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‘Mad Men’ Season Five’s Most Depressing Moments

We run down the season’s lowest – but no less intriguing – points

'Mad Men,' Season Five: The Most Depressing Moments

Michael Yarish/AMC; Frank Ockenfels/AMC; Michael Yarish/AMC

Mad Men hasn't really been known for making its audiences feel warm and fuzzy inside, but this season has been especially dark – its peppy, "Zou Bisou Bisou"-soundtracked opening episode notwithstanding – with suicide, weight gain, tawdry business transactions, electro-shock therapy and the threat of physical violence punctuating the story lines. As the SCDP crew plunges deeper into despair at work and at home, here's a look at some of the more soul-crushing moments of Season Five.

By Sarene Leeds

beth dawes

Courtesy of AMC

Beth Dawes draws a heart in the foggy car window – Episode Eight, ‘Lady Lazarus’

Pete Campbell's personal life has started to mirror that of a pre-Megan Don, with Pete ditching Trudy for the company of women like Beth Dawes, the wife of his (also-cheating) commuting buddy. Pete becomes obsessed with Beth after their one-time tryst, and even though she voices a desire to keep their affair going, she refuses to follow through, escalating Pete’s despondency. One night, Beth is about to drive home with her husband from the train station, but not before sending Pete a message via her fogged-up car window – a heart – that is quickly erased when she rolls down the window.

megan and betty

Michael Yarish/AMC

Betty sucks down whipped cream straight from the can – Episode Nine, ‘Dark Shadows’

There have been only a couple of fleeting moments in which Betty Francis has aroused our sympathy this season, and this brief whipped-cream binge is one of them. She's just come home from an awkward run-in with her ex-husband's young, slim new wife, Megan, at the Drapers' swanky Manhattan high-rise, and she's feeling pretty self-conscious about her weight gain. So she seeks comfort in a can of Reddi-Wip – no cake or ice cream necessary. But immediately after putting tube to mouth, she remembers her diet (remember that paltry one Brussels sprout for Thanksgiving dinner?) and hacks the creamy goodness into the sink.

harry crane and lakshmi

Jordin Althaus/AMC

Harry has sex with a Hare Krishna – Episode 10, ‘Christmas Waltz’

Harry Crane's unhappy marriage is hardly a secret. Why else would he procrastinate going home by eating an entire sack of White Castle? We've seen him be unfaithful before, but his sexcapade with Lakshmi, the object of infatuation of his former colleague and Krishna convert, Paul Kinsey, brought his infidelity to a new level of odiousness. And it wasn't because she wanted to take it up the ass. Following their hookup, Lakshmi's cray-cray colors emerge: She orders Harry to end his rekindled friendship with Paul – driving her point home with a slap across his face – lest the Krishna movement lose their best recruiter.

joan and scdp

Michael Yarish/AMC

Don tells Joan not to whore herself out for SCDP – Episode 11, ‘The Other Woman’

In one of Mad Men's more controversial episodes, a representative for potential client Jaguar requests one night in heaven with Joan in exchange for a guarantee that SCDP will land the sports-car account. Don, disgusted that the offer was even presented to his longtime colleague – who ultimately agrees to the deal for the price of a partnership – goes to Joan's apartment the night before the Jaguar pitch in an attempt to stop her from degrading herself for the sake of the company. The way Joan's eyes fall signals that Don is too late – she's already done the deed.

peggy quits

Jordin Althaus/AMC

Peggy quits SCDP – Episode 11, ‘The Other Woman’

There's only so much lack of appreciation a person can take, and even Peggy Olson has a breaking point. After being overlooked yet again in favor of talented new kid Michael Ginsberg, the SCDP copywriter gives herself an upgrade – in the form of a copy chief position at rival firm CGC. Don takes her decision as a personal affront, and tells her not to bother giving two weeks' notice. But when she extends her hand to say good-bye, fighting back tears, Don realizes he's lost his best collaborator. He presses his lips to her knuckles and lingers there for several seconds, unwilling to let her go.

layne pryce

Jordin Althaus/AMC

Lane Pryce commits suicide – Episode 12, ‘Commissions and Fees’

The British financial officer had been showing signs of money trouble as early as the season premiere, but it wasn't until later episodes that we learned how dire his situation had become. When Don finds out that Lane had embezzled funds from SCDP to pay back taxes (and forged Don's signature on the check), he has no choice but to demand his resignation. Personally and professionally humiliated, Lane takes his own life by hanging himself on the door to his office – following a botched attempt to asphyxiate himself in his brand-new Jaguar – leaving his colleagues to discover his dead body.

mad men

Michael Yarish/AMC

Beth Dawes Gets Electro-Shock Therapy – Episode 13, ‘The Phantom’

We’ve watched Pete do some despicable things this season, not the least of which was to spearhead Joan’s effective prostitution to land the Jaguar account. But he still managed to arouse our sympathy when his doomed infatuation with Beth Dawes came to a heart-wrenching conclusion. Beth has been battling depression, and her choice of treatment is electro-shock therapy. Following her most recent round of EST, Pete visits her in the hospital, only to find she no longer recognizes him (or does she?). Still he pours out his soul to Beth, revealing that his love for her made him realize that his life with his family was a "temporary bandage on a permanent wound."

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