“Mad Men”: This One Wasn’t for the Birds

Spoiler warning: If you haven’t watched Thursday’s “Mad Men,” read no further.

We may have witnessed the first truly brilliant moment of the 2007-08 television season with the pitch-perfect end to Thursday’s “Mad Men.” There’s been no shortage of greatness on the new AMC series, but this really was one to cherish.

Mad_men_january_2In the final scene, Betty Draper (January Jones), having been allowed a brief escape from her housewife prison before events beyond her control shoved her back behind lock-and-key, walks out into her backyard in a robe wispy enough to fit her personality, cigarette dangling from her mouth  … and BB gun in hand. Coldly fuming, she takes aim at the domesticated pigeons of her neighbor (who earlier in the episode had scared her children by threatening their dog) and fires. And fires. And fires.

Has there been a better expression on TV in recent times of giving life the finger? What’s more, the simmering rebellion echoed storylines involving Betty’s husband, Don (Jon Hamm) and Don’s assistant, Peggy (Elisabeth Moss).

“The Sopranos” and David Chase had their ducks. Now “Mad Men,” created by “Sopranos” writer Matthew Weiner (who co-wrote this episode) has its pigeons. The coda capped another tour-de-force offering from “Mad Men,” which somehow needs to be remembered at the 2008 Emmys — even though the bulk of it is airing before this weekend’s 2007 awards.

— Jon Weisman

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