Mad Men s5e12: Commissions and Fees

“But what is happiness?? It’s the moment before you need more happiness.”

We all have good days that turn into bad ones, but some of us just can’t shake it. As much as it’s Real Life, the consequences of our own actions are sometimes too much to bear. Sometimes shit is just so devastating you can’t cope.. enter Lane Pryce and his illicit cash grab.

image courtesy of Vulture

We knew it was coming, but Lane’s been caught red-handed by Cooper, cancelled Christmas bonus check with Don’s faux signature and all. And we all know Lane is one proud motherfucker, so his chat with savvier than expected Don does not go well.

Sadly, this is grisly familiar territory for Don; it’s not the first time that a guy he knew has hanged himself as a near-direct result of Don telling him to get on with it and leave. Before Lane Pryce, there was of course Adam Whitman. Don’s motivations as well as the circumstances are super different, but the endgame is identical; Dick Whitman imparts some hobo code ‘run away’ advice and both of these guys instead choose to violently exit the world.

And the punch is that Don was truly doing do the right thing for Lane, giving him an elegant exit with a resignation– obviously trying to course correct after Adam.

Adam & Lane || image courtesy of Tumblr

Don really thinks he did the decent thing for Lane here, and he’s not entirely wrong. When that type of trust is broken, natch Don cannot keep working with him; letting him resign sans scandal is miles better than outing his embezzlement and shady shit to the partners, much less ringing the coppers. Trying to do him a favour and send him off on a semi-OK note, Don gives Lane a variation on the speech he gave Peggy in the mental ward back in s2 about moving forward from absolute shit circumstances.

“I can’t go back to England like this. What will I tell my wife? .. What will I tell my son?”

“You’ll tell them that it didn’t work out, because it didn’t. And you’ll tell them the next thing will be better, because it always is. Take the weekend.. think of an elegant exit. Cooper doesn’t know anything.”

“l feel a bit light-headed.”

“That’s relief. I’ve started over a lot, Lane.. this is the worst part.”

Seems like good advice on how to get on with it, but Lane ain’t Pegs and he certainly is not Donald Draper. Peggy has enough common ground with Don to make that hobo code a part of her aesthetic and make it work to her advantage. Look at her bounce to a better profesh situation as soon as the opportunity presents itself; however, Lane is not particularly equipped to do the same.

Take a look at the guy. Lane is a middle manager– the moneyman hemming and hawing over payroll and Jaguar’s fee versus commission structure, treated as a malleable marionette by PPL, seen begrudgingly as a necessary evil by the SCDP partners. The kicker is that whenever he strives to achieve more in life beyond his predetermined glass box, he gets beaten down.. quite literally by his crust-ass dad’s cane.

(Also, anytime I think of Lane Pryce’s father I think of Mr. Burns’ mother..)

Brass tacks– handsome and determined Dick Whitman could start over; Lane Pryce cannot. Don’s schpiele to Peggy gave her life a clean slate, but his speech to Lane instead brought his to a screeching halt. He’s got more at stake than Peggy did as well. Don’t forget that Lane is in the USA on a work visa, has a wife and apartment in Manhattan, kid in a good NYC school.. no wonder he thought it was all over. Being stripped of his visa would fuck that all to hell like your prom date; briskly and thoroughly. How could he return to England under those circumstances?

Trying to off himself in the surprise Jaguar he and his wife can’t afford (unbeknownst to her) and having the damned unreliable thing not start was a bitter touch.

Even though Don was of course never as close to Lane as he was to Adam, nor was he as arctic in his rejection, the parallels are suffocating. Insisting upon going into Lane’s office to prevent the guy from dangling up there alone until the coroner makes his appearance, I get the vibe that he’s attempting to deal with lingering memories of his departed half-brother. After all, Adam was long dead before Don even knew about it.

If you don’t learn anything from your past, you’re absolutely fucking doomed to repeat it. And though Don tried to do it right with Lane, at the end of the day he cannot control anything other than his own shit; a hard pill to swallow for sure.

I leave you all with this Don Draper iconography directed at Leland Palmer and Dow Chemical. Once he essentially sacks Lane, he yearns to move onto the big leagues account-wise, to think bigger than Lane ever did. And let’s be real, he ain’t wrong; what IS happiness? The moment before you need more happiness. Nothing is ever enough.

“Ed Baxter told me the Lucky Strike letter poisoned us with all those companies.

“What? Why didn’t you tell me that?”

“Because l wrote that letter.”

“You let that wax figurine discourage you??”

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Mad Men s5e6: Far Away Places

“Look at me. Everything is okay. You.. are okay.”

Time is all outta whack with this episode, with three separate looks at the same 24 hours through the eyes of our characters. We’ve got Peggy’s total shite day, Roger on LSD, and Don and Megan’s HoJo’s mess. They’re all disconnected from their partners for different reasons. Peggy has a long, lousy day that starts with an Abe fight and stretches on as Don has a nightmare night that seems neverending.. while Roger is having the time of his life on drugs.

image courtesy of UnaffiliatedCritic

Turns out that while Don is currently doing his best impression of 1963 Roger, Peggy is now 1960 Don.. and I love that both Peggy and Pete are trying to be the New Don(TM) and failing in different ways. Stressed about work, she’s on the outs with Abe. Her Heinz presentation takes a nosedive and she tries on the strangely hypnotic Draper Stubborn Man(TM) routine to shit results. Taking another page from the Draper playbook, she pops out for a movie and gives a stoned handjob to some rando with awesome pants.

Unlike Don, however, she’s brought back down to earth by Ginsberg and his Martian/concentration camp origin story. The well-off over-educated guests at Roger and Jane’s fancy LSD party yap about whether or not the truth is the same on other planets, but we of course know that Ginzo’s truth is the same no matter what. His origin undoubtedly amplifies his eccentricities, and his Martian spin to make everything seem less awful is telling.

“We’re a big secret.. they even tried to hide it from me. That man, my father, told me a story I was born in a concentration camp, but, you know, that’s impossible. And I never met my mother because she supposedly died there; that’s convenient. Next thing I know, Morris there finds me in a Swedish orphanage. I was five. I remember it.”

“That’s incredible.”

“Yeah. And then I got this one communication, a simple order: Stay where you are.”

“Are there others like you?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t been able to find any.”

Peggy’s history isn’t a tragedy akin to this level, but she’s probably more like Michael Ginsberg than she realises. Affected by his story, she rings Abe and they reconcile, so at least someone is on the right path.

(On another note, Don isn’t that dissimilar from Ginsberg re: the origin sense. He, too, never knew his mother; and for all he knows, maybe she wasn’t even a prostitute. That information came from his stepmother who didn’t like him very much in the first place. Ginsberg chooses to believe he’s an actual Martian, and Dick Whitman ran with Don Draper as soon as he got the chance.)

On a somewhat lighter note, looks like Roger’s marriage to Jane is imploding, shocking absolutely nobody. As a last ditch effort at reconnecting with her husband, she wants to take LSD with him, to share an experience and maybe gain some clarity; and hey, it does exactly that. The next AM, their marriage ends on a surprisingly sad note– Jane knows that Roger simply doesn’t like her anymore. Bummer, but for the best. Roger’s obviously been unhappy for awhile, and it’s better to let go of a lie and get on with it.. even if he hemorrhages cash in the process.

just in case shit goes south.. || image courtesy of TheBigLead

Rewinding a second to that disaster Heinz pitch.. Peggy transports paternalistic Raymond back to the past for a beat; yet he dismisses the idea under his erroneous assumption that this generation of young people gives no fucks about nostalgia. Natch, she argues that they do (which is true), and perhaps with Don’s help she could’ve helped Raymond see that; instead, it implodes spectacularly and she gets the boot from the Heinz account.

When Don attempts to take Megan out of the office and back in time to the Howard Johnson’s with that goddamned orange sherbet, it’s his own wistfulness and sentimentality he’s fixated upon– and not any real childhood memory of hers.

image courtesy of BetterWithPopcorn

That HoJo’s is a good site for illuminating a touch of the generation gap between Don and Megan; Don, ever axiomatic that Megan would adore the damn place, is let down by her honesty. It makes sense he’d dig a camp, shiny place like that, too– for all of Don’s slathered on sophistication, he also intrinsically connects with the mainstream kitsch absurdity of midcentury America.

Step outside the box and think about where that all came from for a second; so much of it is, weirdly, about a clean slate. All of that hopeful, sparkling Formica light at the end of the war tunnel. His generation wanted to move forward from the war (well, wars..), and start over in a gorgeously maintained modern home with all the bells and whistles. The American Dream(TM) that continues to attract Don, in spite of his present allergy to the suburbs.

To someone like Megan who grew up with this sort of thing as the norm, she might view the HoJo’s as gauche or trying too hard to be a Fun(TM) place when really, it’s a place you stop on the way to somewhere more exciting. Expressing her real opinion on the (obvi vile) orange sherbet, Don is upset, probably more than he should be.. because who literally cares? Sherbet blows.

But of course, that Howard Johnson’s represents the idealised version of Tomorrowland for Don. Maybe he hoped Megan would see it that way with him as a sort of ‘second honeymoon’, a chance to reconnect. Too bad it got fucked up.

image courtesy of Pinterest

Looking at it from this end, it seems as if Don and Megan aren’t supposed to ‘work’ after all. Similar to Roger and Jane’s tenuous union, Don truly wants (and I think needs) Megan on some level; he just doesn’t Get her. She’s miles away from Betty, she stands up for herself and is her own person; she’s a thoroughly modern gal. Megan giving her real input is ten kinds of jarring to Don. And is she “allowed” to like to work? Apparently not.

It’s deffo certain that Don isn’t done evolving just yet. After all, we’re always changing and growing. Megan may covet the illusion of their marriage and the man Don presents himself as, but she is also true to herself. Shit’s in competition with one another. She loves Don, yet she does not understand him entirely. They have that bitter argument, and Don roars off in the Cadillac, since a hobo told him once how great it is to run.

In Mystery Date earlier this season, Don capitulates to temptation in his dream, yet also sees Megan as his salvation upon waking, complete with the majestic halo of warm light. He’s probably putting too much on her shoulders to keep him in line, without truly knowing her. A big ol’Band-Aid for his swinging dick.

However, as Megan said, every fight diminishes what they have together. If you take a peek at what they’re fighting about, there’s absolutely a basic misunderstanding between them. She blurts a pretty hurtful insult his way about his dead mother, knowing how awful it was as it flew out of her mouth, and maybe also not knowing to pull back on the throttle a bit with that shit. He storms off but eventually turns back around to find she’s gone, and as the hours pass into the morning he becomes sick with worry that he truly fucked it up or unspeakably worse.

What in the hell does he want exactly? What their marriage represents, or does he really want her as a person? For Christ’s sake, is anything ever going to be enough?

That chase around their gorgeous apartment shows how out of control Don really feels, it’s totally unsettling to watch him unravel like that. None of this shit is good, kiddos. It was like watching a terrible, uncomfortable version of their kinky cleanup sex play from the season premiere.

image courtesy of Tumblr

Cooper, apparently seeing more than he is seen these days, astutely puts Don in his place with a few choice words. Love leave, indeed; he ain’t wrong. Get your shit together, Don.

“Howard Johnson’s, huh? I love the colours, the atmosphere.. the clams..”

Mad Men s4e13: Tomorrowland

“But I think, in my heart, it was an impulse. Because I knew what I needed to do to move forward.”

Ahh, the curveball season finale. As we all know, Don Draper is the reigning king of the fresh start, always moving forward and all that garbage. But life really isn’t conducive to clean slates as Henry makes crystal clear to Betty, along with those of us living on planet earth know intrinsically. One of the show’s central themes is prominent in this episode.. can people really change? Or is it all just a blip?

image courtesy of IMDB

This is and is not the Don Draper we’ve gotten to know throughout the series thus far. When it looks like he’s going to come to terms with his own identity in some meaningful way, he veers sharply left (and imitates Roger by making an impetuous and capricious move) and proposes to Megan. The hell? True to form, I guess.

Betty certainly thought her life would change when she married Henry. Sure, things are different, but it’s not all that she envisioned. As her journey continues, she’s learning that life is less and less the ideal iconography she was pitched and the only thing you can really control is your perspective.

Bets, you can move out of your house and leave Ossining, but your problems are gonna follow ya if you don’t look inward and work on that shit. Her fresh start with Henry hasn’t radically changed her nor her life, and a new house in Rye won’t do that either. At least she’s with a man who will communicate with her exactly what is wrong with her actions, and call her out on her bullshit instead of just disappearing, but it’s up to her to do the work.

Now that Don’s not around to blame for her erratic/childish behaviour, she’s gotta learn to adapt and be an adult. Henry has precisely no time for her impulsive shitfit re:Glen and Sally being friends which is probably for the best. Firing Carla inadvertently draws Don closer to Megan too, ha.

And man, Faye didn’t deserve such shit treatment. She really got a raw deal, but I can’t say I didn’t see it coming. Don lost interest episodes ago, and it doesn’t look like he was ever really that into her; she’s not the right person for him. But getting some fucking phone call like “oh yeah bee-tee-dubs I met someone and am suddenly engaged PEACE” is crushing, but she blasts him with a truth H-Bomb before hanging up.

“I hope she knows you only like the beginnings of things.”

image courtesy of Imgur

Let’s be real, the Hobo Code stuck with him. Dude is always looking to hop that midnight train going anywhere; Faye represents facing his issues and working through his Dick Whitman/desertion garbage feelings like a real life person, whereas Megan represents a clean slate and bright-eyed optimism that only youth can foster. Poor girl doesn’t know what she’s signed on for..

I’m drawn back to the season premiere, and that reporter snapping Don out from his thoughts; “Who is Don Draper?” Good question. He’s tried to make himself a better man this season, but suddenly jerks to the crutch of the Fresh Start(TM) personified, Megan. The first time I watched this finale, that ending gave me whiplash– but going back and examining the earlier episodes, it adds up pretty neatly. All along there were these little snippets planted that she’s the shining star for Don; the Pond’s focus group, being naturally nurturing to Sally, actually getting what The Letter was about.. etc. The pieces are all there.

Megan’s on the level. Maybe she’ll be the one to accept Don for who he really is, to love Dick Whitman and all that mess entails, allowing him to get on with it sans too much manpain. And hey, maybe he’ll do it right. He tells her he feels like “himself” around her, the best version of the man he aspires to be in the day to day. Maybe she’ll coax more of that out into the open.

At the end of the day, Don is someone who needs to be needed, and Faye didn’t really deliver that; Megan does just that little bit. He also needs someone who will nurture his kids in the way that Betty simply can’t at this point, in a way that he’s unable to as well; since he grew up with no loving mother figure, seeing that in Megan is magnetic.

image courtesy of Slant Magazine

She also didn’t have a fucking meltdown over a spilled milkshake, which Betty certainly would have done. Between Megan’s sunniness and Don’s slight ability to even acknowledge his past to Sally (“that’s my nickname sometimes” re:Dick and Anna on the wall) and have it go well, Don seems on top of the world.

It’s an optimistic ending for a season fraught with such darkness, yet I can’t help but wonder how pristine that slate will stay as lives move on. Fundamentally, people don’t change– not wholly.

Peggy and Joan share a moment over the absurdity of the engagement; Peggy signed the first bit of new business with Topaz that day, but natch.. that’s not as important as getting married. Those dudes are all just between marriages, after all.

image courtesy of Roger Ebert

And it didn’t slide past Roger that Don did the exact thing he was judged harshly for back in Season 2, either. Granted, Roger reacts much better than Don ever did— and there’s absolutely fuckall Don can quip back about it.

Don and Betty have one last encounter in the house on Bullet Park Road, and it’s a bittersweet adieu. It’s also one of those rare moments where she softens towards Don, and they have an easy interaction; she’s vulnerable about how things aren’t ideal in her life. Don lets her know that he’s engaged, and even in her sensitive state, Betty manages to not say anything shitty which is pretty good progress.

She does ask if it’s to Bethany Van Nuys, and Don is essentially like “WHO??

image courtesy of Tom + Lorenzo

Adios, house; thanks for the memories. Onto the next one.

The finale closes with Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe” as Don stares off into the void, his new fiancée asleep on his chest. Natch, the first thing I thought of was the always relevant Groundhog Day, the tale of a man trapped in a fucking time loop with endless fresh starts as he relives the same day over and over.

And once he gets it right, he breaks the loop and can live happily ever after.. but only after something like 100 goddamned years.

Here’s hoping Don gets his shit together sooner than Bill Murray. As a man who’s started over quite a bit, maybe he’ll stick the landing this time.

That’s a wrap on Season 4, kiddos! Stay tuned for Season 5 reviews, starting soon.. will Don do it right with his marriage this time? Will Pete’s hairline continue to evaporate? Will Peggy be running the place by the time we return? Will trash Greg do the math on Joan’s baby??? Do people really change or is it all just smoke and mirrors?

Mad Men s3e7: Seven Twenty Three

“Young people give us energy, don’t forget that.”

One of my favourite episodes right here. I know I’ve said that at least 100 times, but this episode is fucking fantastic. The structure, the concurrent storylines, all of it; aces. There’s some glimpses at how desperate Don is at his core, how much of an isolationist asshole he can be when he feels even the slightest bit threatened.

Conrad Hilton shows up unexpectedly at Sterling Cooper, and Don is fashionably late per usual. The buzzing junior execs are worked up into a froth, then shooed away. Hilton points out the lack of family photos in his office Don’s real connections to the world, while sitting in his chair behind his Important Man(TM) desk. He then gifts Don the New York hotels as a start.

Betty is having some sort of ladies’ meeting about the reservoir, and links up with Henry Francis, the silver fox from My Old Kentucky Home who was borderline creeping on her while sauced on martinis. Henry and Betty decide meet for lunch to discuss the reservoir that Saturday afternoon. As she hangs up the phone, she checks Don’s desk drawer almost as a reflex. Still locked.

warholbetty

incredible, iconic Betty look.. || image courtesy of Pinterest

They have a nice lunch, where Henry orders the foul midcentury staple of apple pie with cheddar cheese. Walking to the car, they spot a fainting couch in an antique shop window. Henry explains the story behind the couch’s silhouette, revealing that he used to work as a mover before becoming an attorney. Betty buys this whacking great couch as a form of furniture protest on Don, who had one-upped her interior designer with one end-table swoop.

draper_sittingroom

image courtesy of ApartmentTherapy

While Betty has a flirtatious Saturday afternoon with Hank Frank, Don is at a school-related eclipse viewing party with Sally’s forever parched teacher. Oh yeah, and it turns out Carlton stares into the sun, shocking nobody.

Don and Miss Farrell make friendly conversation, then she faux calls him out for being one of those bored philandering suburban men, when the reality is that.. it was just a pleasant conversation? It seems like she’s trying to take control of their interaction, but it comes off as super fucking tryhard. Eyeroll.

Speaking of thirst, Duck is really trying to court Peggy over to Grey with an Hermès scarf. Shit is mad classy, but she ain’t into it; he calls her bluff by inviting her to The Pierre for a meeting, so she can return the scarf to the Hermès people in person.

Don’s contract, or lack thereof, is a hot topic. Connie needs him to have a contract in order to work together, and Lane agrees with the pragmatism behind it.. along with pressure from Hilton’s herd of lawyers. Bert puts his foot down and emphasises that the contract is important to Sterling Cooper as well as Conrad Hilton to drive the point home.

“I met him once. He’s a bit of an eccentric, isn’t he?

Ah, the irony of Bert Cooper calling someone an eccentric..

Roger tries to talk Don into signing the contract, tempting him with his name on the front door; no avail. Stonewalled. Sneakily, Roger rings the house and chats to Betty about Don signing the contract in a roundabout way. She’s flippant and frosty on the phone, but the wheels are turning. Jackpot, but also a major dick move on Roger’s part.

And it’s bad timing again for Peggy. After that irritating conversation Don had with Roger, she tests the waters re:Hilton under the false guise of work needing approval, and Don is prickly at best. Apoplectic about the contract hammer coming down, he takes it out on Peggy in an attempt to reassert control. Maybe he sees her as an extension of himself and is thus hard on her, but nonetheless it’s another major dick move.

At the Pierre, Duck dangles the opportunity of a new gig at Grey in front of her, then makes his real intentions known. It’s probably one of the grossest come-ons I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been witness to a lot of vile things..

Peggy: “What are you doing?”

Duck: “I was just thinking about all the times I walked by you and didn’t even notice. How is that possible?”

Peggy: “What do you want from me?”

Duck: “I want to take you in that bedroom, lock the door, take your clothes off with my teeth, throw you on the bed and give you a go-around like you’ve never had.”

..

UGH NO, CAN WE FUCKING NOT WITH THIS SHIT

nope

Ahem. Peggy’s previous experience banging dudes has been with young guys, perhaps guys who didn’t know what they wanted, or the first thing on how to please a woman. So I guess Duck seems appealing? VOM. Apparently he also ‘loves the morning’.

Once Don gets home, Betty grills him about his contract. She pushes back on Don and his “I have all the power, they want me but they can’t have me” garbage; as if she wouldn’t understand how that works. And on top of that, she got more information from Henry in an hour about his job and life than Don has ever given her in years of marriage. She’s getting more confident.

Like a pedantic manbaby, Don bounces. He drives off into the night, shattering his rocks glass in direct contrast to Red in the Face where he makes absolutely certain that Roger returns the glass to Betty. Wanting to indulge his transient fantasy, he picks up some young 20-somethings. They’re looking for a ride to Niagara Falls to get married; the 22 year-old guy is 1A, headed to Vietnam. Is any of it real?

Ah, drugs. Don pops a few pills, and hallucinates that his father Archie is in the motel. The hitchhikers are slow dancing, and are wondering when the fuck Don is gonna drop so they can rob him already.

Archie: “Look at you, up to your old tricks. You’re a bum, you know that?”

Don: “No, I’m not.”

Archie: “Conrad hilton? You wouldn’t expect him to be taken so easily! You can’t be tied down.”

Don: “That’s right.”

Ahh, then the guy pops Don on the back of the head, and he falls to the floor of the Knights Inn. This is a real place in Hackensack NJ, by the by.

don_am

image courtesy of Tom and Lorenzo

Conrad Hilton might not be so spot on about young people giving us energy here. The next morning, an exhausted Don shows up at the office all fucked up. Thanks, hitchhiking assholes. His pipe dream transient fantasy has failed him. As he strolls into his office, Cooper is sitting in the big seat behind his Important Man(TM) Desk, and serves him with some ice cold realness.

Bert: “Would you say I know something about you, Don?”

Don: “I would..”

Bert: “Then sign. After all, when it comes down to it.. who’s really signing this contract anyway?”

HARSH. But, don’t get it twisted; Cooper ain’t wrong. 7/23/1963, the date Don signs.

“What do you do? What do you make? You grow bullshit.”

Mad Men s1e8: The Hobo Code

This episode informs a bunch of Don’s character through a flashback to his childhood. The Hobo Code is one of my favourite episodes in the series.

Before we get to the really meaty stuff, Pete and Peggy have an early morning bang in the office, and Pete proceeds to get all weird and deep. He’s talking about his wife and how she’s basically another stranger to him, implying that Peggy is a little more than that. See also, Things Men Say to Mistresses 101.

Contrary to this roundabout compliment, he’s a massively miserable prick at the bar that afternoon while celebrating Peggy’s successful copy in the Belle Jolie meeting. Mark your Man! She’s dancing and having fun, and when she invites him to join in he flatly tells her “I don’t like you like this”. Lighten the fuck up, Pete! It’s a nod at how closed off he really is, that being confronted with something real like Peggy genuinely enjoying herself, he’s got no goddamned idea what to do.

Though she’s upset by his supercilious remark, Peggy is finding her footing with the men at Sterling Cooper as well as her writing. She’s digging to find her true self, along with Salvatore albeit in a different way in a near-sexual encounter with Elliott at a hotel bar. Ah, Sal. Ya should’ve gone to see his view of Central Park!

So, Don is the guy with the escape plan. He’s likely mapped out every single possible way out within minutes of being in any one place, and when Bert Cooper gives him a $2500 check with a very close to home speech attached to it, he panics.

burt_don_check

“The hell did you just call me?”

image courtesy of Mad Men Wikia

Bert: “When you hit 40, you realize you’ve met or seen every kind of person there is, and I know what kind you are.. because I believe we are alike.”
Don: “.. I assume that’s flattering.”
Bert: “By that I mean that you are a productive and reasonable man, and in the end completely self-interested. It’s strength. We are different– unsentimental about all the people who depend on our hard work.”

Don doesn’t let much on about himself, so he’s fairly spooked by this bit of accuracy. He runs off to see Midge and is greeted by some ginger in an actual Fez. Whilst stoned in her beatnik paradise of weed and Miles Davis, Don remembers meeting a Hobo one day while growing up. Since it’s the Great Depression and all, he comes to stay on the Whitman family farm for a meal in exchange for some work. Though frightened at first, Dick is drawn to him.

Bert Cooper and this Hobo think themselves a cut above the rest of the world because they each follow a self-centred credo. They both share that wisdom with Don, hoping to show him how their way of thinking distinguishes them. As a kid, Dick absorbs everything the Hobo says with rapt fascination and understanding beyond his years. This is a kid who’s been looking for an escape route for as long as he can remember.

Dick: I’m supposed to tell you to say your prayers.

Hobo: Praying won’t help you from this place, kid. Best keep your mind on your mother, she’ll probably look after you.

Dick: She ain’t my momma.

Hobo: We all wish we were from someplace else, believe me.

Dick: Ain’t you heard? I’m a whore child.

Hobo: No. I hadn’t heard anything about that.

Dick: You don’t talk like a bum.

Hobo: I’m not. I’m a gentleman of the rails.. for me, every day is brand new. Every day’s a brand new place, people, what have you.

Dick: So you got no home, that’s sad..

Hobo: What’s at home? I had a family once: a wife, a job, a mortgage. I couldn’t sleep at night tied to all those things. Then death came to find me.

Dick: Did you see him?

Hobo: Only every night. So one morning, I freed myself with the clothes on my back. Goodbye! Now I sleep like a stone: sometimes under the stars, the rain, the roof of a barn. But I sleep like a stone. Tomorrow I’ll be leaving this place, that’s for certain. If death was coming anyplace, it’s here, kid, creeping around every corner.

The next morning post-work, Archie stiffs the Hobo the nickel that was offered and tells him to leave. As he’s walking down the street, Dick sees that their house is marked with a sickle – “a dishonest man lives here”. Not inaccurate.

When Don comes to his senses and goes to bounce, the beatniks really rail into him about ‘inventing the lie’ and all that other crap. Don offers some devastating nihilistic realness.

“Well, I hate to break it to you, but there is no big lie. There is no system. The universe is indifferent.”

The episode closes the following morning with a flurry of typewriters and the minutiae of people chatting, closing in on his emblazoned office door; Donald Draper, a different type of dishonest man.

I mean, good lord. This episode packs so much into a couple of scenes, and Don carries these ideas with him throughout the show’s run. Through those flashbacks and his interaction with Cooper, you really learn what makes Don tick. He’s constructed this bulletproof disguise for the outside world, but Dick Whitman is still rattling around in there somewhere.

But eventually,  if you centre your life around yourself and escapism, pretty soon everything starts to look like a door.