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the sorting hat

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COLD OPEN

INT. OFFICE – RECEPTION AREA

DAWN is at her desk. She takes two picture frames out of her purse and sets them up next to her monitor, then straightens one of the cat figurines nearby. When she notices the camera, she waves.

 

DAWN (voiceover)

Well, I’m officially a full-time employee.

 

DAWN TALKING HEAD

DAWN (con’t.)

It’s kind of nice. Um. I get healthcare. Paid time off. The money is better. And for the most part, my job is easy.

 

INT. OFFICE – RECEPTION DESK

Dawn is sitting at her desk, picking up the phone.

 

DAWN (voiceover)

Most of the time, it’s typical reception duties. Purchasing, scheduling, filing.

 

DAWN

(crisp, professional)

Sterling Cooper, this is Dawn.

 

DAWN (voiceover)

Fielding calls. Taking notes. Making copies.

 

INT. OFFICE – COPIER

Dawn waits patiently as the machine spits out page after page of materials. Behind her, we see Joan and Lane fidgeting—Lane annoyed; Joan calm and blank-faced—as they wait in line behind her.

 

DAWN (voiceover)

Sometimes it’s a little strange.

 

INT. OFFICE – RECEPTION

DAWN is at her desk. PETE is standing on the other side of it, with an issue of EBONY in his hand.

 

PETE

….happened to think you’d appreciate this interview, that’s all. Will Smith is still very handsome. Although I didn’t really enjoy his last couple of films. They’re beginning to be a little gauche.

 

DAWN

(takes the magazine, reluctantly)

Thank you.

 

PETE

(oblivious)

You’re welcome.

 

PEGGY

(behind him, from her desk)

Pete, she’s just being polite.

 

PETE whirls to face Peggy’s desk.

 

PETE

Oh, really. How would you know?

 

STAN, sitting at the desk to Peggy’s left, jimfaces at the camera as Pete and Peggy continue to bicker.

 

STAN TALKING HEAD

New receptionist is cool. Although, I’m pretty sure she took this job without knowing it involves intensive psychological coursework. By the time she’s done here, she’ll have a degree in Dykeman family lore. And have memorized every WASP-y coping mechanism known to man.

 

STAN

(sitting at his desk)

Pete, shut up about your boyfriend and let the kid do her job already.

 

DAWN TALKING HEAD

DAWN

(with a sigh)

Permanent employee. Yay.

 

Through the open blinds, we can see Stan and Pete roughhousing in the background. Stan has Pete in a loose wrestling hold, palms locked against Pete’s ears, and is giggling like a little boy. Pete is apoplectic, flailing around like a squirming cat.

 

We zoom in over Dawn’s shoulder on the small crowd forming around them.

 

END OF COLD OPEN

 

ACT ONE

INT. OFFICE - ROGER STERLING’S OFFICE

Roger, Lane, and Caroline are sitting in what appears to be a very important morning meeting.

 

ROGER

Look, I don’t understand what’s so hard about this. That’s what she said. But seriously, just answer the question. (Pause.) Is Snape a bad guy or what?

 

LANE

What.

 

ROGER

I showed you Jane’s picture, right? Did you know girl nerds are actually hot?

 

LANE

(quietly) Oh, my god. I thought this was about the budget.

 

CAROLINE is diligently noting every word on her stenography pad.

 

LANE

(to Caroline)

No, don’t write that….augh. Fine. Let’s just get this over with.

 

ROGER (voiceover)

So, yeah. Now that I’m divorced, I’m back in the game, and better than ever.

 

ROGER TALKING HEAD

ROGER, con’t.

Really been killing it with all these young, hot chicks. It’s so easy. I mean, most of those poor gals have never even seen a man who doesn’t wear sweatpants to work or steal their lightbulbs or something. And look at me.

 

He gestures to his three-piece suit.

 

Those idiots never stood a chance.

 

INT. THE WESTIN HOTEL - BAR

Roger, in a tuxedo, is drinking with a twiggy twentysomething girl with long, dark hair. She’s wearing an expensive-looking bodycon dress. The camera zooms out to reveal everyone around them is dressed up in various stages of elaborate, handmade costumes—they’re at some kind of comic convention.

 

ROGER (voiceover)

Jane and I met at a hotel bar downtown. (laughs) Mummy used to say that if you stayed anywhere but the Ritz, you were taking your life in your hands. But I think she’d be pleasantly surprised by the ambiance, these days. They’d hired all of these performers to come in and dress up, and entertain everybody. And there were all of these cool young nerds just hanging around, buying drinks for the whole bar. When did nerds get so cool?

 

INT. WESTIN LOBBY

Roger and Jane, stumbling drunk, are posing for pictures with a group cosplaying as the Avengers. Roger is wearing a pair of Hulk hands.

 

ROGER (voiceover)

And before you ask—the women there were not uggos.

 

INT. WESTIN LOBBY – ELEVATORS

Jane, Roger, and a third, unidentified woman get into the elevator together. They’re soon joined by about four or five other people.

 

ROGER TALKING HEAD

(grins) Best orgy I’ve been to in like a decade.

 

LANE TALKING HEAD

Apparently, Roger is out of his element at the convention scene. Shocking no one. And now he needs a fandom to belong to so he doesn’t seem completely pathetic to this poor girl and her friends. (Pauses.) God, I hope he didn’t notice the BDSM people. That’s the last thing we need. Roger trying to put everyone on leashes. He’ll get arrested. Charged for indecency. Probably have to resign. (Brighter.) That would be terrible.

 

INT. ROGER’S OFFICE

 

ROGER

Seriously, Lane, you gotta give me something. I don’t have time to watch all of these movies by five P.M.

 

He turns the computer monitor toward them. A fuzzy still of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is paused on screen.

 

 

ROGER

Had to skip to number four already.

 

LANE

Oh. Well, you’ve, er, missed quite a bit.

 

ROGER

Probably. So what’s up with this twitchy old coot—Poirot or whoever? Is he Voldemort?

 

LANE

You think Barty Crouch, Senior is—?

 

ROGER

Caroline. Don’t lie to me. Is that guy Voldemort?

 

CAROLINE

(matter-of-fact, without looking up) He’s not Voldemort.

 

CAROLINE TALKING HEAD

Oh, I read the books to my grandkids when they first came out. And I do appreciate the story she’s telling. Real entertaining.

 

INT. ROGER’S OFFICE

 

LANE

Technically, it’s pronounced Voldemor.

 

A beat. Roger and Caroline stare at him.

 

LANE

Because it’s French.

(quietly) If you’re going for accuracy.

 

ROGER

Okay, this is not helpful. I really thought you were a bigger nerd than this.

(raises his voice)

Pete! Goblet of Fire, Cliffs Notes. Go!

 

Off-screen, footsteps pound across the carpet.

 

PETE

(sails into Roger’s office with a noise of outrage)

Roger, do not tell me you’ve started with the film. I cannot believe you’d subject yourself to these preposterous adaptations after everything I told you!

(to Caroline) Good, you’re already here. We’ll need a written record so he can study it later.

 

LANE escapes while he still has the chance.

 

INT. OFFICE – VENDING MACHINES

Inside, JOAN is putting change into the “healthy” vending machine that sells granola bars, fruit wraps, trail mix, and other snack foods.

 

LANE walks up to the other one.

 

JOAN

(wry; without looking at him)

How was your very important meeting?

 

LANE

(sighs)

He’s never going to pull this off. And I don’t even think that girl cares one way or the other. She just got hired to work the booth.

 

JOAN

Charming.

 

The camera zooms in on the soft quirk of her smile as Lane puts quarters in the machine.

 

LANE

Have you ever read any of them?

 

JOAN

You know, you’re the first person here to ask me that. Everyone else just assumed.

 

She selects her food. A fruit wrap drops into the bin.

 

LANE

(peering through the glass)

Well, they’re rather good, if you feel like picking up something new. Think the fifth one’s my favorite. Lot of big moments there.

 

JOAN stares down at her fruit wrap, a little wistful, as she turns to face Lane.

 

JOAN

Yeah.

 

LANE

(glances over, winces) Oh, god, that thing’s making me sad. Don’t eat it, please.

 

JOAN

I don’t have a choice. Army birthday ball is in three weeks. (sighs) Like chewing galvanized rubber.

 

LANE

Have you got a cheat day on this plan, at least?

 

JOAN gives him a thin smile.

 

JOAN

I really shouldn’t.

 

LANE

Let me rephrase that. Would you like one, so you can salvage your sanity, if not your tastebuds?

(pauses) I’ll walk round the building with you later, if you’re worried.

 

INT. JOYCE AND LANE’S DESKS

 

LANE and JOAN exit through the kitchen into the main office.

 

LANE hums to himself as he sits down at his desk and opens his salt and vinegar potato chips, back facing the camera.

 

JOYCE shoots a sly look at the camera, and gestures stage left with her pen. The camera swings right to focus on JOAN, sitting across the room at her desk, holding a second bag of potato chips – same flavor. She pops a chip in her mouth, and her eyes flutter closed, like all she can do is taste.

 

JOYCE TALKING HEAD

Oh, they make [bleep]-me eyes at each other every damn day. It's hilarious.

 

(She waves a dismissive hand.)

 

I’m not even straight, and I love it.

 

END OF ACT ONE

Chapter Text

ACT TWO

 

INT. OFFICE - CONFERENCE ROOM

Everyone sits in a circle.

 

ROGER

Okay. I’m gonna go around the room. Kind of a straw poll.

And when I call your name, I want you to tell me your favorite thing about Harry Potter.

 

PETE is feverishly murmuring to himself, ticking off points on his fingers. STAN raises his hand immediately. PEGGY looks delighted. Everyone else looks exhausted.

 

ROGER

All right! Stannis the Mannis. Lay it on me.

 

PETE

Roger! You promised!

 

STAN

(over Pete) We talking favorite character or favorite plot point?

 

ROGER

Character. No. Event! [bleep] Ah, just do either.

 

STAN

Well, my favorite character is definitely Bellatrix.

 

STAN TALKING HEAD

(shrugs) What? I really like Helena Bonham Carter. Weird, but hot. Crazy hot.

 

INT. OFFICE – CONFERENCE ROOM

 

STAN

When she’s wandering through town, wearing those glam wedding rags, after escaping through the window?

 

He kisses his fingers.

 

Next to him, PEGGY looks on, smirking.

 

PEGGY TALKING HEAD

Corpse Bride. He’s describing the plot of Corpse Bride. Which Helena Bonham Carter was also in.

 

INT. OFFICE – CONFERENCE ROOM

 

ROGER

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah! Don’t tell me. Pete. That’s where they do the big evil spell, right? She makes Snape swear to do the thing?

 

LANE

Actually—

 

PETE

(huffy)

Roger, for the last time, it is not a SWEAR. It is an Unbreakable. Vow. Narcissa—

 

ROGER

Yeah, well, unbreak my heart for more clues, Toni Braxton, because you’ve been talking about the hot ice blonde for like twenty minutes. She’s not even that pretty. I googled it. Her hair looks like a ripped mink on top.

 

PETE looks chagrined, and mutters something about costuming under his breath as he settles back in his seat. Next to him, JOYCE rips open a mini pack of Swedish Fish.

 

ROGER (con’t)

Seriously? Nobody else is gonna help me figure out this book? Jane could be the freaking love of my life, all right? And you’re all ruining it—

 

JOYCE

(interrupts through mouthful of candy)

Best character’s Ginny Weasley. Hands down.

 

A couple murmurs of agreement.

 

ROGER

Thank you. Okay. What’s her deal?

 

JOYCE

Magical badass. Hooks up with half the school—girls and guys, probably. Rules at Quidditch. Ends up with Harry for some reason.

 

HARRY

She is pretty hot, for a redhead.

 

ROGER

Ohohoho. You know I like me some—

 

He catches Joan’s eye. She’s glaring at him.

 

—Quibbitch. (clears throat) Love it. Totally great.

 

PEGGY

Jesus. All right, I wasn’t even going to get involved in this [bleep], but I cannot believe you morons are saying you like everyone but Hermione. There wouldn’t even be a series if it weren’t for her!

 

Room groans. DAWN and LANE are the only ones who seem receptive.

 

PEGGY (con’t)

Without her, all you’ve got is Harry Potter and The Time He Fucked Up—

 

Sitting in the back of the room, CAROLINE stops writing, flexes her hand, then continues scribbling.

 

ROGER

Is she hotter than the cool sister?

 

PEGGY

(sets her jaw)

I’m not going to answer that.

 

ROGER

Yeah, that’s a no, sweetheart. Pass. (scoffs, looks around) Come on. Joanie? Nah, no way you’ve ever even looked at this. Kenny. Harry. Scarlett. Chop chop.

 

KEN

I always liked Neville.

 

ROGER

Who? Next.

 

HARRY

(blankly) Uh. Gary Oldman, I guess?

 

SCARLETT beams.

 

SCARLETT

Roger, I’d have to say that my favorite character is definitely Lavender. She is just awesome. And it’s really awful what Ron does to her in Half-Blood Prince, you know? He was so hung up on dumb Hermione even after all the nasty things she did to him, and I’m just saying, Lavender deserved someone way better. Ron was even meaner to her than he was to Padma Patil at the Yule Ball, and that entire date was just HORRIFYING, okay; it was like the time Harry and I went to that stupid hot yoga place in the city because he wanted to try transcendental whatever it was with Paul and Sal and we ended up going to that weird gay bar—

 

HARRY makes a panicked cutting motion in the air with one hand.

 

ROGER

Okay, gah! Nobody wants to hear about that.

 

Sitting next to Scarlett, JOAN’s eyes flick to the camera. She shakes her head imperceptibly.

 

JOAN TALKING HEAD

I’m surrounded by morons.

 

INT. OFFICE – CONFERENCE ROOM

 

ROGER

(frustrated) Ughhhhhhh. All right, I’m desperate. Ida? Burt? Faye?

 

IDA

(filling out a crossword)

I like when the kid rips all his clothes off and rides the horse.

 

STAN’s eyebrows shoot up. He and PEGGY exchange a Look.

 

IDA (con’t)

Boy’s got great abs. They oiled him up real nice.

 

IDA TALKING HEAD

That was him, right? Maybe I’m thinking about a different kid.

 

LANE TALKING HEAD

(howling with laughter)

 

BURT [PETERSON] TALKING HEAD

(monotone) Love those vampires. Baseball. Team Yakov.

(Pause.) That’s this movie, right?

 

FAYE TALKING HEAD

(distantly, not looking at camera) Maybe I’ll just quit.

Jesus. I feel like I say that every day.

 

INT. OFFICE – HALLWAY

The elevator doors open on DON: a little greasy and disheveled in his suit, but still cheerful as he steps out of the car with his briefcase.

 

INT. OFFICE – MAIN OFFICE

Everyone’s leaving the conference room.

 

PEGGY and STAN spy DON first. PEGGY makes a little panicked noise when she sees him, and scuttles away toward the kitchen without a word.

 

PETE

Don! Lovely to see you. How are things with—?

 

ROGER

(bumps Pete aside with his shoulder) Oh, thank god, someone who’s good at this. Asking for a girl: you ever read Harry Potter?

 

DON

No. But Bobby’s got all of them.

(waves Roger forward) Come on. We’ll call him, go to lunch. Figure it out.

 

ROGER

Yes! Draper. Wingman for LIFE!

 

DON slings an arm around his shoulders.

 

DON

You and me, pal. Let’s get some oysters.

 

INT. OFFICE – ROGER’S OFFICE

ROGER is putting on his coat.

 

ROGER (voiceover)

This is what everybody means when they talk about best friends. It’s not just the people you work with, who love you and hang out with you during the day, and think you’re really cool.

 

INT. OFFICE – ACCOUNTING AREA

JOAN is on her computer, headphones in, with a small salad pushed to the side of her desk. We see a quick flash of cover art as she clicks play on a visible audiobook file—Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix—and turns back to her spreadsheets.

 

EXT. OFFICE – PARKING LOT

ROGER (voiceover – con’t)

Best friends are the ones who lend a hand when you’re in a bind. They’ll do whatever it takes to talk you up, help you out, get you laid. And that’s some deep stuff, man. You can’t conjure it up like magic. Gotta be au natural, baby.

 

ROGER and DON get into DON’s car, and pull out of the parking lot.

 

INT. OFFICE – SALES AREA

LANE, eating lunch at his desk, keeps glancing over at JOAN from time to time, clearly wanting to go over and talk to her.

 

He doesn’t get up.

 

END OF ACT TWO.