The Man Behind the Curtain

Episode Reviews (139)

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1,766 votes
9.6
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  • 10

    A peek behind the curtain reveals some of the biggest and best moments of the series

    By DavidB226Morris, Jan 03, 2010

    To say that we've been looking forward to seeing Ben's flashback and finally getting "some frigging answers" would be an understatement to the nth degree.. But unlike the flashbacks we got of Juliet, which have pretty much told us everything we need to know about her, 'The Man Behind the Curtain' seems to be more out of the Season 1 school, giving bits and pieces but not filling us in on the whole. And while we will eventually get more of the blanks filled in (but not til Season 5), once again are major word of mouth is Ben himself. And we all know that he's a liar.



    Locke has called the bluff he made in the previous episode, and brought back his father's body to the camp. You can tell Ben really didn't think he was capable of it in his attitude. And until now, it's only seemed like Ben's grip has been loosening, now we see actual cracks. Mikhail shows up--- and Ben appears as surprised as anyone to see he's still alive--- and warns them about the woman who Desmond's group fished out of the trees. Considering what he tells them, it does raise the question how Mikhail knows all this--- Naomi was unconscious, and God knows nobody at the beach would've told him. We'll let this go for now. In any case when Locke sees Mikhail, he takes right up where the sonar fence left off, beating him to a pulp. Ben yells for Tom and Richard to do something, but they just watch. Looks like the mighty are about to fall. Even Alex--- who has good reason to loathe her father--- goes out of her way to make sure that Locke is armed before swishing him a disdainful 'Happy Birthday."



    So, after nearly a whole season of waiting, Ben finally takes Locke to see Jacob-- the mysterious man that the Others (Ben in particular) have been using as the man behind everything. It's a considerable trek, and its worth noting some of the landmarks. As they walk through the jungle night, they pass a very large line of ash which Ben goes to great trouble to step over. In mythology, a circle of ash is used to keep demons away. It's significance here is hard to figure---- Ben may think that he's keeping others out with it, but it's just as likely that the Others have been using it to keep him sealed inside --- whoever 'him' is. Also, where did the ash come from? We hear mention of a volcano in this episode, but it has never been talked of again-- either in the real world or the flashbacks.



    Finally, they come to an isolated cabin.. As they approached, we hear a faint scream, but no one does anything. Ben gives Locke one last warning that Jacob's not going to be happy to see them. This doesn't frighten Locke, so they go in. They turn off their flashlights, and Ben lights a lantern. Inside, there are jars with fluid, and a portrait of a dog (though he isn't playing poker). Then Ben talks to--- an empty chair. He insists that Jacob is in it (it's a brilliant piece of acting by Michael Emerson) and carries on a long conversation. Locke naturally thinks (like the audience is supposed to) that Ben has gone over the high side, and that all of his planning has been part of a graduated insanity. So Locke starts to leave. And then we hear "Help me." And in a moment that caused people across the country to paused their Tivo's, we see--- someone. Then Locke shines the flashlight on him, and the cabin goes crazy. Branches begin shaking, the jars with fluid go flying across the room, the kerosene lamp all but explodes. Locke is terrified, even though Ben seems perfectly calm (though I'm damn sure this isn't what he expected.) and stumbles out of the cabin. Ben emerges and simply says "That's Jacob."



    By now, the rabid viewer of Lost has seen so much of that cabin that we probably know it inside and out, but we still don't know for sure--- was that really Jacob in that chair? No matter how many times I watch, it looks like an older version of Locke. And if it really was Jacob, why did he cry out 'Help me"? Did he sense that Locke was someone special or was he trying to find a way to shout out to what was keeping him prisoner? We still haven't gotten answers on this (the creators have to address it in Season 6, or they're not doing their jobs) but there's a very good possibility that Ben or Locke (probably both) were being deceived.



    If all this episode delivered was the scene in the cabin, it would be worth the wait. But Ben's flashback is one of the most shocking we've ever had. Ben has had a difficult life. Born two months premature, his early appearance led to his mother's death, and his father's endless contempt for the son who killed him. Ben also lied about being born on the island (he even says so here); rather he came with his father as part of the Dharma Initiative. His father had great ambitions, and was royally pissed when he learned he was just going to be a work man. The only people Ben seemed close to was a girl named Annie and the man who brought them to the island, Horace Goodspeed. Annie seems to be the only person in the world who really loved him (she gave him a birthday present that he is still holding on to nearly thirty years later) and its clear from the way that he watched her before that the feeling was mutual. Which is why it's been very puzzling that we still have no idea what happened to here even now (another question the producers better answer) Horace is more interesting. He doesn't interact with Ben much, but he clearly treats him with more kindness that Roger Linus ever does.



    Then Ben, like certain members of Oceanic 815 will, starts seeing dead people. In this case, he sees his mother. But unlike the others, who try to ignore it, Ben desperately wants to escape the hell he's in. So patiently he finds a way to turn off the sonic fence and runs into the jungle--- where he meets Richard. Richard's hair is bushier than it is in the present, but otherwise he looks exactly the same as he does now. Up until now, we've assumed that Ben was the leader; now it seems Richard has been monitoring him, and seems to consider him 'special', like he'll consider Locke several decades later. He tells Ben he can join them, but he'll have to be very patient. We won't learn for a little while longer what that patience will mean, maybe because it hasn't happened yet. (Confused? You ain't seen nothing yet.) The last flashback takes place in the early 90's. Ben has grown up, and is still a work man. He takes his father to a section of the island near the Pearl station (in the van that Hurley would later discover and bring back) We've seen Ben be ruthless before, but I define you not to be chilled to the bone when he cold-blooded gases his father. Simultaneously, the Dharma purge has taken place, and when Richard asks Ben if they want to move his father's body, Ben just tells him to leave it there. Now we get why they were so big on having him kill his father. He also seems to feel compassion towards Horace (he closes his eyes as if he regretted it) but he has no problem with them throwing all the bodies into a mass grave. God help us, he is a monster.



    But his most brutal trick is yet to come. After the actions in the cabin, Locke tells Ben that he intends to expose him as a fraud to all the others. Ben repays him by taking him to that same mass grave where the Dharma Initiative have been rotting for nearly fifteen years. Locke knows something is coming but reacts to late, and Ben shoots him. But rather than leave him for dead he demands to know what Jacob said to him. (Which either implies he'd never heard Jacob talk before or what happened in the cabin was news to him.) He appears surprised when he hears Jacob's words, but rather than finish Locke off, he leaves him for dead Ben knows about the healing properties of this island, and he never does anything without a reason. So why didn't he finish him off then and there? Maybe like everyone else, he knows Locke is special, and that this is one more test. Maybe he's trying to regroup on what Mikhail told him. Whatever the reason, their story is not even close to being over.



    'The Man Behind the Curtain' is arguably the high point of the season. It reveals Michael Emerson to be one of the premier actors of the shows (he received the first of three consecutive Emmy nods for this episode) and actually gave us a sympathetic portrait of Ben. What happened in the Dharma Initiative shaped him, but there was far more than what we saw in this episode to help turn him into the... person he is today. He may be a monster, but compared to some of what we've seen on this show, he didn't get there alone, and everything he does he does for a reason. But then he is a liar. Isn't he?

    My score:10moreless

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  • 9.3

    Revised!!!

    By Dante_Edy, Jul 25, 2009

    Objective - » Lost maybe 60% completed right now. Mysteries started in Season 1 and 2 with the flashbacks were all revealed, if not, we are at 95% in terms of flashbacks. The mysteries about the others is in 50% at most, since in this Episode is time to Know Jacob, or at least, what Ben want to Show Locke. The mysteries in the Island like the Black Smoke monster or the Rules in the Island are in 30% maybe. The writers trying to tie this all and it seems that the next season things will be more revealing. Was time to put Ben as the Main Character and share his past with the Audience. The two setups already done in the last episodes, pay off in terms of Ben, since the events in the beach need more time to grow.



    Flashbacks -» The beginning, I really don´t Know why was this necessary, maybe to tell this story better, but it seems to be about doing a strong presentation, resulting to alert the audience that Ben will have his flashback in this episode. The moment that Ben was Born, the complication Phase was already done. So we see some scenes during his Childhood, a clever and convenient move by the writers, to allow the secrets that Ben Know, to remain in his pockets. So this only allow us to see what we already Know. Not that I don´t appreciate this move since there a lot of confirmations/information's: Ben was saved by his dead mother (which we already had an idea what could this be and the meaning), Ben didn´t born in the Island, The other or hostiles were there before DI. The climax of his drama was when his father had a nice talk with him, demonstrating that he thinks that Ben is guilt for his mother dead. This lead to a stunning revelation about Richard. The ending only show what Ben is capable off and show too what happened with the Dharma Initiative.



    Locke/Ben Event on The Island -» The beginning was strong, because Locke completed is mission, was time to Know the truth that he and us want to Know. Since the Complication phase was already set, was time to complicate things a little. What Locke did to Mikhail was nice. All the way we have Locke and Ben interaction, nothing that make this a top level interaction, but was not bad also. The climax, the moment of true was really strange, because Jacob is everything that you could not expect. The ending is shocking. The only thing really very well done is the fact that are people that actually thought that Jacob was there and there are people that thought that Ben is playing with Locke, but didn´t like the fact that Locke supposed ears Jacob.



    Sub Plot in The Beach -» The set of the complication phase was already done in the last two episodes, so this was more about trusting Juliet and initiate another complication. With the tape, Juliet has a lot to explain or not.



    Overall:



    1 - Plot Holes: Gold. Didn´t Notice.



    2 - Time and Scenes Management: Bronze. Only if you are a super fan if you didn´t notice how slow this episode tried to be. Not bad, since the revelation can be mind blowing and can make you think that this was worth watching.



    3 - Surprises/Twist/Shocks/Cliffhangers: Gold. Jacob and Richard, well, really surprising. The twist about Juliet was nice. The end is shocking for many and many fans out there.



    4 - Action: Wasn´t necessary.



    5 - Funny: None.



    6 - Drama: Bronze. One Scene in Ben´s Flashbacks.



    7 - Tension/Fear: Bronze. Maybe when you want to see Jacob.



    8 - Excitement Level (curiosity/Mystery/Doubt/Revelations: Gold. You want to see Jacob? Want to Know what will happen to Juliet? Curious about Ben Flashbacks?



    When I originally written this review, I thought that the episode didn´t deserve more than 8. Now that I saw all season 3 episodes again, and compared with other Lost season 3 episodes, I have no doubt that this episode was crucial, the information that Ben´s Flashbacks delivered was that type of only a 9 episode can deliver. Where Ben was born? The others really were there before the DI? Why Ben put a difficult Test like that to Locke (killing his own father)? How the Dharma Initiative leave the Island or what happened to them? And both Richard and Ben´s mother appearance deliver another intriguing questions. So, I think that a episode sometimes have one, two or 3 scenes that make the episode worth watching. This 1-5 scenes, is what we will remember and there is no doubt that this episode at least deserve a 9 because of the surprises and information's inside it?



    Reflection -» There are things confirmed. The Others, Hostiles named by the Dharma Initiative, really were there before Dharma. Other thing is Richard apparent Immortality, this may explain why is impatient about Ben obsession with fatality, since immortal don´t want more population, mainly because they can bring more people.



    Ben obsession is now explained, thought the circumstances of how he born and his relationship with his father. Which can explain why he tell Locke to kill his own father, so then Locke could be prepared and follow his footsteps. Ben saw his dead mother in the Island and that make him special?moreless

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  • 9.0

    Wow

    By oceanic6, Nov 18, 2008

    Whilst filling the void until the new season of Lost starts, i came across this classic on DVD and felt compelled to review it:



    'The Man Behind The Curtain', contains so many clues, hints, answers and mysteries, it was practically bursting at the seems. From mass murders to mysterious visits in the night, a new orientation video and an oddly un-aging Richard Alpert, this Ben-centric episode had it all. Ben takes Locke to see Jacob; a mysterious being who Ben claims to take orders from, the dramatic confrontation to follow as well as what happens after turns Locke the skeptic into a true believer. Ben's early life is also shown and despite what he claims (several times) he wasn't born on the island.



    For those who are curious of Ben's early life this episode is like the promise land as we're given almost a blow - by - blow description of Ben's life before he became the one we know and er, love today. These flashbacks may seem slow but are vital in piecing together what we know about Ben and for the lost fanatic, this is more important than entertainment.



    Having this episode centered around Ben and Locke was genius as they're the most intereting and well - acted characters on the show, their scenes light up. The performances of Michael Emerson and Terry O'Cuinn are great as usual. This episode is basically a continuous build - up to the dramatic confrontation with Jacob and it does not disappoint! I recommend not watching it in the dark however, you've been warned. That scene leaves us with more questions than we've had surrounding any previous character but the fact the Jacob is real is concrete. The Man behind the Curtain is a feast for any Lost fan; acting, writing, directing and information - wise it is at it's best and from beginning to end, it has us involved.moreless

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  • 10

    A Ben-centric episode.

    By Writer2000, Nov 13, 2008

    Let me just start out by saying that as a whole, I absolutely loved this episode. I've been very intrigued by the character Ben ever since they introduced him on the show, so I'm so glad that the writers finally did a Ben-centric episode. It was great getting to see flashbacks of Ben's life and the early days of the Dharma Initiative. I was extremely shocked when Jack told the rest of the plane crash survivors that Juliet had already admitted to him that Ben had ordered to spy on all of the plane crash survivors. That was definitely very surprising. In closing, I thought that this was a very well written, well acted and well made episode of Lost from everyone involve in the making of it, and I can't wait to watch the rest of my Lost: Season Three DVD set so I can find out how the season ends.moreless

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  • 10

    Oh my Jacob!

    By PabloExobar, Jul 15, 2008

    The Brig earned a 10/10. So this one earns a 11/10.



    Honestly... this changed everything. This episode changed the way we look at Lost. Not just the entire plot, but certain characters too.



    This episode is the true gamechanger.



    The third 10/10 of the season, and it's very well earned.



    A Ben flashback. Can you believe it? a BEN!!! flashback. How long have we waited for this? Well, since season 2 episode 14. And it finally happens. And it doesn't let us down.



    Every single thing about this episode rocked. Starting with the flashbacks: seeing Dharma active. Seeing how Ben had daddy issues. Seeing how little Ben was a quiet, insecure boy. Seeing how he joined the "Others". Seeing the PURGE! Seeing Richard in the same condition as 20 years later..... and so much more. Still, the most shocking moment for me had to be Ben killing his father as a part of the purge. You know, last episode, Locke had his father killed, but even though Locke's father was probably worse than Ben's, he still couldn't do it himself. Ben? Without thinking twice. The island portion... oh my god, where do I start? I think this episode helped alot in making Ben a little easier to relate to. The fact that Alex hates him, the fact that his people are no longer listening to him as much as they used to, and the fact that John Locke is commanding him makes him a little more human.



    Even the biggest bosses answer to someone. Since 3x6 we've heard many references to a mysterious man called Jacob. And oh boy. OH BOY. We meet Jacob. Or do we?



    According to Ben, only the chosen ones can interact with Jacob. We can't see Jacob. Locke can't see him.... but at the very last moment he hears someone saying... "Help me."



    Jacob? Yes. For a brief moment, we get to see Jacob, the island's god too. A man sitting in a chair with a huge beard who doesn't like technology. Sitting in a creepy cabin sourrounded by ash. If anything, this was the most horroristic scene of Lost so far. And the bravest one too. An invisible man? How far can the writers go? Evidently, very far. But there's no doubt in me that all this is planned. So I enjoyed this for what it is. And even after the Jacob scene, it wasn'T over.



    I guess Ben shooting Locke was one of the most unexcepted things to happen in the episode(right after the reveal of Jacob) . And it makes sense. Ben's final test for Locke was wether he can interact with Jacob or not. He could. So Ben's position is in danger.... and logically, he shoots Locke. But why not finish him once and for all? Why just leave him bleed out?



    Is it possible that Ben also wants to test the island / Jacob? If Locke comes to life, then he know that Locke is indeed who the island wants in Ben's place. But if he doesn't.... he's not.



    Overall, an incredible episode. The plot is completetly changed. As for character development, there was plenty, even though not as much as usual. But it's okay. Ben is an epic character, so it's understandable that the writers are taking their time with him. I thought his relationship as a kid with Annie was interesting, and it just makes me wonder what happened to her... One of the very best episodes of the show.moreless

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  • 9.7

    This is a very revealing episode as it tells us all about the Dharma group on the island, about some information regarding the hostiles and then back into reality where Locke forces Ben's hand and gets to go and see Jacob.

    By captainbritain, Jun 28, 2008

    The episode starts off with a couple, Roger and Emily in a wooded area, she is in the throws of giving birth, she then has a baby boy, but then starts to have problems. Roger carries her through to the road, where they are able to flag down a couple in a car, Emily tells Roger to name him Benji and then dies.



    We then go to present day, to the other's camp where they are all shocked to see Locke arriving, carrying his fathers' body on his back, as told that would be the only way for him to get back into the group. Soon afterwards, Mikhael comes running into the camp calling for Ben and telling him about Naomi and her appearance and how they must get her from that camp immediately, then Locke uses the audience to say that they are going to see Jacob and that will have to wait, when Mikhael insists, then Locke beats him with his fists, nobody moves at all to help when Ben tells him to stop or ask others to intervene.



    Then we see in a series of flashbacks regarding Ben's arrival and settling into the island. We see his father reaction to be informed that he is a workman when he was promised more, then we see Ben have a childhood friend Annie, then him running through to the sonic fence after having a vision of his mother, then him actually at a later time, deactivating the fence and going into the jungle, looking for his mother but finding Richard and being told to be patient.



    Back on the beach, we have Sawyer playing the tape for Sayid, they go and visit Juliets shelter but are told by Kate that she's not there and she doesn't know where they are and she begins to defend Jack, Sayid walks away and tells him to play her the tape. Then we see it being later, nightime and all on the beach are introdcued to Naomi and they all hear the tape. Just then Jack and Juliet arrive, Juliet plays her ace and says she told Jack that and he should turn the tape over and play that, which he does and hears Ben's plan to take Sun, which Jack says he knew about but was still thinking on it.



    Ben and Locke take their journey to see Jacob, we see them going through the jungle, across a circle of some kind of crushed material, then onto the house, where Locke is told to put the torch away as he and Jacob are technophobes, Ben announces them and then lights the lantern and goes in, followed by Locke, Ben starts talking to n empty chair, Locke after a little while calls him a con, even crazy as there is no one there, he takes out a torch and there is some sort of paranormal experience in the room, a figure is seen very briefly in the chair facing Ben, before Locke leaves, shortly followed by Ben.



    We have a flashback to an older Ben now, also with a Dharma jumpsuit, Ben and workman stencilled on it, we see them load up the vw and are told that its Ben's birthday again, that perhaps they can have a beer on the way back from Pearl station. When they do stop, Ben puts on his gasmask, pops a cannister in the car and watches his dad die, then we see him arrive at the barracks and we see all Dharma people laying dead, others appear, the hostiles as they were called and Richard is one of them, still the same age as the younger Ben remembers.



    Locke notices they are taking a different route back, he comments on it and is told he has one more thing he needs to show him, he shows him the unfilled in grave where all the Dharma people's skeletons are, saying that he had to make a choice, one side had to go and he choose the right side, then he shoot Locke in the stomach, he falls into the hole/grave and is asked what Jacob told him, "Help me" Locke says, Ben says he hopes that Jacob can help him now, and he leaves Locke for Dead.moreless

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  • 10

    omg

    By efc91, Jun 09, 2008

    Locke returns to the Others and Ben begrudgingly takes Locke to meet the Others' mysterious leader Jacob. Locke is unable to see Jacob, but can hear him, with Ben shooting him because of this. The survivors' mistrust of Jack peaks when Juliet is exposed as a mole, however Juliet in turn reveals that has been working with Jack against the Others. Flashbacks show when Ben first came to the island as a boy as part of the Dharma Initiative. Ben conspires with the Others, at least one of whom does not age in the next thirty years, and kills most of Dharma. Many questions were answered in this episode and it is my favourite of the third season, I really liked the part with Jacob.moreless

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  • 10

    one of my favourite.

    By efc91, Jun 09, 2008

    Locke breaks away from the Others in an attempt to persuade Sawyer to kill Locke's father, who is actually the original "Sawyer," who caused the death of Sawyer's parents. Naomi says that Oceanic Flight 815 was found and that there were no survivors. Finnaly we got to see Sawyer meet the real Sawyer (Anthony Cooper ,Lockes Dad) and what a clash it was Sawyer back to his old self and Anthony being a total mess, I always new Locke and Sawyer had a connection right from the start of the series. This is a great episode of lost with many memeroble momments.moreless

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  • 10

    Ben....

    By Kadodian, Apr 29, 2008

    This episode revealed so many things yet gave us so many things which aren't uncovered. Locke comes back to the camp with his father's body on his back. Then Locke demands to see the man Ben claims to be the one who knows everything about the island....Jacob. Ben says it's complicated and does not want to take Locke to Jacob but Locke demands and even beats Mikhail to prove how much he wants his meeting with Jacob. So ben sets off with Locke to see Jacob. When they are there the weirdest things happen like Ben talks to an empty chair and the room starts going crazy like the glass breaking and ropes flying about. When Locke and Ben leave Jacob or whatever that was Ben tells Locke he wants to show him something. The thing was a big ditch with dead bodies inside. Ben shoots Locke and asks him what Jacob says to him. Ben has flashbacks of when he first came to the island and how he escaped the dharma initiative and made friends with the inhabitants. After years from Ben coming to the island he kills everyone in the Dharma initative with a single can of poisonous gas and the inhabitants take over. Wow I was blown away after seeing all of this. All these burnng questions I have, all these strange things happening, Oh wow I loved this episode. Also in this episode the tape of Juliet reporting to Ben about Sun's situation is heard by everyone but Juliet and Jack expalin to everyone that they both knew what they have to do which left me left me with a big...HUH ?! Loved this episode. It's the one episode of the season everyone waits for. Favorite part of the episode : The encounter with Jacob ! which by the way freaked me out. Favorite character from this episode : Has to be Locke !!! What my friends think : Friend number 1 : Brilliant . 2 : Fantastic. 3 : A little slow but still great. Loved this episode myself !! Great stuff !!. What I think should improve : More screentime for Claire and more cute Araon appearances :)moreless

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