'Mad Men' Review: "Christmas Waltz"

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Mad Men’ Season 5 chants out its tenth episode of the year, as Lane's finances force him into a desperate gambit, while Harry meets up with a changed Paul Kinsey, and Don tries to get into the Jaguar pitch.

Last week’s ‘Mad Men’ episode “Dark Shadows” saw Don trying to get back in the game while Betty revealed to Sally a distressing secret about Don's marriages, and Roger enlisting his estranged wife Jane in helping him land a new account, so what will the latest episode bring?  Could they possibly top Fat Betty?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Mad Men’ episode ten “Christmas Waltz!”

Financial trouble for Lane, scandal!  It’d seem that poor Mr. Price owes a sum of 2900 pounds (read: $8000) to Her Majesty, which he must deliver inside of two days, lest he be made an example of and sent to prison.  He isn’t the only one  having to play a little dodge however, as at work Harry Crane has been ducking Paul Kinsey’s many invitations to lunch, in spite of the man’s politeness.  Finally acquiescing to his secretary, Harry next meets with Lane for some admittedly optimistic projections about the firm’s coming financials.  Sneaky Lane leverages the projections into the chemical bank advancing  SDCP’s line of credit an additional $50,000!

There is some good news for the firm however, as Edwin “Bazooka Joe” Baker has been dismissed from Jaguar, chewing gum on his pubis and all, leaving the company once again open to be pitched by SDCP!  Pete tell everyone to bone up on Jaguar, particularly Don, who might actually have to stay at work past 5:30 to get it done.

In what might be the greatest development since Fat Betty (or perhaps Matthew Weiner just enjoys playing dress-up this season) Harry arrives to meet Paul, only to find that Paul has joined the ranks of the Hare Krishnas!  Understandably freaked out, Harry tries to leave, but reluctantly stays and agrees to chant at the urging of Paul’s lovely female companion, Mother Lakshmi.  Back at the office, Lane announces that a surplus $50,000 means they can all take Christmas bonuses, though his hopes are quickly dashed when the partners agree to save the revelation for the Christmas party in a number of weeks.  Meanwhile, Pete seems nonplussed that no one is as enthusiastic about Jaguar as he.  Absent from the meeting in a moment alone, Joan chastises Roger for undergoing a divorce when she relies on him to help support their illicit child, though Roger assures her it will work out.

However enthusiastically he’s gotten into the chanting, Harry still refuses to join the movement, though in a shared cab ride Paul reveals that he doesn’t want to remain at the movement either, but rather loves Lakshmi, and wants to be able to move them both away without fear of ending up on the street.  At a local diner, Harry presses that he can’t offer Paul a job, but agrees to read over and potentially pass along a script Paul has written, and considers to be his best work, a 'Star Trek'  spec script titled “The Negron Complex!”  Across town, Don and Megan take in a play for one of her friends, though Don ends up disliking its attack on consumerism and the advertising business specifically.

Late that night, Lane tiptoes around the SDCP offices, and forges Don’s signature on a check, to take his bonus early.  Tsk, tsk.

The next day, Harry asks Peggy to read over the 'Star Trek' script as a second opinion, given how awful he found it.  As much as he wants to help Paul, Peggy presses on him that he’d be better served with the truth than to give Paul false hope.  Across the office, Pete presses Don to test drive a Jaguar, chiding him for not being more enthusiastic about the prospect, while Lane temperamentally defers his accountant once more.

Lane and Don aren’t the only one with unwanted guests however, as Joan finds that a man asking for her in the lobby has served her with divorce papers, and she takes the frustration out on the hapless secretary before Don spirits her away for a distracting trip to Jaguar to test drive the sexy new XKE model.  Unimpressed, the two grab drinks afterward to commiserate about their current lots.  All jokes about Joan being a lesbian and our exploding heads aside, are we sensing a little flirtation here?  Their dance continues as the drinks flow, but Don stops short of getting too close to Joan, and leaves her in the bar getting eyes from another handsome stranger.

Back at the office, Harry has an encounter of his own, as Lakshmi appears offering herself to him, a practice supposedly condoned by the movement, and Harry gives in to his temptation right there on the desk.  Her tune completely changes afterward however, as she reveals that she only seduced him as a means to get Harry to stay away from Paul, avoid giving him false hope for his terrible work, and keep his recruiting skills within the Krishna movement.

Don finally stumbles home from his day out, only to find Megan furious about his not calling, chewing him out for the dinner she cooked him, and not in the sexy power game way we’ve seen them play before.  The next day, Roger pointedly brings Joan a bouquet of flowers from her gentleman caller “Ali Khan,” as Harry meets with Paul one last time.  Harry lies and claims that the ‘Star Trek’ people loved the script, but for legal reasons can’t even talk to him, to which Harry counters by offering him $500 and a ticket to Los Angeles if he’ll go pursue his dream of writing, away from Lakshmi and the Krishnas.  Deeply moved, Paul ultimately accepts.

Everyone assembles for an announcement from the partners, though before things get started Pete reveals that Mohawk has once again gone on strike, hurting their revenue stream and making Christmas bonuses impossible.  However, Bert elects that the partners will temporarily forfeit their share, announcing the good news to the office, in spite of Lane’s obvious disappointment and panic.  And, in a rare moment of leadership from Don this season, he rallies the entire office around landing Jaguar over the next few weeks, as picking up a car company will officially let the world know they’ve arrived.

See?  Now that's more like it.  Last week we were a bit worried that as good as the recent string of episodes had been, there wasn't much of an over-arching plot to carry us through the final stretch of episodes, but now it seems that Lane's financial troubles and its effect on Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce will definitely come back to haunt us.  Plus, how great was it to get a little bit of closure on the long-missing Paul Kinsey?  Now we just need Sal Romano to drop by for an episode, and we'll have a full set!

Did you get your fill of swingin’ ‘Mad Men’ action?  What did you think about the episode? Join us next week for an all-new episode recap of ‘Mad Men’s latest effort “The Other Woman” on AMC!

Filed Under: AMC, Mad Men
Categories: TV News, TV Reviews
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