Lost

Season 3 Episode 20

The Man Behind the Curtain

7
Aired Sunday 9:00 PM May 09, 2007 on ABC
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (139)

9.6
out of 10
Average
1,766 votes
  • FINALLY!!! After 29 episodes of watching Michael Emerson ignite our televison screens, his character, Ben Linus got his first ever flashback episode! And it is awesome!

    10
    Since his introduction in Season 2's "One of Them", the character of Benjamin Linus [a.k.a Bug-Eyed Bastard] had been crying out for his own episode, and here in Season 3 that moment came. And it didn't disappoint. In fact, it was one of the best episodes of not only Season 3 but the entire series. The episode seemed to ignite the excitement and freshness of the series once felt way back in Season 1. The reason for this could be attributed to one thing: Jacob. Since Season 2, about the same time that Ben was introduced to audiences, another mysterious character was introduced but only in dialogue and never by name. He was referred to as he", "him", "a magnificent man" and an "unforgiving man" and someone who it appears reigns over all the other Others, even Ben. In early season 3 there is a passing reference to someone named "Jacob" and that his List didn't include Jack Shepherd, who was kidnapped by Ben's people. As the season progressed his name kept popping up but with no idea of who or what this person was. Until now!
    The scene when Ben and Locke visit Jacob's cabin is one of the best moments of the series and, interestingly, the first notable moment since Season 2's "Lockdown" where viewers felt the need to rewind, pause, zoom and screen-cap what was going on, if only to reveal who Jacob was. Not everyone picked him out on first viewing but after Ben is thrown against the wall the camera pans back across and for a split second we see a dark figure in the rocking chair, that before was empty. I, myself, haven't studied the figure hard enough to venture a guess as to who that figure might be, that is if it is someone we are already familiar with, Christian Shepherd, for example, or even Locke himself. Jacob's words were "Help me!". If the figure in the chair was in fact Locke then in some way what he said would make some kind of sense. Locke was being warned by himself sitting in the chair of Ben's attempt to murder him. As Locke lies in the Mass Grave later he says to Ben "Help Me!", which Ben, understandably misinterprits as being a plea for help to get him out of the grave. Maybe Jacob was offering a warning to Locke by somehow taking on the form or voice of Locke. That made me wonder whether Jacob is merely the manifestation of the Smoke Monster. We knew that Yemi and a host of other island manifestations were manifested by the Monster. So the Monster [aka Jacob] could have taken on the form of Christian Shepherd or Locke at that precise moment when Locke is about to leave in utter disbelief. Ben warns Locke before they enter that Jacob hates technology, which would make sense also if Jacob is the Monster. The monster hates the sonar security fence, therefore hating a form of technology. The scene in the cabin is one of the scariest moments the show has had, and we haven't had many scary moments for a long time. Ben's flashback is brilliant and reveals a ton of information regarding the DHARMA initiative, the Hostiles and the Purge. It also explains why Ben is obsessed with fertility experiments on the island, as his own Mother died whilst giving birth to him. Of course Emily Linus didn't give birth or die on the island, as Ben had claimed, so the reasons why pregnant women die here is still up for debate. One of the interesting things that is brought up in the flashback is the appearance of Richard Alpert in the jungle when Ben is young. This means that Richard does not age or ages really well, giving viewers another taste of the island's powers. It can heal, manifest whatever you want to appear on it [the Magic Box] and slow down the ageing process. Aside from longer hair, Richard Alpert doesn't appear a day younger than how we see him now. It was revealed that the original "Others" of the island, referred to by DHARMA as the "Hostiles" or the "Natives" were the original inhabitants of the island before the DI scientists even arrived. Could these Hostiles arrived on the island in the Black Rock? Could make sense? Maybe they arrived without intending, just like our Losties and learnt to survive on the island, while being affected by its magical powers.
    This episode also proves that no stone is left unturned. The DHARMA van and "Skeletor" from "Tricia Tanaka is Dead" earlier this season is revisited and we realise that the skeletal remains of "Roger Workman" wasn't just a random DHARMA janitor but the father of Benjamin Linus himself! Amazing loose end tie-up, which proves that even the least vital piece of information introduced in the show at first glance suddenly becomes so vital!
    We now know that DHARMA and the Others are NOT one and the same. It struck me a week after watching this episode that the two tribes brought up the theme of Science vs Faith. DHARMA represented the Science and the Hostiles represented the faith aspect and were probably more invested in the spiritual and metaphysical properties of the island rather than the technological and more science-based properties that DHARMA specialised in. That said, if John Locke and Jack Shepherd existed during these flashback events then Jack would be on the side of DHARMA and Locke on the side of the Hostiles. It is already apparent that Alpert has formed some kind of understanding of Locke. Maybe he, like alot of the Others, want to see a change in the heirarchy and the leadership of the island and therefore see the potential for Locke to come forward carrying Ben's old crown. Ben isn't happy with this new development, as much as he may respect Locke. He can't take the fact that someone, an outsider, may succeed Ben on the Others throne and that is purely the reason why Ben shot Locke, leaving him for dead in the DHARMA mass grave. The fact that Locke heard Jacob was enough motivation for Ben also. For only the leaders of Otherland can hear or see him!
    Ben senses he is losing his grip on his people and he isn't the only one. In a nice parallel Jack too seemed to be losing his leadership grip on the Losties, the issue of trust reaching a head. Jack may have resolved his leadership blip for now and if Locke does die then Ben has resolved his. But can Locke really be left to die? Of course this would be answered by season's end. Ben mentioned that he hopes Jacob will help John, presumably by healing him, just like he presumably healed Locke of his initial paralysis.
    Another nice parallel drawn this time between the flashback and the current island events was The Purge. This season has been slowly building to a war between the Others and the Losties and, therefore, by seeing the Purge of the DHARMA Scientists by the Hostiles in the 1970's, we perfectly set up the promise of a second Purge. But who will win this time? Will the Hostiles take control over the Losties once and for all or does Jack have "what it takes". As long as the ghost of Christian Shepherd doesn't appear to him on the island feeding him doubts we will be okay.
    One thing I noticed that I don't think anyone else has picked up on was regarding the powdery substance that Locke found near the Jacob's Cabin. When Locke picks up some in his fingers and smells it I couldn't help thinking that it was familiar somehow and then it dawned on me. In Season 2's "?" when Eko and Locke find the Beechcraft Locke smells the substance again, declaring it to be salt. Maybe it is the malting skin of the Smoke Monster. Don't forget that the Monster lurked near the Beechcraft later when it killed Eko. Or maybe it was ash still resting from the island's volcano? Or maybe the Smoke Monster is the result of whatever happened to the volcano. Maybe when the volcano erupted it released `ole smokey?! This is my longest review for a very long time and has made me realise what was missing from previous episodes. Sure the quality, since "Enter 77" has been consistently good but this and the last episode has brought back what I loved about the series in Season 1 and the space to allow for deeper introspection and analysis into the metaphysical properties of the island, which were sadly absent through much of the rest of the season. With more to talk and theorise about now, a welcome return to the more spiritual and metaphysical mysteries of the island, gathering anticipation of a second island Purge and the promise of rescue for our Losties the momentum of the series is at an all time high.
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