Gone But Not Forgotten: Remembering Mad Men's Lane Pryce

It's been exactly four weeks since Lane Pryce hung himself, and now that Mad Men's fifth season is over and the excitement and nail-biting over the season finale has long passed, we can take the time to mourn the dearly departed Lane Pryce properly. He was called in to clean house when Puttnam, Powell, and Lowe bought Sterling Cooper, tasked with trimming expenses and serving as the eyes and ears of Sterling Cooper’s new British owners. He did such a good job that he was almost transferred to India to do it all over again with a different company, but luckily, that unfortunate lawn mower incident saved his butt and he went on to become a founding partner of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

I always liked Lane. He walked the fine line between being a gentleman and being a completely depraved pig, not always successfully, but he tried and that always counts for something with me. Often overlooked by his co-workers, and increasingly belittled in the episodes leading up to his death, I think it’s only appropriate that we take the time to reflect on some of Lane’s more memorable moments. Sometimes silly, sometimes calculating, and sometimes surprisingly badass; Lane Pryce will be missed when Mad Men returns for Season 6.

5. Playboy Bunny Hop (Season 4, Episode 10, “Hands and Knees”)

Okay, so Lane’s relationship with Toni, “the finest waitress” at the Playboy Club, ultimately ended in disaster, but still, the man dated a Playboy Bunny. It was such an awkward couple and I’m not entirely convinced that either party was wholeheartedly invested in it, but HE DATED A PLAYBOY BUNNY. I think even Pete Campbell could have mustered up some kudos for that.

4. Puppetmaster (Season 3, Episode 1, “Out of Town”)

The first time we saw Lane, he unceremoniously fired the former head of accounts, Burt Peterson, as part of his sweeping cost-cutting measures at Sterling Cooper. In his place, he appointed Pete. Later, he appointed Ken Cosgrove to the same position, intending the two rivals to compete for Master Pryce’s favor. The competitive aspect of their promotions revealed Lane’s manipulative side, sure, but it also showed off his fun side, turning the whole business into a sort of game. And of course he picked the two account guys whose mutual animosity toward one another bordered on pathological.

3. Birth of an Ad Agency (Season 3, Episode 13, “Shut the Door, Have a Seat”)

After Puttnam, Powell, and Lowe was purchased by McCann Erickson, Don, Roger, Bert, and Pete decided to totally blow that blow Popsicle stand and start their own firm. Unfortunately, tied into contracts with PPL, they couldn’t just refuse to show up to the office. They approached Lane with their great master plan and insisted that he fire them so that they could move on to greener pastures and taller skyscrapers. They offered to make him a partner. Lane agreed and masterminded the recruitment of accounts from SC’s portfolio, conveniently pointing out that news of their Friday coup wouldn’t reach their superiors in London until Monday, giving them time to pull everything together. When said bosses called Lane on Monday to fire HIM, Lane responded, “Very good. Happy Christmas!”

2. Dinner with the Don (Season 4, Episode 3, “The Good News”)

Don and Lane’s bachelorific night on the town was, and always will be, legendary. Don was depressed over learning of Anna Draper’s terminal cancer and Lane was unsuccessfully attempting to mend his marriage, further complicated by his secretary mixing up flowers intended for Joan and his wife. Don and Lane sneaked a flask into a movie theater and debated how many handjobs taking place around them. Don took Lane to dinner, where a drunk and silly Lane played with his food, slapping his steak against his belt and announcing to fellow diners “I got a big Texas belt buckle. Yee haw!” Then they hit up a comedy show and slept with some high-end call girls. Lane thanked Don for the “welcome distraction.”

1. Knock Out (Season 5, Episode 5, “Signal 30”)

Possibly Lane’s proudest moment, and certainly the most likely Lane moment to go down in Mad Men history as “AWESOME,” was Lane’s fistfight with Pete Campbell. Not even halfway through the fifth season, we all wanted to smack Pete, but Lane did it for us. Not gonna lie, I was half-expecting him to be the one getting punched in the face, especially when he raised his fists like something out of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out and engaged in some painfully formal trash-talking. Lane’s victory was a victory for everyone (who wasn’t named Pete Campbell) and it was sweet, so so sweet.

What were your favorite Lane Pryce moments?

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