"The Man Behind The Curtain"

DECEMBER 7, 2010

AIRED: MAY 9, 2007

We waited all season, perhaps even further back (into Season 2), for Lost to give us a Ben-centric episode, and “The Man Behind The Curtain” finally delivered. And while not without some minor issues, it was worth the wait, providing several answers big and small, opening up a huge new aspect of the mythology, and ending on the best shock since Michael shot Ana Lucia and Libby.

Let’s get the minor stuff out of the way. Since Ben is still our main villain, it’s kind of disappointing that a big part of his demeanor is due to the old “he wasn’t held enough as a child” excuse. I was hoping Lost’s writers could come up with something a little less clichéd, though I admit it’s nice to have that sort of “bond” between him and Locke, whose mother didn’t die, but still abandoned him (and, I never noticed, both of their mothers are named Emily) and his father was a royal pain in the ass. They were also both born premature, another thing I never really picked up on before.

I also still don’t get why Ben lied about being born on the island. Was it just to provide a beginning of the episode twist? It seems like one of those things that they actually changed and thus it became a useless lie (like Sun never cheating on Jin) more than something that was planned. “He’s gonna say he was born there, but he really wasn’t! You know, so... he uh... um... Yeah.”

Otherwise, it’s great stuff. I love how something that was the source of a very fun and lighthearted episode (“Tricia Tanaka Is Dead”) had very grim origins. Not that I actually felt bad for Roger “Workman”, but it kind of takes the fun out of the earlier episode knowing that the skeleton was a guy who got gassed by his own kid when he was trying, for once, to be a father to the guy. Poor sod. And I don’t know, if my kid’s birth killed my wife I’d probably be a bit resentful too, so maybe some sympathy IS in order. He’s nice enough to Kate in Season 5.

The few scenes at the beach are also top notch, with a lot of tension and power struggles, plus the welcome revelation that Juliet doesn’t really plan to sell them out to her former neighbors. Ben’s plan seems a bit over the top ridiculous at this stage (again, why all the “bad guy” stuff? Why not just ask them if they want medical treatment if they’re pregnant, explaining that the Island will definitely kill them if not?), but I like the “triple agent” twist all the same.

It’s not hard to see why people hate Jack though, considering his attitude here. Even I, a big Jack supporter, want to smack him when he’s like “I hadn’t decided what to do about it yet.” Never quite decided if it was writer sloppiness or a character flaw, but sometimes Jack acts like a president, and other times a dictator. And I wish they could have spent a little more time on the folks who were potentially caught in the middle; Hurley is close to all three potential leaders (Sawyer, Sayid, and Jack) – who does HE side with in all of this? Or Charlie? And do folks like Desmond even care?

Tomorrow (or today!) – "Greatest Hits"! Good. I could use a good cry.

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