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October 4, 2015

Mad Men: The Hobo Code

by Bob Sassone, posted Sep 6th 2007 11:52PM
Mad Men


"You know you have to leave the village for a decent screw." - Midge, when asked by a friend where she met Don

So Don gets stoned ("I feel like Dorothy, and everything just turned to color" - must have been his first time) with Midge and her hip beatnik friends and has a flashback of meeting a hobo when he was a kid. That was just one of the revealing moments in this episode, which was really about parties. Midge throws a party with her friends, and Don shows up smokes weed with them. Peggy and the girls and the guys from the office go to P.J. Clarke's to dance and drink (Pete goes too, the hell with helping his wife move into the new apartment), and Sal meets Elliot, one of the sales reps for the lipstick company, at a bar. Elliot makes a play for him (yes, readers, your instincts were correct), but Sal is too scared to do anything about it and just leaves after several drinks.

The more I think about this show the more I think its all about freedom and truth. This episode was just so jam-packed with unhappy people: Sal being unhappy living the lie he has live in his life, Don unhappy with his marriage and wanting to go to Paris with Midge, and Pete unhappy with his marriage and doing it with Peggy on the sofa in his office. Note to Pete: if you're going to close the door to your office so you can get it on with your boss' secretary, make sure you have some sort of curtain or lighting so a giant shadow doesn't clearly show what you're doing to the outside.

Speaking of Peggy, what the hell is wrong with her? Maybe it's just my fault for assuming that she's going to be the sweet, innocent, nice one to root for. But she's really messed up. Remember last week when she was turned on by Pete's bizarre hunting story? And then she went and got some giant pastry like she had never eaten before (pregnant maybe?). This week she acts as if she really wants things, namely her work approved and lots of sex, and not necessarily in that order. Her copy is a hit with the lipstick company (after some sharp work by Don to convince the company to go with Sterling Cooper), and that's great (even Don let her drink with the guys), I'm just not sure what we're supposed to think about Peggy and her relationship with Pete. Romeo and Juliet or something creepy and temporary? She tells him at one point "you're not alone in this," meaning his loneliness and dislike of his marriage. Oooooooookay. At P.J. Clarke's, Peggy tries to get him to dance but he tells her "I don't like you like this" and leaves.

Some of my favorite scenes in this ep surrounded the goings-on in that closet where the switchboard operators work. The new one, Lois, likes to listen in on Sal's phone calls from his mom (he still lives at home...cough). She finds him handsome and debonair (I think it's his slick hair and the way he holds his cigarette). Boy, is she in for a surprise. I also liked the one operator who tells Lois not to put her name on a list for the bowling team because they keep track of everything they do there, like Joe McCarthy.

The boss gives Don a $2500 bonus for...something. He makes an odd speech about how he's appreciative of his talents. He also tells Don to take $1.99 and buy Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (if that comes into play at some point that would be quite cool). Don wants to use it on that Paris trip with Midge, but she decides to stay with her friends (from a picture Don surmises that she's in love with one of them). But Don's flashback to a hobo showing up at his parent's home was...interesting. We learn he was a "whore's child," his step-mom was a religious freak and his dad a jerk. We also learn the "hobo's code:" chalk marks made on homes and fences to tell other hobos if the house was worth stopping at (yup, they're real). A pie drawing for food, teeth marks for dogs that are on the property, and a nasty hook telling people not to stop there. The hobo leaves this last mark at the Whitman home and leaves, but not before instilling some words of wisdom about freedom to young Dick/Don.

I really dig this show, to borrow a phrase Midge's friends might say. The dialogue is just so sharp (watch it again and listen to the conversation between Sal and Elliott and the one between Don and Midge and her friends), the scenes put together so well, a show you don't just watch but really sink into, like a great novel. No Roger or Helen or Betty in this episode, but to be honest they weren't missed a bit. They're back next week though.

What do you think of Pete and Peggy?
It's true love!28 (9.1%)
He'll dump her.148 (48.2%)
She'll dump him.131 (42.7%)

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I wondered what we were in for with the whole "viewer discretion advised" thing at the beginning. Got that answer about five minutes in with Pete and Peggy. He's such a jerk, but I hope those two crazy kids work it out. Is her obvious weight gain going to become a pregnancy storyline? If you watch the preview for this week, the guys in the office all are talking about it.

Here's this week's funny recap. Favorite lines:

Elliott: What are you afraid of?

Salvatore: Well, I’m afraid of shirts with horizontal stripes. And domestic cheeses. But that’s not important right now. I will extend my hand to you in a most manly fashion. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a beard to don.


September 11 2007 at 11:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

it's interesting that the program is about advertising because the people are so caught up, esp. the women, in paying for their keep. I think Pete and Peggy have a primal connection- cute that their couch encounter looked like a 50's pin-up thru the glass.

September 11 2007 at 7:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with the Peggy and Pete liason being completely hot. Pete is such a jerk but that whole scene was beyond impossible to get out of your head. As for the Midge//Don thing, I think she and her new freinds are representative of the whole Beatnik generation of poets and horoin adicts and it's good that Don doesn't seem to be mixed into it anymore.
The hobo thing - hah I too wondered how he put the symbol up so quickly but yes, it must have already been there.
I love this show. PS, if anyone has a video link to just the Peggy/Pete thing, please post it!

September 09 2007 at 8:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sorry, I keep having more to say. First of all, the more I watch this show, the more immersed I become. Each episode is like being in a dream. And as I've said, each line has so much thematic importance. So one that stood out to me this week:
"You realize at a certain point in your private life that seduction is over and force is actually being requested."
Poor Sal.
And poor Peggy. She is otherwise so cool... kind of an odd duck, and obviously bright, and so right right right about who she is and what she will and won't be... and so WRONG WRONG WRONG about Pete! For some reason, she elicits moments of vulnerability and humanity in him, and that is all she sees and responds to. The rest she is excusing.
I also like how there were a couple of mentions from the men how Joan is kind of a tyrant. They all see through her; playing both sides of things.

September 09 2007 at 2:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dick/Don didn't refer to HIMSELF as a 'whore's child'; it was obvious that it is what he is CALLED. "Haven't you heard? I'm a whores' child" is what he said to the hobo. Like he's heard this for so long he assumes it is common knowledge. This family life, as it continues to be revealed, will be more and more tragic.
(The father was so well cast, in terms of looking like Don.)
Also, the irony of Don swearing to his son that he will never lie to him. Don's lies are so ingrained in him that he doesn't even think of them as lies. He has a past that is secret from his own family. I'm sure he told his children that their grandparents were dead (kids always ask). And while yes, they are, he only just found that out from Adam.

September 09 2007 at 8:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i always watch mad men on "on demand'. no commercial interuptions. also because i hate to missBurn Notice. am i the only one that thinks pete and peggy,s connection is hot? for two mediocre-looking actors, their passion is unsettling. and the hunting story scene was completely ero tic. as for don, i think he just needs to speak to an adult. his wife has nothing going on in her head- she's so obviously jealous of the neighbor's freedom , brains and sexuality.

September 08 2007 at 1:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Gotta agree with Matt, the mark was already carved. If it were recent if wouldn't have faded to match the post. They had other hobos before. The father was pissed when this one showed up and didn't want to help anyone else out...I even think the mother had the tin of change for such "visits".

Don't know why he referred to himself as a "whore's child", but it was obviously pre-Adam.

September 07 2007 at 7:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You might want to investigate what happened in Biloxi on 5/14/59. Or just trust me: there were murders.

Public acknowledgment here to the improved captioning. Other than "Idyllwild" for Idlewild Airport (now JFK), no howlers. Extra credit for using the Hungarian spelling of Tokaj wine.

September 07 2007 at 6:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Another thing about the Don/Peggy/Pete triangle...

Don is very appreciative of Peggy's contributions. And it's pretty obvious that Don and Midge hooked up over work. I'd actually would like to go into how Don and Midge started seeing each other.. We might find some parallels between Peggy and Pete's affair.

September 07 2007 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

GEORGIA ASKS: "Does anyone know what the comment about the "ten kids in Biloxi" was referring to?"

My guess; this is referring to the "Freedom Riders"... which actually took place in 1961.

September 07 2007 at 2:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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