Are we making too much of Bob Benson?
The mysterious Sterling Cooper & Partners employee who always seems to be on the wrong floor has captured the imaginations of "Mad Men" fans like no other character this season. And TheWrap spoke with the show's creator, Matthew Weiner, in search of answers.
Long story short: No comment.
Why would the government spy on an ad agency? Perhaps because Don Draper lied when applying for security clearance in Season 4 as he pursued North American Aviation as a client. (Don is secretly Dick Whitman, and stole his identity when the real Draper was killed in the Korean War. The FBI has already gotten close to Don, interviewing his ex-wife about him.)
We know Benson is a skilled liar: At the wake for Roger's mother, he sent a lavish spread, saying he remembered his father's death. But later he told Pete his father was in good health. And he told a clever lie to get Joan admitted to an emergency room. (Wolk told The New York Times that his favorite Bob theory is that he's Peggy's time traveling son.)
Weiner knows how to strategically mislead — he created Don Draper, after all — but we tried to get a sense of what to believe about Benson.
TheWrap: I don't know if you're following the online debate about Bob Benson…
Weiner: No, I stay away from that. But tell me what it is.
I'm basically convinced from my Internet reading that he's a government spy.[Laughs.] Okay.
He's always in everyone's business, he's always on the wrong floor, he never seems to be really jockeying for a better job, and he seems to have completely lied, about his father, for example.
Yeah. He's definitely a liar. I hope that you caught that. And I hope that you caught that he — you don't think he seems like an ambitious person jockeying for a job?
I thought he was at first, but then he made so little progress. But then he did in the last episode.
Uh, yeah. With Chevy? I think he's making a ton of progress. [Laughs.] I don't know, you know? We'll see. I'm not going to comment on whether or not he's a government spy, but James is a great actor, and he is definitely mysterious. And that's deliberate.
He has very good manners, and that seems to be working for him.
Check back for more from our recent talk with Weiner.