|Mad Men character|
Jared Harris as Lane Pryce.
|First appearance||"Out of Town" (3.01)|
|Last appearance||"Commissions and Fees" (5.12)|
|Created by||Matthew Weiner|
|Portrayed by||Jared Harris|
A newcomer to the United States, 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.
Born circa May 10, 1916, Lane was raised by a strict and abusive father, himself a middle-class traveling salesman. In his adulthood, Lane served in World War II as a supply assistant at the Rosyth Royal Navy Dockyard. After returning from the war, he dated and eventually married a woman named Rebecca, with whom he had a son named Nigel. At this same time, he earned a degree in advertising and managed to get employment with a hometown ad agency named Putnam Powell and Lowe, where he was given the task of handling mergers and takeovers.
Lane is portrayed as being caught between two worlds: he enjoys his new life in the United States, but has trouble adapting to his adopted country's customs. He often appears stiff and reserved but does let his hair down on occasion, usually after enjoying a drink. He isn't particularly keen on football, though he successfully uses an outing to the pub for the 1966 World Cup Final to set up a potential account with Jaguar.
PPL sends Lane to Sterling Cooper, which the company had recently acquired, tasking him with trimming operating expenses. He begins by firing long-time employee Burt Peterson, who was the head of accounts, and naming Pete Campbell and Ken Cosgrove as his joint successors. Lane 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 could be sold for a profit. Lane's superiors at PPL then transfer him to India -- a plan that was aborted after his would-be replacement is injured in a freak accident. Roger Sterling, Bertram Cooper, and Don Draper 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 contained non-compete clauses which would have otherwise prohibited their continued work in advertizing.
Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce
It soon becomes apparent that Lane has a knack for managing company revenues and controlling costs, a talent the other partners lack and which is needed at the new firm. Lane, along with Joan, 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 to London indefinitely. Lane and Don end up meeting at work, where they get drunk and go for a night out on the town. Lane ends up sleeping with a prostitute supplied by Don. Lane pays Don for her services the following morning, and thanks him for the "welcome distraction". When Lane's family is supposed to go 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, and later introduces her to his father. However, his father assaults Lane with his cane, ordering him to return to England to reunite with his family. Lane takes a short leave-of-absence from the agency and later returns to New York with his family.
In Season 5, Lane faces severe financial troubles and struggles to keep his balance at work. Over the course of three years at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, he has been operating at a loss and struggles to turn the agency around. He also becomes attracted to Joan Harris, who gently rebuffs his advances. They develop a friendship later on, however, often comforting each other during times of stress.
To cover a large tax bill, incurred when he cashes in investments to cover his partnership fee, 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. 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.
Don meets with Lane, who admits to the embezzlement after trying to lie his way out of it. 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, thus justifying the fraud. Feeling he could never trust Lane again, Don orders him to resign and "think of an elegant exit." He flirts with Joan and makes a lewd remark to her, but she turns him down. Upon returning home after this encounter, Lane discovers that Rebecca, unaware of their financial situation, has bought him a new Jaguar (paid by check). Pryce puts his affairs in order and attempts to take his life via carbon monoxide poisoning; however, the attempt fails when the car won't start. He then goes to SCDP, types a resignation letter, and hangs himself in his office. Upon finding his body, the partners also find his resignation letter, and cut his body down to preserve his dignity. Refusing to hold a memorial service, Rebecca has Lane's body shipped to London for burial.
In the wake of Lane's suicide, the partners are left mourning the loss. Joan, in particular, feels guilty over dismissing him after he left the meeting with Don, and she confesses to Don that she feels responsible for his death. Later, Don delivers a $50,000 check to repay Lane's investment in the agency. In response, Rebecca claims that Lane was worth more to the agency than $50,000 and accuses Don and the partners of filling Lane with ambition, leading to his suicide.