MAD MEN: Season 1 Episode 8 – “The Hobo Code”
Viewed at home on my couch, with a friend, late at night.
In this episode, Peggy Olson’s having a big day – the copy she wrote for Belle Jolie lipstick is being presented to the client. She comes in early and runs into Pete Campbell who’s also in early to avoid his responsibilities at home that day – he and his wife are moving into their new apartment. To ease the nerves, Campbell calls Olson into his office and initiates an early morning office tryst before the rest of the staff gets there.
Later that day, Olson’s ad copy is a success. Don Draper and the rest of the crew pour her a congratulatory drink and decide they’ve worked enough. Most of the office leaves to go to a bar called P.J. Clarke’s where they do the twist. Seriously. Olson asks Campbell to dance but he declines and tells her, “I don’t like you like this.” Olson backs away as her eyes fill with tears.
Draper, who has just received a bonus from the head partner at Sterling Cooper decides to trek down to the village to take Midge for a Parisian weekend. Midge and her beatnik friends have other plans – they’re getting stoned and listening to Miles Davis records. Draper gets stoned with them and flashes back to his childhood (wherein he still has the creepy haircut). In the flashback we meet Don Draper, then known as “Dick Whitman” and his family, who takes in a drifter for an evening.
Furthermore, we learn that Draper (Dick Whitman) is a “whore-child” as the hobo drifter teaches him the “hobo code.” These are a series of pictures left on the front of houses for other hobos – a picture of a knife means a dishonest man lives there, a zig zag line means there’s a nasty dog, and a pie means good food. When the hobo leaves, the young Draper (Dick) finds a picture of a knife on the fence post of his house. Back at Midge’s, Draper takes a photo of Midge and her friend Roy. Upon closer inspection of the photo, Draper sees that Midge and Roy are in love. He says this, but still asks her to go to Paris again. She says no. Draper takes the bonus check, endorses it, and sticks it in Midge’s bra. With that, Draper leaves.
It’s safe to say I’m getting into the show now. Whenever I discuss it with friends who are hooked, I find myself constantly reminding them not to spoil the future seasons for me because I’ll definitely be watching them. I’m looking forward to watching these characters develop over time – the show is good about not giving everything away too quick. It’s also very subtle when it comes to the important details. Blink once, and you’ll miss them.