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something's up with bob benson

More Mad Men Theories: Who Is Bob Benson and What Does He Want?

What is it about Mad Men's Bob Benson that has us all so suspicious? His blinding smile? The fact that he is the only upbeat person on a TV show full of angry and sad characters? Is it the fact that he's always walking around holding two cups of coffee? Something's definitely up with this guy, and everyone's got a theory. But first, what do we know about Bob Benson? These things:

  • He's a new accounts guy at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. That means he deals with keeping the clients happy.
  • He sent a "royal spread" to Roger Sterling's mother's wake. Ken Cosgrove wasn't thrilled. "I was just thinking of when my father died," Benson explained.
  • But maybe his father's not dead. When Pete needed a nurse for his elderly mother, Bob swooped in to the rescue with "an Army-trained registered nurse, and he's available now only because he's brought my father back to full health."
  • He's good at white lies: Joan was given immediate care for the cyst on her ovary because Bob lied to a nurse and said she had accidentally poisoned herself.
  • After that, he almost lost his job. But Joan saved him, suggesting the agency keep Bob around because he's been helping Ken Cosgrove with his accounts.
  • He once bought Pete toilet paper. And offered to pay for Pete's hooker. As one does.
  • He's always watching.

Mysterious, right? So what's his deal? Some theories:

1. He's a government spy.
Fedoras off to Reddit, where a thread suggests (convincingly!) that Bob is a government spy. This theory would tie in nicely with the season's teaser poster, the one with the cops in the background as Don passes a mirror image of himself in the street. Will Don's past finally catch up with him and will that be thanks to Agent Benson?

I think he's a G man. The FBI was worried about espionage and there is a war and Dow Chemical is a client, and SCDP has done political work. It wouldn't be a stretch at all. He's trying too hard to get close to them. He's not writing copy or submitting art. He's not bucking for a position. He's sucking up and gifting.

2. Bob Benson is a symbolic character — he represents a young Don Draper.
Don was once an overeager newcomer, quick to use white lies to get ahead. And get ahead he did, latching onto Roger Sterling after the man stopped by the fur shop where Don worked. Don then showed up to the Sterling Cooper office as if he were invited (lie!) and, voilà: a job. What a go-getter!

3. He's an investigative journalist.
"So I walked into Lane Pryce's office and I said: 'Fire us.'" That's what Don Draper told The Wall Street Journal in "Public Relations" during season four. Does SCDP love the press? They sure do. Does the press potentially love Don Draper and all his hidden mysteries? They would if they had someone on the inside. Someone named Bob Benson.

4. He's a psychopathic murderer.
Remember yesterday's conspiracy theory? The one where Megan Draper is Sharon Tate and might meet the same tragic fate? Perhaps the secretly insane Bob Benson will be the one to do it.

5. Bob Benson is just there to get lucky. And be a love interest for one of the main female characters.
He's already made nice with Joan, but Bob could also get along nicely with Pete's estranged wife, Trudy. Or even Megan Draper — considering she's bound to find out about Don's just-ended affair.

6. He IS Don Draper.
Surely, we're getting into the "less plausible" area here, but TV Asylum does have some convincing arguments. For one, their names match up: D.D. vs. B.B. Remember that Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner is known for making everything pretty deliberate. They also look alike, have similar relationships with Joan, and are pros at the fibbing. The idea that he just represents a younger Don is more viable, sure, but this one would be more shocking.

7. He is the "Falling Man" from the show's opening credits.
Remember how everyone thought (or still thinks) Don is Mad Men's "Falling Man" from the credits sequence? Some people now think that it might be Bob Benson.

8. He is Don Draper's secret son. (Or Bert's. Or Roger's.)
Hey, he's young enough that he could be anyone at SCDP's secret kid! Pete has one, why not Don? Or Bert? Or Roger's No. 2 secret kid. A Reddit commenter spells it out: "The significance of Bob Benson is written right in his name, we are told 3 times — Bob is Don's son in the future. Bob = Bobby, 'Ben' is the Hebrew word for 'son,' and 'son' is 'son.'"

9. He's a time-traveling Bobby Draper.

10. He's Bob from Twin Peaks. (Okay, maybe that's our theory.)

10. He's the Smoke Monster from Lost.

Photo-Illustration: AMCBrooks Kraft/© Corbis. All Rights Reserved.