Getting Lost: The Season's Biggest Shockers, and More
As Lost's Season 5 heads into its final three weeks, TVGuide.com's Getting Lost video series counts down the season-to-date's most resonant episode-ending "thump" moments, as voted on by readers.Among the Top 5 is, of course, the capper to "He's Our You," in which Sayid guns down a young Ben. Michael Emerson emailed us the morning after that jaw-dropper aired, saying, "When Sayid shot Young Ben, I looked at my wife, Carrie [Preston] — who was in a state of shock — and said, 'Yikes. That's more than a flesh-wound.'
"If it's as bad as it looks, what happens now?" Emerson mulled. "Do three seasons of Lost DVDs suddenly erase themselves?! And what will I play in Season 6 — Might-Have-Ben?"
As if he didn't know that Ben didn't die on the spot.
Also in this installment, I reveal the dominant theory coming out of last week's Burning Question, which asked about Faraday's recent whereabouts. I then send a new puzzle your way, this one regarding the last unsolved mystery regarding Flight 316. Send your best guesses to Getting_Lost@tvguide.com.
( Oh how the mighty have fallen. Not too long ago, Ben Linus, the crafty and enigmatic leader of a mysterious group known as the Others, was causing plenty of grief for the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 on Lost, even going so far as holding a handful of them against their will. Then, however, the tables were turned, and during the show’s third year he became their prisoner. Ben remained a captive in season four, but that soon became the least of his worries. As events unfolded, he made sure to keep his wits about him, as did the actor who plays him, Michael Emerson. Read more... )
A true Gentleman: Lost's Terry O'Quinn
(c) 2008 Dominik Ahrens/serienjunkies.de
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( Terri O'Quinn never ceases to amaze me. The man is a first-class gentleman. His Emmy speech was superb and this interview is beautiful. And, he always has such nice things to say about Michael Emerson. (Of course, Michael has nothing but admiration in return.) )
June 16, 2008 --
THE question came from a young actress, newly arrived in New York: "What's it like not to be poor and afraid?"
Randy Lutterman never forgot her. Having left a steady gig, boyfriend and one-bedroom apartment in Toronto 15 years ago to make it here, she knows what it takes to survive.
Enter SpringboardNYC, the "intensive summer boot camp for actors" Lutterman directs each June at the American Theatre Wing, a k a the Tony people.
Its aim: giving starry-eyed theater majors (and the occasional confused criminology major) the 411 on auditions, agents, apartments and more. Where else can a fretful thespian ask "How much body is too much body in a head shot?" and "How helpful is a teaching degree?" (In a nutshell, respectively: "Depends" and "Very." )
Here's how a few troupers found their feet in the city:
Peter Gallagher ("The Country Girl")
"I got here in the spring of '77 and knew absolutely no one. I was staying at a friend's grandmother's apartment on 28th Street, which I sublet for $200 a month. I gave myself six or seven years to make it. A year or two wouldn't do it, and 20 years, your life would be over . . .
"There was an open call for 'Grease,' and I thought, Omigod, I could never do it. But my friend said, 'I thought you were gonna audition for everything. You're backing out now?'
"The line snaked around the block. I sang my few measures and [the casting agent] said, 'That was beautiful!' My knees buckled and I almost started to cry . . . I went on the road for six months as Danny Zuko, then came into the Broadway company in the same theater I'm in now . . .
"Woody Allen said 90 percent of life is showing up. You just gotta keep showing up - and hold close to your heart the thing you love."
Michael Emerson ("Lost")
"I came cold to New York twice, [first] after college, in '76. I grew up in small-town Iowa and New York knocked the wind out of me. I had no contacts, I didn't know what the drill was. It was a much grimmer city in those days, so I scrambled around, trying to get day work and a roof over my head. I got a variety of low-grade jobs, one at an all-night newsstand. I took some evening courses and became an illustrator.
"I went down south and worked my way back north doing community theater [and] came back to New York 20 years later, after grad school. I lived with a fellow grad student in Astoria - the actors' bedroom. It was sort of terrifying to be living as poorly as I was, but I thought, I'm not gonna let New York say I can't do this. I gave myself two years. Just before they ran out, I got a part in Moisés Kaufman's [play] "Gross Indecency," and doors have opened for me since.
"Not everybody's on the same timetable. If it's the thing you're meant to do, the question is, 'How long can you hold on to it?' "
Jonathan Groff ("Spring Awakening," "Hair")
"I came from farm country in Lancaster, Pa., and NYC was a huge change for me. The day I moved here, I got a job waiting tables at the Chelsea Grill of Hells Kitchen on Ninth Avenue, and that sustained me for the first year, until I got more steady acting work.
"Whenever I would get rejected from an audition, I would take a walk through Central Park or go see a show to help inspire me again."This city can give just as much as it can take out of you. You just have to be open to it and know how to protect yourself."
(My thanks to mythicfeline of MEFB forum por posting this.)
NEW YORK, June 19, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- VIA | Quote | Chart | News | PowerRating -- Just when you thought there were no more decades left to love, VH1 is back at it with an all-new 8-part series "I Love The New Millennium." From "Thong Songs" and Big Fat Greek Weddings, to wardrobe malfunctions and the "Big Mouth Billy Bass," it's all here, and our expert team of celebrities, musicians, actors, athletes, journalists and comedians are back to tackle every hard hitting issue you can imagine. For example: Where were all those weapons of mass destruction anyway? How did people watch television before TIVO? Who decided that trucker hats weren't just for truckers anymore? And perhaps most importantly of all ... who let the dogs out?
Premiering on Monday - Thursday, June 23—26, at 9PM* and 10PM* each night, VH1 will once again tap our collective memories and revisit the good, the bad, and the funny from the new millennium. VH1 loves the 00's so much that we couldn't even wait for them to end, bringing viewers the first 8 years of the decade (2000 - 2007.) In typical "I Love the" style "I Love The New Millennium" will leave no stone unturned through clips from sitcoms, movies, music videos, TV commercials, network news and other sources. Join us as we travel back in time to a time when Brad Pitt was happily married to Jennifer Aniston. Angelina Jolie and Madonna had yet to start the mad adoption craze and Britney Spears still had her s#!t together.
"I Love The New Millennium" has a variety of music artists, TV and film stars, athletes, journalists and other celebs who lend their hilarious perspective to the series including "President Bush," Gina Gershon, Johnny Fairplay, OK GO!, Michael Ian Black, Hal Sparks, Shanna Moakler, Andrew WK, Natasha Bedingfield, Plain White Ts, Perez Hilton, Emmy Rossum, Jared Fogel, Efren Ramirez, Vanessa Carlton, Jenna Von Oy, Ron Jeremy, Dee Snider, Chris Jericho, Shaggy, Angie Stone, Taylor Dayne, American Chopper, Tommy Chong, Lifehouse, Amy Lee, Gilbert Gottfried, Rich Eisen, Kat Von D, Stuart Scott, Beth Littleford, Colton & Aboud, Danica McKellar, Lonny Ross, Michael Emerson, Mya, The Bravery and many more.
For more info on "I Love The New Millennium" viewers can go online to millennium.vh1.com for exclusive video content of interview rants and selects from the show.
"I Love The New Millennium" is a production of VH1, with Pat Twist serving as Series Producer and Karla Hidalgo, Jeff Olde and Shelly Tatro as Executive Producers for VH1.
*All times are ET/PT Contacts: Luis Defrank Surayyah McCarthy 212-846-7012 212-846-8433 Luis.firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
VH1 connects viewers to the music, artists and pop culture that matter to them most with TV series, specials, live events, exclusive online content and public affairs initiatives. VH1 is available in 90 million households in the U.S. VH1 also has an array of digital channels and services including VH1Classic, VH1 Soul, VH1 Mobile, VH1Games and extensive broadband video on VH1.com. Connect with VH1 at VH1.com.SOURCE: VH1 and Tradingmarkets.com
Mario Perez / ABCOn May 29, Lost's cast, including Fox, center, seeks to top last year's finale.
(Click on the picture to enlarge it.)
( The producers of Lost have found the secret to resuscitating a great TV show: make less of it. Last year, in the middle of a third season that was criticized by fans as slow and aimless, they proposed to end the hit show after three more seasons of 16 episodes each, six or so fewer than a typical TV-drama season. ABC, stunningly, agreed, though it had the contractual right to frog-march the lucrative property ahead for as many seasons as it liked. )
SOURCE: Time Magazine
One thing is certain: the ABC series has recaptured viewers.
By Maria Elena Fernandez,
May 24, 2008
Every member of the elusive group of "Lost" castaways, who we already know will leave the island, is in peril. Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sun, Sayid and baby Aaron are all fighting separately to live, struggling to escape. They are nowhere near the helicopter that can fly them to the freighter in the ocean, the vessel that could save them, if there wasn't a bomb on it.
But how do they leave? When will they separate from the rest of the survivors? What price will they pay?
When the "Lost" two-hour season finale airs Thursday, it will end not just another chapter in ABC's island saga. It also will close a season of ground-breaking storytelling that has carried viewers from present and past narratives, the signature of the show, to the future -- to be colored further with flashbacks of the flash forwards -- that is, glimpses of the future that predate other future events the audience has already seen. This season, the writers filled in the blanks by showing us another snippet of the future that occurred before that moment to let viewers know that "he" is Claire's baby, Aaron.
Using the flashback technique to develop character has become so popular across the TV landscape since "Lost" premiered in 2004 that it seems likely that flashing forward in increments to drive plot will follow suit. "Lost" producers have used this device to push the story forward and to answer some of the many island mysteries that fans both love and hate.
"It's an interesting development in the story that suddenly we deal with the post-island world, but it's imperfect," said Michael Emerson, who plays Ben Linus, the master-manipulator leader of the Others, whom viewers have seen off the island as well. "It's as imperfect as the island world and the only way it can be inhabited by the Oceanic 6 is by way of the big lie. So it's a compromised world.
"And the island may be more important to the survivors when they leave it than when they stood upon it," he continued. "The island of the mind, if you will. But it's a place that has a hold over them. The island never loses its power."
EVIDENTLY, that's also the case for "Lost" viewers. The flash-forward device has energized many fans who had become disenchanted during last year, as more characters and mysteries were introduced and favorite castaways were sidelined. Averaging 14.6 million viewers, "Lost" ranks ninth among all TV series in the desirable 18- to 49-year-old demographic and has been the top-rated show in both of its time slots all season, despite being on a new night.
Viewers have responded favorably to the show's hastened narrative pace, but some have griped that, at times, piecing the timeline has been challenging. "By doing the flash-forwards, we made the audience deeply suspicious and they don't know what to believe when you want them to believe something," executive producer Carlton Cuse said, aware of the Internet chatter among Losties.
With only two hours left, the producers have much ground to cover. In the future, fans have seen Jack (Matthew Fox) and Kate (Evangeline Lilly) as a couple raising Aaron without mention of what happened to Claire (Emilie de Ravin). Hurley (Jorge Garcia) winds up in a mental hospital again; Sayid (Naveen Andrews) is working as an assassin for Ben around the globe; and Sun (Yunjin Kim) gives birth and mourns the loss of her husband, Jin (Daniel Dae Kim), even though viewers have not witnessed his death.
What fans have yet to see is what happened after last season's time-busting revelation that Jack and Kate leave the island in the future but something makes Jack want to return. On Thursday, "Lost" will take viewers to that very moment of Jack's pained "We have to go back!" and move beyond it. It also will disclose "one of the island's greatest secrets," according to Emerson.
"The finale is about the culmination of this idea that a group of people who desperately wanted to get off the island find themselves in the position of defending the island that they've been trying to leave," Cuse said.
But producers won't disclose what fans are dying to know. Many viewers, as evidenced on message boards, are convinced that next season post-island life becomes the present and the past is life on the island.
"All we can say is that it's going to be very hard to get back to the island for those guys," co-creator and executive producer Damon Lindelof said. "But life will continue for the people who are not with them. How are we going to tell that story? We're not going to tell that." In fact, Lindelof vowed during an interview that after the finale airs he and Cuse "are going into radio silence until next season."
But Emerson, talking from the
Kim, who said there "will be casualties," took it one step further: "The finale will change the way you watch the show. It will introduce new variables that would never even be considered previously."
When viewers last saw the Oceanic 6, Jack and Sawyer (Josh Holloway) dodged the helicopter that could have rescued them to try to protect Hurley.
Hurley was hiding from the freighter folks who want to kill Ben. The Others came down the mountain and captured Kate and Sayid. Sun, Jin and Aaron were onboard the bomb-carrying freighter.
"Aw, man, the finale is crazy," Garcia said. "You will definitely see how we all end up together and back on civilization. But it's as if there is one obstacle after another in front of us and the fact that we make it off is definitely a miracle."
JUST HOW did these half a dozen plane crash survivors -- and not their counterparts -- come to be the Oceanic 6?
The producers began to make their selections in the second season but did not pick all six until after they had negotiated 2010 as an end date for the series and could plan out the rest of the stories. The first requirement was that they had to be passengers on flight Oceanic 815, which crashed on the island on Sept. 22, 2004, and not any of the other island inhabitants.
"Jack has been saying from the word go, 'I'm gonna get everybody off the island.' So we thought, 'What happens if the hero accomplishes his goal but realizes he's made a horrible mistake?' " Lindelof said. "And he would only qualify it a success if Kate were off the island as well. We also knew the baby had to be a part of it. Then we asked ourselves, 'Who are the other people who have something to go back to and what might their lives be like off the island?' "
The answer was Sayid, Sun and Hurley, but Lindelof and Cuse won't say exactly why, noting that some of their reasons are based on events in upcoming seasons that even the cast ignores at this point.
"Those choices are representations of the dramatic poles of the characters," Cuse said. "Jack is the ultimate empiricist. He's never believed in the mystery and the mythology of the island. He just wants to get the hell off this place whereas Locke has embraced the mysteries of the island. His goal is to understand what the island is about."
Nobody was more surprised to learn he was in the exclusive club than Garcia. Often, the emotional center of the show, Hurley, isn't in the middle of the action.
"I knew some people were getting off and some weren't and I assumed at the time that it was all going to be people close to the [satellite] phone," Garcia said. "But it turned out to be a bunch of us from all over the place and I thought it was cool because it became a puzzle to unravel as to how we all end up together off the island."
The only exception to the only-passengers rule is Aaron, who wasn't on the manifest because he was born on the island. That Kate is his mother off-island is one of the components of the intricate lie the Oceanic 6 weave when they reach civilization. From the beginning, viewers have wondered if Aaron is somehow at the center of the show's mythology. The producers have repeatedly said the island is not purgatory, but whether Aaron (or Locke or Ben or who knows?) is pivotal to a healing island with smoke monsters and electro-magnetic properties remains to be seen.
"It could go either way," said De Ravin, who plays Claire, who in the present could be dead or undead, depending on how you look at it. "Seeing as they've already revealed him to be with Kate, there's got to be some other twist there. He's just a little baby, so it's hard to tell if he has some crazy powers. Maybe he can see the future too."
The future doesn't look so promising for Jin, whose wife grieved by his grave in
"I do like the fact that his fate is unresolved and that his life is in jeopardy," Kim said. "Now, believing that he might be dead, I'm getting a lot of people saying, 'Wow, please, don't be dead.' It's a nice sign of appreciation for a character that I haven't necessarily felt in the past."
The finale, Cuse said, will have "some spectacular romantic moments along with spectacular action moments."
"The story of the Oceanic 6 is the ultimate break-up story," Lindelof added. "That's what the finale is about -- everybody breaking up. And the show is going to have to proceed from here as to whether or not we're going to get everybody together. Who is still around to get together?"
SOURCE: LA Times
As the long-running plane-crash drama returns to the small screen, its sinister star, Michael Emerson, tells Michael Deacon he's as surprised by the plot twists as viewers are
Preview of an episode from Season 4
In 2004, an American study suggested that watching a lot of television could reduce a child's attention span. Parents, help is at hand. Sit your offspring in front of Sky One at 9pm tomorrow. Because if there's a television drama that actually increases the attention span, it's Lost.
The American thriller serial about plane-crash survivors stranded on a remote tropical island is about to reach its 80th episode. And still its mysteries are multiplying, getting ever more complex and strange. At first, viewers were asking, "Why did the plane crash? How will the survivors get home?" Now they're asking, "Who or what is the invisible and presumably malevolent spirit that lives in the hut in the jungle and answers (occasionally) to the name of Jacob?"
Keeping up with this tangle of riddles, exciting though it is, requires stamina. Happily for its producers, millions have it. In the US, Lost is watched by about 13 million people per episode; here, it's more than a million, which isn't bad for a programme available only on digital.
Tomorrow, the second half of season four begins. (The split was caused by the American television writers' strike.) Faithful viewers will tune in because they yearn for answers. But they'll also tune in for something else: television's scariest villain.
Michael Emerson plays Ben Linus. So scary is Ben that, when fans bump into Emerson in the street, they're scared of him, too.
"People are guarded with me," says Emerson, who was nominated for an Emmy last year for his work on Lost; he won one in 2001 for his guest role in a legal drama called The Practice, in which he played a serial killer. "They tend to be not too chummy, and they don't invade my physical space much. 'Hello, Mr Emerson,' they say. And when they shake hands, they hold themselves at a slight distance. I think they're afraid I'm going to whip something out on them. What that might be, I don't know…"
Ben leads a ruthless gang called The Others, who lived on the island before the plane crashed; at present he's a captive of Locke (played by Terry Quinn), the most enigmatic of the plane-crash survivors. Yet even as a captive Ben seems threatening. Impressive, given his build: he's short, scrawny, rat-like. He looks as if he lost his eyebrows in a small explosion. He talks quietly, in a menacingly measured drawl… with lots of pauses and emphases… which make him sound as if he knows… everything.
Remarkably, Ben was originally written as a minor character. Emerson was hired to appear for only a few episodes, in season two. But so skin-tinglingly sinister was he during those episodes that the producers had a rethink and turned Ben into perhaps Lost's most important character.
"I think it's the imaginations of viewers that make Ben scary," says Emerson (who isn't at all scary himself; polite, precise and elegantly suited, he comes across like a nicer version of Frasier's Niles Crane).
"He's not an imposing figure, not an overwhelming personality - he runs in neutral gear a lot. We fear the things we don't know or can't figure out, so maybe he falls into that category." We'll be seeing plenty of this seemingly unknowable creature in the new episodes. Particularly in a setting new to Lost: London. Previously, all Lost's scenes have been shot on Hawaii or mainland America.
The reasons for shooting in London, I'm afraid, will remain unclear until we see the new episodes; the most Emerson will say is that "I don't know if it's a quality of light [the producers] are looking for, or maybe the weather…" But then, it's almost always impossible to squeeze upcoming storylines out of Lost's stars.
For one thing, they don't know much more about what's going to happen next than we do. Emerson says he's only one script ahead of the viewers, and that sometimes an actor will open the latest script and find that their character is dead. That's it; the first they know of it. Indeed, so secretive are Lost's producers that they don't even let their cleaners have keys to their office in Los Angeles. When the cleaners come in, the producers stand by watchfully to ensure that there's no sneaking a peek at their scripts.
There are critics, though, who no longer want to know what secrets those scripts contain. Their attention spans have been stretched further than they can bear. Too many mysteries, they grumble; not enough answers. And they're not prepared to wait until 2010 - when Lost will conclude - to find out what it all means.
Emerson says he sympathises, a little. "It has always been thus on Lost - more questions than answers. But if they're worried that it's a great tease, then I guess most yarns are a tease - Homer is a tease, Dickens is a tease. Hang on in there. There must be something pleasant about the journey along the way, and I think Lost offers some of those pleasures - at the same time as it strings us along. I don't think [the producers] are any more guilty of that now than they were three years ago."
(One of Lost's teases-in-chief, executive producer Damon Lindelof, promises that, by the end of the final season, all the plot's loose ends will be tied up. Hope we can trust him on that.)
Emerson is unsure how long he himself could survive on a remote island: "Are we talking hours or minutes?" He doesn't have many Boy Scout skills; in the Iowa town where he grew up, "the Boy Scouts were juvenile delinquents, so I didn't last long. I think there was such bad misbehaviour that the troop was broken up." Also, being in the Hawaiian jungle at night unnerves him; while filming there a few weeks ago, he was startled mid-scene by a rush of wild pigs, "large and crazy and semi-dangerous-looking".
Still, he's steeling himself. Only two more years of sudden pig attacks - and other, grander mysteries - to go.
Something on Lost has happened so gradually that I didn't even think about it until last week: the show is becoming Ben's show. Handing the return episode last week over to him was an acknowledgment of how important Ben has become to Lost, and as we learn more about him, he's becoming more fascinating -- and even, for all the crap he's pulled, more human. Primary credit goes to Michael Emerson, but also credit the producers, who with a few exceptions (Nikki and Paolo), are excellent at picking up on what's working and what we want to see less of. I'll even forgive them for killing poor Alex in such a cruel way. A big part of island mythology died with her and her mother so I think there's a risk in eliminating them, but I'll trust the show knows what it's doing here too.
Tonight (ABC, 10 p.m.) what was once the Locke camp is no more and Ben and Locke go off looking for Jacob, while Sawyer leads the others (not the Others) back to the beach. The original beach crew is alarmed by Jack's deteriorating state. And since it's sweeps month now, that might just mean another high-profile death. We know people leave the island and then return, but sometimes I wonder if there's going to be anyone left to come back for.
Posted Apr 30th 2008 12:01PM by Erin Martell
Michael Emerson owns season four of Lost. Many of the season's best scenes have featured Ben Linus. From screwing with Locke to obsessing over Juliet, Ben has become one of the show's standout characters. Emerson took the complex role to an entirely new level in last week's episode, "The Shape of Things to Come." I'll be shocked (and furious) if he doesn't get an Emmy nomination this year.
Let's take a look at some of Ben's most unforgettable moments using the mastermind's own words. If we're lucky, Ben will give us a few more to add to the list by the season's end. Spoiler alert: If you're not caught up with Lost, stop reading now.
Gallery: Lost: Michael Emerson
"I never entered the numbers. I never pressed the button." ("Dave") - Ben's manipulation of Locke began almost as soon as he became the 815ers' prisoner. He exploited the conflict between Jack and Locke, and tried to undermine Locke's faith. John questioned the purpose of the Swan station after Ben claimed that he didn't touch the button in the computer room. This ultimately led to one of the biggest moments of the season two finale, the hatch implosion. The electromagnetic event also got the attention of Penny's men at the Antarctic listening station, another significant revelation.
"We're the good guys, Michael." ("Live Together, Die Alone") - The Others kidnapped Walt and arranged for Michael to liberate Ben from the Swan station, which led to the deaths of Ana Lucia and Libby. They also abducted Hurley, Sawyer, Jack, and Kate. This scene marked the first time we saw Ben as the Others' leader, and the things he said revealed a lot about his mindset. Ben has an unwavering trust in his own wisdom and believes that all of his actions are for the greater good. He can justify anything: murder, abduction, even brainwashing.
"Hippity-hop. Hippity-hop. Hippity-hop." ("Every Man For Himself") - Poor bunny number eight. Ben gave us one of the show's most disturbing moments when he deliberately frightened a rabbit and made its heart explode. The scene, in which Ben rattled the rabbit's cage and shouted at it, seemed to go on forever. It was one of the few times that I've wanted to look away while watching Lost. Fortunately, it was all a con to prevent Sawyer from escaping from the Hydra station. Ben produced the rabbit, alive and well, before telling Sawyer that he was on a completely different island from his fellow castaways. Don't mess with a man who terrorizes innocent bunnies.
"Picture a box." ("The Man From Tallahassee") - In season three, Ben introduced the notion of the "magic box," a metaphor for the island's ability to bring you what you want. He used this capability to bring to the island the one person Locke most feared: Anthony Cooper, his father. Ben used Cooper's presence as a test. If John killed his father, he could remain with the Others and learn more about the island. Locke wasn't able to kill Cooper, but found someone who could. Fans had been waiting for a confrontation between island Sawyer and the original Sawyer, and they finally got it. Locke took credit for the murder, forcing Ben to reveal another major secret.
"That was Jacob." ("The Man Behind the Curtain") - We still don't know who or what Jacob is. Ben led Locke to an eerie cabin in the jungle to introduce John to the Others' mysterious leader. Locke didn't see Jacob, but he heard him whisper the words "Help me." Jealous of John's ability to hear Jacob, Ben lured Locke to the DHARMA grave and shot him. I'm worried for Hurley's safety now that Ben knows about Hurley's cabin sighting. Jacob's supernatural role on the island is still in play this season. Hurley, Ben, and Locke set off to visit Jacob in last week's episode. What will they find when they arrive?
"Because I have a man on their boat." ("Confirmed Dead") - Every so often Ben reminds everyone that he is always several steps ahead of them. When the freighties reached the island, he took another opportunity to show off his superior intellect. He knew exactly who the freighties were and what they wanted--him. We're usually lucky to get one big revelation per episode, but Ben's confession gave us an additional surprise. This statement also paved the way for Michael's return as Ben's spy.
"Good." ("The Economist") - Slightly more exciting than Sayid's future career as an assassin is the identity of his employer. Sayid despised Ben before the Oceanic Six were rescued; he equated trusting Ben with selling his soul in the exact same episode. The idea of them joining forces was confusing, but fascinating at the same time. We learned that revenge brought the men together in "The Shape of Things to Come." Ben was avenging Alex's death and Sayid was avenging Nadia's murder by a Widmore employee. I can't wait to see who they target next.
"How can you not possibly understand that you're mine? Take as much time as you need." ("The Other Woman") Ben and Juliet have a complicated history. Juliet's recent flashback revealed a jealous, possessive side to Ben Linus that we'd never seen before. Some men send flowers to get a woman's attention. He showed Juliet the rotting corpse of her lover, Goodwin. He responded to Juliet's grief with the tirade of an undermedicated stalker. In a few seconds, Ben went from a jealous rage to his usual creepy, calm demeanor. The transition was priceless.
"See you guys at dinner." ("The Other Woman") - You wouldn't expect Locke to trust Ben after he shot him last season, but Ben always finds away to get his attention. He's gotten out of several tough situations with the strategic disclosure of information. In this case, Ben won his freedom by telling Locke about Charles Widmore and the spy on the freighter. No prison can hold him if he can size up his captors quickly enough. At the end of "The Other Woman," Ben walked out of his basement cell and casually greeted Hurley and Sawyer. The look on his face, as though everything was going according to plan, gave us another reason to love Michael Emerson.
"So you do speak English." ("The Shape of Things to Come") - We've caught glimpses of Ben's violent actions: shooting Locke, killing his father and the DHARMA community, strangling Ana Lucia, etc. Last week's episode gave us a better idea of how deadly Mr. Linus can be. He took out two armed men in the Sahara desert with the kind of precision normally displayed by Sayid. Their shared action hero skills make them ideal partners in Ben's new revenge campaign.
"He changed the rules." ("The Shape of Things to Come") - Alex's death scene put me in the strange position of feeling sorry for Ben, a manipulator and murderer. I was already shocked that one of Ben's plans--sending Alex, Danielle, and Karl to safety--didn't work out. Things almost always work out for Ben. When Keamy shot Alex, Ben's grief was mixed with genuine surprise. The devastated father suddenly became more human and, for the first time, worthy of sympathy. This was Michael Emerson's Emmy moment.
"Sleep tight, Charles." ("The Shape of Things to Come") - Neither Ben Linus nor Charles Widmore appeared in Season One. Now all of the 815 survivors are stuck in the middle of a war between the two ruthless men. I thought that the writers would keep these characters apart for as long as possible, but Ben's first flash-forward brought him face-to-face with his daughter's killer. Ben rarely lets his friends or enemies know his true intentions. He made an exception for Widmore, however. He told Charles flat-out that he would avenge Alex by killing Widmore's daughter, Penny. I hope that this vow leads to a showdown between my two favorite Lost characters, Ben and Desmond.
Which moments would you add to the list?
(Click on the pictures to view the larger versions.)
by Jeff Jansen
Exactly two years from now, when ''Lost'' is in the home stretch of its final season, I have no doubt that the editors here will suggest the nifty idea of setting the stage for the show's climactic arc with (what else?) a list. In fact, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to sneak into my secret room (sorry: can't let you in) and confirm this inevitable assignment by
Of course, the irony of my fantastical scenario lies in the profound significance of Alex's death. The future has become unknowable and unreliable — at least as far as the once great and powerful Oz of the Others, is concerned. ''He changed the rules,'' muttered Ben, his battered and bloodied face dawning with horrifying awareness. ''He'' is Charles Widmore, the man on the other side of the cosmic chessboard to which fate-whipped Ben is shackled. And in ''The Shape of Things to Come'' — the ninth episode of Lost's fourth season — the whiskey-soused, nightmare-plagued billionaire Brit made a desperate, most unexpected move against Ben in his mad bid to gain (or is that regain?) that which was once his in the past, or (buckle up for this one, kids) that which was supposed to be his in the future.
Benjamin...Benjamin of Araaaaaaabia!
''The Shape of Things to Come'' was one of those deliciously dense episodes in which the nourishment of revelation is mixed with huge chunks of sugary intrigue. Case in point: Ben's flash-forward, a kind of Indiana Jones tale — that is, if said tale focused exclusively on that evil idol-swiping rogue Rene Belloq. It began in the Sahara, where King Other suddenly (but perhaps not unexpectedly) found himself lying in the broiling North African sand, suffering from a bloody wound on his arm (also unexplained) and wearing a borrowed Dharma Initiative-issued winter parka. Was that a gust of frigid air we saw escape his mouth? I thought so. If Ben can bend space and time like our friend Hiro Nakamura — and this episode was studded with clues suggesting he has the means to do so — perhaps moments before doing the old squishy-blinky he was hanging with Penelope's geologists in the Arctic Circle. Or building a snowman with Henry Gale in Minnesota! Time to brush off my Heroes/Lost theory....
Seriously, I think we are looking at some kind of time-warping teleportation hoo-ha here. The name on Ben's Dharma jacket merits investigation: ''Halliwax.'' If you've seen the Internet-distributed orientation video for the Orchid, a Dharma station not yet seen in the show (but it will be — soon), you know it was narrated by the latest incarnation of Marvin Candle/Mark Wickmund, one Edgar Halliwax. You are probably also aware that the popular speculation is that the Orchid was conducting teleportation and/or time-travel experiments, perhaps using polar bears as guinea pigs. Did Ben launch himself into the Sahara from Dharma's own Quantum Leapster? And when? Is that where Ben disappeared to when he ducked behind his glyph door? Or is his time traveling yet to come?
Ben the desert avenger
Like Ben, I'm getting ahead of myself. After dispatching two gun-toting Bedouins on horseback, Ben wearily trekked to Tozeur, Tunisia. (Famous denizens: Aboul-Qacem Echebbi, a poet whose famed poem ''To the Tyrants of the World'' sounds like it was written for Charles Widmore.) Like Peter O'Toole walking out of the desert in Lawrence of Arabia, Ben walked into a hotel dusty and parched and checked in under his On the Road-inspired alias, Dean Moriarty. How often has Ben been here? He claimed that he was a ''preferred guest,'' and the clerk's nervous eyes confirmed that he was either an important client or a really notorious one. Oh, no! Not the guy who whizzes on the walls again! She was also a tad baffled when Ben fished for the correct date. It was October 24, 2005. I'll let you guys research the date for illuminating connections, although I can't resist noting that (1) October 24 is Take Back Your Time Day, appropriate to this season's time-travel themes, and (2) October 24, 1593, is the day in which a Spanish soldier named Gil Perez ''suddenly appeared'' in Mexico City, claiming that he had just teleported from the Philippines. Believe it...or noooooot. (My Jack Palance needs some work, huh?)
Of course, we must note here that Lost has once before brought us to Tunisia. Flash back to ''Confirmed Dead,'' when freighter folkster Charlotte Lewis discovered the Hydra-station tag at an archaeological dig — the one that turned up a polar-bear skeleton. In my ''Confirmed Dead'' TV Watch, I wondered if Dharma was using polar bears as guinea pigs in its time/space-warping experiments. But given the implication that Ben is something of a frequent visitor to Tozeur, I wonder if he's the conniving agent responsible for the skeleton. After all, there is the increasingly popular theory — well promulgated in this space over the years — that dark forces have been manipulating the lives of the castaways so that they would wind up on the Island for the purpose of preserving (or destroying) the current timeline. Certainly the freighter folk could have been similarly manipulated; did Ben plant that dead polar bear in the desert to facilitate a future in which Charlotte came to the Island? Time will tell.
After Tozeur, globe-trotting Ben bummed it to Iraq, which also happens to provide a crucial setting for the book from which this episode took its title: H.G. Wells' 1933 novel The Shape of Things to Come, a work of speculative sci-fi in which a technologically oriented cabal based in Basra attempts to foist its notion of world-state utopia upon the planet. (Wells also penned a screen adaptation, 1936's Things to Come, in case you believe that investigating a moldy movie for Lost resonance is easier than reading a moldy book.) What brought Ben to Iraq? Giving flash-forward Sayid his avenging-angel makeover. We discovered that early in his off-Island Oceanic 6 life, Sayid reunited with lost love Nadia and married her. Alas, shortly before the events of this episode, she was killed, and according to Ben, the murderer was an assassin in the employ of Charles Widmore. Ben's pursuit of this Widmore pawn was merely an elaborate setup designed to manipulate Sayid into wanting to become his dark-knight avenger — confirmation of and payoff to Sayid's cryptic assertion in the climactic twist ending to ''The Economist.'' But the revelation here is that both master and servant — the Darth Sidious and Darth Maul of Lost — are motivated by deep personal loss. With just a few scenes to execute this business in a busy-busy episode, Michael Emerson and Naveen Andrews did some really nice work selling us on everything we needed to know and feel about their angry, bloody alliance. (Coincidence or conspiracy? Bob Kane — creator of pop culture's most famous heartbreak-spawned dark knight, Batman — was born in 1915 on...October 24.)
There Will Be Blood. And Smokey, Too!
Ben's V for Vendetta motivations were established in his part of the episode's Island-present story, in which Widmore's freighter mercenaries stormed New Otherton determined to abduct their boss' nemesis. I liked the comedic touches: the high-stakes game of Risk (Sawyer's foolish if successful play for Siberia foreshadowed Ben's mad and unsuccessful gambit to save Alex); the ringing phone signaling the deactivation of the sonic fence (''I think it's for Ben''); the ringing doorbell bringing Miles Straume into the action. (I was also amused to learn Ben was hiding a shotgun in his piano bench; so much for being under house arrest.) The action was intense; lots of redshirts got wasted, while Claire's house was obliterated by a rocket, though Aaron's mama herself survived. Kinda hard to believe, but I rolled with it. (FYI: A scene in which Claire experienced a hallucination/prophetic vision was shot for this episode but cut for lack of running time, but I'm told we can expect Claire intrigue to ramp up next week.)
The death of Alex was hardcore. Clearly, the girl's executioner, Keamy, didn't want to pull the trigger, despite his vaunted Ugandan badassery. My take on what happened is this: Papa Linus — hoping Keamy wouldn't have the stones to kill Alex if it gained him nothing — tried to convince him that his adopted daughter, kidnapped from ''an insane woman'' out of pity, really did mean nothing to him. It was a moment reminiscent of the coldhearted father-son square-off in the final act of There Will Be Blood. (I will spoil no further if you haven't seen it.) Keamy put a bullet in the back of Alex's head, anyway. Ben was devastated, naturally, but there was more to his soul-rocked shock than the mere sight of Alex's murder. My interpretation of ''He changed the rules'' wasn't so much Widmore and I agreed to wage our battle according to a certain set of limitations and regulations, but rather, simply This was not supposed to happen. As I've long insisted, I believe Ben's genius is derived from having knowledge of future events, via time travel, Desmond-esque precognitive flashes, or the other hot conjecture of the moment, time-loop theory, the idea that Ben has lived this life many times before. So a monkey wrench like this pretty much wrecks Ben's entire game.
What's behind that door?
Then came the episode's other soon-to-launch-a-thousand-theories scene, not to mention what might be one of the most important ''Easter eggs'' Lost has ever planted. After yanking himself out of his stupor, Ben retreated to his secret room, the Island's wizard scurrying behind his curtain to consult his gizmos and magic for answers. Shutting out Locke and company, Ben opened a wooden door carved with all sorts of hieroglyphics — similar to the ones on the countdown timer in the Hatch — and disappeared down a secret passage. As it happens, when I visited the set of Lost a few weeks ago during the filming of this episode, I stumbled on the glyph door. Take a look:
Have fun decoding that. I'll take my stab at a theory in my Doc Jensen column next week. But where did Ben go? For now, I'm going to side with what is certain to be the popular conjecture: that he crawled into the Island underworld and asked Smokey the hellhound to eat that bad man who killed his daughter. His ash-covered clothes would seem to confirm that. So would the fearlessness and glee on his face as Smokey indeed thrashed the freighter mercs to death in the most spectacular display of Smokeyness the show has ever given us; it reminded me of the God storm unleashed upon the Nazis at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. While all of this seems almost too obvious to be true, for the moment I can't come up with any alternative theories, but if we were to find out that Ben's hidden corridor leads to the Dharma Quantum Leapster (created, no doubt, using instructions decoded from that glyph door), and that in the five minutes he was absent from Locke and company he did weeks if not months of off-Island traveling (and grieving, regrouping, and re-strategizing) before coming back focused, strong, and empowered with the necessary knowledge to defeat his enemies, well, it wouldn't surprise me at all.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Island...
Jack wobbled around the beach, sick; the freighter doctor washed up in the surf, throat slit; Faraday telegraphed the freighter and told the castaways that all was cool, that the choppers were coming to rescue them in the morning; Bernard, who can decipher Morse code, busted Faraday for lying, revealing that what the freaky physicist was actually told was that the freighter doctor was still on the boat, alive and well; and Jack, finally resigning himself to the fact that Locke was right and he was wrong about the freighter folk, asked the question that promises to finally galvanize his season 4 story line: ''Were you ever going to take us off of this island?'' Faraday broke his heart: ''No.''
I'm sticking to basics here, as I happen to know more than I can tell; reporting our recent feature story made me privy to upcoming developments in the Jack Camp arc, and I find it hard to analyze and theorize without betraying what I know. More on this next week.
(Fun Fact! The first U.S. transcontinental telegraph line was finished on — yep — October 24, 1861.)
In the episode's final moments, Ben paid a visit to Charles Widmore at his London home in the middle of the night. Ben blasted his enemy for killing his daughter. Widmore — who has taken to self-medicating with MacScotch as a result of nightmares — blasted right back, saying it was Ben's own damn fault that Alex was dead. ''We both know very well that I didn't murder her at all, Benjamin....You have the audacity to pretend you're the victim....I know who you are, boy! What you are. I know everything you have you took from me....That island's mine, Benjamin. It always was. It will be again.'' Ben then dared him to find it — right after pledging to get even with his game-changing opponent by killing his daughter, too: none other than Desmond's sweetie, Penelope.
Widmore's cryptic comments will no doubt be as debated as the glyph door. My interpretation returns us to the beginning. Ben and Widmore seem to be engaged in a war — a war for the Island, a war over time itself. For a long time, Ben was winning that war by either facilitating or managing a new timeline of events, one that denies Widmore his predestined life — a life that may have been ruinous for the entire world. But victory for Ben hinges on knowing or at least anticipating the future — and with Alex's unforeseeable death, it appears Ben has become omnisciently challenged. Once, he was able to see the shape of things to come. Now, the future is as hazy as Smokey himself.
And with that — PLOOOP! I turn it over to you. What did you see? What are your theories? Why do you think it's so important to Ben that Locke stay alive? What do you think is ailing Jack? Go!