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"The Man Behind the Curtain"
3x20 BenIsland
Season
Episode

20
Airdate
May 9, 2007
Running time
41:26
Production code
{{{pc}}}
Flashback
Flash-forward
{{{flash-forward}}}
Flash sideways
{{{flash-sideways}}}
Centric character(s)
{{{centric}}}
Day(s)
Directed by
Special guest star(s)

{{{specialguests}}}
Archive footage
{{{archive}}}

Episode transcript
[[{{{transcript2}}}|Part Two]]


"The Man Behind the Curtain" is the twentieth episode of Season 3 and the sixty-ninth produced hour of the series as a whole. It was broadcast on May 9, 2007. After bringing his father's body to Ben, Locke demands to see Jacob, the leader of the Others. Meanwhile, Sawyer returns to camp with the tape recorder he got from Locke, causing everyone to finally confront Jack and Juliet about her intentions.

Synopsis

Previously on Lost

  • Ben tells Locke that he is important. ("The Man from Tallahassee")
  • Juliet sends the recording to Ben. ("D.O.C.")
  • Ben receives it from the other side and tells Locke about it. ("The Brig")
  • John tells Sawyer that Juliet is working for Ben and gives him the tape as proof. ("The Brig")
  • The Others leave the ruins. ("The Brig")

Flashback

1964

3x20CallHimBenjamin
Ben is born in the woods near Portland, his mother, Emily dies.

In a wooded area, a woman cries with pain. The woman, Emily, is screaming in labor while her husband, Roger tries to help. She says there is something wrong, but he asks her to push. She does so, and her baby is born. Emily says that it hurts and when Roger looks at his hands, he sees that she is hemorrhaging. He tells her that no one knows they are there and asks if she can hold the baby while he carries her. Roger picks her up and carries Emily and the baby away from the wooded area and onto a road. There is a signpost which says they are 32 miles from Portland. Roger shouts for help as a truck and a car pass by. A red convertible VW Karmann Ghia then stops, and a man and woman stop to help them. Horace acts quickly, instructing Roger to keep Emily warm and asking if the baby is OK. Roger says he doesn't know, just before Emily asks Roger to call the baby Benjamin. Emily dies as Benjamin quietly sleeps.

3x20BenRogerHoraceArrival
Horace welcomes Ben and Roger saying Ben will speak once he has something to say.

1973

In 1973, Ben and his father arrive at the Island by submarine. and are greeted on the jetty by Horace, the man who stopped his car for them on the day Ben was born. People, all dressed in DHARMA uniforms, busily moving boxes. It looks like they are receiving delivery. Roger explains to Ben that Horace has helped him get work for the DHARMA Initiative. Ben says nothing as they head past DHARMA Welcomers who are giving out leis. Horace takes Ben under his arm as they pass under a sign proclaiming "Namaste!". Inside the Processing Center, Roger and Ben watch a brief video on the Initiative and the Barracks area. Roger is processed by Opal a nurse. Roger holds up his DHARMA uniform and angrily protests that he has been given the occupation of "Work Man." He says that he came to the Island because DHARMA was doing experiments to change the world, not to be a janitor. Opal calmly apologizes and tells him that he is free to apply for another position if one comes up. As Ben waits watching the brief video, a girl, Annie introduces herself. She offers him an Apollo chocolate bar, saying that they can have as many as they like.

3x20 Ben'sMomShowsUp
Ben sees his dead mother outside his room.

Ben is in class learning about volcanoes from his teacher Olivia. She was the woman with Horace just after Ben was born. She demonstrates the effect that water has on baking powder to simulate the effect of a volcano. As Olivia notes similarities to the Island, the building shakes and a siren sounds. Olivia orders the class to "get into their positions." The children huddle together in the corner of the room. Olivia grabs a bolt action rifle and tells Annie to lock the door. As Annie locks the door, she sees armed DHARMA workers moving past the window. There are sounds of explosions in the distance. Ben is still seated at his desk, as Olivia yells at him to move to safety. Annie grabs Ben by the arm and leads him to the corner with the other children. Annie tells Ben it is the "the Hostiles," and that it will be okay.

3x20DHARMAReceptionVideo
The new arrivals watch Pierre Chang present the Barracks video.


That night Ben is in his bedroom and hears Roger arguing with Horace outside his room. Roger says "while driving back from the Flame we drive into the middle of a shoot out!" Horace tries to explain that they are having some skirmishes with the natives. Roger says it isn't what he signed up for and throws an empty beer can on the floor. Horace reminds him that Ben is receiving a very good education. Roger retorts that he doesn't give a damn about Ben's education, demanding an extra $30,000 more in "hazard pay." Eventually, Roger tells Horace to get out of his house. As Ben turns his face his bedroom window, he sees his mother outside, staring in at him. He stumbles backwards, knocking over a chair. Hearing the noise, Roger comes into Ben's room. They observe each other in a tense silence. Roger tells Ben to go to bed, and then leaves the room. Ben picks up an old photo of his parents, which shows them together and smiling.

3x20 BenAndAnnie
Annie gives Ben a hand made birthday present.

Sometime later, Ben is on a swing set with Annie who gives him a birthday present. He opens the gift box to find two handmade wooden dolls, one male, one female. Annie explains that the dolls would mean that they "never have to be apart." She takes the doll of Ben and gives him the doll representing her. Ben comes home later in the evening to find his father asleep on the couch, surrounded by empty beer cans. Ben seems used to this routine and, after he places his gift box on the table, he takes an empty beer can from his dads hand and starts to take his father's boots off. Roger stirs and sees the gift box on the table. He apologizes for forgetting Ben's birthday, adding that it's hard to celebrate the anniversary of Ben killing Emily. Ben seems used to this routine too, as Roger goes on to say that Emily was only 7 months pregnant when she gave birth to Ben. Roger is unhappy she is gone, and that he is stuck on the Island with Ben.

3x20BenEmilySonic
Ben sees his mother on the other side of the sonic fence.

The words from his father prompt Ben to run out of the house. He runs to the sonic fence, but stops just before he reaches it. He hears a brief whisper, then his mother appears on the other side of the fence. He goes to move towards her but she shouts, "Don't!" She says it's not time yet. Ben yells to her but she withdraws into the jungle. Tearfully Ben turns to go home.

Defiant, Ben has prepared an escape and he later returns to the fence, armed with the deactivation code. After entering the code, he removes a white rabbit from his bag, using it to test that the fence is de-activated. Once the rabbit gets through without injury, Ben follows, running into the jungle amidst whispers. Suddenly, Richard Alpert appears, scaring Ben but Richard is soothing and Ben begins to speak with him. He asks Richard if he is one of the Hostiles, and Richard asks Ben whether he even knows what that means. In their conversation, Ben says he is looking for his mother and that he has seen her, even though she is dead. Richard tells Ben to go home but Ben then asks if he can join Richard. Richard tells him that it might be possible, but that Ben would have to be very, very patient.

Benandrichard
Richard and Ben meet for the first time in the jungle.


1992

3x20Rogerdies
Ben gases his father.

Years have passed and Ben, now in his 20s, is dressed in a DHARMA uniform which shows he is now also a Workman like his father. He is lovingly looking at the Annie doll which Annie gave him when they were children. Ben places the doll inside the bag which he always carries around with him. He goes out of the house and helps his father load a blue DHARMA VW van with beer bound for the Pearl station, and then confronts his father about forgetting his birthday again. Roger seems embarrassed and sheepishly suggests they go for a drive together after their work is done, to have some father-son time. Ben says that he'd like that.

Roger drives Ben in his van to a hill and parks there. Roger comments on the beautiful view as he swigs beer from a can. Ben asks Roger whether he truly does think its Ben's fault that Emily died. Roger answers, "What do I know?". Ben glances at his watch, which shows the time as exactly 4 o'clock and 15, then 16, seconds.

3x20RicharatthePurge
Ben meets up with Richard, moments after the purge.

Roger notices Ben looking at his watch and jokingly asks Ben if he has a date. Seeing that Ben didn't find the comment amusing, Roger says that he will do his best to remember Ben's birthday next year, but Ben coldly responds by saying he doesn't think that will happen. He tells his father that he has missed Emily too, but the difference for Ben is that he had to put up with his father for all those years. Ben tells Roger it took a lot of patience before calmly saying goodbye and putting on a gas mask. He takes out a gas canister and pulls the pin. Roger chokes and he bleeds from the nose and mouth. Ben remains in the vehicle and stares ahead as Roger dies.

Ben returns to the Barracks where the DHARMA workers lie dead on the lawns. They have been gassed. Ben slowly moves around the area and he sees Horace dead on a park bench. Ben reaches out and closes Horace's eyes. Alpert and his group emerge wearing gas masks. Richard looks at his watch then takes his mask off. Richard asks Ben if they should collect Roger's body but Ben tells Richard to leave Roger there. The group begins to collect the dead bodies.

Present day

At the beach

3x20 SawyerAndSayid
Sawyer and Sayid explain the situation to their fellow survivors.

Sawyer, returning from helping Locke, hides in the trees and grabs Sayid's attention. He explains about the tape, and later the two let Kate in on the revelation. They talk about where Jack and Juliet are, and Kate admits that she told them about Naomi.

At night, the whole camp is in uproar about Naomi, as well as her story about the plane having already been found. As Sawyer plays the tape, Jack and Juliet return. Everyone questions them, but Juliet tries to explain that she is actually helping them. They turn over the tape and hear that Ben plans to lead a team to kidnap all the fertile women. Juliet reveals that she has already told Jack about it, and that they were still thinking of a plan.

At the Others's camp at the ruins

Birthdayben
"You do remember birthdays, don't you Richard?"

Ben is in his tent, once again lovingly looking at the wooden Annie doll that he received from his childhood friend Annie as a birthday present when he was a child. Richard enters, and in conversation, Ben learns that the tape recorder with his new instructions was never taken back to the medical station, despite it being missing. Ben slams his reading glasses down and storms outside to ask Tom about it, but Tom's gaze is elsewhere. Ben looks to see John Locke enter the camp carrying what appears to be a dead body, wrapped in canvas, on his back (exactly as Ben had asked). The Others stare in silence. Locke does not reveal that Sawyer actually killed Anthony Cooper. Locke now demands to know everything about the Island, having held up his end of the deal, and tells Ben to start from the beginning.

3x20LockewithBaggage
Locke arrives with his father's corpse and is received by Ben, Richard and Tom.

Inside his tent, Ben pours a drink for himself and Locke as they discuss the Others in a little more detail. Ben admits that, although Locke may think Ben is in charge, it is actually Jacob who is in charge of their group. Ben comments that we all answer to someone. Ben says that only he is allowed to see Jacob. Locke is skeptical, but Ben defends himself by saying that the reason Jacob only talks to Ben is that Ben is the only one remaining that was born on the Island. Ben insists that Jacob only tells him what to do and only trusts him. Locke accuses Ben of being the "the man behind the curtain, the Wizard of Oz" and says Ben is a liar. Ben asks Locke what he bases that assumption on and Locke says that if Ben were telling the truth, his hand wouldn't be shaking. Ben looks down at his shaking hand.

3x20 BenAndMikhail
Mikhail is shocked to see Locke at the Others' camp.

Outside, Mikhail runs into camp shouting for Ben. Ben goes out to see him and tells Mikhail that he thought he was dead. Mikhail says he was fortunate that the pylons were not set to a lethal level. He looks up and sees Locke. Mikhail demands to know why Locke is there. Mikhail tells Ben that Locke tried to kill him. Ben says that Locke has joined them and asks Mikhail where he's been. Mikhail tells Ben that several of Locke's people have an injured woman who parachuted onto the Island. He says that her helicopter crashed into the water, that her ship is 130 kilometers to the west, and that she has a radio phone. Ben is surprised and concerned by the news. Ben suggests that, rather than take immediate action, they will see to it in a couple of nights' time, as they will be heading to the survivors' camp to take the pregnant women anyway. Locke uses the opportunity to force Ben's hand, announcing in front of the entire group that Ben was going to take him to see Jacob instead. Mikhail seems offended and questions why Ben is taking Locke to see Jacob. Locke responds by stepping forward and beating Mikhail unconscious. When Ben signals for Tom and Richard to intervene, they do nothing.

3x20OutsidetheCabin
Ben and Locke arrive at Jacob's cabin.

Locke casually eats a piece of fruit while Ben explains to Locke that Jacob is not the sort of person you visit, he is the sort of person who summons you. Locke points out that there's a first time for everything. Reluctantly, Ben agrees to take Locke to see Jacob. As they collect water at the river, Alex arrives and gives Locke a handgun. Ben appears slightly alarmed by this. She coldly tells Ben, "Happy birthday, Dad" as she leaves. The two men head off despite Ben's misgivings about seeing Jacob without being summoned. After some time, they come across a line of gray ash on the ground, which crosses their path. Ben steps over and Locke investigates by touching it with his fingers. Before Locke can investigate it further, Ben insists they keep moving. Locke follows.

3x20InsidetheCabin2
Locke watches Ben in disbelief as Ben speaks with Jacob in the chair.

They reach a small run down cabin at night. Ben tells Locke to turn off his flashlight because Jacob hates technology as much as Locke does. As Ben lights the oil lamp that is hanging outside the wooden hut, he warns that after opening the door, there is no turning back. Locke remains determined. Inside, Ben introduces Locke to Jacob and gestures towards an empty chair. There appears to be nobody else in the room but Ben and Locke. The contents of the room are very old; there are jars on a windowsill containing red liquid. Ben proceeds to chat to "Jacob" and argue, while Locke stands in complete disbelief. Locke accuses Ben of "putting on a show," but Ben insists that there is someone sitting in the chair and that Locke is too limited to see him. Locke tells Ben that he is pathetic and turns to leave. As he does, he hears a deep, sepulchral voice saying, "Help me."

Locke asks Ben to repeat himself but Ben says that he didn't say anything. Ben seems shocked that Locke had heard a voice. Locke shines his flashlight onto Ben's face, and as he does so the room starts to shake. Ropes and chains shake on the wall; chairs rock and windows smash. Ben's lantern falls to the floor and catches fire; the fire is quickly extinguished, as if by magic. Ben also appears to shake someone in the chair, telling him to stop and that he has had his fun; immediately after which he is thrown hard against a wall by an unseen force. Locke sees a man sitting in the chair for a brief moment. He stumbles outside in fear and confusion. The chaos stops as quickly as it began. Ben, ashen faced, follows him and hangs up the (now intact) oil lamp outside the house. Locke asks what on earth was in there. Ben simply replies that it was Jacob.

3x20DHARMAgrave
The remains of the DHARMA Initiative.

The next morning Ben and Locke walk through the jungle. Ben asks Locke what Jacob said. Locke responds by telling Ben that there is no Jacob, that everything that happened at the cabin was a trick and that he is going to expose Ben as a fraud. Locke also notices that Ben is leading them back by a different path. Ben tells Locke that there's something he wants Locke to see first. Locke says he has seen enough, but they keep moving. On the way, Ben admits that some of the things he has said on the Island were "not the truth." He admits to not having been born on the Island like he said. They finally reach what Ben wanted to show Locke. Locke gazes down into an unfilled mass grave full of skeletons, DHARMA jumpsuits still visible on some. Ben explains that the skeletons are the remains of his people, the DHARMA Initiative. Ben says they came here seeking harmony, however, they could not even coexist with the original inhabitants of the Island.

3x20LockeshotwithDharma
Ben leaves Locke to die at the grave, "hoping" for Jacob to help him.

He explains that when it became clear to Ben that one side had to go, he did what he had to do. He says he was smart enough not to end up in a ditch like the DHARMA Initiative.

Ben states that this also makes him smarter than Locke. As Locke spins around and pulls his knife, Ben shoots him in the left abdomen, in the kidney area. Locke falls backwards into the pit of DHARMA corpses. Ben calmly asks what Jacob had said to John. As he lies amongst the corpses, John asks Ben why he did this. Ben says he did it because John "heard him." John manages to say "help me" but Ben doesn't realize that John is repeating Jacob's words. Ben points the gun at an already severely injured Locke and demands to know what Jacob said to him. John raises his hand and says, "He said, 'help me.'" Ben, visibly shaken by these words, replies to Locke that he had better hope that Jacob will help him now. Ben leaves, and Locke is left gasping for breath.

Trivia

3x20 Jacob portrait
A shadowy figure (originally believed to be Jacob) is revealed for a split second.
  • This episode shows that Ben's mother dies when he is born. This may explain his obsession with trying to prevent pregnant women dying on the Island.
  • For a split moment when the objects start to move around in the cabin, a long-haired, slightly bearded man can be seen in the chair where Ben was supposedly talking to Jacob.
  • When the barracks video is shown, Pierre Chang doesn't move his left arm, suggesting he has a prosthetic arm. But this video was shot before the incident that left him without a left arm. However, Chang is not seen long during in the video. The parts the audience don't see may have Chang moving his arm.
  • One of the skeletons in the mass grave can be seen to have a bullet hole in the head.
  • Richard Alpert is shown in three different timeframes. The first is when he meets Ben just after Ben's arrival (when Ben is aged 8-12), then when Ben is a young man, after the purge (when Ben is aged 30-35) and finally in the present (when Ben is in his forties). Between the young Ben and the present, at least 30 years have passed, though Alpert does not appear to age.
  • The gas grenade prop Ben uses in the van is a repainted ALSG272 CS smoke grenade. The same grenade was used (without the can being repainted) in "Left Behind."
    • The gas canister has the label "431CTP".
  • Annie gives young Ben an Apollo Bar soon after Ben's arrival on the Island.
  • Both Ben and Locke have mothers named Emily.
  • Young Ben uses the code 54439 to disable the sonar fence.
    • Pierre Chang is heard on the tape to say that a new code for the fence is given each day.
    • 54439 is 7 x 7777. "77" was the code to be entered at The Flame in case of a hostile incursion.
  • Ben killed his father on his own birthday, therefore both of his parents died on his birthday. Both deaths occur more or less "because" of him.
  • The work man coveralls that Ben puts on the day of the purge do not have a DHARMA logo.
  • Both Locke and Ben had their fathers killed to join the Others/Hostiles.
  • Richard dresses in grungy, pirate looking gear for this episode only. It resembles the clothes of the Others at the Temple.
  • This episode is rated TV-14-V.


Production notes

  • This is the first episode this season in which all current cast members appeared in new footage. (In Exposé, all current cast members appeared but Naveen Andrews (Sayid) and Matthew Fox (Jack) only appeared in archive footage.)
  • Emily, Ben's mother is portrayed by Michael Emerson's real-life wife Carrie Preston.
  • Baby Ben was portrayed by a baby girl called Amanda. [1]
  • A podcast rehash for the episode was released on May 11, 2007. (Official Lost Podcast/May 11, 2007)
  • The shadowy figure in the chair in Jacob's cabin was portrayed by Rob Kyker, the prop master for Lost. This was finally confirmed by Kyker himself at a seminar at the 2009. Hawaii International Film Festival.[2]
  • The dog painting in Jacob's cabin is of Ms. Honolulu (aka Lulu), a dog owned by costume designer Roland Sanchez. [3] Lulu was originally owned by executive producer Jack Bender. [4]
  • The episode makes prominent use of the colors blue (many pieces of clothing, VW buses, Emily's dress in the jungle, the present ribbon, the puppets, the Apollo bar, Tom's mug, Ben's big blue eyes as a kid, etc) and red (the liquid in Jacob's jars, the car that helped Roger, the swings, Sun and Jin's shirts, Annie's dress, shirt hanging on the cord, the rabbit's eyes, etc).
  • An anonymous source associated with the production claims that he was ordered to get cars 1963 or older for the Portland scene. [5]
  • This is the first episode to list guest stars in alphabetical order, a practice that has been continued with minor exceptions for every episode since.
  • An audio commentary by Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, and Michael Emerson for this episode is available on the Season 3 DVD.
    • Commentary from the Season 3 DVD states that "Portland" is Portland, Oregon.
    • Commentary from the Season 3 DVD states that a line was cut in post production where Ben said "And I thought I was getting a cake" when Alex wished him happy birthday after handing Locke the gun.
    • In the commentary, Damon Lindelof describes Richard Alpert's encounter with the young Ben, and Ben and Locke's approach to the cabin as analogous to that of the choosing of the Dalai Lama by the Panchen Lama: "Richard Alpert might be construed as some sort of a Panchen Lama, as he has a conversation with this boy who sees something that he wasn't supported to see, and now I think Ben finds himself in the role of Panchen Lama as he brings Locke into this cabin, in an attempt to sort of determine whether the island has chosen him to be its new surrogate."
    • Also in the commentary, Carlton Cuse says that for those with DVRs, that "several pieces" of Jacob are visible in the cabin, such as the figure in the chair, and the eye. The other pieces are not specifically mentioned.
  • This is the first Ben-centric episode of the series.
  • This is the first time (Ben) is seen in the main timeline since "The Man from Tallahassee". He appeared in flashbacks in "Exposé", "One of Us" and "The Brig".
  • This is the first episode to air after the announcement of the 2010 end date.
  • A Lost: On Location for this episode is available on the Season 3 DVD.

Bloopers and continuity errors

Namaste-Ben
The incorrect sign
  • The vegetation as depicted in Ben's first flashback is not correct for Oregon. This is likely an unimportant production issue given Lost is filmed almost entirely in Hawaii. From the 'behind the scenes' webpage, you can see in the background mountains usually seen in panoramic shots of the Lost island, [6].
  • Horace's Karmann-Ghia convertible is the "high light" variety of either model year '66 or '67. This makes it a prop error as the scene is supposed to take place in 1964. Top-down convertibles would be an unusual sight for Oregon in December in any event.
  • In the classroom scene, there is a scientific inaccuracy where Olivia is performing an experiment to illustrate lava. The water and "bicarbonate" ([Sodium] bicarbonate, commonly known as "baking soda") she uses do not produce the reaction shown; instead, an acid (usually vinegar in grade school science project volcanoes) is needed to neutralize the baking soda base and form carbon dioxide bubbles (as well as salt and water).
    • If the "bicarbonate" was a commercial product such as Alka-Seltzer or Bromo-Seltzer, it had citric acid mixed in and would only require the addition of water to react. True, Olivia didn't mention this, but she was teaching a lesson about volcanoes, not chemistry.
  • During the scene of Ben approaching the Barracks after he murders his father, the microphone can clearly be seen reflecting in the glass visor of his gas mask.
  • When Mikhail informs Ben of Naomi's ship, he says it's 130 kilometers offshore, which is the rough equivalent of 80 imperial miles (the exact figure is 129 km), whereas Naomi said her ship was 80 nautical miles offshore (148 km).
  • Young Ben's bag that he takes with him when he meets Richard is a Fossil, you can see the tag when he puts his rabbit in it. Fossil brand was founded in 1984.
  • Before Ben and Locke enter the cabin, Ben lights a lantern, which later falls to the cabin floor, breaks, and sets a fire. When Ben leaves the cabin he places the unbroken lantern to its previous location.
  • After the purge, Ben approaches a dead Horace sitting on the bench. We see his hand is on the top of the bench, but when Ben walks away Horace's hand had moved.
  • After the purge, before Ben notices Horace sitting on the bench, there is a body lying on the ground, on the left side of the frame, with the head toward the bench, facing the fence. When Ben walks away from Horace, the body has rotated so the feet are toward the bench, back facing the fence.
  • Roger's DHARMA logo on his jumpsuit is the Swan's. The station wouldn't begin building for another 4 years, and as a janitor, would have no access or knowledge of the station.
  • Right after Ben shoots Locke, blood is seen on Locke's left hand. In the next scene, there is no blood. In the following scene, blood is seen again.
  • The beer can that Roger drinks from just before Ben kills him bears the Swan logo, despite Roger previously saying he was delivering the van's contents to the Pearl station.
  • As the Barracks are attacked while young Ben is in class, his notebook can briefly be seen to bear the Pearl logo and is of the same design as those found at that station and later at the capsule tube dump in the jungle.

Music

The Season 3 soundtrack includes the cue "Dharmacide" from this episode, which is the first full statement of Ben's theme.

Analysis

Recurring themes


Recurring themes
AnimalsBlack and whiteCharacter connectionsChildrenCoincidenceDeathDeceptions and consDreamsEconomicsElectromagnetismEyesFate versus free willGamesGood and bad peopleImprisonmentIsolationLeadershipLife and deathLiterary worksMirrorsMissing body partsNicknamesThe NumbersPairingsParapsychologyParent issuesPregnanciesPsychologyRainRedemptionRelationshipsReligionRevengeSalvationSecrets
  • Emily dies after giving birth to Ben. (Life and death)  (Pregnancies)
  • Ben tells Locke he knew how to survive and did what it would take. In his last moments with his father Ben questions him whether he really thinks he's responsible for his mother's death. Ben has visions of seeing his mother again. (Parent issues)
  • Roger and the whole village of DHARMA members are murdered. (Death)
  • Roger turns out as a relapse father to Ben, because he blames his son for Emily's death by giving birth to him. Later, Ben kills his own father. (Parent issues)
  • Roger intends, in the near future, to make up for being a relapse father to Ben - even if he never has the chance to do so. (Redemption)
  • Ben tells Locke that Richard "doesn't know where Jacob is, he doesn't speak to Jacob." This is the opposite of the truth - Richard is Jacob's intermediary and has spoken to him since before Ben was born, while Ben has never met Jacob and resents this fact. Ben also once again claims he was born on the Island. In his flashback, Ben arranges for the Hostiles to take on the village while he is away with his father - and arranges for himself to kill his father by his own, particular means. (Deceptions and cons)
  • A mysterious eye shot appears during Locke's encounter with the shadowy figure. (Eyes)
  • Young Ben uses a white bunny to test whether he successfully disarmed the sonic fence. There is a picture of a dog in Jacob's cabin. (Animals)
  • When Ben is in the van with Roger, he looks at his watch. It displays the time 4:00:15 and 4:00:16 (or 16:00:15 and 16:00:16 in the 24-hour clock). (The Numbers)  (Time)
  • The TV playing the Barracks video has 4 knobs. (The Numbers)
  • Sun describes Juliet as "a good person." (Good and bad people)
Bens Watch
Ben kills his father at 4:00:15pm (or 16:00:15).
  • Jack finally decides he, Juliet and the Losties "have some catching up to do". (Secrets)
  • Horace is driving a candy apple red VW Karman Ghia (when he picks up Roger, Emily, and baby Ben by the side of the road), similar in model year to the candy apple red VW Beetle that Locke drives in his flashback episodes. (Cars)


Cultural references

Cultural references
(direct references only)
ArtAutomobilesGamesHistoryLiterary worksMovies and TVMusicPhilosophyReligion and ideologiesScience
  • The Wizard of Oz: The episode title is a reference to the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, where the ruler of the Emerald City hides behind a curtain. The Wizard of Oz: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain." (Literary works)
    • Aunt Em: Ben's mother Emily shares the same first name with Dorothy's aunt in The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy's last name was Gale, as was Ben's alias. (Literary works)
  • Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse: The episode title is also a reference this 1933 film by Fritz Lang, in which the title character is an insane criminal mastermind and hypnotist who only communicates with his crew from behind a curtain. Early on in the film a former detective named Hofmeister phones his old superior, Lohmann, exclaiming "I know who's behind it, the man behind the curtain". (Movies and TV)
  • Chatty Cathy: Roger says that Ben is usually "Chatty Cathy" in the morning during the final flashback scene. "Chatty Cathy" was the name of a doll first manufactured by the Mattel Corporation in 1959. Cathy notably spoke eleven set phrases when a string was pulled, and was revolutionary for her time. (Games)
  • "Shambala": Three Dog Night's song "Shambala" plays again as Ben and Roger drive out to the overlook, tying back to the song's (and van's) appearance in "Tricia Tanaka Is Dead". The song is about a mythical kingdom called Shambala, which can be considered a metaphor for a spiritual path one might follow. (Music)
  • Alice in Wonderland: Ben following a white rabbit through the fence, effectively leaving the realm he knows, is yet another reference to the books by Lewis Carroll. (Literary works)
  • Golden Book Encyclopedia: Young Ben has thirteen volumes of this set of children's encyclopedias on his bookshelf. The thirteenth volume is entitled "Rabbits to Signaling". (Literary works)
  • The Coalwood Way: This book was on the bookshelf in the DHARMA classroom when the Hostiles attack. Though the scene is set in the 1970s, the book was not published until 2000. (Literary works)


Literary techniques

Literary techniques
ComparativeIronyJuxtapositionForeshadowing PlottingCliffhangerPlot twist Stock characters:  ArchetypeRedshirtUnseen character
Story:  FlashbacksFlash-forwardsFlash sidewaysFraming deviceRegularly spoken phrasesSymbolismUnreliable narrator 
  • In his conversation with Richard Alpert, Ben says: "You do remember birthdays, don't you Richard?" This foreshadows the fact that Richard is very old and doesn't seem to be aging. (Foreshadowing)
  • Annie gives Ben an "Annie" doll on his birthday and keeps her "Ben" doll with her, so that they "Will never be apart". This foreshadows the fact that Annie disappeared from Ben's life, either by time or distance. (Foreshadowing)
  • When he first meets Richard Alpert, who is shown in this episode not to age over a course of 40 years, young Ben thinks he won't believe him seeing his dead mother. (Irony)
  • The audience expects Locke to meet a man, a human man, named Jacob. When "Jacob" is finally revealed by Ben, there is nothing visible but an empty chair, as if the man was invisible. The reality of Jacob's existence is left ambiguous, and raises the question: "Is Jacob even a human at all?" In generic terms, this type of plot twist in which a human is expected, but something else is presented, is called "species reversal". (Plot twist)
  • Ben's father finally made an attempt to reconcile with Ben, but was murdered by him seconds later. (Irony)
  • In a flashback, Ben killed his father, and helped kill everyone at the Barracks. In the next scene, Ben shot Locke who then fell into the pit of dead people from the Barracks. (Juxtaposition)
  • When Locke suggests that Richard might lead him to Jacob, Ben angrily declares that Richard doesn't know where Jacob is and doesn't speak to him. Ironically, Richard is actually the only person on the island who does knows where Jacob is, and will lead Locke to Jacob. (Irony)
  • Throughout the episode, Locke's influence over the Others gradually increased. Locke is even briefly able to see and hear a figure sitting on Jacob's chair: the person or thing that is possibly the source of Ben's power over the Others. When Ben shot Locke in the final scene, this dramatically ended Locke's rise to power. This type of plot twist is called peripeteia. (Plot twist)
  • Locke is shot by Ben in the last scene of this episode, leaving the viewers uncertain about his fate. (Cliffhanger)

Storyline analysis

Storyline analysis
A-MissionsCrimesEconomicsLeadershipO-MissionsRelationshipsF-MissionsRivalriesS-Missions


Episode connections

Episode references

Episode allusions

  • Ben claimed to Locke that he was born on the Island, just as he did to Jack. ("The Glass Ballerina")
  • When Ben arrives on the island, Roger says, "Ah, he don't say much," to which Horace responds, "That's okay. I bet he will when he has something to say, right Ben?" This parallels when Locke is unable to speak and vision-Boone tells him, "Don't worry; you'll speak when you have something worth saying." ("Further Instructions")
  • Ben's preference for bunny experiments is recurring, after the events shown in "Every Man for Himself".
  • When Ben and Roger are sitting in the DHARMA van, Roger says, "You sure can't say it ain't beautiful." Richard says something similar to Locke: "Beautiful, isn't it? No matter how much time you spend on the island you just never get tired of this view." ("The Brig").

Unanswered questions

Unanswered questions
  1. Do not answer the questions here.
  2. Keep the questions open-ended and neutral: do not suggest an answer.
For fan theories about these unanswered questions, see: The Man Behind the Curtain/Theories
  • What was the shaking during the incursion by the hostiles when Ben was in class?

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