'Mad Men': Who Is Bob Benson?

After six weeks, the 'Mad Men' character remains a mystery

James Wolk as Bob Benson on 'Mad Men'
Jeff Vespa/WireImage
James Wolk as Bob Benson on 'Mad Men'
By |

Overeager accounts man Bob Benson is the enigma of Mad Men's sixth season. Given the current climate at SCDP, is the inexperienced exec being groomed to take over accounts services, just as young Pete Campell was in season three? Or is there more to the story for this coffee-juggling suckup? Consider these four theories, then let us know your own in the comments section below.

Inside 'Mad Men': The Cast in Their Own Words

He's a government agent investigating Don Draper (née Dick Whitman).
In their initial on-screen meeting, Don struggles to remember Benson, who says he "works in accounts on the second floor." It's understandable that Draper, who drinks like a sailor and manages a different department, would fail to recognize a new hire. But it's even more believable that the FBI is building a case against Whitman, who deserted the Korean War effort sometime between 1950 and 1953.

He's a plant from another agency.
This seemed more likely prior to the SCDP/CGC merger, but given Ted Chaough's fascination with Don, it's not out of the question that another executive has a spy working at the Time-Life Building. 

He's an investigative journalist.
Author and journalist Jody Rosen brought this to our attention last night.

The Rolling Stone contributor is certainly on to something. In a single episode ("Public Relations," from season four), Don sits for two interviews (one with Advertising Age, and a second with The Wall Street Journal), boldly telling the latter that the Draper name defines the SCDP partnership.

That was November of 1964. Flash forward four years, and its within reason to believe that an intrepid writer from Esquire, The Atlantic, or The New Yorker – three national magazines renown for their reporting – would be willing to go deep cover in search of a story.

He's a red herring. 
Like the "dead" killer on the floor in Saw, Rolling Stone senior editor Christian Hoard believes Benson is a just a distraction from more pressing storylines (including, dare we say, the absence of Dawn from the John Slattery-helmed "Man with a Plan" episode).

Bob Benson's "Twitter" may sum up all of the conspiracy theories in 140 characters:

x