Remember how Tony Soprano took Meadow on that college trip, in the season-one episode “College”? And it was full of daddy-daughter bonding? Except for that whole strangling-the-rat-with-a-piano-wire bit, the one that spun the show on its moral axis? Well, last night’s “skirt” scene — which happens around 1:10 in the video above — was Mad Men’s first true Tony Soprano moment.
Oh, sure, Matt Weiner (the show’s creator, formerly a writer on The Sopranos) delivered some caustic twists last season — those horsey-riding games with models, a few dank glimpses down the marital well. But this scene, the one with Don Draper threatening/fingering an odious she-manager into submission, sent a message. You think this is escapism, lifestyle fun, Entourage with better suits? Wrong-o.
Your hero is a whore, pimping his pretty wife. That’s his job, and he has to wash his mouth out, wipe his hand on the napkin — even for cable TV, that’s some dirty, dirty stuff. If you had been lulled into thinking Don Draper was a good guy, and that Mad Men was a show about impeccable production design, last night’s linchpin scene was a warning: Anything can happen. —Emily Nussbaum