Mad Men: Season 5, Episode 10 – ‘Christmas Waltz’ Review and Synopsis

We discover that Lane is a tax cheat and apparently has not paid his taxes to the sovereign back home in England. A friend tells him that it can all go away if he pays $8,000 in back taxes which is a massive amount. When his wife Rebecca asks him what he is doing awake so early in the morning he loses his cool and yells violently at her. Normally so composed, this season has featured Lane in a number of situations in which we see his character begin to fray at the edges.

Lane is able to secure the money he needs through a credit line for SCDP. Not only is that unethical and likely illegal, but it definitely shows how desperate straight-laced Lane is becoming.

Back at SCDP Pete lets Don and Roger know that he hasn’t given up on his chase of Jaguar. In fact, he’s broadened his contacts beyond the buffoon they took to the whorehouse.

In an interesting turn, Paul Kinsey is now a member of the Hare Krishna movement and has Harry Crane join him and his fellow believers in a meditation session. A hot yet disheveled follower whispers the chant into Harry’s ear, playing on his desire to sleep with her. The awkwardness that ensues is one of the better scenes in Mad Men.

Lane generates some pretext to distribute the line of credit as a Christmas bonus. Eager to pay out the funds immediately, he suggests cutting the bonus checks immediately but Don objects. Not only does his frustration break through when he hits the table with his hand, but Lane’s stability and viability in his position given these compounding ethical breaches does not bode well for the firm.

‘We know no one’s made a stronger stand against advertising than you.’

Kinsey wrote an episode of Star Trek that he wants Harry to pass along for him. This is another piece of evidence of people crossing ethical lines. Paul Kinsey seems lost and his fixation on Lakshmi, the disheveled Hare Krishna girl, is sad and slightly disturbing.

Back at the office Lane forges Don’s name on a check in the amount he needs to wire to England.

‘So what? Really do you know how lucky we are?’

It is interesting that Harry shows humanity where Kinsey is concerned. Otherwise a unlikeable character, this slight bit of heart is noteworthy. He asks Peggy to read over Paul’s script. Joan gets served with papers while at work and leaves early with Don. The two of the them go out and check out a few Jaguar cars at a nearby dealership.

Don and Joan take a Jaguar out for a spin and they have a heart to heart conversation. Thankfully Don is married to Megan because if this were the old Don we might have to worry that he and Joan were about to go have a nooner somewhere. Really, all in a day’s work.

Lakshmi’s seduction of Harry was nothing more than her attempt to keep him away from Paul. She basically breaks crazy on him and tells him not to try and take Paul away from the ‘movement’ because he’s their best recruiter.

Back at home, Megan is also getting high off the crazy and breaks bad on Don for showing up late for dinner and for not calling beforehand. Lane lies to his wife Rebecca and tells her they have to stay in Manhattan for Christmas because of the new Jaguar account.

‘He says you have a future, and I agree with him.’

Harry gives Paul $500 and tells him to go to Los Angeles. This episode appears to be about Harry’s redemption as a character.

Lane is frustrated once again to discover that Cooper thinks it would be imprudent to give the partners bonuses because Mohawk airlines has suspended their advertising.

‘When we land Jaguar the world will know we have arrived.’

To close the episode, Don gives the staff a rousing speech to motivate them to win Jaguar. Too bad SCDP is increasingly a sinking ship afloat on a sea of undeserved self-regard.


All photos courtesy of