Mad Men: Season 1, Episode 8

The Hobo Code (6 Sep. 2007)

TV Episode  |  TV-14  |   |  Drama
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Pete Campbell and Peggy Olsen start an office romance. Peggy's copy for the lipstick account goes over well and the men in the firm congratulate her. A new telephone receptionist, Lois ... See full summary »



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Betty Draper (credit only)
Rachel Menken (credit only)


Pete Campbell and Peggy Olsen start an office romance. Peggy's copy for the lipstick account goes over well and the men in the firm congratulate her. A new telephone receptionist, Lois Saddler, takes a liking to Salvatore Romano but his own interests seem to lie elsewhere. Don Draper gets an unexpected bonus from Bert Cooper and wants to take Midge on a surprise trip to Paris. She seems too involved with her beatnik friends however. Don reflects on his unhappy childhood and in flashbacks he reveals some life lessons he learned early on when a hobo spent the day working on the family farm in exchange for a meal. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




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Release Date:

6 September 2007 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


John Slattery was unavailable for this episode as he was busy doing his guest starring turn in Desperate Housewives (2004). See more »


In a flashback scene the hobo shows young Don (Dick) some hobo "codes". He draws one that looks like two W's and says "That means watch out for the nasty dog." The camera cuts to his face as he speaks, then back to a different set of W's as he continues. See more »


Don Draper: I hate to break it to you, but there is no big lie, there is no system, the universe is indifferent.
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References The Wizard of Oz (1939) See more »


(Gimme That) Old Time Religion
Traditional gospel song
[Played during closing credits]
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User Reviews

Life lessons
24 August 2010 | by (Italy) – See all my reviews

After several hints in earlier episodes, this is the one that finally spills (most of) the beans on the show's ongoing mystery: Dick Whitman. While not providing all the answers (that wouldn't be any fun, would it?), The Hobo Code is an essential part of Matthew Weiner's bigger picture, and therefore stands out as one of the top moments of Mad Men's inaugural season.

Not that the Whitman subplot is everything. In fact, it is but an effect of something else, namely Don receiving a bonus and being turned down by Midge when he suggests they go to Paris together. At this point, he looks back on his childhood, growing up on a farm and having to deal with family problems on a regular basis (apparently he and his brother don't share the same mother). One day, a hobo (Paul Schulze) showed up and offered to work for Dick/Don's father to pay for a meal, and that experience sticks in Don's mind to this day. Back in the present day, it's all about office romances: Peggy and Pete pick up where they left off at the beginning of the series, and a new receptionist has a thing for Salvatore Romano (Bryan Batt), unaware of the fact that his interests lie elsewhere.

The Hobo Code is an important episode because it provides some much needed answers, temporarily closing the book on the season's major subplot, and at the same time plants the seeds for other story lines, with the new focus on Salvatore in particular proving a bold move that is bound to pay off in a riveting fashion.

Furthermore, the episode is interesting as far as external references are concerned, given that, aside from Weiner, two major contributors have past associations with The Sopranos: the hobo is excellently played by reliable character actor Schulze, who famously appeared on the gangster drama as Father Phil Intintola, while director Phil Abraham, best known as a cinematographer (he won an Emmy for the Mad Men pilot), also got his big break on the streets of New Jersey. And people are still wondering why the show is frequently hailed as "the new Sopranos"...

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