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Recap: Mad Men 5.10 “Christmas Waltz”

Previously: Edwin Baker of Jaguar approached Lane, Megan confessed never trying at acting the way she tried at advertising, Lane and wife discuss paying for their son’s enrollment at boarding school, Greg gives Joan an ultimatum and Joan says, “That’s it,” and Lane tells Pete that he’s cost the firm the Jaguar account.

The falling man seems more ominous every week At this point some member of the cast is going to be killed by a falling anvil that says “foreshadowing” on it.

A phone rings in the dark and Lane picks it up. It’s his lawyer (barrister?) in London telling him that his tax issue has been resolved and he just has to wire somewhere in the neighborhood of $8,000 before Thursday. Lane looks at the projections for the agency for the first half of next year and seems to hatch a scheme. Sure enough, we see him with SCDP’s banker having a drink and asking for a $50,000 credit extension. He calls a partners’ meeting to say that there’s suddenly a $50,000 surplus (!!) and that everyone should get Christmas bonuses. He wants to give out the checks right away, but Don and Pete say they should wait until the party. Lane makes a face and pushes the “checks right away!” plan but it’s vetoed again and he looks agitated. Lane later sneaks into the office and take a sheet of checks out of a binder, and a cancelled check that has Don’s signature on it already and goes and forges himself a nice, ass-saving check. I wish Lane had just told the guys what was going on, between Roger and Don they probably had close to $8,000 in walking around money on them at the meeting and would have been fine with giving Lane a loan. They’d give him some shit for it, but whatever. Lane’s pride is causing him to make some really terrible decisions right now. That taken care of, his barrister reminds Lane of the fee owed to him personally, which Lane says he’ll get to after the holidays and sighs as he hangs up. Later, Rebecca is trying to convince Lane that they should go home for Christmas, at least she and Nigel. Lane tells her about Jaguar and says that he’ll need the whole family there to support him while he works over the holiday. Rebecca agrees, so at least that’s one less problem for Lane.

Harry gets a call from Paul Kinsey and agrees to have coffee with him after some waffling. Harry goes to meet Paul and finds him at a Hare Krishna temple featuring shaved head, light yellow robes and all. Paul has a very pretty friend named Mother Lakshmi, and the two of them convince Harry to stay for part of the”¦ ceremony? service? Also, if you were giggling at Harry being greeted with “Hare Krishna, Harry,” so was Harry. He stays, and eventually gets into all the chanting thanks to their efforts. Paul and Harry leave to get some food, where Paul confesses that he’s in love with Lakshmi and wants to start a life with her as something other than a Krishna devotee. At dinner, Harry gets a little starry eyed about his “vision” he had while chanting and Paul reiterates that he needs a way to get to the place he can have a job. He gives Harry a spec script he wrote for Star Trek saying it’s the most significant work of his life. Paul’s very happy with this script, and wants Harry to try and get it to someone at NBC and confesses that the life of a Hare Krishna devotee is not doing it for him. Harry tries to get Peggy to read it after confessing that he’s already read it and it’s terrible. Harry asks what he should do and Peggy says he should be honest that the script is bad. Lakshmi then comes to visit Harry at the office and gets all seductive on him in a very transparent and cheesy way. Harry resists at first, but Lakshmi talks him into it with lines like, “I’m burning for you,” and, “Take me like this,” as she bends over his desk. Speaking of poorly written fiction, right? Afterwards, Harry seems happy and Lakshmi seems bitter. Turns out she only seduced him to keep him away from Paul, and she ALSO knows that Paul’s script is terrible. She wants Paul to keep living in the spiritual world because it’s beautiful and enlightening and also because he’s their best recruiter. Lakshmi also encourages Harry to tell Paul the truth about the script.

When Harry finally meets with Paul, he lies that the reader at NBC said the script was great but they absolutely can’t buy it for many very complicated and serious reasons. And Paul also can’t ever contact them. Harry does tell him he has a future as a screenwriter, and gives him $500 and a ticket to Los Angeles to try his luck. Harry wants him to leave straight from the diner, leaving Lakshmi and all his things. Paul finally agrees and hugs Harry seriously. “All these people said they’d do something for me, and you’re the first one who did.” Paul marvels.

Pete comes in smiling, which never ends well. He calls out Roger and Don to tell them that Edwin Baker has been replaced at Jaguar and SCDP is back in for the account thanks to Pete working with some contacts over there during the last several months while waiting for Baker to “self destruct,” and that’s exactly what happened when he vomited into the lap of the head of the dealers’ association. Don, Roger, and Pete all enjoy a chuckle at that, because there’s no way any of THEM have ever had an out of control drinking problem. SCDP isn’t the only agency going out for the account and they’re the smallest. Don seems to greet the news with a sigh about the work ahead of them, which is clearly not the reaction Pete was going for. And to be fair to Pete, he actually did a great job on this one. He encourages all of them to get familiar with the brand, and encourages Don specifically to go take a test drive, maybe with Megan to see how they handle a couple. When Don seems hesitant, Pete says, “If I brought you a car last year, you’d have kissed me on the mouth!” Don replies, “Maybe we should go as a couple,” launching thousands of fan fics even as Pete sulks out the door.

Roger’s been drinking heavily all day in “celebration” of Pearl Harbor day and doing things like opining about how, “The Japs won, and they didn’t know what to do with it.” We learn that he’s been trying to financially support Kevin through college, but Joan keeps sending the checks back. This seems silly and petty to me, but I’m not Joan. He gets all gooey about, “We made a baby!” conveniently forgetting that he made sure Joan was going to get that “taken care of” back when she told him. Joan kicks him back to the secretary he was flirting with, though, so you Roger/Joan fans are going to have to keep hoping.

Later, Joan gets a mystery visitor who turns out to be a process server with divorce papers. She looses her shit on the receptionist for letting the guy in, and destroys that cute little model plane that Pete put there towards the beginning of the season. Don sees her and drags her out of the office. He gives her his coat and leads her to the Jaguar dealership where they pose as a couple looking to buy a car. Don’s really getting around the office during this episode, Pete first and now Joan. Joan spots a sporty little coupe and Don pays off the dealership guy with a $6,000 check for collateral against the $5,600 car so he and Joan can take it out together. They end up at a bar and Joan talks about how much she’s been trying to keep her and Greg’s marriage out of her work and now that’s ruined. They reminisce about old times, and Don admits that he was always scared of Joan and that there were rumors she was a lesbian. Don says something nice, which is that nobody realizes how bad a marriage has to get for a divorce to happen and he’s glad Joan will be able to put it behind her. She’s scared of starting over with her baby, but Don does his best to keep her spirits up. She puts some music on the jukebox and Don asks Joan if she wants to dance and she turns him down, even as she laughs at him and calls him irresistible. They muse on infidelity for a bit, something they both know a lot about, and then Don leaves. He’s already drawn her attention to a man who’s interested in her, and he leaves her some money for car fare “in case it doesn’t work out.” Don Draper is apparently the world’s best wingman when he wants to be. We then see him in the Jag driving fast in the dark. I was worried he’d crash, but he doesn’t.

When Don gets home, Megan is waiting for him at the table and asks where he was, when he quips at her, she throws a plate at the wall. She accuses him of not giving a shit about anybody and he says that she likes to get mad because it gets her going. She angrily gets his dinner out and then seems to calm down a bit.

Roger brings Joan some roses that aren’t from him, and says sadly, “How many times have I left you alone with a card from another man?” but the flowers are just from Don. I’m pretty certain he’s just being a good friend, but I’m betting there are plenty of other people who think otherwise. Possibly even Megan if she ever found out.

At the Christmas party, the partners get the bad news that Mohawk is discontinuing their advertising and Bert decides that they should cancel the Christmas bonuses. Lane objects (obviously) but Pete agrees with him, especially considering the staff will be working through the holidays. So Bert says that they can give the staff bonuses but that the partners will forgo them, at least until the end of January. Yes, even the junior partners, LANE. They then announce the Mohawk issue and that the staff will be getting bonuses even though the partners aren’t. Pete then announces the Jaguar pitch, and Don follows up with a big speech about the survival of the agency and how hard they’ve all worked and they’ve got a huge chance now but it’ll take a lot of work. It is very stirring. Afterwards everyone is happy but Lane, who’s going to have to figure out a new way to cover his embezzling ways.

4 replies on “Recap: Mad Men 5.10 “Christmas Waltz””

Don witnessed two ladies throwing and breaking stuff in one day out of anger. I wonder if he compared Joan’s anger for being served divorce papers with Megan’s reaction over being late..and I thought Don’s facial expressions during Megan’s temper tantrum were hilarious. I wonder if Don’s enthusiastic little speech was a symbol of he and Megan’s honeymoon period being over.  Pete is so annoying and his lack of self-awareness is fascinating.

I loved the scene with Don & Joan at the dealership (look at Don, being all Draper-y again! So suave!) and at the bar. They are two beautiful people, and I like their scenes together. I’m glad that the show never had them be anything more than work friends who respect each other.

I am SO confused about Lane’s tax problems. Has that ever been mentioned before? None of my friends could remember it being a plot point before this episode.

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