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Lost: Benjamin Linus

January 19, 2009

(Indulge me. As we near the Season 5 premiere of Lost, I’m going to run through the current crop of main characters. There are spoilers.)

When we first met him, in season 2, he claimed to be Henry Gale, an adventurer whose balloon had crashed on the island. With his owly face and nervous disposition, he hardly seemed the type … and he wasn’t. By the end of that season, we knew exactly who he was: the creepy, commanding leader of the Others, the Island’s supreme dealmaker.

Originally intended to be a guest star, Michael Emerson very quickly became a force of nature on Lost and by the next season was a regular. His role has grown from villain to victim to master manipulator, the puppet-master and mad scientist of the island.

When we last saw him, he was off the island — having turned the frozen donkey wheel, forced the island away and teleported across time and space — and was recruiting Jack to mount a return. This deal was made over John Locke’s casket, because to Ben, that’s just the right ambience.

Highlights

  • His first appearances, locked in the hatch, prisoner of Locke, Jack and Sayid. Tortured, grilled, beaten and tied up, he kept his cool and insisted he was Henry Gale … until he fires that one look at the camera and you know something more is going on. You know what I’m talking about.
  • That breakfast on the beach with Kate. Talk about menace … every word, every shot of those icy eyes just screams evil.
  • Taking his father out of the equation. That scene, in the Dharma bus, was one of Lost‘s finest and most pivotal, and another example of how well Lost handles two-handers. His chat with Widmore in London is another.
  • Kicking some Tunisian ass with his pocket-sized combat baton.
  • His leisurely stroll out of Locke’s house, holding his bedding, saying “Hi, guys!” to Hurley and Sawyer. Priceless.
  • Emerson’s face as he turned the wheel. The anguish and the pain he felt, knowing he would never come back, is clear.
  • “So?”

Problems

  • Once again, a Lost character flips back and forth a little too easily. One week he’s the most dire villain on the planet, the next he’s just one of the gang.
  • Sometimes his lies are never explained adequately, and it seems like the writers are just adapting to earlier errors. Like the “Born on the island” bit.
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One comment

  1. I love Ben, as a character. I love the way he is played, and just seeing how tight Ben must be wound through the actor’s performance alone is a feat indeed.



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