it. Lane, what are you doing?! Don’t you know embezzlers go to jail right along with tax evaders? What you should be doing is scamming people in mortgage housing bubble schemes – then you won’t even miss out on your bonus if you’re caught.

It’s Pearl Harbor Day, and Roger is celebrating the occasion by getting drunk as a skunk…at 8 in the morning. Pete excitedly tells him and Don that the fellow from Jaguar (who you may recall wanted them to arrange a night of hookers and booze for him, which they obliged to do), has been fired for his drinking problem. Pete’s been biding his time waiting for this day, and now that the old guy’s been replaced, the new guy is open to pitches from the five ad agencies who don’t presently have a car account. Pete’s bubble is burst as usual when Don complains about how much work it’s going to take when he’s confident they don’t have a chance in hell of landing the account.

Harry drops by the address Paul gave his secretary, only to find that Paul is now a Hare Krishna! No more pipe for him…or pants or hair, for that matter. He strong-arms Harry into staying for some chanting, which Harry agrees to after meeting the beautiful and intoxicating Mother Lakshmi. “Oh, I get it,” Harry says. Harry couldn’t stand out more from the Krishna worshipers in his tweed coat and briefcase, but soon enough he’s happily chanting away his troubles with the rest of them, with Mother Lakshmi sexily whispering the words in his ear.

No shoes, no hair, but I still get service WHAT.

Lane calls a meeting to tell the partners that he’s happily “found” $50,000 on the books, so everyone can get a Christmas bonus for the first time in three years. Yay! Now, he’ll just cut the cheques that afternoon and if Don could just sign them… But Don wants to wait until the Christmas party, because he knows Joan isn’t going to approve of such extravagance when the company’s struggling as it is. Poor Lane has no choice but to agree, and nobody even notices his angst because Pete is too busy whining about how nobody is properly praising him for his exemplary work on the Jag account. “Bert?” he begs. “They’re lemons,” Bert replies. “They never start.” Ha! It’s just Pete and his hand tonight.

Roger’s drunkenly hitting on the latest secretary is his loud Christmas in Hawaii shirt when Joan chews him out. “Mr. Sterling, seeing as you’re dressed for fishing, you’ll have more success if you’re quiet.” Burn! He chases after Joan to make sure she knows she’ll always be his favourite secretary he slept with, but she doesn’t give a shit, because she’s awesome. She doesn’t want money for the baby, she doesn’t want him. She just wants to do her job. Because she’s awesome.

After all the chanting and such, Paul takes Harry for a bite to eat. Paul may be a true believer, but he’s still an ad man at heart. Unfortunately, even joining the Krishnas hasn’t brought Paul much joy or self-esteem. It turns out he’s still more of his old self that he let on – he wants Harry to look at his latest project. No, not hemp bracelets, he’s written a script for, of all things, Star Trek. For the win! It’s called “The Negron Complex” (which sounds like an episode of The Big Bang Theory), and he wants Harry to use his connections to get a meeting with Gene Roddenberry. I cannot LOL fast enough.

Megan takes Don to an avant garde play that handily condemns television and more specifically the world of advertising. He’s thoroughly unimpressed, and even though Megan tries to have an adult, healthy conversation about it when they get home, he just shuts her down because that’s what Don does. “Well, no one’s made a stronger stand against advertising than you.” Ouch. Poor Megan. She really had no idea what she was in for, did she?

We saw this coming a mile away, but it still hurts to watch: Lane sneaks into the office late at night and writes himself a cheque for the money he needs, and forges Don’s signature. Oh, this is not going to be good. He is so very much the man living a life of quiet desperation. It’s a lesson for us all, kids. Don’t spend more than you make! And don’t be a character on Mad Men. That is all. Well, he can at least pay back what he stole when he gets his bonus at the Christmas party.

Harry asks for Peggy’s advice on what to do about Paul, because his script is a stinker. She, unlike the men on this show, doesn’t want to play games or be deceptive or any of that BS. She advises Harry to tell Paul the unvarnished truth: that the script is awful and he should write a better one if he wants to succeed. And if he can’t, then he shouldn’t be doing it. Which is the truth! Harry doesn’t appreciate the truth, unsurprisingly.

Don’s feeling low, so much so that he’s napping in his office instead of working, when Pete comes to see him. He wants Don to do some mystery shopping at the local Jag dealership to see what it’s like to buy one of their cars. He tells Don to take Megan to see how they treat couples, but Don doesn’t think that’s a very good idea, seeing as how they’re not even talking right now. Pete can’t help but point out that not so long ago Don would have been so excited at the thought of snagging Jaguar that he would have kissed Pete on the mouth. Don suggests that maybe the two of them should go car shopping together. Ha!

Joan is served with divorce papers at work, and after a spectacular and violent meltdown towards the pitiful receptionist who let him into the office, Don intervenes and convinces her to leave with him so she can calm down. Of course, he takes her Jag shopping, where they pretend they’re married and carefree and happy, and he actually pays for the car so they can test-drive it without the salesman. They really are the most good-looking, charismatic couple in the history of forever. If they ever combined their superpowers they could take over the world. Even the Avengers couldn’t stop them. Can you imagine Joan in the same room as Tony Stark?? But I digress.

They take their sparkly new Jag to a bar so they can drink their problems away. She bemoans the fact that when someone used to want to see her in reception, it was to give her flowers. Don remembers that – it was like she was dating Ali Khan, the playboy prince. Their benign flirting immediately makes each other feel better, because they honestly think the other one is gorgeous and smart and wonderful. Why didn’t Don ever make a move on her? “You scared the shit out of me.” One gets the feeling that Don might allow himself to get carried away with Joan at this moment, but she knows better than to do that. She understands exactly where that will lead, and it’s not a house with a white picket fence. When he encourages to go after a guy sitting alone at the bar, she shares her philosophy on men and women, that men cheat because that’s just they way they are – and women allow it because that’s just the way they are. Depressing, but fairly accurate in the context of the times. Don leaves her to it, but I strongly suspect she goes home alone. After Don, what man could compete with that?

The most perfect couple who'll never be.

After being thoroughly vetted by the understandably spooked receptionist, Lakshmi gets in to see Harry in his office. She handily seduces Harry (“I burn for you. Does your wife burn for you?”), only to reveal that she did it as a payoff so he doesn’t help Paul and tempt him away from the Krishnas. And even though by pretending to love Paul she’s giving him as much false hope as Harry, she’s not going to let him go because “He’s a devotee of the lord! And also he’s our best recruiter. I mean, he really can close.” When Harry points out that she already gave him her only bargaining chip (across his desk, I might add), she slugs him in the face. Point taken. Just like Peggy, she advises Harry to tell Paul the truth about his script, and that should be enough to get him back on track.

Don goes home after driving drunk of course, only to be confronted by a furious Megan, who – unlike Joan – doesn’t think he’s fabulous. She thinks he’s selfish and cold. Well, duh. He hopes this is another round of angry foreplay, but not this time. She makes him eat supper because she fucking well made it for him and they’re going to fucking have supper together. Her plate is inconveniently shattered against the wall, but he catches her drift.

Lane talks his wife out of going to the UK for Christmas because work is going so well they can’t function without him. She’s excited for him and gladly agrees to stay home. For one moment he considers telling her the truth, just like all the women in this show recommend, but he chooses to live the lie instead because he thinks she can’t handle the truth – but in reality HE can’t handle it.

The next day at work, Roger is jealous to see Joan’s received a beautiful bouquet of roses. It turns out to be from “Ali Khan”. Don does know how to charm the ladies, doesn’t he? At least until he catches them.

Harry ignores the women’s advice and tells Paul that the Star Trek people LOVED his screenplay but can’t but it because of litigation concerns. So instead Harry is going to give Paul five hundred bucks so he can move to LA and reach for the stars…away from the Krishnas and even more so Lakshmi. Will Paul do what he’s told? Maybe. Because if the Star Trek people liked his screenplay, he MUST have a shot!

Mohawk is going on strike as promised, so there’ll be no money from them until after Christmas at the earliest. Thus, there won’t be bonuses after all. Lane understandably freaks out, saying how bad it will be for, uh, the staff. Yeah, that’s the ticket. The other partners agree, and Bert suggests the partners defer their bonuses until January so the staff can still get theirs. Poor Lane just can’t catch a break! They tell the staff the bad and good news but just when you think the meeting is over, Don says he has something to say. He gives the staff an incredible pep talk (hey, the man knows how to sell a pitch), telling them they’re going to work like dogs to get the Jag account – and they’re damn well going to get it. The staff is electrified and the partners are thrilled that they just might have the old Don Draper back. Hey, a few drinks with Joan Harris will do that to a man. Everyone is pleased as punch, except for Lane. He’s being backed into a very harsh corner, and I fear for how desperate he might get before this season is over.