At the close of the fifth season of Mad Men, things have never been better for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Too bad everyone's so miserable.
Physical And Emotional Pain
Don (Jon Hamm) has an increasingly bad toothache that's making his life miserable. So bad, as a matter of fact, that he keep hallucinating that he sees his half-brother Adam Whitman (Jay Paulson) around: first in an elevator, then in one of the SCDP offices, and finally in the dentist's office when Don's going under for the extraction. The fact that Adam hanged himself back in season one, after Don refused to re-establish contact with him, suggests that Don is having trouble dealing with Lane's suicide, even though it happened weeks ago.
Who Is Don Helping?
Don thinks perhaps he can soothe his conscience by visiting Lane's widow Rebecca (Embeth Davidtz), bearing a check repaying the $50,000 Lane had invested as collateral in the company. That doesn't go over well. Not only does Rebecca correctly intuit that his gesture is more about erasing his own guilt, but she coldly delivers the perfect assessment of her husband's downfall: "You had no right to fill a man like that with ambition." Which is a fair point, but...yikes.
Mother and Child Reunion
In town for Easter, Megan's (Jessica Paré) mother Marie (Julia Ormond) takes every opportunity she can to stick a pin in Megan's acting dreams. It's causing Megan to lose faith in herself, so when a friend asks her to put in a word with Don about a shoe commercial the agency is shooting, Megan asks for the part herself. The resulting awkwardly uncomfortable conversation cements one of the season's key points: even at their worst, Don and Megan manage to talk through their problems eventually. But that final scene of Don leaving Megan's brightly-lit studio and walking through a dark empty soundstage to end up drinking an Old Fashioned in a mod bar where a pair of younger women hit on him...are we going to be seeing a return to the Don of old? Pete Campbell's Punchable Face
Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) fully flames out when Beth (Alexis Bledel) comes back into his life. Their hotel room assignation gets kind of weird when it becomes clear that Beth is saying goodbye: she's about to undergo electroshock therapy, and not for the first time. Primed with outrage, Pete attacks Beth's loathsome husband Howard (Jeff Clarke) on the train home. Not only does Howard end up getting the upper hand, the conductor gets so wound up by Pete's snide obnoxiousness that he ends up doing what we all yearn to do and punching Pete right in the nose. It's official: you just can't not want to clock Pete, even if you sympathize with him a little.
So that's it for season five. How does it compare to years past? What's going to happen next year? Will Pete ever get the upper hand in a fistfight?
"We can do that?"
--Don is unclear on the partners' meeting protocol after Pete assigns his proxy vote to Don and storms out of the conference room.
"Not every little girl gets to do what she wants. The world cannot support that many ballerinas."
--Marie has a decidedly French view of how to be maternal and nurturing to her distraught daughter.
"I need a window, Joan. I'm getting scurvy."
--Harry (Rich Sommer) has been hearing the rumors that SCDP is getting new office space.
"What is Regina?"
--Roger (John Slattery) can't follow the French that Marie is speaking into the phone to cover his call, but he likes what he hears.
"You want to be somebody's discovery, not somebody's wife."
--Of all the reasons Don gives Megan not to put her up for consideration in the shoe commercial, this is both closest to truth and nicest.