Mad Men: “The Gypsy and the Hobo”

This episode begins with Betty packing her bags. Thankfully, she’s not leaving Don, she’s only traveling to Philadelphia to deal with Gene’s house. Sally asks Don about pre-made costumes at Woolworth’s. Don says that they’ll only wear the costume once, they’re made out of cheap plastic and “they’re crap”. Sally says that she’ll always love Minnie Mouse. Betty tells the kids to go upstairs and get their bags. While they’re gone, she tells Don that she only had $40. He tells her to swing by the bank, that she should have $200 in her account. She asks him again if he’s sure he has no extra money on him. He kisses her on the cheek and tells her to be careful.

mad_men_s03_e11_01

A little while later, we see Bert sitting on the sofa in his office with Annabelle Mathis, an old flame of Roger’s and the owner of a dog food company named Caldecott Farms. Don and Roger walk in the office and introductions are given (it’s obvious that Roger and Annabelle have a past). After Annabelle and Roger do some catching up, she says that Caldecott Farms is in dire straights after it was made public that the company used horse meat in its dog food products. She says that she’s in town visiting ad agencies. What she really wants is a new word for “horse meat”; she says that the ingredients and the brand name cannot change. Don says that it’s a “tall order” but they’ll do their best.

Roger walks Annabelle out, and asks if her stopping by Sterling Cooper was necessary. She says that she wanted to see him, and that she needed “something new”… for her business. She asks Roger if he’s still married, and he says that he is. She says that she heard that Jane is a teenager and is probably too jealous to let Roger have a business dinner with her. “Avec plaisir” (“with pleasure”), he says.

That night we see Suzanne walking in to her apartment with a bag of groceries. Don is already there. They kiss, and Suzanne says that she’s making pasta with cream, butter and cheese. Don asks if she’s adding hot pepper; she says that she is, and that she first got pasta like that in Little Italy. They kiss again, and Suzanne says that she wishes she could take him there. She then says that she’s not talking about the future, and that she went into their relationship with her eyes open. Don says that he pushed her into it, but Suzanne says that no matter what, Don is not happy. He says that he’s happy now. He goes to kiss her again, but she looks down. He asks iif she’s OK, and she says that she is (but isn’t). Don says that he’s going to lie down and that she can come get him when she’s ready.

At the Harris’ apartment, Joan leads Greg through some a mock interview. Greg reveals that his father had a nervous breakdown, but that his family wasn’t allowed to talk about it. Joan wants him to open up (as psychiatry is a “talking profession”) but Greg is reluctant. She tells him that the important thing is to express enthusiasm in a believable way. Greg says that it’s no a beauty pageant; Joan counters that she saw a lot of executives crash and burn at Sterling Cooper. Greg then says that he can’t believe that he never told Joan that.

Back at Suzanne’s, she crawls into bed while Don sleeps. He wakes up, and Suzanne says that she “wanted more than she thought she would want”, but that the feeling will pass. Don tells her that he doesn’t want her feelings to pass. He says that when he dropped the kids off at school, he wished that she could get in the car and drive away with him. She tells him to let it go, but he tells her that he can clear his schedule for a week and they can go away. Suzanne laughs and says that she knows of a better place they can go. The two agree to go away together.

The next morning we see Roger practicing chip shots in his office when the phone rings. No one answers it, so an irritated Roger answers it… and immediately brightens up when he finds that it’s Joan on the other end of the phone. When Roger complains that Ginger didn’t answer his phone, Joan says it’s because she’s out, having a hair appointment on the last Tuesday of the month. She also says that she knows that Roger’s lunch date canceled. Roger, shocked at what she knows, asks her what he’s wearing. Joan asks about the office girls, and Roger says that John has arranged them alphabetically… Joan asks if it’s alphabetically by cup size. Roger says that he knows where she would be sitting. Joan then gets to the point – she asks him for help in looking for work. She says that Greg is entering a new field that requires more training and that she doesn’t want him moonlighting. Roger asks her to come back to Sterling Cooper, but Joan says that she’s already been replaced and that she’d make more money at a department store than the agency anyway. Roger says that he’s glad that she called, and that he likes that she thought of him. He asks if she misses it at the agency, which causes her to ask if he’s really asking if she misses him. He says that he guess he is asking if she misses him, because everything else at Sterling Cooper has changed. Joan says that she has to go. When he asks what he should do if he finds anything – “should I just give them your number?” – Joan congratulates him on figuring things out for himself. Roger laughs and wishes her goodbye.

In Philadelphia, we see Betty sitting at Gene’s desk when William leads Milton Lowell, the family’s attorney, into the room. William tells Milton that he wants to buy his share of the house from Betty at double what Gene paid for it in the 1920s. Betty mentions that that was long ago, and William says that Gene claimed to have bought it at the “top of the market”. Milton says that Gene intended them to get as much money for the house as they could, if they planned to sell it, and that otherwise one of the children would have to buy the other child’s share. William then complains that this effective means that Gene left the house to Betty, as there was no way that he could afford to buy her out. Milton just stares at him, letting his silence speak for itself. William storms off in a huff. Betty says that she needs to speak to him in confidence. After Milton closes the door, Betty tells him that she’s found out some “compromising facts” about Don, and asks him what she should do. Milton says that he only met Don at their wedding and that he knows that Gene didn’t want him in his will. He further says that in New York state she would need to prove in a court of law that Don committed adultery, which is hard to do. He cautions that a divorce could leave her broke and unable to buy William out of his share of the house, and that Don might get custody of the kids as well. He asks her if she’s afraid of Don and if he’s a good provider. Although she complains, she takes his advice to go home and work on the relationship.

At dinner that night, Annabelle and Roger talk about their earlier days in Paris. She says that she wants to remember what it was like before the war. She wistfully invokes Casablanca to bring Roger back to that time, but he only compares her to Peter Lorre. She complains about him being drunk, but he says that they weren’t in Casablanca and that the only similarity with the film was that she left him for another man. She then asks about the film’s famous final scene, where Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) gets on a plane with Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid). Roger says that Ilsa got on a plane with a man that could end World War II, whereas Annabelle got on a plane with a man that ran a dog food company. She then says that Roger walked around as if he was “a character in somebody else’s novel”. She then says that he did some boxing. He then says that shes’ looking at him with pity, but that he came home and married Mona, joined the agency, then got sent off to fight in the Pacific, and when he came home he worked while she was watching Casablanca. He reminds Annabelle that she’s rich, and he asks why she just doesn’t sell her horse meat to some other company and let them deal with the negative publicity. “And do what?”, she asks. The waiter brings a bottle of wine, and Annabelle says that she doesn’t want the whole bottle. Roger says that he’ll help. Later on, we see the couple leaving the restaurant. Roger helps an obviously drunk Annabelle get into her coat. She presses up against him. She says that Roger still wants her, Roger says that he’s married. She hits no him some more, but he continues to resist. He says it’s different with Jane. She looks at him sadly, then walks away.

Back at the the Harris’ apartment, Joan walks in and asks Greg how his interview went. A depressed Greg tells her that he did badly. Joan, trying to look on the bright side, insists that he must have done better than he thinks. She says that there will be other interviews. He says that there won’t, and that he doesn’t want to be a psychiatrist, as it’s “not real medicine”. He then whines about how he spent his entire life doing what he thought he was supposed to do, like college and med school. Joan says that it might be time to move on. Greg angrily says that she has no idea what it’s like to want something that badly and not get it. Joan stares at the back of his head for a couple of moments, then picks up a vase and smashes it over his head:

mad_men_s03_e11_02

She then stomps off to the bedroom, slamming the door behind her.

The next morning, we see a focus group testing dog food at Sterling Cooper. All the dogs seem to enjoy the Caldecott Farms food, but all the owners freak out when they find out that it contains horse meat (one of the owners knew about the controversy and quickly fills in the other two dog owners). The focus group quickly spirals out of control, and Annabelle asks them to turn it off. When Don asks Peggy to do it, she says that she can’t because it is happening live’. And angry Don then clarifies that he wants her to turn off the sound, which is being piped in via speaker from the next room. Annabelle says that she already knows that people have that reaction to their food, and that the whole point of going to an ad agency was to turn that around. Don says that any agency that doesn’t change the name of the dog food is stealing her money. He says that the product is great, but that the name has been poisoned. Annabelle again states that she doesn’t want to change the name. Don agrees that a new name is difficult to find, and says that Sterling Cooper will do everything they can to come up with a good name. Recognizing that Annabelle has her own emotional attachment to the brand, Don tells her that the name is just something printed on a can. Annabelle, not liking Don’s idea, says that she will simply for another agency to solve her problems. She gets up to leave, and Roger tells her that the name is “done”.

She keeps walking away, and Roger chases her into the break room. Roger asks if this is about last night. Annabelle claims to have no memory of the night before, so Roger tells her that she threw herself at him. Annabelle says that Roger wants to hurt her. He disagrees, saying that she had fun with her all those years ago in Paris and that she did break his heart back then. She says that it was a mistake for her to leave him. Roger agrees, but says that it doesn’t matter any more. Annabelle says that it does, and that while she was burying her husband, all she could think about was Roger. “You were the one,” she says. “You weren’t,” he says. She tells him that he’s lucky he found “her”. She then walks away.

We then see Don and Suzanne pull up in front of the Draper home in Don’s car. Don has apparently stopped to pack a bag before the lovers head out on their getaway. Don opens the front door, and is surprised when Sally calls out to him and runs up for a hug. He nervously says that he’ll “be right back”, but Bobby comes running up to him, followed closely by Betty. Don again says that he needs to run out to the car, but Betty tell him to wait. She says that she needs to talk to him, and orders the kids to go upstairs. Don asks why she’s home early, and asks why she didn’t call his office – he says he only came home to feed the dog and change shirts for a client meeting. Betty says that she needs to show him something.

Betty walks into Don’s office and demands that he open the drawer of his desk. She slams the keys onto his desk. “Open it or I will,” she says. After a few moments of silence, Betty says “fine” and starts to unlock the drawer. Don walks towards her and takes the keys away, saying that this is his desk and the contents are private. He asks where she got the keys; Betty says that he left them in his bathrobe, but that she “could have had a locksmith in here any time [she] wanted”. She again orders him to open it. Again he refuses. She says that he knows that she knows what’s in there. Don’s face drops:

mad_men_s03_e11_03

Don, in a daze, says that he can explain. She takes the keys from his now limp hand and opens the drawer. She asks what he can explain – the pictures of him with names she doesn’t know.

“Is that you… Dick? Is that your name?”
“People change their names, Betts. You did.”
“I did. I took your name. And so did this Anna woman, whoever she is.”
“I can explain…”
“Oh, I know you can. You’re a very, very gifted storyteller.”
“Betts, I… I need a drink.”

Don walks into the kitchen, his daze worse than ever, and splashes water on his face. Betty walks in and asks if he’s thinking about what to say or if he’s thinking about fleeing. Don says that he isn’t going anywhere. He pulls out a pack of cigarettes and nervously drops one of the floor. He bends down to pick it up. We are watching “Don Draper” die before our very eyes. Betty, taking pity on him, says that she’ll get him a drink and for him to just sit down. He does, and she brings him a bottle of Canadian Club and a glass. He pours himself a drink and slugs it back. Betty says “you bought her a house”; Don asks her where she wants him to start. She asks him what his name is. He says “Donald Draper… but it used to be Dick Whitman”. Betty asks who Anna is. Don says that it “wasn’t romantic”, and that he married her because he ran away to join the army. He says that there was an accident in Korea and “this guy” was killed and he was injured, and that “they” (the Army) made a mistake and thought Dick was Don. Don says that all he had to do was “be him” and he could leave Korea.

“Be who?”
“Donald Draper.”
“You took his name?”
“Yes.”
“Isn’t that against the law?”
“Yes. I found out it was easier to be him than to start over. And it turned out that he was married to that woman, so I took care of her. And then I divorced her the minute I met you.”
“You divorced her on Valentine’s Day 1953, three months before we got married. Why didn’t you tell me? Why couldn’t you tell me any of this?”
“When? The day we met? On our first date? On our wedding night? Why did you need to know?”
“You don’t get to ask any questions!”

Betty gets up and returns with the shoebox full of pictures. She says that Don has another family. Don says that he doesn’t. Betty says that she’s thought he was a “football hero who hated his father” this whole time. She says that she knew that he was poor and that he was ashamed of it… and that’s why he “doesn’t understand money”. Don says that he was very poor. Betty asks if he saw Anna when he was in California. He says that he did, and that she reminded him that he loves her. Betty asks what he would do if her was her – would he love her then? Don says that he’s surprised that she ever loved him. Betty asks if she’s supposed to feel sorry for him. Don takes a deep breath, shakes his head and says that he doesn’t know. Betty says that he must have wanted her to find the shoebox; if it was such a secret, why keep it at the house. As Don uses a dying cigarette to light another, she begs him to say something. Don says that he didn’t think he had a choice, and that he doesn’t know what the difference is. He assures her that this is their house and that their children are upstairs. Betty says that there’s a big difference, because Don lied to her every day. She says that she can’t trust him, and that she doesn’t know who he is. “Yes you do,” he says. Just then Eugene starts crying and Betty gets up… but she says that they’re “not done”.

We then see Don walking into the bedroom, where he takes off his jacket. He sits on the edge of the bed, then calls out to Betty, telling her where he is. He then tells her to sit with him on the bed. He grabs a few pictures out of the box and begins telling her his story. He shows her a picture of Archibald, but says that the woman in the picture is not his mother. He tells her that his mother was a 22 year-old prostitute who died giving birth to him. He then says that Abagail, Archibald’s wife, raised him. He then says that when he was ten Archibald died and they moved, and Abagail “took up” with Mac, “Uncle Mac” as Don call him. He says that Mac was nice to him. Betty asks what happened to them. Don says that they’re all dead. “Even Adam?” Betty asks. Don turns and looks at her. His eyes get wide. “The little boy in the pictures,” Betty says, “I assume he’s your brother”. Don starts chocking up and says that he was his half-brother and that he killed himself. He says that Adam came to him for help, and that he turned him away. Don then says that Adam really didn’t want help, he just wanted to be a part of his life. Don, tearing up, says that he couldn’t risk all this for his brother. “He hung [sic] himself,” Don says. Betty says that she’s sorry.

mad_men_s03_e11_04

When next see Roger sitting at his desk at Sterling Cooper, nursing a drink, working the phones to try and find a job for Joan. He tells “Bob” that Joan can whip his office into shape, and that she’s important to him.

Back at the Harris’ apartment, we see Joan setting the table for dinner. Greg walks in with a bouquet of flowers, apologizing for the funk he’s been in lately. He then says that he has a plan to make it all better: he’s joined the army! He says that they’ll be taken care of, and that he’ll be able to be a surgeon. When Joan voices her surprise, Greg says that he knows that he should have asked her first, but he only has to do six weeks of basic training, then he’ll be able to do his residency in New York. After that he might have to go somewhere, like West Germany or Vietnam “If that thing’s still going on”, but a lot of Army doctors never have to leave… especially if they have families. He also says that he’ll enter the army as a captain, which means that she won’t have to work any more. Joan says that the news is wonderful… but the look on her face tells another story.

Meanwhile, Suzanne has finally given up on Don. She gets out of his car and walks home.

The next day Don wakes up. He looks scared, and immediately rolls over to see if Betty is in bed. She’s not. He puts the pictures back in the shoebox and gets ready for work.

He comes downstairs to see his family at the breakfast table. Betty asks him if he wants anything… like a schoolboy, he asks if she wants anything. Sally asks if he’s going trick or treating with them tonight. He says that be absolutely is. He then kisses the kids and leaves.

We then see him at the office, where he calls Suzanne to end their relationship. Suzanne asks if he’s OK, and Don says that only she would ask about him right now.

Later that night, we see Don coming home from work. Sally is dressed up as a gypsy and Bobby is dressed up as a pirate. Betty asks about Eugene; Don says that it’s cold outside, and that perhaps one of them might stay home with him. Betty refuses and gives him part of a sandwich.

We then see the family trick or treating. Bobby rings the bell Carlton, Francine’s husband, opens the door. “Look at this,” he says. “We’ve got a gypsy and a hobo.” He then looks up at Don and asks  “and who are you supposed to be?”

NOTES

– $40 was around $279 in 2008 dollars, while $200 was almost $1,400 in 2008 dollars.

– I liked how everyone looked at Don as he lit up a cigarette just as Annabelle announced that her husband died of lung cancer.

– Horsemeat has long been taboo in American culture, but that doesn’t mean that horse meat consumption is unknown here. During times of beef shortages or food rationing (especially during World War II), many Americans grudgingly ate horse meat in place of beef. I don’t know when the big revolt against horse meat in dog food came into being, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was roughly about the time of this Mad Men episode (Bert blames it on the film The Misfits; it seems a bit late for Annabelle to be asking for help: the film came out in February 1961 and this episode takes place around Halloween 1963). The “Ken-L-Ration” brand was the first brand of dog food sold in the United States, and it was created specifically to get rid of diseased horses after World War I. Dog food was considered a “luxury” and production was almost halted during World War II (to save the metal normally used to can the food). After World War II, sales took off again, and while other “flavors” were sold, horse meat was still a prominently displayed option, which also makes me wonder what the “outcry” could have been, since “horse meat” was hardly a secret ingredient):

kal_kan_horsemeat

Dry food – introduced in 1956 – now dwarfs sales of wet food. According to this page at the ASPCA’s site, few American pet foods contain horse meat these days. Most of the horse meat produced in the US these days – 4.7 million horses vs. 35 million cows yearly – is sent overseas to Asia, where horse meat is not taboo. Horse meat might be contained in your pet’s food if the ingredients labels says “meat by-product meal” instead of something more specific like “beef by-product meal” or “chicken by-product meal”.

The Misfits is a 1961 American film starring Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. Set in Reno, Nevada, the film depicts the friendship of Monroe and Gable, an ex-cowboy who sells horses to dog food companies. It was both Gable and Monroe’s last film – Gable had a heart attack two days after filming completed, and died ten days after that. Monroe died of a drug overdose around 18 months later. Montgomery Clift died four years after the movie was made; amusingly, The Misfits was on that night. When asked if he wanted to watch it, Clift replied “Absolutely NOT!”, his last words. Although the film was shot in black and white, it nevertheless cost $4 million to make (around $28.5 million in 2008 dollars), thus making it the most expensive B&W movie ever made until that time.

– Manhattan’s Little Italy neighborhood has almost disappeared. It has been “taken over” by Chinese and other Asian immigrants, and all that remains of its Italian culture these days exists on Mulberry Street between Canal and Broome Streets.

Mystic, Connecticut is a popular tourist New England tourist town. It is home to the world’s largest maritime museum. The popular 1988 film Mystic Pizza is a bout a real restaurant in the town, although the actual restaurant was not used in the film. The town was also the setting for the Hardy Boys book Mystery of the Whale Tattoo.

– If Ginger’s hair appointment is on the last Tuesday of the month, then this Roger is chipping golf balls in his office on Tuesday, October 29, 1963. This is not much of a surprise since we see Don trick or treating with the kids at the end of the episode.

– Peter Lorre (1904-1964) was an Austrian-American actor who typically portrayed a “sneaky foreigner”. He was also not very attractive, making him something of an “evil, German Steve Buscemi” in many movies from the 1930s to the 1960s. Although he usually played a gangster or criminal in films, he also did comedy well, especially as “Dr. Einstein” in the film Arsenic and Old Lace. A bit of trivia: as a young man, he studied under Sigmund Freud in Vienna.

– The shoebox Don keeps his things is “Foot Castle” brand. I can find no trace of that brand via Google.

– I’m not sure that Greg knows what he’s talking about with army pay. If he enters as a captain, he’d be an O-3, which has a monthly salary of $5,827 in current dollars, or around $69,928/year. While officers get housing allowances, that’s still not a lot of money, especially for someone wanting to live in New York. I don’t know if surgeons are (or were) entitled to additional money, or if Greg could get part of his student loans (if any) paid back by the government… which would effectively increase his income. Still, I don’t think there’s any way you could live in NYC today on $70,000/year, and I can’t imagine the situation would be much different back then, either.

– Lastly, for those of you who love animated GIFs:

Joan clocks Greg

MY THOUGHTS

Wow – what a powerful episode! I was first stunned when Joan hit Greg with tha vase (then I cheered her a little bit). I also liked that Joan and Roger still have a “relationship” of sorts. They’re somehow sweet together, don’t you think.

Of course, the bombshell in this episode was Betty finding out about Don’s past. This was the “big moment”, the thing we’ve been waiting almost three seasons for… and it was some of the most powerful acting I’ve seen on TV in a long, long time. Don looked completely broken and defeated in his office, but I was especially blown away by how he slid in to his Dick Whitman persona as he went through the pictures in the bedroom with Betty. Truly amazing acting that totally deserves to be on his Emmy reel.

So – what’s Betty going to do now?

I’m going to cut this section short for this recap, because it’s very late (you can read people’s theories at other sites) and because I need to start work on the most recent episode:  the last one before the season finale 🙁

2 Replies to “Mad Men: “The Gypsy and the Hobo””

  1. Thanks for the update! I completely missed this episode traveling-but I feel like I’m up to date again. Wow-that sounds like the most important episode of this season, or of the whole series.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.