We'll start again with our "Soprano" moment, the car crash (how many crashes was Tony in?) Nonetheless, this week Don, who seems increasingly numb and fogged-out, and Bobbie, ever tilting at sexual windmills, get into a late-night highway wreck, complete with a visit to a police station and an arrest for drunken driving. The subsequent cover-up ushers in a few fabulous revelations, and this week we got some pips.
Houses, fathers, old business, fresh starts. Let's get the "Sopranos" link out of the way first. "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner obviously perfected his craft at the (perhaps broken) kneecap of Tony Soprano. This episode included a very "Sopranos"-like weaving of storylines; the mix of realism, satire, comedy, and fantastic details feels similar, as does the tone.
Or, as I would like to call it, '' A dark side, and a mixed bag.'' As Jimmy Barrett, the Don Rickles-like comedian put it while shooting Sterling/Cooper's latest UTZ commercial, ''You try and stick your face into a can of nuts!'' And indeed, there was a whole new cast of nuts this week, with barely a reference to Pete, Peggy, and Paul, the Sterling Cooper characters whose messy personal problems dominated, and were left unresolved, in the last episode. Instead, it was a dense, symbolism-packed, uneasy ride, circling the themes of light and dark, power and cruelty.
I didn't become a master fan of "Mad Men" until now, season 2. Previously, I loved everything about the look of the series (the mid-century furniture, the men who put the dash in haberdashery, the women whose girdles were killing them) but I just didn't have the stomach to watch that much misogyny in action. It seemed to me that the young writers (most of whom probably weren't born yet in 1960, when the first season takes place) perhaps read Betty Friedan's bestseller, "The Feminine Mystique," about the indignities of being an educated, upper-middle-class suburban housewife in the late 1950s, …