Stars: John Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks, Jared Harris, John Slattery, January Jones, Jessica Pare, Robert Morse, Aaron Staton, Rich Sommer, Kiernan Shipka
Writer: Victor Levin & Matthew Wiener, Series created by Matthew Wiener
Director: Michael Uppendahl      
Network: AMC, airs Sunday nights
Original Telecast: May 20, 2012

“Christmas Waltz” is such an odd episode of MAD MEN to me. It feels like little bits and pieces of various characters’ stories without any kind of a central through line to tie them together as well as some episodes in the past. There are so many significant moments in this episode, but they’re momentary revelations that will have much larger ramifications later on.

Besides the fact that it’s odd watching a Christmas episode in May, this one had Hare Krishna, Jaguar cars, and company embezzlement.  Lane (Jared Harris) is one of my favorite characters on the show, and he gets the crap end of the stick a lot of the time. He’s not quite the whipping boy of the show, but every time he seems to be getting ahead of the rat race something happens to knock him back down several pegs. In this episode that particular blow to the side of the head starts as tax money owed to England for the wages he has earned living in the States. He comes up with a brilliant solution, borrowing more money from their bank and passing the fifty thousand off as a surplus that should be cut into Christmas bonuses.

So…kinda shady at best, but wait it gets worse. Lane sneaks into the office and forges Don’s (John Hamm) signature on a bonus check for himself. The partners voted to give out the bonuses the next day after the Christmas party, but then everyone finds out that Mohawk Airlines is going on strike, thus nixing the future revenue that Lane used to borrow the extra 50K. To make it even better now the partners are giving up their bonuses, but Lane already gave one to himself. Can we all say embezzlement, kids?! I have NO idea how Lane is getting out of this one. He’s been pretty much on the straight and narrow and usually has the moral high ground so this is an ugly place to see him.

Don shows a really nice side of himself after Joan (Christina Hendricks) gets served with divorce papers from her soon to be ex-husband who is in Vietnam. Don takes Joan out, test drives a new Jaguar, and gets Joan tanked enough to have a fling with some random in a bar. Trust me…it’s what she wants and needs. Then he sends her flowers. Is Don next on Joan’s list of to-dos in the office…or are they just friend?

One of the BEST things in this episode is the return of Paul Kinsey (Michael Gladis) who seemed to get lost in the shuffle when the partners formed their own firm. He’s always been a character drawn to extremes and now he’s a Hare Krishna. Wow. Kinsey with a shaved head and a ponytail. I really never thought I would see that. Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) ends up entangled in the web of Kinsey and his wacky new Krishna girlfriend, but in the end send Kinsey to Hollywood to pursue his dream as a screenwriter. Really, a nice thing to do for him, and a completely fresh start. Maybe someday Kinsey will come back as an accomplished screenwriter and be a character they all cross paths with in a professional role again.

Oh yeah and Don and Megan (Jessica Pare) have a couple of throw downs about their lifestyle choices. Like we didn’t see that coming. At least she didn’t get left at the HoJo of the damned again.


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Article: TV Review –  MAD MEN – Season 5 – “Christmas Waltz”


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