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A transcript is a retrospective written record of dialogue, and like a script (a prospective record) may include other scene information such as props or actions. In the case of a transcript of a film or television episode, ideally it is a verbatim record. Because closed-captioning is usually written separately, its text may have errors and does not necessarily reflect the true Canonical transcript.
Transcripts for Lost episodes up to and including "Enter 77" are based on the transcriptions by Lost-TV member Spooky with aid of DVR, and at times, closed captions for clarification. She and Lost-TV have generously granted us permission to share/host these transcripts at Lostpedia. Later transcripts were created by the Lostpedia community, unless stated otherwise below.
Disclaimer: This transcript is intended for educational and promotional purposes only, and may not be reproduced commercially without permission from ABC. The description contained herein represents viewers' secondhand experience of ABC's Lost.
Episode: - "The Man Behind the Curtain"
Damon Lindelof: Hello there. I'm Damon Lindelof.
Carlton Cuse: And I'm Carlton Cuse.
Michael Emerson: And this is Michael Emerson.
Carlton Cuse: And we're all here to talk about episode 320, The Man Behind the Curtain.
Michael Emerson: The Man Behind the Curtain.
Damon Lindelof: When you got this script, and you saw that title, was it your immediate impression that you would be the man behind the curtain?
Michael Emerson: I didn't know. I never know answers to those things. It encouraged me to read on.
Carlton Cuse: Were you worried that the implication might be that there was a weak and meek guy hiding underneath the veneer of Benjamin Linus?
Michael Emerson: That would have been too much of a change-up.
Damon Lindelof: Had you gotten any word that this was your flashback episode?
Michael Emerson: l... I can't remember. Jack Bender, maybe, said I should be on the lookout for one, but I didn't believe it 'cause it seemed like it was such a huge thing. but I didn't believe it 'cause it seemed like it was such a huge thing. Oh, gosh, there's my wife.
Damon Lindelof: We start, and obviously, there's a very significant tidbit here to reveal to the DVD audience. Michael, why don't you do that?
Michael Emerson: This is my real-life wife.
Carlton Cuse: Playing his mother.
Michael Emerson: Giving birth to my character on TV.
Carlton Cuse: By the way, at Michael's request. We're trying to process the implications of why he wanted his wife to play his mother in Lost. But we felt we certainly had to accommodate that for practical and psychological reasons.
Michael Emerson: And who knows...? The Freudian ripples of this are gonna bleed into our lives, I fear. And here's the little baby covered in yogurt and strawberry jam.
Damon Lindelof: Don't wanna know what we went through to cast a baby that looked like you. lt was not easy.
Carlton Cuse: Looked at thousands of infants.
Damon Lindelof: We flew this baby in from New Zealand.
Carlton Cuse: Yes.
Michael Emerson: I saw this baby in a liquor store about a week later, and took my picture with the baby and the parents.
Damon Lindelof: Don't wanna know what he was doing in a liquor store.
Carlton Cuse: It goes back to that age-old trouble of child actors. You have a little brief success and then it leads to demise.
Michael Emerson: That's right.
Damon Lindelof: This episode, by the way, was written by Drew Goddard and Elizabeth Sarnoff. And one of our favorites of the season, directed by Bobby Roth, who had not directed any episodes of Lost prior to this.
Michael Emerson: We had a good time.
Carlton Cuse: The big reveal here was we were trying to fool the audience to thinking this birth was taking place on the island and not the real world, till we rushed into this highway and realized that we're 32 miles outside of Portland, Oregon. And, uh... These other characters are gonna emerge, Samantha Mathis...
Damon Lindelof: And Doug Hutchinson.
Carlton Cuse: Who you'll probably see again in the future of Lost, who are important members of the Dharma Initiative. And we are getting a little piece of their origin story as we are also, most significantly, getting the origin story of Benjamin Linus.
Damon Lindelof: And here we have the first significant tragedy that Ben suffers in his life, which is the death of his mother, and here he is.
Michael Emerson: Fast forward.
Damon Lindelof: Exactly.
Carlton Cuse: So, Michael, what do you do to prepare when you get a script? Can you take us through your process?
Michael Emerson: I just... I just do the normal actor thing, I think. I read it through for sense. And then I try to think where the script goes that I've never gone before. I try to sound all that out in my mind. "What would it be like if I did this or said this?"
Carlton Cuse: Do you try on different choices for how you might play a moment? Certainly, one of the things that we love when we watch dailies and scenes that you're in is the choices always seem both completely believable, yet, in many cases, not quite what we expected, which is the mark of a really talented actor.
Michael Emerson: I'm glad to hear you say that. I try to come in with a basic choice for every beat and then we have so many takes that I get to play around with alternatives in the course of the day's work.
Damon Lindelof: Gotta be tricky on a show like ours where, taking case in point, in this scene you have a line where you say to Richard, "You do remember birthdays, do you? Don't you?" You make a choice on how to play that because you don't know where we, the writers... what the implications of that line is.
Michael Emerson: It's true. And we, very often, an ambiguous line like that, we may do it three or four different ways. And then let someone make the choice in post.
Damon Lindelof: We pick the way that makes the most sense. Sometimes the way that you deliver the line actually influences the storytelling.
Carlton Cuse: Great thing about this episode is that it really, for the first time, focuses the show on the showdown between Locke and Ben for this kind of title of master of the island. And it's not... It certainly isn't the last chapter in the story, but it's the first significant one where we begin to realize that Locke, you know, is special. Now, people knew that in some sense, he was in a wheelchair, crashed on this island and then suddenly was able to walk. Went from being sort of a... ...kind of an ineffectual guy who was working in a box company to a hunter and a real sort of man of the jungle. And obviously, we know that Ben is the ostensible leader of the Others. And this episode really is focused on... you know, the... ...Locke's kind of first efforts to threaten Ben's primacy and what Ben's reaction to that is.
Michael Emerson: Yeah.
Damon Lindelof: And obviously, watching this scene, for us, it seems to me, at least personally, that Ben is absolutely convinced that Jacob is a very real person. And that none of this is ridiculous to him. The fact that he's the only person who can talk to him or see him or hear him. In the watching of this episode, especially on a second viewing, when the audience is watching this the first time there's this great mystery hanging over who is Jacob. They're gonna pull some trick on us. They can't take us to see him here. The show always stalls.
Michael Emerson: Right.
Damon Lindelof: Locke is actually a proxy for the audience in this scene. And the scenes that follow it, which is, "I'm tired of waiting. I'm tired of these oblique references. I wanna see." So, obviously, kind of, this entire story line is focused on this cabin scene, which we'll talk a lot about when we get there. Really curious about choices you made in that scene.
Carlton Cuse: Here we see young Ben arriving.
Michael Emerson: There's young Ben.
Damon Lindelof: This is interesting because this is the first time on the show that we've had the bulk of the flashbacks for a character played by another actor. Did you meet or talk to this actor?
Michael Emerson: Yeah, I saw him several times at lunch. He was a real nice fellow and really highly professional.
Damon Lindelof: We were really impressed by him. Child actors always sort of make the mistake of acting as opposed to doing. But there was something very natural about this kid's approach. I liked him.
Michael Emerson: He was a real trooper. Take after take, he was interested in giving the director what he needed.
Carlton Cuse: What's interesting, we... One of the things we do on Lost which is different than other shows is, when we come up with an idea for a character, we reverse-engineer it. We knew we had this character who was gonna be the leader of the Others who we were going to, in season two, have caught by our guys and become a prisoner of war, was how we were referring to him. We would hold him captive in the hatch and then he would eventually escape and we'd be surprised to later learn that the guy we were actually holding, the guy right under our noses, was the leader of this other group of people that lived on the island. Damon and I were sitting in my office, we were talking about actors, 'cause we sort of, we... ln this reverse engineering process for us, the idea is, let's find an actor we like, and then we have a concept for the role, but we'll then tailor the role to the actor who we like. And, you know, we had both seen Michael in The Practice, and he had played a very chilling serial killer in an arc of episodes on that show, and won an Emmy for his performance. And we were like, "What about Michael Emerson?" And we were like, "Yeah, he would be great. I wonder where he is." And we got in touch with April Webster, our casting director, and she said Michael was in New York and available. I remember we got on the phone with Michael, and it was funny, because it was like, as described, a sort of slushy day in New York. And he was walking along the street, and we were, like, "Want to go to Hawaii for a couple of episodes?"
Michael Emerson: Yes.
Carlton Cuse: There wasn't even a pause. There wasn't even a hesitation. It was like, "Absolutely."
Michael Emerson: Yeah, it was snowing in New York.
Damon Lindelof: It was the easy sell. And obviously, you know, as... we had hoped it would work out, but you never know. You could have had an absolute miserable time down there, or it might not have clicked. But it came together in such a beautiful way that, you know, in many ways I think Ben and certainly Juliet became the real story drive of the entire season. When you look at these episodes, one after the other, with the exception of one or two, they're really the characters that are creating the conflict at the heart of every single episode.
Michael Emerson: A couple of really interesting characters, I have to say.
Carlton Cuse: It's kind of hard now to imagine how we motored along for, you know, a season and a half without an antagonist on the show.
Damon Lindelof: Well, they were all fighting with each other. But just at the point where that was seeming to get old, we kind of went to Ben. So everything has worked out rather nicely.
Carlton Cuse: I assume in your own brain you think Ben is actually probably the most noble guy on the entire island.
Michael Emerson: Well, I'm still holding out, and I don't think without cause, to this idea that he's the only one in the know. He knows the scale of the dilemma here and that there are... that there are even worse powers out there.
Damon Lindelof: Well, you know, now that we've seen the finale, obviously, you know, for everything Ben does in the finale that seems despicable, like shooting Bernard, Sayid and Jin, which, in fact, we realize that he gave the order not to do that, that it was a coercive tact. Then the other thing he says to Jack, is this woman is not who she says she is, turns out to be validated, at least on some level by what Penny says to Charlie in the finale, that she doesn't know who this woman is or anything about this boat. So coming out of the season, you're kind of... Hopefully, the audience is feeling some degree of sympathy for Ben 'cause he took a beating at Jack's hands. Maybe deserved. I mean, when you pretend to kill three people, you should at least get a couple bruises. But, you know, coming into the next year, he will have won a little bit of credulity back, once what he said proves to be true.
Carlton Cuse: Well, yeah. I mean, if it does. Certainly, the audience maybe doesn't believe Ben's point of view is very defensible now, but it's entirely possible that, looking back on it, we'll go, "Jack should have listened to Ben. He should never have made that call."
Damon Lindelof: I love this scene because it reminds me of this movie, My Bodyguard, that I loved growing up, where basically Chris Makepeace plays this kid who gets picked on by Matt Dillon, and Matt Dillon hires a bodyguard and Chris Makepeace hires a bodyguard, and the bodyguards duke it out. Chris Makepeace just watches. I love that Locke doesn't beat up Ben. He beats up somebody in front of Ben to sort of make his point. For it to ever get physical between those two guys, For it to ever get physical between those two guys, I think it would be cheap.
Carlton Cuse: I don't know, I'd like to see... I was watching this scene the other day where Ben takes his little extendo-stick onto Sawyer. And I'm thinking, "If we gave Locke a weapon and we had Ben with his extendo-stick, that could be a good battle sequence."
Michael Emerson: Could be interesting.
Damon Lindelof: Here's Alex.
Carlton Cuse: What's really interesting about Ben in this episode, is that we sort of reveal this... The two women who are important in his life. One of them obviously is his daughter, or at least, while maybe not his biological daughter, he has raised this girl, and yet there's obviously a lot... There's an enormous sort of tension and...
Damon Lindelof: By the way, in the original version of the script, Ben was supposed to say, "Gee, I was expecting a cake." And we actually shot that. But in the moment, in the cutting room, we lost it because it just felt, like, so cavalier. And that's a case where sometimes you did your best, but it was the writing, our decision to do that, and forcing Drew and Liz to put it in the script. And it just didn't work.
Carlton Cuse: Yeah.
Michael Emerson: I half expected it to go.
Carlton Cuse: And here's the other important woman in his life. And that is Annie, who is his fellow classmate. There she is. You know, this Annie is gonna prove to be very significant in Ben's life.
Michael Emerson: I was gonna say, I bet we haven't heard the last of her.
Damon Lindelof: Huge, huge part. And obviously, there's a little Easter egg that we caught here. Olivia, the teacher there, mentions a volcano on the island, which will be slightly less important than Annie, but still seismic, if you'll pardon the pun.
Carlton Cuse: We like this scene, too, because it was sort of, like, you know, kind of a great M. Bight Shyamalan scene, like Signs, where you kind of imply something that's going on offstage, and allow the audience's imagination to work, as opposed to illustrating it. So the notion that there's this skirmish between the Dharma Initiative and the hostiles, and all we do is hear it, and we see sort of a well-trained routine and a classmate where an elementary school teacher locks a gun with sort of great proficiency implies a lot about what the heck has been going on here with Dharma and the Others.
Damon Lindelof: Samantha was really, really good in this episode, as was Doug. It's amazing how guest cast, they basically come in, they work for three or four days, what an amazing impression these two actors made, which is good news for us as writers because Horace and Olivia actually factor very significantly in the game plan coming down the road. My wife screamed when we watched this episode together, right about here.
Carlton Cuse: We we wanted this to be a complete horror movie moment. We talked to Bobby Roth about it, and we talked a lot in the writers' room about really designing this as a real "boo" moment, where we wanted the audience to be utterly shocked, like, you know, if you were watching The Ring or something like that, and you all of a sudden see this image in the window. Then obviously the follow-up here was to really establish, in this picture, that this was Ben's mother out there, for people who might, you know, not have connected...
Damon Lindelof: Bot have remembered her from the throes of labor.
Michael Emerson: One thing I like about this episode is it has a couple of really good horror-movie moments in it.
Damon Lindelof: It's really cool. Totally freaky.
Michael Emerson: It's a little more haunted than Lost usually is. I like that about it.
Damon Lindelof: The cabin scene is very psychologically disturbing because...it's not the part where everything starts to go haywire that's so scary. It's the part where Ben is having a perfectly rational explanation... conversation with a chair.
Carlton Cuse: It's kind of like the best of Hitchcock kind of moment there. It was just a great acting moment. That whole sequence, we'll talk about it a little bit more when we get to it. So how was it adjusting to life in Hawaii after being a long-time New Yorker?
Michael Emerson: Well, it's... Everywhere else you go you have to slow down a little. But the weather is agreeable and the people are so friendly and hospitable there. It's sort of wonderful that we film on that island, because the tone of the crew is so laid back and constructive, I'd say. I've never worked on a show where everybody seemed to be pulling in the same direction. And everyone was so interested in helping each other out. It's really good that way.
Carlton Cuse: When you walk into a place and people recognize you as Benjamin Linus, what kind of reactions do you get, publicly?
Michael Emerson: Well, people are sort of pleased, I think, in a way, to confuse the actor and the character a little bit.
Damon Lindelof: Right.
Michael Emerson: But it plays out nicely in the sense that people are more formal with me than they might be h Jorge or Josh. They tend to keep their distance a little bit. with Jorge or Josh. They tend to keep their distance a little bit. And are a little more wary with me, which is fine.
Carlton Cuse: Do you still get good tables?
Michael Emerson: I'm doing all right.
Damon Lindelof: That's all that matters, at the end of the day, is being seen.
Carlton Cuse: Um... Nobody comes up to you... Do people come up to you and say, "You're a bad man"?
Michael Emerson: They do that all the time.
Damon Lindelof: And that was before he got the show.
Carlton Cuse: Surprisingly.
Michael Emerson: "Oh, you're scary. You're awful. Oh, I hate you, I hate you."
Damon Lindelof: And then you just have to nod and say, "Thank you very much, madam."
Michael Emerson: "Thank you very much, Mom."
Damon Lindelof: Yeah, exactly. Wonderful.
Carlton Cuse: So these dolls were a bit of... kind of iconography, which we wanted to kind of establish to kind of show the bond. And the fact that Ben keeps this doll that Annie has carved for him for his entire life.
Damon Lindelof: We also liked the idea, and I think this was Liz Sarnoff's idea, that they were on that swing set that Ben would later have Sayid chained to. And, you know...
Michael Emerson: Oh.
Damon Lindelof: That idea of this was just a beautiful, sweet childhood moment. But later, when he moves into New Otherton and sort of takes it over and becomes the leader, that swing set is no longer used for kids, because they can't have kids. The only purpose that it would serve is to restrain somebody. I thought that was a nice touch.
Michael Emerson: Bow, Lost does a good job of presenting a thing as benign, and then revisiting it later when it has a scarier dimension.
Damon Lindelof: Like the Dharma van.
Michael Emerson: Yeah. How about that.
Carlton Cuse: A lot of people claim that we have some father issues on Lost. [Emerson laughs]
Damon Lindelof: I think this is a very sweet scene between a father and a son.
Carlton Cuse: We never thought this was an unhealthy father-son relationship until we actually read the press after the episode, so maybe... Maybe we're the ones with the problem. I don't know.
Damon Lindelof: Well, I think this is an incredibly important scene. I think, A, it's beautifully acted, but also he has to say this in order to understand why Ben does what he does 20-some-odd years later. I think if those words didn't come out of his mouth, you would feel like Ben was more of a monster for killing his father. That sort of emotional trauma, I feel, is about a thousand times worse than him hauling off and backhanding him across the face.
Michael Emerson: Yeah.
Lindelof] Here, Carrie comes back. I like her in this scene. I'm not saying that 'cause you're married to her. She's just there.
Carlton Cuse: That dress choice. That must be some Jack Bender fantasy. I don't know.
Damon Lindelof: Weird.
Michael Emerson: I love these long shots, like this. It's cool.
Damon Lindelof: Obviously, only half those pylons are actually there. The rest of them are done by our crack visual effects squad. And by "crack" I mean smoking crack. [Emerson laughs]
Carlton Cuse: The thing that's cool about the island is it can conjure up these... ...these images of great importance from your life, and then the characters on the show have to sort of deal with the consequences. And those visions often provide tests right along the axis of what's most important for the character.
Damon Lindelof: To get that performance out of that young man, before we rolled, Jack Bender went to him and told him that we had kidnapped his mother. And then afterwards, he said, "Just kidding."
Carlton Cuse: It was unkind, but sometimes in the service of art, you have to do these things.
Damon Lindelof: OK, here we come to the... We do have to talk a little bit about what you thought you were stepping over.
Carlton Cuse: Did you get any explanation from Jack about the mysterious circle of ash?
Michael Emerson: I didn't really. I assumed it was a kind of a witch circle.
Carlton Cuse: Yeah. I mean, there's a bit of kind of protection or magic. Or, you know, kind of containment. ln a certain way, part of the idea here, I think...
Damon Lindelof: He's afraid to touch it.
Carlton Cuse: Ben has powers over Jacob, and Jacob has some powers over Ben. And there's a bit of a stasis. But, obviously, on a bigger picture level, what we really wanted to do was once Ben kind of recovers from his surprise that Locke was able to carry through on this task that Ben never thought he would be able to complete, that is, kill his father, now Ben really wants to find out, "ls Locke special? ls he actually communing with the island in a significant way, in a way that actually threatens his primacy?" Ben decides, "Yes, I will take him out to the cabin where Jacob is, and if Locke can see Jacob, I will know there is something special about Locke. And if he can't, then I can utterly dismiss him."
Damon Lindelof: I also think, though, that Ben has a certain confidence and swagger going into that cabin. I think that he's probably about 95 percent sure that Locke will not be able to see Jacob. Because when they first go in, he says with such glee, it seems, restrained glee, but glee nonetheless, "What, you can't see him?" I feel like he never would have brought him out of there in the first place if he thought there was a chance that he might. Then he seems incredibly unsettled when he hears the words "help me." We need to talk a bit about this stuff now, because once the scene comes, it flies by.
Carlton Cuse: Exactly.
Michael Emerson: Yeah, Ben seems almost smug when he thinks that John has not been anointed or chosen.
Carlton Cuse: Right. And so, obviously, when you're preparing to do that scene, did you just kind of commit to the notion that for all purposes, you were having a conversation with that guy in the chair? What was your approach?
Michael Emerson: Yeah, I tried... l... I wrote out in my script... Jacob's lines. His unspoken or unheard lines.
Damon Lindelof: Interesting.
Michael Emerson: Responded to them as if it were a conversation.
Damon Lindelof: Like having a conversation on a telephone, and the other actor is not present to give it to you there.
Michael Emerson: Yeah. That kind of a conversation.
Carlton Cuse: What's interesting also is, and this is a little Easter egg, is everybody sort of, they will take sort of video frames from the show. One of the things that we had in the show was Ben writing in his journal. And we were, like, "Wow." We didn't actually approve or anoint those words. And we were, like, "Wow." We didn't actually approve or anoint those words. And we actually had to take... send the pages down from Hawaii, and Michael had written those pages. And we looked at them, thinking that we would have to... We might want to rewrite or insert them. Then once we read what Michael had written in his journal, we were like, "That's totally dialed-in. Perfect. It's completely within the character bandwidth of what Ben would do." It was like...
Damon Lindelof: It was fascinating.
Michael Emerson: It was my little literary improv on the set.
Damon Lindelof: Very nice.
Carlton Cuse: We had a conversation about how we might save work by farming, like, five or six scripts out to Michael next year. [Emerson laughs]
Damon Lindelof: I actually love this moment. This is sort of like the very beginnings of the Ben we have come to know and love. He turns the fence off, but just to make sure, he's gonna send the bunny through. His beloved pet. lf it's not off, what would have happened to that bunny?
Carlton Cuse: I'd like to kind of... I think there's a lot to explore about Ben and his relationship with rabbits, particularly what led him to start putting numbers on rabbits.
Damon Lindelof: I have a suspicion that it has something to do with fertility experiments, but that's just me.
Michael Emerson: It's not really malicious, but it's awfully cold.
Damon Lindelof: It is.
Carlton Cuse: Easier to tell bunnies apart if they're numbered, isn't it?
Damon Lindelof: I would assume so. So here we come to Ben's first meeting with Richard. Obviously this provoked a significant amount of conversation in the fan community, in terms of what kind of moisturizer Richard uses, or what sort of... what diet he's on. Because he looks... He looks awfully young, considering.
Carlton Cuse: Which gets back to the earlier line, where he says, "You do remember birthdays, don't you, Richard?" Maybe it has to do with that.
Damon Lindelof: There he is. One of the things that I love about this story is finding out that Ben is actually not born on the island, makes him instantly more accessible to the audience in a way that I'm not sure he was before learning that. And as the show progresses, you're seeing that the island is a lot like the United States of America in that everyone who claims to be an actual American is in fact anything but.
Michael Emerson: That's true.
Damon Lindelof: As you dig deeper into the show, you realize that there was an indigenous population on the island at some point, but we don't even know for sure when Alpert came to the island. And the deeper that you go, the more you find people have been migrating there from the world that we all know. That makes it more grounded in reality, as opposed to crazy town.
Michael Emerson: This was a wonderful, dangerous scene, I thought.
Carlton Cuse: Yeah. It...
Damon Lindelof: What do you...? What do you mean by dangerous?
Michael Emerson: I just thought there was... The boy's in jeopardy here. He's out in the jungle with this scary stranger, and I thought the conversation was really nicely layered and loaded.
Damon Lindelof: What's interesting is that Alpert seems so particularly focused on the fact that Ben's mother died off the island, and he saw her here. That piece of information seems so significant to him.
Carlton Cuse: Although, we wanted to make it very clear that it wasn't at all a surprise to Alpert, and that was what really engaged Ben. That, basically, this is a piece of information that if he told anyone in Dharma, they would be skeptical that he saw a vision of his mother, whereas Alpert's attitude is one of kind of concern, and of trying to find out some more facts. But the subtext is that he completely believes Ben saw his mother.
Damon Lindelof: There's also this... Are you familiar with the story of the Panchen Lama, Michael?
Michael Emerson: No.
Damon Lindelof: Basically, the Panchen Lama's job is to identify the new Dalai Lama. So when the Dalai Lama dies, they go to the Panchen Lama, and the Panchen Lama goes and meditates and basically figures out where the next Dalai Lama has been reincarnated into. When the Panchen Lama dies, the Dalai Lama finds the next Panchen Lama, which sets up this "chicken or the egg" scenario. And I think this is relevant before we go into the cabin, because in many ways, I think Richard Alpert might be construed as a Panchen Lama, as he has this conversation with this boy who sees something he wasn't supposed to see. And now I think Ben finds himself in the role of the Panchen Lama as he brings Locke into this cabin in an attempt to sort of determine whether or not the island has chosen him to become its new surrogate.
Carlton Cuse: Now, in this scene, one of the things that I think we kind of take as a matter of fact is that people watch this show, they tape the show, they DVR the show. And so when people watched the show, they were like, "That was all crazy. I didn't see anything." But in fact, yes, there are several pieces of Jacob. You can see them. But you can't really see them unless you stop and tape the thing, and look at it slowly. So it was interesting for us to see how the audience reacted to this scene. When it played, a lot of people were like, "l didn't get it. What was going on there?" There was nobody there. Other people very clearly stopped, taped it, looked, saw that there were images of Jacob. And we tried to actually add one other image that would be visible clearly for the audience, this close-up of an eye, which kind of goes back to... ...kind of thematically was unified with this image of eyes that started really from the very beginning of the pilot. But I'm not sure people really understood that that was Jacob's eye. And it's kind of interesting that this was a scene that required sort of a... ...active participation on the part of the audience to really get its full... To get its full impact or to have a full understanding of what you've seen in this scene.
Damon Lindelof: We're not gonna reveal here exactly who plays Jacob, but obviously the message boards were alight with, "My God, that's Terry O'Quinn in a wig. Wait, that's Christian Shephard. Wait, it's Emerson." So, who actually played Jacob is not something we're going to reveal. But if you watch very closely, after Locke hears the words "help me," there you go. How long... Did you guys do this all in one day, this entire scene, Michael?
Michael Emerson: The interior of it, yeah.
Damon Lindelof: Shot on a sound stage?
Michael Emerson: It was. It was a long day.
Damon Lindelof: Yeah, I'll bet. I'll bet.
Carlton Cuse: And there just seems to be... One of the things that... ...that I love are just kind of the scenes of you and Terry. There just really seems, on an actor level, a real connection between the two of you, and the two of you kind of really fire off each other in ways that are... ...l think just elevate the content of the scene, every time we have a scene with the two of you guys together.
Michael Emerson: Somehow, we have a natural, sort of, electrical connection, he and l.
Damon Lindelof: I think that Ben really knows how to push Locke's buttons. Again, the pun is intended. But going back to season one, he looks at Locke and basically says, "l was coming for you, John."
Michael Emerson: Yeah.
Damon Lindelof: He knows, whether that sentiment is actually true or not, that that's the beginning of their relationship. That is the hook that sort of leads us all the way to this cabin. lt's very possible that Jacob in fact did send Ben to go and find out, or bring back John Locke, when he was going out there. We know he also began to have this issue with the tumor in his back. So those two issues might've been... sort of balancing each other out. Here's this guy who he may or may not have been coming for, and is certainly threatened by. And what I love about their little dance is, you know, it always feels like Locke has the advantage, and then somehow Ben turns it around on him. And then... and then here we go.
Michael Emerson: Say what?
Damon Lindelof: Yeah. Instantly... I love Terry, like, "What did you say?" But he's playing as he knows that Ben didn't say it. And whatever was said, you clearly didn't hear it. I heard you. You said...
Michael Emerson: And here we go. Jacob gets upset.
Damon Lindelof: Sure does.
Michael Emerson: Things start flying through the air.
Damon Lindelof: It's after you grab his shoulders and he throws you back that if you look very closely, as the camera pans back over, you will see something.
Damon Lindelof: And there he is.
Carlton Cuse: There he was. You can see him there. And there's the eye. So you have little pieces, but you don't really get... The audience watches the first time, they're so full of other emotions, that registering those images is hard to do.
Michael Emerson: It's good. It's nice and ambiguous.
Damon Lindelof: I love this moment here, that you play, where you basically sort of come out looking shell-shocked. But it doesn't stop you from hanging up the lantern. It's just a very nice piece of business. [Lindelof chuckles]
Carlton Cuse: It's interesting because we're always very conscious of the ease with which one can fall into writing a character like Ben as being arch. It's kind of the classic sort of movie villain kind of a thing. I think that we try to work at making sure that we sort of stay this side of that line. We also benefit from your talents as an actor We also benefit from your talents as an actor to kind of keep us on this side of the line. We were talking about that line we dropped about the birthday cake, that we...
Michael Emerson: Sure.
Carlton Cuse: That we dropped. There are certain places where we can't tell until we edit the shows whether these lines are gonna play. Or... We're... You try certain things and you let them play in the script, and you see whether they work or they don't work. We benefit from the fact that Michael is extremely good at sort of delivering dialogue that sometimes is a little spun, but delivering it in a way that seems real as opposed to mustache-twirling.
Damon Lindelof: Speaking of mustaches, I'm still waiting for the milk people to contact us from Michael's line in season one, "Got any milk?"
Carlton Cuse: Yeah.
Michael Emerson: Come on.
Damon Lindelof: Put the milk mustache on him, have him sit there in his Dharma suit next to his dead father.
Carlton Cuse: I'm gonna say they're not gonna contact us.
Damon Lindelof: I'm still waiting.
Carlton Cuse: I'm gonna say that their Milk Advisory Board is not sure that's the best image for milk. Bot that it wouldn't... Bot that that wasn't one of the best lines of the entire series, really.
Michael Emerson: That's my favorite funny scene.
Damon Lindelof: That was a classic.
Michael Emerson: That villainous archness you talk about, it's like a glue trap. Once you step on it, it's hard to step back off of it. So I appreciate the way you look after that in post.
Carlton Cuse: And I think you look after it, also, in the performance. I think it's that combination. You know, you want your villain to be colorful, you want... You want the character, in a certain way... We were actually doing an interview yesterday, talking about who does each of us like to write. We were talking about how great it is to write Ben because Ben is... In a certain way, he possesses a certain kind of range of behavior as a character that's kind of broader than some of the others because he is capable of sort of any kind of action. Actions that are sort of shocking, and also actions that are kind of in the normal bandwidth of what a character does. Others are more traditionally heroic. They won't do certain things. That's... And I think that we haven't gotten anywhere near to the place where Ben doesn't continue to surprise us as a character. In terms of writing someone, that's fun, because you really... As an audience you're always in a state of unease. You don't know what Ben is gonna do in any situation. He has this sort of very, kind of calm, and a certain civility to him, and yet, whether it's something as subtle as manipulating Elizabeth Mitchell's character, or in terms of kind of trying to keep her on the island, and that flashback story, or here. This appears to be really a kind of warm and fuzzy father-son moment. They're gonna drive up and have a few beers. Well, that's not exactly what's going on.
Damon Lindelof: That's what I love about him, too, is once his mind is made up about something, he just goes ahead and does it. It's obvious in this scene where he's looking at his watch, as he's zipping up his jumpsuit there, that he knows what he's going to do. And, you know, even though his father has this sweet moment with him and apologizes genuinely for forgetting his birthday, it's done. He's already... It's done.
Michael Emerson: It is done.
Carlton Cuse: After this scene, Michael, I've got your birthday on my calendar. I will be calling you every year.
Michael Emerson: Absolutely. This is a chilly one here. Boy.
Damon Lindelof: It sure is. But the moment that I particularly love, in terms of your performance throughout this sequence, is the look on your face when you pull your gas mask off after the damage is done, once you see Alpert. That's the first time that you really see the effect of this action. And we don't know at the time of watching this whether or not this was all Ben's idea or somebody else's idea, or if he's their leader yet, or kind of where they are in his ascension. Only that he is a willing and active participant, you know, in essentially this... you know, mass genocide.
Carlton Cuse: Yeah. We wanted this flashback story... They're sort of chaptered out. And this was sort of the birth of Ben becoming the guy that he is. We wanted this story to help the audience, first of all, really understand what exactly happened vis-à-vis the Dharma Initiative and the Others. And we get that answer to that. We discover with complete certainty that the Others purged the Dharma Initiative, like maybe many other groups on the island who kind of ran into the Others. The Others win, and they lose. And... But...
Damon Lindelof: One second. I love the look on Michael's face. He can't look. He's sitting there, but he doesn't want to watch.
Carlton Cuse: Yeah.
Michael Emerson: This was a terrifying scene to shoot.
Damon Lindelof: What were you thinking?
Michael Emerson: His death throes were so palpable. I mean, he was very convincing. It was terrifying.
Damon Lindelof: Awesome actor.
Carlton Cuse: Yeah. And here, there was this kind of great mix of sort of shock at the sight of all these people being dead. And I love the kind of real subtlety and complexity of Ben's emotions, even hidden behind the gas mask, as he sort of takes in the, kind of the horror of what he has wrought. And at the same time, there's also from a guy who was a member of this society to someone who would be really kind of a catalyst for this purge.
Damon Lindelof: It's interesting...
Michael Emerson: He was more than a passive participant. When we first shot it, they didn't have me opening up that canister of poison in the van.
Carlton Cuse: That was added in post. And I think it was good and there was a certain amount of confusion. Sometimes you don't get story points as clear, and there was a lot of confusion, "ls this gas island-wide? How does what is happening over in New Otherton relate to what's happening in this Dharma van?" We came up with this idea that we would just have a gas canister that would... And so we shot an insert of Ben pulling that gas canister, so that we would understand that the two events were simultaneous, but were not... It wasn't the exact same chemical, so there wasn't a gas cloud over the whole island.
Damon Lindelof: And we felt that the spirit of the idea was the same, which is that Ben is still responsible for his father's death, and knows that he's gonna die. Here's that look I was telling you about.
Carlton Cuse: In a certain way, in actuality, it made Ben more responsible, because he fired the canister. lt wasn't just, like, "Drive somebody to a place and park, and at 4:00, something bad is gonna happen." He had to initiate the action.
Michael Emerson: It was a sin of commission, rather than omission.
Carlton Cuse: And here, this is kind of the scene where we really see that maybe, in the way that Damon was talking about earlier, Ben is being anointed as perhaps being the future leader of this group, because Alpert has sort of singled him out.
Damon Lindelof: Michael, when do you think that Ben decided to pop Locke here?
Michael Emerson: Very soon. About the time the sun rose this day, I think.
Damon Lindelof: Exactly.
Carlton Cuse: Yeah. Our idea was once Ben gets confirmation that Locke can see Ben, he has no choice but to eliminate...
Damon Lindelof: See Jacob.
Carlton Cuse: I mean see Jacob. He has no choice but to eliminate Locke. Locke now becomes a threat.
Damon Lindelof: But I find that Ben makes an interesting choice, which is that he gut-shoots him and leaves him there, and literally says to him, "Let's see if he can help you." He doesn't shoot him in the head. He very well could make sure that Locke is dead. But it's almost like he's offering up kind of one final test, just to make...
Michael Emerson: Yeah, maybe it is a test.
Carlton Cuse: I just interpreted it as part of a kind of a measure of, sort of, his sadistic nature that, like, he'll let Locke have a slow, painful death, and he's not gonna bother to put him out of his misery easily.
Michael Emerson: Yeah, a few minutes to meditate on his fate.
Damon Lindelof: Exactly.
Carlton Cuse: I think that Ben walks away thinking Locke's got 20 minutes to bleed out, and that's it. Then he'll be a corpse too.
Damon Lindelof: He really wants to know, though, what Jacob said. And that's what's so interesting about it.
Michael Emerson: That's what's crucial.
Carlton Cuse: And the "help me" is obviously very carefully chosen. And, I think, between the circle of ash and the sort of sense of, kind of, containment in that cabin, and Ben's sort of lack of certainty of his own role, I think it's kind of clear that things are... ...things are unsettled in Others' leadership-ville here.
Damon Lindelof: And I think Ben seems so amused, almost, in a dark way, that that's what Locke heard. It's sort of, like, "Help me? He needs your help? Oh, my God."
Carlton Cuse: Wow. That flew by.
Damon Lindelof: It sure did.
Michael Emerson: It sure did.
Carlton Cuse: Well, Michael...
Damon Lindelof: Hope we let you talk a bit.
Carlton Cuse: We talked a lot.
Damon Lindelof: Sorry. [Emerson laughs]
Carlton Cuse: Anyway, it was fun to get together and rehash this with you.
Michael Emerson: Yeah. Great spending time with you, no matter what.
Damon Lindelof: The pleasure is all ours. And we look forward to writing some awesome stuff for you in season four. You know, probably at the time that this DVD is actually available, you'll already have played a significant chunk of it.
Michael Emerson: We'll be digging into it already.
Damon Lindelof: Exactly.
Michael Emerson: I look forward to it.
Carlton Cuse: Thank you all for listening, and we'll talk to you some time soon.
Michael Emerson: Bye-bye.
Damon Lindelof: Bye.