Michael Emerson is a god. There’s no getting around it. Without Emerson as Ben, Lost would not be the series it’s become. When Emerson was originally cast as Henry Gale, Cuse and Lindelof famously left themselves some flexibility with the character. Had Emerson not worked out, he’d only have to be there for a few episodes – maybe he’d be the leader of the Others, maybe he wouldn’t. Of course, Emerson rocked it hard, and the rest is history. While last night’s Lost, “The Other Woman,” was ostensibly a Juliet episode, Ben’s presence made a far bigger impression on me. We saw Jealous Ben and Smitten Ben for the first time – it was frightening and enlightening and a little pathetic.
Considering where Lost has been this season, last night was a throwback. It felt like something in season one or two. Nothing in Juliet’s flash back was all that enlightening for her character. Gaps were filled, specifics were revealed, but nothing that fans couldn’t have inferred themselves. As I said, the appeal of the episode was Ben’s presence throughout, both in the flash backs and in the present with Locke. With Emerson and Ben, it’s the perfect meld of actor and character, both of whom are enigmatic, creepy and impossible to get a handle on. I could probably watch Michael Emerson sit on a folding chair and read an According to Jim script and be entertained. So, maybe that he was the highlight of an otherwise forgettable episode isn’t surprising. However, I don’t think it can be stated enough – the character of Ben has been the driving force of Lost over the last two seasons.
The reveals of “The Other Woman” weren’t jaw-dropping: Charles Widmore is the man who sent the freighter and Ben sent Goodwin to die. I wouldn’t put it past Ben to lie about either of these. The Widmore file that he gave Locke was obviously convincing enough, but I don’t think Ben sent Goodwin to the tail section specifically to die. Ben knew that death was a possibility, but he knew the same was true with Ethan, and I’m sure Ben didn’t want him to die. I’m having trouble being scared of Widmore, because I can’t stop thinking of Alan Dale as anyone other than Caleb Nickel from The OC (yeah, I’m that guy).
The only other pressing question is the identity of Ben’s man on the boat. We’re all assuming it’s Michael. It makes the most sense, but I can’t shake the feeling that this would be too obvious for Lost. The problem there is that we know for a fact that Michael is coming back and Harold Perrineau’s name has been in the credits all season. Where else, but the freighter, could Michael return to the show? I’ve heard rumblings that it might be Walt. I’m not sure how that’d make sense. There’s going to be a lot of explaining to do when Michael shows up, whenever he does. Where’s he been? Where’s Walt?
Also, there’s one item I’d like to hear all of your opinions on: Did the whole mission to “The Tempest” seem like filler to you? I got the feeling that, for “The Other Woman,” the writers didn’t have enough material with only Juliet’s back story and Locke/Ben, so they felt they had to give Faraday and Charlotte something to do. Juliet’s flash back didn’t inform her actions in correlation to Faraday and Charlotte at The Tempest. Or, did it? Am I missing something?
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of ABC)