Episode 1.08: The Hobo Code


Summer, 1960

Day One
Sterling Cooper
Pete and Peggy arrive at Sterling Cooper at 7 a.m. Only Hollis, the elevator operator, is in the elevator until the janitor steps in (Hollis says the service elevator is out, and asks if they mind). Pete says he’s moving today, and is expected to leave at lunch to go supervise. Peggy says she is nervous because her copy is being presented today.

Upstairs, Peggy knocks on Pete’s door, saying she is going down for coffee and offering to get him some. Instead, he asks her to come in and close the door. Approaching her, he says “Peggy do you know how hard it is to see you walking around here every day?” They kiss, fairly intensely, then he grabs her hair and pulls her head back hard, and her eyes roll back. Pete moves the couch so that it blocks the door and sex ensues, during which he rips her blouse. The janitor sees them in a compromising position through the frosted glass.

As they get dressed, Pete confesses he never read the copy she wrote for Belle Jolie. He talks about feeling conflicted, she asks if he thinks about her. He says he does, and then talks about how he’s married to a stranger, and that’s not what marriage should be. She says he’s not alone and not to worry about her blouse. She looks very happy to be with him.

There’s a new (two weeks) switchboard operator (whom we learn is named Lois Sadler). She’s listening in on Salvatore speak with his mother in Italian. The other operators mention he talks with his mother a lot. Lois is enamored by the Italian and loves when Mama says “Ciao, ciao.” She is clearly taken with Sal. Joan arrives with pastries and Lois asks her what Salvatore is like; Joan says he’s handsome and describes him in detail.

Don arrives. He immediately notices Peggy’s ripped blouse. Peggy makes an excuse and says she’s thinking of keeping a spare. She tells him Cooper wants to see him without Mr. Sterling. Don is surprised.

Don waits in his stocking feet until Cooper asks him in, and asks Don not to smoke (this time). Cooper hands Don a check for $2500 as a bonus, not specifying any particular reason. Don is speechless. Then Cooper asks Don if he’s read Atlas Shrugged. “That’s the one” Cooper says. He believes he and Don are alike; “in the end completely self-interested,” and he tells Don to by a copy of the book. Don says he will. Copper trims his bonsai as Don leaves.

Lois arrives at the Art Department, pretending to be lost and looking for Accounting. There is an older guy named Dwayne and a young geek, who both flirt intensely the moment she arrives. When Salvatore steps out of his office he is attentive but not flirty. When she leaves, she says “Ciao ciao,” and leaves a little flustered. The guys then discuss how women all flirt with Salvatore; Sal claims his new tie “works” (meanwhile leaving the audience to imagine exactly why a salesman spent twenty minutes selling it to him, and what that must have been like). Dwayne says it’s the clothes and Sal snarks a little about Dwayne’s clothing sense.

Pete is in his office drinking, apparently in grumpy mood–he uses a surly tone with Hildy. Trudy shows up unexpectedly, with champagne, to walk with Pete to their new place (30 blocks away). Pete is instantly snappish. He says he’d only said he might show up if he wasn’t busy, which Trudy says is not true, but then she backs off and says they can drink the champagne here, in the office. Pete is angry, saying “this is my office, how do you think it looks;” they continue to argue and then are both conciliatory, but not in an actually nice way.

The Belle Jolie presentation: There are two Belle Jolie reps at the meeting; Grouchy Old Guy (GOG) and Elliot. Fred begins the presentation; Don does most of the lifting. He presents Peggy’s copy; the art says “Mark Your Man,” and Don says “from a basket of kisses, she picks one.” GOG doesn’t like it, there aren’t enough colors. Don calls the guy’s bluff, telling him the meeting is over, then goes into his brilliant Jesus speech, telling GOG he doesn’t want to make him a believer, he should already know he’s #4 in the market and all he seems to want is to continue with the strategy that makes him #4. Then Don goes back to Peggy’s copy, saying a woman “doesn’t want to be one of a hundred in a box,” segueing into how a woman can own her man by marking him with Belle Jolie lipstick. It’s brilliant and GOG is sold.

After the meeting, the guys all talk about how great Don was; Ken is incredibly impressed with Don’s aggressive save. Elliot, who is wearing a pink shirt, talks about the glorious redecoration of the Roosevelt, and says he loves drinking in the bar. This seems to be coded language (like, hobo coded?). Then everyone walks past Peggy into Don’s office.

Don calls Peggy in for ice. When she comes in, he reveals that it’s for her drink. Fred says “Home run ballerina,” and Peggy, who was worried, is suddenly showered with congratulations. As they egg her on, Peggy knocks back her drink and they all laugh appreciatively. Peggy, seeing the presentation materials for the first time, says it’s marvelous, then she recalls it’s different from how she wrote it. Fred says “You may be a writer, honey,” and when Peggy says “Really?” Fred replies, “You’re arrogant.”

Don offers Peggy another drink. She hesitates (and seems not to have one). She asks if she can keep the presentation art; Salvatore says no.

In the break room, Lois signs up for the bowling team (and one of the other operators gets paranoid about her putting her name on a list). Peggy comes in to tell the girls her good news. Before she can say anything, Joan enters, saying she’s leaving for a long lunch; she says she has “errands” in a meaningful tone, and here we might notice Roger’s simultaneous absence. Now Peggy tells her news. The girls congratulate her and they all agree they’re going to P.J. Clarke’s at five minutes to five. Joan is maternally disapproving and smiles.

Pete, in his office with Paul, Harry, and Ken, shares champagne without telling them it’s from Trudy. Peggy knocks and the guys congratulate her in their frosty, competitive way. Peggy invites them to P.J. Clarke’s. Pete is noncommittal. The guys suggest they start now since Don and Sterling are gone. Pete says he has to be home, but Peggy says if they start at 3 he can certainly go home at 5. As she walks away, back to her desk, she skips.

Lois puts a call through to Salvatore, calling him by name and saying she was just about to go to lunch. Sal says “I’m glad I stayed in” with flirtation in his voice, and Lois “disconnects” the nonexistent call. Then she invites Salvatore along to P.J. Clarke’s and Sal says he’ll be there.

Greenwich Village
Don knocks on Midge’s door, and a guy in a fez answers, then Roy (from Babylon), with his shirt open, shows up at the door and invites him in.

There are two other women there, one black, plus the two men and Midge. Don kisses Midge passionately to the group’s pleasure, and Don says “Pack your bag, we’re going to Paris.” Midge doesn’t want to go, she says she has plans, despite, as Don points out, that she says she “never makes plans.” She insists Don stay for the party, while one of the girls says “He looks kind of square.” Roy says “We’re going to get high and listen to Miles” which Don thinks isn’t much of a plan, but he stays.

A time jump: Don, Midge, and Roy are laying on the bed, and Don says “I feel like Dorothy, everything just turned to color.” He definitely enjoys being stoned. He goes to the bathroom, looks in the mirror, and a flashback begins.

Dick Whitman, about 10 years old and with a hellish haircut, is digging with a shovel, when a hobo comes up and asks politely if he can work for a meal. Dick’s father (Archie) turns him away, but his step-mother (Abigail) insists they are Christians and invites him to stay, saying he can work tomorrow. She says she will boil his clothes before he can sit at her table, and he says it would be a relief. She tells Dick to stop digging and to build a fire under the cauldron. The hobo says hi to Dick, who doesn’t respond.

Now we cut to the dinner table, the family prays, and Archie persists in being rude and cold. Abigail asks where the hobo is from (based on his accent) and he says New York (reminding us that’s where young Dick ended up). Archie says that’s more reason to distrust him, after all, New Yorkers don’t know how to work; the hobo says he doesn’t know much farming, but he’s worked plenty. Dick has his eyes on the hobo the whole time, sucking up every word he says. Abigail asks the hobo if he’s a communist, he says no. She goes on to say that Communists are souls who cannot be saved.

Abigail goes into her stash and gives a coin to the hobo (it appears to be a Standing Liberty Quarter). Archie takes it away and says the hobo can have it tomorrow when he finishes some work.

The flashback ends; Don is back in Greenwich Village looking in mirror.

The Roosevelt Hotel
Sal seeks Elliot out in the Roosevelt bar. They exchange what seems like more coded language, talking about seeing the decorating, the architecture, Sal mentioning the musical 42nd Street. Elliot invites Sal to dine on his expense account.

PJ Clarke’s
Freddie and Peggy dance the cha-cha. Lois looks for, but doesn’t find, Salvatore. Joan appears to be disgusted. Paul asks Joan to dance. Peggy kisses Fred on the cheek, Fred bows and spills his drink. Pete sits in the corner and sulks. Someone selects The Twist from the jukebox and everyone cheers and dances, absolutely thrilled, except Pete who continues to sulk. Peggy twists over to him, very seductive. Pete looks at her with cold hostility and says “I don’t like you like this.” Peggy, hurt, goes back and dances while fighting tears. Pete leaves immediately.

The Roosevelt Hotel
After dinner, over Sambuca, Salvatore admits he is not happy. Elliot invites Sal up to his room “to see the view.” Salvatore says no, they go back and forth delicately, and Sal says “I know what I want.” Elliot asks “What are you afraid of?” but Salvatore, disgusted, asks “Are you joking?” and leaves with a stiff handshake.

Greenwich Village
Don comes out of the bathroom while the rest of the group does the Bunny-hop. Midge asks if Don is all right, he says “I don’t know.” They hear the cops arrive; Midge figures it’s for the neighbor who beats his wife.

Don takes a Polaroid picture of Midge and Roy and returns to flashback mode.

Dick brings the hobo blankets (apparently he’s sleeping in the barn). The hobo offers Dick a smoke and gets Dick talking. The hobo alludes to Dick’s mother, saying she’s the only good in that house, but Dick says she’s not his mother; he’s a “whore child.” They talk; the hobo warns the kid that this place is no good, they talk about having a home, about being free; the hobo calls himself a “gentleman of the rails” and extols the virtues of having no ties. He gives Dick piece of chalk, saying he’s “an honorary” now, and teaches Dick some “hobo code.” He tells Dick not to be afraid, he’s not a man yet.

Now we’re back in the present; Don peels back the Polaroid picture and looks at Midge looking at Roy. He realizes that Midge and Roy are in love, and although they both deny it, he says, “Every day I make pictures where people appear to be in love. I know what it looks like.” This reminds Fez Guy that Don’s an ad man and he picks a political fight, but Don is dismissive.

Don is ready to go, he asks Midge to leave with him, right now, let’s go. Midge says no. Don endorses the check and hands it to Midge, they’re done. Roy says Don can’t go out because of the cops, but Don, in his suit and brandishing a hat points out they can’t but he can. As he leaves, he nods to the cops who are indeed arresting the wife beater.

Arriving at home, Don wakes his young son Bobby. He tells Bobby to “Ask me anything,” not letting him go back to sleep. Finally Bobby asks “Why do ladybugs light up?” Don sighs; this isn’t what he wants. He says “I will never lie to you,” with desperation in his eyes. Bobby hugs him.

We return to Dick Whitman. It’s the next day and the hobo says he’s finished working, he says thanks as he leaves. Archie doesn’t give him the coin, and tells him to get a move on. Dick runs out to follow the hobo, and sees the “dishonest man” mark carved into the post, partially obscured by weeds. (The fact that it’s carved seems to indicate that a previous hobo put it there, and our nameless friend didn’t see it.) Dick looks at his father, sees, and knows.

Day Two
It is morning. We see Don has slept, fully dressed, with Bobby.

Sterling Cooper
Peggy is back in the office at 7:10 am. She goes to Pete’s door, but he isn’t in. Resigned, she goes to her desk. At 9ish she sees Pete go into his office; he doesn’t look her way.

Don comes in. Closes his door, closeup on his nameplate on the door.

The closing song is a Depression-era version of “Gimme That Old Time Religion,” hearkening back to the flashback sequence.

Back to Season 1 Episode List


  7 Responses to “Episode 1.08: The Hobo Code”

  1. […] FigaroEpisode 1.04: New AmsterdamEpisode 1.05: 5GEpisode 1.06: BabylonEpisode 1.07: Red in the FaceEpisode 1.08: The Hobo CodeEpisode 1.09: ShootEpisode 1.10: Long WeekendEpisode 1.11: Indian SummerEpisode 1.12: Nixon vs. […]

  2. The name "Abigail" comes from a story in the Old Testament. King David and his troops are running short of provisions, and they ask if Nabal, a wealthy man whose sheep David has protected, will help them out. Nabal refuses. But Abigail, Nabal's wife, goes against her husband and helps David.

  3. BTW, your linky to "Red in the Face" leads to a "you are not allowed to edit this page" message.

    Nice place you got here!

  4. There's a mention in the episode of a restaurant- I think it's Ritazzi's. Can anyone provide more info? (My parents were madison ad folks, and i recall them saying they'd meet there. They're both long gone, so can't ask them.)

  5. # 2 Nat Nabob Says:
    August 31st, 2008 at 9:30 am
    The name “Abigail” comes from a story in the Old Testament. King David and his troops are running short of provisions, and they ask if Nabal, a wealthy man whose sheep David has protected, will help them out. Nabal refuses. But Abigail, Nabal’s wife, goes against her husband and helps David.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Fascinating detail indeed. This is why I love this show.