This episode was called “The Good News,” but frankly, there wasn’t any good news, other than the fact that Lane Pryce has a wicked sense of humor when it comes to the subjects of slabs of steak and Texas belt buckles.
Don’s downward spiral has been a depressing and fascinating thing to behold. First of all, he’s not eating, with the exception of gobbling down Lane’s sandwich in the break room. Secondly, he’s just drinking his way through his haze of a life, bouncing from one distraction to another (making one inappropriate sexual come-on after another, his secretary, Anna’s niece) trying to get himself forget the pitiable lonely life he’s leading in the wake of his divorce.
So it was a fresh relief to see him visit the calming oasis which consistently seemed to center him: Anna, who still calls him by his given name, Dick. In all the scenes they’ve shared together, there was always something distinctly different, more relaxed and tender in Don’s face. Like he was finally home. (Watch the scenes when he’s in New York, he looks like another person.) “I know everything about you, and I still love you,” Anna told him soothingly, the way he wishes Betty would have after he confessed the truth to her.
By the way, Don’s delusional if he thinks that the reason Betty divorced him is because of the manner in which he was born (from a prostitute whose married john wound up with custody of the baby after she died) and that he came from poverty. “After I told her, I felt relieved,” Don said to Anna about finally telling Betty the truth. “. . . I could tell, the minute she saw who I really was, she never wanted to look at me again, which is why I never told her.”
No Don. Midge, Rachel, Bobbie, that flight attendant, Miss Farrell, the piles of cash that were hidden in a locked desk (about which he lied), his attempts to control and manipulate Betty’s every move (shaming her if he had to) while refusing to allow her access to his true emotions THOSE are the reasons why she finally left. Not because he was poor or because of what his mother did for a living. Anna’s the only person on the planet whom Don/Dick had allowed to see inside his soul.
To learn that Anna had little time left because she had cancer that had spread throughout her body – and no one clued her in about her diagnosis – was such a crushing blow to Don, knowing that the one constant in his adult life was about to leave this world, so soon after his marriage died. I must admit that, given his deep feelings, I was mildly surprised to see him run away from Anna’s like a coward, knowing that this was likely the last time he’d see her. (I’m willing to entertain the argument that perhaps the comments by Anna’s sister contributed to Don, the broken family man’s fleeing: “You have no say in the affairs of this family. You’re just a man in a room with a checkbook.”) He then sought refuge in his favorite places: Inside a bottle and in the arms of a call girl.
LOVED Joan in this episode, her in-your-face argument with Lane when she asked for two vacation days off before Greg goes to basic training, and Lane turned her down because they’d just be coming off a holiday break. “I understand that all men are dizzy and powerless to refuse you but consider me the incorruptible exception,” Lane said. “. . . Now don’t go and cry about it.”
To see them both implode after Joan chucked the flowers at Lane, when she received the wrong set of flowers, was entertainingly uncharacteristic for the both of them.
I also enjoyed watching the heartbroken Lane -- on a verge of a divorce or, at the very least, a serious martial estrangement – engaging in some masculine bonding with Don, causing a lively ruckus in the movie theater, getting rowdy with a steak at an upscale restaurant and then venturing to Don’s sad bachelor pad and sleeping with an escort, a pal of Don’s slap-happy call gal. But the distinct difference between Lane and Don, as we all know, is that Lane’s foray on the wild side is but a blip. For Don, it is becoming a lifestyle, for how long is anyone’s guess.
Image credit: Michael Yarish/AMC.