Mar 252014
 

Mad Men, Favors, Pete and Bob Benson touch knees

Bob Benson: 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 their 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.

Why, Bob, why? Pete would never have been receptive to Bob’s advances, under any circumstances. We, the audience, know that, but Bob Benson did not. Why then, did he choose such an awful moment to confess his love?

Recall the scene: Pete is confronting Bob about Manolo’s affair with his mother. Pete is angry and disgusted. When Bob suggests that he thinks Manolo is gay, Pete says that means Manolo is a “degenerate” who is “capable of anything.”

This is the exact moment that Bob makes his move. Set aside “degenerate;” Pete was angry and upset. He was disgusted by a sexual display and he wanted to lash out–this is not when you express your love even if it’s welcome. And then, y’know, don’t set aside “degenerate.” Bob used a passive voice in his declaration, making it both about Manolo and Dorothy and about himself and Pete, surely doing this because a lifetime of avoiding the consequences of unwelcome passes has given him an ear for plausible deniability. He seems to be approaching Pete as if Pete’s disgust at Manolo is an opportunity to explain why gay love is okay. But surely he knows that explanation really doesn’t cut it.

I think the scene was amazing and beautiful, but I think it’s poor plotting to place it right there, at that moment. Bob Benson’s lifetime of avoiding getting caught should make him too cagey to choose a dark moment when he’s desperately in need of light.

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  6 Responses to “Bob Benson Chose a Terrible Moment to Make His Move”

  1. I think the little speech alone, with no knee-touching and no big cow-eyes whatsoever might have been o.k. Imagine that same monologue with a completely different tone.Not that Pete would have accepted it, but it might have give him a “hmm. Maybe the rotten old bat deserves a bit of fun” moment. It’s possible. It’s also possible I could win the lottery. But we will never know. Perhaps the whole scene was to illustrate that Bob’s judgement sucks when it comes to romance.

  2. Just saw this episode last night and I have to concur with Deb that Bob’s timing is so bad as to make the writing suspect. We’ve seen Bob be a pretty cagey guy around Joan and we know from his background that he is a survivor. Maybe it was a case of self immolation similar to the way we’ve seen Don self destruct in a quasi intentional way.

    • I’m not so sure on Bob’s caginess, or his social skills. What always struck me about him was his obvious artificialness, how you could see was putting up a front (Having seen James Wolk in a different role since, on “The Crazy Ones,” I’m even more impressed now at how well he put that across). When we saw him listening to his self-help records, it made perfect sense: here was a guy who really didn’t have any idea how to behave in social situations. So his coming on to Pete at exactly the wrong time is maybe not so strange. He really didn’t know any better.

  3. “I think the scene was amazing and beautiful, but I think it’s poor plotting to place it right there, at that moment. Bob Benson’s lifetime of avoiding getting caught should make him too cagey to choose a dark moment when he’s desperately in need of light.”

    Yes. Absolutely. Caught it again on the re-runs, and it was both awkward for character and story. If the idea was Bob couldn’t control it any longer, then someone failed in the execution. Actor. Director. Writing. It didn’t make sense.

    • Another example of the slow slide from greatness for MM.
      I immediately thought that Bob chose the worst possible moment to ‘present’ himself (I had no clue he was gay). I didn’t want to say something clumsy like ‘His gay-dar should’ve alerted him to Pete not being receptive’, or something condescending like that.
      First 4 seasons, mistakes like this were not allowed to happen.
      Season 6 DVD, just like S5, will not be on my shelf.

      • I can’t speak from experience, but I’m fairly sure that being gay does not automatically embue one with excellent gaydar. Especially back in the days before Stonewall when anything could be mistaken for code, especially if one wants badly to find a connection with someone else.

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