Lane Pryce

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Lane Pryce
Mad Men character
Lane Pryce.jpg
Jared Harris as Lane Pryce
First appearance"Out of Town" (3.01)
Last appearance"Commissions and Fees" (5.12)
Created byMatthew Weiner
Portrayed byJared Harris
In-universe information
OccupationFounding and Junior Partner and Financial Chief of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (former)
Financial Chief of Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency for Puttnam, Powell, and Lowe (former)
FamilyRobert Pryce
SpouseRebecca Pryce
ChildrenNigel Pryce
NationalityEnglish

Lane Pryce is a fictional character in the television series Mad Men, portrayed by Jared Harris.[1]

An English newcomer to the United States as of 1963, he initially acts as financial officer at Sterling Cooper, but eventually leaves, along with a handful of his co-workers, to form a new agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

For his performance, Harris was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2012.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Background and personality[edit]

Born in London on May 10, 1916, Lane was raised by Robert Pryce (W. Morgan Sheppard), himself a middle-class traveling salesman, in a strict, regimented home. In his adulthood, Lane served in the British Army as a supply assistant in Rosyth. Although he never saw combat, he was later thanked by a British veteran of World War II who said his resupply effort saved lives and "England expects every man to do her duty". After his military career was over, Lane attended accounting school. He then married a woman named Rebecca (Embeth Davidtz), with whom he had a son named Nigel. Some time later, he got hired by an advertising agency named Putnam Powell and Lowe. Eventually he was promoted to an executive position, responsible for mergers and takeovers.

Lane is portrayed as being caught between two worlds; he struggles to be himself while adjusting to his new life in America. He genuinely enjoys the United States, which he feels is detached from the rigidity and economic decay that is becoming associated with both blue-collar and white-collar England. He often appears stiff and reserved; although he does enjoy a drink, it is not to the extent of Don, who was known to drink during work hours. He isn't particularly keen on football, though he was seen in a bar with fellow British expats cheering England's performance in the 1966 World Cup Final and was able to make contacts to set up a potential account with Jaguar.

Sterling Cooper[edit]

PPL sends Lane to Sterling Cooper, which the company had recently acquired, tasking him with trimming operating expenses. He begins by firing many employees, including long-time employee Burt Peterson (Michael Gaston), who was the head of accounts, and naming Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) and Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) as his joint successors. Lane angers Creative Director Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and becomes isolated from the company when he expresses PPL's lack of interest in a potentially lucrative account with Madison Square Garden. Although he is initially unaware of PPL's plans for Sterling Cooper, he later learns that he has been instructed to cut overhead so that the company can be sold for a profit.[2] Lane's superiors at PPL announce that after sale, he is to be transferred to India - a plan that is aborted after his would-be replacement is injured in a freak accident.[3] Don, Roger Sterling (John Slattery), and Bertram Cooper (Robert Morse) convince him to join them in starting a new agency, making him a named partner in exchange for "firing" the three of them in order to void their contracts, which contain non-compete clauses that would have otherwise prohibited their continued work in advertising.[4]

Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce[edit]

It soon becomes apparent that Lane has a knack for managing company revenues and controlling costs, a talent the other partners lack, which is needed at the new firm. Lane, along with office manager Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks), is credited with keeping the company running and managing the day-to-day operations.

In Season 4, Lane's marriage falls apart, as Rebecca, who genuinely loves him, finds the strains of homesickness and culture shock too much to bear, and returns with their son to London indefinitely. Lane and Don end up meeting at work, then get drunk and go for a night out on the town, which includes seeing Gojira. Lane makes monster noises and slurred Japanese remarks to a married couple in the audience, which Don considers hilarious but is taken as obnoxious by the husband of the couple, who nearly challenges both Lane and Don to take it outside. Lane then sleeps with a prostitute supplied by Don. Lane reimburses Don for the money he spent on the prostitute, and thanks him for the "welcome distraction".[5] When Lane's family is supposed to come to New York to see him, he is instead visited by his elderly father, who intends to take Lane home to England to sort out his affairs. Around the same time, Lane begins a relationship with a young African-American Playboy Bunny named Toni (Naturi Naughton), and later introduces her to his father. His father beats Lane with his cane, ordering him to return to London to reunite with his family. Lane takes a short leave-of-absence from the agency, and later returns to New York with his family, who by now are more accepting of being overseas.[6] Although he seems to gotten his home life in order, Lane still has signs of a wandering eye, particularly when he finds a lost wallet. Lane does not touch any of the man's cash or credit cards, but notices he has an attractive wife and keeps the wallet photo for himself prior to contacting the owner.

In Season 5, Lane faces severe financial troubles due to owing an extensive amount of taxes and struggles to keep his balance at work. During three years at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, he has been operating at a loss and struggles to turn the agency around. Though Lane and Joan are friendly compatriots, responsible for keeping the company physically running, Lane often makes inappropriate sexual remarks that upset and disgust her. Lane is the one responsible for getting Joan her 5% speaking partnership. While ultimately in Joan's best long-term interests, Lane makes the suggestion to her as a means of covering up his embezzlement. If she had accepted the original cash offer, his theft would have been discovered, but the cashless partnership kept it concealed a while longer.

Death[edit]

While Lane's work has been critical to SCDP, he has struggled with making ends meet while having to agree to being poorly paid to keep SCDP afloat during its shaky early times. When his $50,000 partnership fee comes due, Lane liquidates a corresponding amount in securities he had with a brokerage house in the UK. This subjects him to another financial issue; England's high taxes of the 1960s. To pay the tax collector, Lane embezzles $7,500 from the company by forging Don's signature on a supposed Christmas bonus payment he anticipates receiving. However, he is left feeling uneasy when the partners announce they will be forgoing their bonuses for that year.[7] Bert Cooper discovers the cancelled check when looking through unopened account statements. Bert confronts Don about his approving a bonus payment to Lane when the firm decided to not pay bonuses. Don tells Bert he will handle it, but does not inform him that he did not sign the check.[8]

Don meets with Lane, who admits to the embezzlement after trying to lie his way out of it. Don demands an explanation, first thinking Lane is gambling, but then gets the story that he had to cover his partnership fee and then the tax collector. Don says Lane should have informed him of the matter. Erupting with anger, Lane insists he could not bear the shame of asking for a loan and has never been compensated for his contribution to the agency; he also makes a snide remark about Don's jet set lifestyle, and generally tries to justify his fraudulent actions. Don has lost all trust in Lane, though, and says that while he will cover the $7,500, Lane will need to resign and gives him the weekend to "think of an elegant exit." Lane then uncharacteristically flirts with Joan, makes a lewd remark to her, and seems grimly happy when she responds with muted anger. Upon returning home after this encounter, Lane discovers that Rebecca, unaware of their financial situation, has bought him a new Jaguar (paid by check). Lane puts his affairs in order and attempts to take his life via carbon monoxide poisoning; however, the attempt fails when the Jaguar doesn't start. He then goes to SCDP, types a resignation letter, and hangs himself in his office. Joan arrives Monday morning to assume her usual duties, but has trouble opening the door to Lane's office. She gets suspicious when the small part of the door she does get ajar shows yellowish gunk on the floor and thinks it is dried urine. She goes to Pete Campbell, whose office is adjacent to Lane's, who then discovers what has happened when he stands on his sofa to peep into Lane's office. The partners send all SCDP employees home, falsely claiming they need to evacuate due to a gas leak, and also find a boilerplate resignation letter.[8] When Don shows up with Roger, Bert breaks the news to him. Don is aghast that everyone left Lane's office as is (as the police told them to stay out of the office so a report could be made) and demands Lane's body be cut down immediately.

In the wake of Lane's suicide, the partners are left mourning the loss. Joan, in particular, feels guilty over dismissing his advances, and she confesses to Don that she feels responsible for his death. Ironically, Lane's death ending up costing Don significantly more than the stolen money. Besides the loss of a skilled partner who was indeed trying to get SCDP out of the red, Lane was under contract, as were the other partners, that in case of death the partnership fees were to go to the next of kin within a 7-year deadline before legal action would be invoked. Don's failure to tell anyone else nor alert the authorities did not give prior evidence of defalcation; and Lane's boilerplate letter was not much to go by with a paper trail. As the suicide occurred prior to Don's Monday deadline of "an elegant exit", it meant Lane died while technically employed at SCDP. Rather than get embroiled in a questionable legal issue, Don elects to make a full refund of Lane's $50,000 fee to Rebecca Pryce. In response, Rebecca claims that Lane was worth more to the agency than $50,000 and accuses Don and the partners of filling "a man like that with ambition", leading to his suicide.[9] She also accuses Don of egging her late husband into committing adultery. Although true (by way of the prostitute), Rebecca's basis is the wallet photo of the attractive woman Lane pilfered, which Don has no clue about and honestly tells Mrs. Pryce he never saw that woman before. Later, Don saw hallucinations of his brother, which were likely psychological as Adam's fate was the exact same as Lane's (hanged himself after Don told him "I want you out of my life").

References[edit]

  1. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (June 4, 2012). "Jared Harris of 'Mad Men' Discusses Sunday's Episode". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Out of Town". Mad Men. Season 3. Episode 1. August 16, 2009. AMC.
  3. ^ "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency". Mad Men. Season 3. Episode 6. September 20, 2009. AMC.
  4. ^ "Shut the Door. Have a Seat.". Mad Men. Season 3. Episode 13. November 8, 2009. AMC.
  5. ^ "The Good News". Mad Men. Season 4. Episode 3. August 8, 2010. AMC.
  6. ^ "Hands and Knees". Mad Men. Season 4. Episode 10. September 26, 2010. AMC.
  7. ^ "Christmas Waltz". Mad Men. Season 5. Episode 10. May 20, 2012. AMC.
  8. ^ a b "Commissions and Fees". Mad Men. Season 5. Episode 12. June 3, 2012. AMC.
  9. ^ "The Phantom". Mad Men. Season 5. Episode 13. June 10, 2012. AMC.

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