The MacGuffin. I remember hearing Hitchcock describe it as, and this is not a quote but purely my recreation, the thing that is terribly important to the people in the film, and not at all important to the people watching the film.
The impact of the MacGuffin on the characters leads to the action. What’s vital to us, the viewers, is not the thing or event itself, but what everyone does about it. That’s the story.
So something has gone terribly wrong regarding Lane and money. I didn’t quite catch what, all I knew from watching was, he is in some kind of big trouble. (Which in fact, I’ve suspected since the season opening; the St Paul’s check, Rebecca not carrying any cash; these seemed indicative of a bigger problem.)
I’m not really interested in what happened, what led to it; what is interesting is seeing his reaction. That’s where the storytelling is.
It wasn’t just me. Turns out a lot of people didn’t catch it. My sister explained it in a comment:
It appears that Lane paid taxes owed to Her Majesty to the IRS instead, as far as I can tell. He could lose his visa as well as go to jail.
She wasn’t 100% clear either.
Monday morning after the episode aired, a few of my coworkers asked me what exactly had gone down with Lane in that scene. This is what had me start seeing it in this light. If a bunch of us didn’t fully understand it, then full understanding must not be a requirement.
And my answer was, “I don’t know if you ever heard Hitchcock talk about The MacGuffin…. “