Burning Mad Men question: Who the heck is Bob Benson?

There’s a world of crazy out there, and it doesn’t stop at Mad Men fans. Their biggest questions right now: Who is Bob Benson, and what is he up to?

Mad Men's Bob Benson

Since his very first appearance, Mad Men fans have wondered just who exactly is this Bob Benson character. Benson (played by the oh-so-handsome and charming James Wolk) is always around, but he’s rarely useful. We’re not even sure of his official position within the firm. Recent episodes have only brought the suspicions up to full throttle. There are just so many, we thought they warranted a place of their own.

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So, who is Bob Benson? Some say…

He’s a spy

This isn’t out of the question. Don’s identity switch is a serious crime, especially when you consider that it got him out of the Army. Later, when SCDP tried to pick up accounts with the likes of Richard Nixon’s campaign and American Airlines, the Department of Defense began investigating. Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) assured Don he hadn’t been flagged after some suspicious answers. But how much do you really trust Pete?

Not likely: The problem with this theory is that the DOD/FBI/any government agency has far better things to do with its time than to follow around some dude on suspicion of desertion. The agents would just bring him in and question him. Also, spies are excellent at keeping their cover stories straight, and we’ve already seen Bob flub his. After Roger’s mother’s funeral, he said his father had died. Later, when Pete was looking for help with his crazy mother, Bob recommended the guy who had nursed his father back to to health. Which is it, Benson?

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Mad Men's Bob Benson?

He’s a journalist

Many think Bob’s around for a little investigative reporting. Between Don’s ballsy letter to the editor that was turned into an ad to his way with the last reporter who tried to interview him, any journalist could tell there must be a story here. Add in Lane’s tragic death and Don’s hot, famous wife, and SCDP (or SC&P) suddenly becomes even more intriguing.

Not likely: While Benson appeared out of nowhere to us, that certainly couldn’t have been the case for the office. Even in the ’60s, there was a hiring process. Could a journalist really wriggle himself into an organization that deeply?

He’s Don’s son

Welllllll… maybe. How many women has Don (Jon Hamm) slept with over the years? When did his seducing, arrogant charm start? Bob Benson could easily claim as a mother any of the many women with whom Don has shared a bed. Our own theory about who the mother might be? Maybe that prostitute who took care of Don when he was sick, the one who took his virginity. It’s not 100 percent clear how long ago that was, nor are we entirely clear on Benson’s age. Since Don recently relived those memories, could that connection be out of the question?

Deeper theory: One fan has taken the son theory a step further. He or she is suggesting that Bob Benson is really Bobby Draper coming back from the future to visit his dad. Since the showrunner, Weiner, has never delved into the sci-fi scene on Mad Men before, this seems incredibly unlikely. Unless, of course, this entire season has been written by Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton).

Not likely: While the “Bobby Draper: Time Traveler” theory seems borderline insane, we have no qualms with the idea that Benson might still be a new, secret son of Draper.

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Mad Men's Bob Benson?

He’s the new Don/Roger/Pete

Many fans have a much simpler take on Bob’s appearance. He’s young, sure, but think of how he resembles some of our leads. He practically came out of nowhere, and everyone questions whether he should really be there, but he can smooth talk his way out of confrontation. Sound a little like Don? He’s a charmer, a grifter and a complete kiss-a**. Could that be any more like Roger? Sterling doesn’t do much a** kissing these days, but we’ve seen him work his magic in the past. He’s always around, weaseling his way into conversations and issues. He’s trying to get ahead just by existing. Pete pulls his own weight now, but he definitely had a sense of entitlement when the show started. If Bob’s supposed to remind us of a young Pete, it’s working.

Not likely: Actually, we have no evidence to disprove this theory. We do, however, wonder where it’s going. Some say Bob will be the one jumping from the window by the end of the season… will that somehow be related to his current enthusiasm, even as he watches the older versions of himself flounder? And, how will that affect Don, Roger and Pete?

There you have it! Could one of these answers explain who Bob Benson really is? There’s only one way to find out.

Images courtesy of AMC

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