Bob Benson’s Secret Revealed On ‘Mad Men’ [Spoilers]

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BY BOBBY HANKINSON

[SPOILERS]

After weeks of speculation, Sunday’s episode of Mad Men finally answered the question, “What is up with Bob Benson?”

The rising accounts man (portrayed by James Wolk) had recommended a nurse to care for Pete Campbell’s aging mother. When Pete’s mother started suggesting she and the nurse had a romantic relationship, Benson sat Pete down and tried to explain.

“Couldn’t it be that if someone took care of you, very good care of you, if this person would do anything for you, if your well-being was his only thought, is it impossible that you might begin to feel something for him? When there's true love, it doesn't matter who it is.”

As he spoke, he slipped his knee up against Pete’s, and suddenly it was clear Benson wasn’t just talking about how Pete’s mother could fall in love with the younger nurse. He was talking about how Pete could learn to love him.

To Benson’s dismay, Pete made his feelings known. “Tell [the nurse] I'll give him a month's pay. And tell him it's disgusting.”

While that’s one question answered, we’re still left wondering: All those handsome men running around SC&P, and you choose Pete Campbell?

Bobby Hankinson is a Brooklyn-based writer and digital strategist. His days are spent thinking about digital engagement for non-profits, while his nights are spent shimmying to Spotify, reading comic books and watching the best (and, let's be honest, worst) TV has to offer. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe and Houston Chronicle.

Comments

  1. the other Ken says

    Bob knows how to climb the ladder. First Joan, now Pete. He’s looking for the way up.

    I don’t think it’s over with Pete. Probably not over with Joan either.

  2. Zeta says

    Lusting someone doesn’t demand that they lust after you in return.

    As for the nurse, that’s a completely unprofessional, inappropriate — and unequal — relationship. That’s not something I’d want in the background of the foundation of a gay relationship. Too many unfortunate implications.

  3. dws says

    Dear Mad Men Executives,
    If you wanted the audience to believe that Pete was a desirable man for whom suburban women would leave their husbands, and whom (presumably) gay men would hit on at work, you should not have cast an ugly actor with less sex appeal than used dishwater to play him.

    Sincerely,
    Pretty much everyone

  4. Poof says

    I think Bob is more like Nolan Ross on Revenge, he’ll do whoever or whatever it takes to get the job done.. whether it’s with a man or a woman.

  5. Profe Sancho Panza says

    Given that even Pete’s own mother called him “unlovable” and a “sour little man” in this episode, AND that the show does its best to make Pete unattractive, I’m not yet buying the narrative that Bob (who, let’s face it, could do much better) has been longing for Pete in silence. This is a very interesting development, but it doesn’t solve the Bob Mystery yet.

  6. Randy says

    I agree — nothing solved. Or, it raises as many questions as it answers. I get that he and Joan would make a lovely gay/gaypal relationship. I get that he would try to be helpful to everyone.

    But there is a smarmy side to all this sucking up. People like that in the office are most concerned about how they are perceived by the uppers and kiss their ass constantly. After the regular staffers catch on, they don’t give up, but they never let their facade down.

    And yeah, Pete is singularly unattractive physically, emotionally, and professionally, and I doubt anyone would lust after him, man or woman.

  7. princely54 says

    I agree there may be more to Bob yet. But, to say that he’s only throwing that out to Pete to move up the ladder doesn’t really make sense. Remember, this is still 1968 and I doubt he’d fake a pass just to see IF Pete responded without any information that Pete would even go for it. Like Sal years before, its as likely he’d be risking a very public humiliation and firing for making that pass. It makes no sense to me that he’s only trying to angle a way up the ladder doing that!!

  8. Randy says

    One last comment — last week when Bob said he knew a male nurse, that set off my alarms. Back then, almost all nurses were female, and a male nurse would have been quite rare. Likely, most of them were gay as well.

    I suspect that the male nurse is an old flame of Bob’s who is still friends with him.

  9. Ronny says

    First of all, we can’t always control who we’re attracted to, and secondly, given the time period, there is something to be said for pursuing someone you might suspect is gay as well, rather than pining for a pointless crush on someone more attractive but straight (a lesson many contemporary gay men could still learn). If he is gay, he may be much healthier than Sal was in regards to his sexuality. And I don’t think Pete is physically unattractive–he just isn’t served well by the ’60s haircuts and fashions. (And plenty of you lusted after him when he was playing a teenager on “Angel.”)

  10. says

    When Pete brings up his insane mother’s claim that the nurse is having an affair with her Bob says “Oh he doesn’t go that way.” IOW the nurse may well be an old flame of Bob’s.

    Bob’s clearly a Phoebe. He doesn’t have to actually lust after Pete to make a move on him but he HAS to be gay to make such a move. Why you people can’t see that I do not understand.

  11. Jellybean says

    I have watched the first 4 episodes of this show, from the beginning, on Netflix (They have all the past seasons). I thought almost all the male actors sounded gay. I hope the acting improves or I won’t watch too many more episodes. Everyone acts like their in a fog.

  12. Houndentenor says

    Of all the hotties in that office…Peter??? It’s not so much that he’s unattractive (I’m sure in another part the actor could be quite charming)…it’s that he’s such an awful person. Blech!

  13. TonyG says

    Is it really that difficult to remember that this is 1968, when being gay – exposing yourself to a coworker – could have dire consequences? You REALLY think Bob would do that if he wasn’t gay?

    As for Pete’s attractiveness, first, Bob most likely does not know the Pete we, as watchers of him since, what, 1960, know. He sees a guy much higher up on the ladder (isn’t Pete a partner, though un-named?), going through a separation, who needs to be saved. Bob could be reading into that. And like someone else said, attraction is not always logical.

  14. bobbyjoe says

    Bob has been shown lying before (he’s told conflicting stories about his father to separate people, for example). As careful as the show is, I don’t think that’s an accident. In last night’s scene, he comes on to Pete right after Pete has referred to gays as “degenerate,” which is very odd behavior even if Bob is gay. Something doesn’t add up here, and I’m starting to fall into the camp that thinks that Bob is a grifter, a corporate spy, or FBI.

  15. Marc says

    Pete needs someone to love him, and yes Bob Benson is unbelievably cute, but I must admit, I have a thing for Pete too, I dont know what it is, but i’d hit it, them, both. As long as its a mutual attraction.

  16. Robert says

    He wasn’t being KIND, he was NUDGING HIS KNEE, you submoron. But I agree that we haven’t heard the last about Bob Benson. His idealistic character is not just because he’s gay. He’s got ulterior motives for being there.

  17. Aaron says

    Pete is in the closet and Bob can see that. Bob can see how miserable Pete is because he’s in the closet. Look at Pete’s marriage, it’s so obvious now that he’s gay and has been the whole time

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