"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, causing everyone to finally confront Jack and Juliet.
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.
In 1973, a young Ben is on the jetty with his father; they are walking towards the Island from the submarine. Horace, the man who stopped his car for them on the day Ben was born, greets them. Ben looks around and sees several people, all dressed in DHARMA uniforms, busily moving boxes. It looks like they are receiving a delivery. Roger explains to Ben that Horace has helped Roger 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 Linus responds to his name being called, leaving Ben alone. Roger speaks to a nurse, whose name badge indicates that she is called Opal. Roger holds up his DHARMA uniform and he angrily contests the fact 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 it comes up. As Ben waits watching the brief video, a girl named Annie introduces herself. She offers him an Apollo chocolate bar, saying that they can have as many as they like.
Later, Ben is in class learning about volcanoes. Ben's teacher is Olivia. She is the woman who was in the car with Horace just after Ben was born. She demonstrates the effect that water has on baking powder in order 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." They 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 in his class. Annie tells Ben it is the "the Hostiles," and that it will be okay.
At night Ben is in his bedroom. He hears Roger arguing with Horace outside the 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 towards his bedroom window, he is shocked to see his mother outside, staring in at him. He stumbles backwards, knocking over a chair. When he looks again, she is gone. Ben picks up an old photo of his parents, which shows them together and smiling. 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.
Sometime later, Ben is on a swing set and receives a birthday present from Annie. He opens the gift box to find two wooden dolls, one male, one female, which have clearly been made by hand. 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 remember it, because it's also the anniversary of when Ben killed 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.
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, then turns to go back home.
Defiant, Ben appears to have prepared an escape, as 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 indeed turned off. Once the rabbit gets through without injury, Ben follows, running out into the jungle amidst whispers. Suddenly, Richard Alpert appears by him, clearly scaring Ben. Richard, however, remains calm, and Ben begins to speak to him. He asks if Richard is one of the Hostiles, though Richard jokes that Ben probably doesn't even know 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.
Years have passed and Ben, now a young man, is dressed in a DHARMA uniform which shows he is now also a Workman like his father. He 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.
Later, Roger drives Ben in his van to a hill and parks up 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. 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 then takes out a gas canister and sets it off, which causes his father to bleed from the nose and mouth. Ben remains in the vehicle and calmly watches Roger die.
Ben returns to the barracks where all of the DHARMA workers are lying dead. It appears they have all died in the same manner as Roger. Ben slowly moves around the area and when he sees Horace, Ben reaches out and closes Horace's eye lids. Alpert and his group emerge all wearing gas masks. Richard looks at his watch then takes his gas mask off. The rest of the group does the same and Richard asks Ben if they should collect Roger's body. Ben tells Richard to leave Roger there. The group begins to move the DHARMA Initiative bodies.
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.
Ben is in his tent, looking at a wooden figure he received 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.
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.
Outside, Mikhail runs into camp shouting for Ben. Ben seems unperturbed by Mikhail's appearance, but 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 seems surprised and very concerned by this 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 orders Tom and Richard to intervene, they do nothing.
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. On the way, they come across a line of gray ash on the ground, which crosses their path. Ben carefully steps over and Locke investigates by touching it with his fingers. Before Locke can investigate it further, Ben insists they keep moving. Locke follows.
They eventually reach a small 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 of Jacob's existence. 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 the room suddenly 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 calmly 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.
The next morning Ben and Locke are walking 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. He explains that when it became clear to Ben that one side had to go (had to be purged), 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.
|Recurring themes in Lost|
|Black and white • Car accidents • Character connections • Deceptions and cons • Dreams • Eyes • Fate versus free will • Good and bad people • Imprisonment • Isolation • Life and death • Missing body parts • Nicknames • The Numbers • Parent issues • Pregnancies • Rain • Rebirth • Redemption • Relationships • Revenge • Sacrifice • Secrets • Time|
|Cultural references in Lost
(direct references only)
|Art • Books • Cars • Games • Movies and TV • Music • Philosophy • Religion and ideologies • Science|
|Literary techniques in Lost|
|Comparative: Irony • Juxtaposition • Foreshadowing Plotting: Cliffhanger • Plot twist Stock Characters: Archetype • Redshirt • Unseen character
Story: Flashbacks • Flash-forwards • Flash-sideways • Regularly spoken phrases • Symbolism • Unreliable narrator