Sunday, August 14, 2011

LOST Redux: S3E20 The Man Behind the Curtain

(At the request of a reader, I will be reposting old editions of my LOST column as they no longer appear on the internet. I will not be making any edits to them, so please be aware that they represent a moment and time--my thoughts and analysis after watching an episode's initial airing.)

My apologies for a second straight late column. I don’t have an excuse this week, as I don’t like to make excuses, but I will offer u an explanation. I slipped. For the first time in the airing of LOST, I did not watch an entire episode the first time it was ever possible. I was out all day and missed the first fifteen minutes. Thus, I needed to download the episode to be able to write a proper column. It’s a good thing I did too. The first fifteen minutes gave me new insight into who The Man Behind the Curtain really is. You adept viewers and readers should know where I’m leading this column now.

Anyway, enough, we’ve all waited for awhile for this, so let’s journey into The Midside…


Apparently, Ben is Harry Potter. I know there aren’t many parallels in the stories, but young Ben certainly looked like young Harry, didn’t he? Ok, I just had to get that out of the way. Now we can get onto the real analysis…

This episode’s flashback provided some great insight into the mind of Ben. It is now my belief that he is as much of a mark as any of the other Survivors. Why? Well, first we have to delve into his psyche his little bit and then we can transition to discussing who the real Man Behind the Curtain is and then we can transition to a new and improved theory on the history of the island. Seeing as how the show is more than half over, it would make sense that our picture of the island is getting clearer.

We learned too important things about Ben this episode. First, he is evil. Second, we learned his obsession. As always, I’ll start with the first claim first. Yes, that last sentence was incredibly redundant, but that was obviously my intent. How can I say Ben is evil? Well, over the course of last season and this season, you’ve seen me question the motives of The Others. I even mockingly nicknamed them The Good Guys based upon Ben’s response to Michael’s question, “Who are you?”

The fact of the matter is, the things The Others do, the things that Ben orders are downright bad. Just recently, he told Locke to kill his father. What kind of good guy advocates a person taking justice into his own hands, no matter how much Cooper deserved his fate? What kind of a person advocates kidnapping children and pregnant women rather than giving them a choice? I’ll tell you what kind of a person: an evil person.

Half of this flashback chronicled the affect of Ben’s mother’s death on he and his father. In a way, their individual transitions over their lives ran parallel to each other. The difference came in the deciding scene where, in cold blood, Ben murdered his own father.

Roger Linus began as an extremely sympathetic figure. It was obvious he loved his wife and was hoping to take care of his future family. Although, I have to question, is it smart to take your seven months pregnant wife hiking? Regardless, in that first flashback scene and the second flashback scene where he is welcomed to the island by his friend Horace, we saw a genuinely kind and gracious man. Then, when he is given his job as a “janitor” his story turns tragic.

Over the rest of the flashbacks, Roger is seen drinking, arguing, and yelling at Ben. Basically, he is the stereotype of the abusive drunk dad, without the actual child abuse. Yes, once again, a character has a father issue. Could there be significance to that commonality after all? Maybe the island (or The Man Behind the Curtain) seeks out people with father issues to provide them with that missing father (Jacob?). Regardless, Roger’s story ultimately ends with his own son gassing him and watching him die. Well, it really ends with Hurley, Sawyer, and Jin, which can’t be all bad, but forget that fact.

Conversely, Benjamin Linus’ story is one of empowerment. He begins his life as the stereotypical geeky boy who doesn’t speak. He is too afraid of life and too intimidated by his father to do anything. Then, Annie begins to befriend him. Then, “the island” reaches out to him in the form of his dead mother (interesting that her body was never on the island like Christian or Yemi). The first scene where he talks a substantial amount is in the woods with Richard.

The conclusion of the flashback sees Ben taking emotional pot shots at his father and not only killing him, but watching him die painfully and slowly. It takes a special type of person, an evil person, to kill his own father in such a way. It is clear at this point that Ben has transitioned from a lost little boy to psychopathic murderer. Apparently, he couldn’t get over the fact that people forgot his birthday. No wonder Alex was so adamant about wishing him a happy one.

The second thing we learned is that Ben is obsessed with pregnancy and the fact that women can’t survive child birth on the island. Why is he? Well, first off, his mother did giving birth to him and his dad never let him forget it. Second, I am going to make a prediction here. Annie disappeared part way through the episode, but the opening scene where Ben is clutching the doll she made him shows he still harbors some sort of pain in regards to her. It is my bet that he fell in love with her and she got pregnant and died. Thus, he is so obsessed with solving the pregnancy myth to cure his own guilt because he believes he killed the only two people that ever loved him.

Finally, it is my belief that Ben intended to shoot Locke all along. Alex handing Locke a gun and saying he’d need it made it seem like she knew “meeting Jacob” meant being killed. However, I am not sure Locke actually was killed. He definitely was struggling to breath, so he was shot in the lung, but I doubt we’ll discover his fate until next season.


Besides Ben, the other main character in this episode was Locke. In fact, it was the second episode in a row that Locke was an incredibly crucial character. That fact is why, with only two episodes left this season, I don’t think we’ll learn the fate of John Locke until next January. Regardless, now would be a good time to discuss the Ben and Locke dynamic.

I believe that Ben was interested in Locke because he had a “communion with the island” that Ben no longer experiences. In the flashbacks, we saw how Ben had experiences similar to the Survivors early in his life. There is no indication that he has had these experiences lately. Thus, he tells The Others about Locke and they believe Locke is an important person. However, I don’t believe Ben ever intended to bring Locke into the fold.

All Ben ever wanted to do was eliminate Locke. He knew that his communion with the island brought him his power over The Others. Logically, he would fear that Locke’s communion with the island could bring him the same. At first, he tried to kill Locke without having a hand in it. He told Locke to kill Cooper and left the two behind. Cooper had previously pushed Locke out of a building paralyzing him. It was a logical conclusion that Cooper would win again. However, Sawyer interfered in the situation and we began to see the master plan.

Ultimately, in this episode, Locke seemingly completed his journey. He had faith and himself in the island. Do I believe he is dead? No, though he was a very powerful and self confident figure in this episode (you had to enjoy his making Ben squirm), I believe his journey is not complete. Arguably, he could be the one to take over for Ben as leader of The Others.

Other characters with minor development were Sawyer, Sayid, Sun, Naomi, Juliet, and Jack. The two headed monster of Sawyer and Sayid continues to grow and I don’t believe they’ll be impressed by Juliet’s “flip the tape over.” First off, they shouldn’t be. Second off, their reactions were never shown. We don’t know how they digested the information.

Sun, on the other hand, continues to represent those who trust Jack. She said he was Jack, he would never do anything to hurt them. Are you sure about that Sun? What if the greater good is at stake? I mean, he certainly has no qualms concealing the truth from you in that case.

Jack said he didn’t tell them because he hadn’t decided what they would do yet. Excuse me? You hadn’t decided what everyone would do yet? Does anyone still question my distaste for this character? I will admit though, without him, there would be little to no plot. He certainly always riles up the Survivors. I don’t know why anyone hasn’t realized that though.

Then there’s Juliet. Mysteriously, she knew what was on the other side of the tape. Here’s the thing, Ben said that he had recorded his response to Juliet a day ago. That means that Juliet had yet to hear Ben’s response. Maybe she got lucky and Ben happened to mention the abductions, but I doubt it. If he had just talked about “taking samples”, it wouldn’t have been that damning. The raid is what sealed the deal. This event was exactly like Claire “getting sick” when Juliet came to camp, except instead of saving the day, she dispensed insider information to make the Survivors feel privileged.

So how did Juliet know what was on the tape? How was the tape intended to end up in Sawyer’s hands? It’s very simple. Consider the first scene of the episode. Richard calmly asked Ben what he wanted him to do with the tape and Ben flipped out. The truth is, Richard was just covering his own ass. He had already made sure the tape fell into Locke’s hands to he would give it to Sawyer (who he made sure would kill Cooper) and Juliet could re-establish credibility with the Survivors. That’s right, Richard is working with Jack and Juliet. Why? Because Richard is The Man Behind the Curtain!

(Oh, and Naomi is still confused as to what the heck is going on with everyone. She’ll probably be very important in Season 4 though, as I expect the plot to revolve around being rescued.)


Ben has never been the leader of The Others. He has been a mark from the beginning. I still question whether Jacob is a ruse by him or whether it is a ruse intended to manipulate him, but it’s irrelevant. Jacob isn’t real (though it was interesting that for a split second someone was sitting in the chair). Richard is The Man Behind the Curtain.

When Juliet’s husband was hit by a bus, who was there? Who was likely the man that smiled at Cooper? Who is there whenever Ben does anything? The answer is Richard. In fact, I expect the secrets behind these scenes to either be revealed in the season finale (as Richard explains his plans to Jack to get him on his side) or in a Richard flashback next season.

There are a couple important scenes to explicate at this point. At the end of the flashbacks, Ben gave his first “order” to Richard. However, notice how it wasn’t really an order. Richard asked Ben if he wanted them to get his father’s body. That request is simply courteous, but the way it was asked and the way the response was given was like a order. Richard was leading Ben to feel like a leader. He had already used Ben to protect himself and the other Natives from Dharma. Go back and watch how it was mentioned how the code to the sonar fence changed every day and notice how “the island” (or is it Richard) used the image of Ben’s mother to manipulate him into wanting to join the Natives.

The other insanely important scene is that of Ben’s first meeting with Richard. Obviously, it is important to note Richard’s age. It is my bet that Richard is either immortal or if you truly have a communion with the island you live a very long time. I would also be willing to bet that Mrs. Hawking from Flashes Beyond Your Eyes is just like Richard and Cindy may very well be too.

The other thing I want to note is what Richard said to Ben:

“Whoa, I didn’t mean to scare you. Wait, wait. Are you lost? Wait.”

Ben was lost both literally and metaphorically and Richard comforted him. Wait, isn’t this show called LOST? That’s right, it is. You’re kidding yourself if you don’t think that line of dialogue is the most important line of dialogue spoken so far in the series.

How does all this play into the history of the island? It’s very simple. There is a tribe of people who have always lived on the island in peace. However, Dharma came and threatened their harmony. Dharma even instigated a war, killing a bunch of the Natives. Something had to be done. Richard used Ben to eradicate Dharma and seize control of the island again. However, there was a problem.

The number of Natives was sorely depleted and they can’t reproduce. Through Ben, Richard used the guise of the continuing Dharma Initiative to recruit people. The Russian truly was the last living member of the DI. He continued to communicate with the outside world as if Dharma was still alive, ordering palette drops and the like. The financial backer of Dharma would easily believe him because the DI was made to be independent and self sufficient beyond minimal communication.

The plane crash and all the subsequent events have been manipulated with the intention of restoring the number of Natives on the island and the balance between the Natives and the island. Notice how most of the Survivors have either nothing to go back to, something to run away from, or reason to stay. Richard (or perhaps he is just acting on behalf of the island) has been trying to find LOST people and give them a home. The exact group of people on Flight 815 were picked for this series of events to unfold. Notice, Locke, Sawyer, Cooper, and the undermining of Ben’s power. You better believe that Jack and Claire’s blood ties will be very important in the future.

I’m sure there’s much to elaborate on, but I can’t think of anything at this point, so let’s cut to the end.


-So LOST officially has 48 episodes (3 seasons of 16) left after this season. Really, it’s only two seasons. Season 1 had 23 episodes and 24 hours. Season 2 had 22 episodes and 23 hours. Season 3 has 22 episodes and 23 hours. Do the math. 24 and 24 is 48. Apparently, the writers and ABC have been hashing out a deal to finalize an end date to this series all season.

-Have you been wondering where my columns have been the past two weeks? Well, after last week’s fiasco, I decided to open an official Midside MySpace at . There, you’ll find any updates as to what I’m doing in The Midside, but I would like to stress it is not a personal MySpace. It is intended to act as an informational page.

-I’ve also opened an official blog at I’ll write there about any other subject I feel the urge to write about. There’s already an entry up titled “The Myth of Meaning”. Take a look. If you’re wondering, I’ll be announcing updates to that blog on The Midside MySpace as well.

As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week as we mourn the death of Charlie Pace. And well, if you think Charlie is going to die, then all I have to say is:

Remember Boone?

I’m kidding:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

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