"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mad Men: The Hobo Code

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, my 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 lived 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 heckl 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 I'm 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 episode 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. I learned that he was a "whore's child," his step-mom was a religious freak and his dad a jerk. I also learned the "hobo's code:" chalk marks made on homes and fences to tell other hobos if the house was worth stopping at (yup, I looked it up 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, the scenes put together so well, a show I 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.

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