Lost/The Man Behind the Curtain

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The Man Behind the Curtain
Season 3, Episode 20
Airdate May 9, 2007
Production Number 320
Written by Elizabeth Sarnoff
Drew Goddard
Directed by Bobby Roth
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The Brig
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LostSeason Three

The Man Behind the Curtain is the twentieth episode of the third season of Lost, and the sixty-ninth episode overall.

Ben begrudgingly begins to introduce Locke to the secrets of the island, beginning with the mysterious Jacob. Meanwhile, Juliet's secret goes public.

Starring: Naveen Andrews (Sayid), Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond), Emilie de Ravin (Claire), Michael Emerson (Ben), Matthew Fox (Jack), Jorge Garcia (Hurley), Josh Holloway (Sawyer), Daniel Dae Kim (Jin), Yunjin Kim (Sun), Evangeline Lilly (Kate), Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet), Dominic Monaghan (Charlie), Terry O'Quinn (Locke).

Guest Starring: Nestor Carbonell (Richard Alpert), Andrew Divoff (Mikhail), M.C. Gainey (Tom), Jon Gries (Roger Linus), Doug Hutchison (Horace Goodspeed), Samantha Mathis (Olivia), Carrie Preston (Emily), Tania Raymonde (Alex), Marsha Thomason (Naomi).

Co-Starring: Sterling Beaumon (Young Ben) Madeline Carroll (Annie), Jenn Boneza (Dharma Welcomer), Gregory Suenaga (Dharma Rep #1), Diamante Kielo (Dharma Rep #2).

Uncredited: François Chau (Dr. Marvin Candle).


Plot Overview

The Island

  • Inside his tent at the Others' camp, Ben looks over a hand-carved wooden figurine of a girl when Richard enters. Ben tells Richard the figurine was a birthday present and today is his birthday. Richard asks Ben if he wants him to bring the tape back to The Staff for Juliet, puzzling Ben as he thought the tape was already taken back there. Ben approaches Tom to try to find the tape recorder, but notices he and everyone else is watching Locke returning to camp with the body of Anthony Cooper. Placing Cooper's body at Ben's feet, Locke reminds him he's to tell him everything he wants to know about the island tells him he should start at the beginning.

    Speaking with Locke alone, Ben informs Locke that he isn't the leader of the Others. He answers to Jacob. Locke asks to be taken to see Jacob, but Ben tells him that no one goes to see Jacob, that he is the only person who knows where Jacob is and can talk to Jacob. Locke believes Ben is lying, and Ben tells him that he was one of the last people to be born on the island and that most of everyone else in the camp was brought to the island by him. That is why Jacob only speaks to Ben, only trusts Ben and why Ben is the only one of the Others who has seen Jacob. However, Locke believes Jacob is fictitious and Ben is the man behind the curtain. He believes Ben is lying because, if he was telling the truth, Ben's hand wouldn't be shaking.

    Mikhail arrives at the Others' camp, yelling for Ben. Ben nonchalantly tells Mikhail he thought he was dead, and Mikhail replies that the pylons weren't set to a lethal level. Mikhail notices Locke is there and demands to know why, telling them Locke was the one who tried to kill him. Ben tells him it's okay and that Locke is with them now. Mikhail informs Ben that he encountered several of Locke's people in the jungle and they had an injured woman with them. She parachuted from her helicopter and said her ship is only 130 kilometers to the west of the island, and she has a radio phone. Mulling over the information, Ben tells him they're already planning on visiting the survivor's camp the day after tomorrow and will deal with it then. Mikhail demands they go immediately, but Locke tells Mikhail that Ben isn't going anywhere as he's taking him to see Jacob. Ben tells Locke their excursion will have to wait, but Locke viciously attacks Mikhail. Ben looks to Tom and Richard to intervene, but the two simply stay where they are and watch. After Locke is finished with Mikhail, he turns to Ben and asks him when they're leaving.

    Ben and Locke prepare to leave for Jacob, stopping at a nearby stream to fill their canteens. Alex catches up to them, telling Locke that she heard he was going to see Jacob. She hands him a handgun and tells him he'll need it. As she leaves, Alex turns to her father and sarcastically wishes him a happy birthday. Ben tries to assure Locke that Jacob is very much real, and he is not going to like them coming to see him. He believes Jacob is going to be very angry and that is why his hand was shaking earlier. Jacob is a man you don't go to see; he is a man who summons you. Locke is dismissive of Ben's story and they continue onward.

    Their journey takes them into the night, and the two make their way through the jungle with flashlights in hand. Ben pauses at a line on the ground and carefully steps over it. Locke notices the line, appearing to be only a segment of a massive circle, and examines the sand-like substance the line consists of. Ben, however, insists they keep going. The two eventually arrive at a wooden cabin overgrown by the jungle. Ben warns Locke to turn off his flashlight, that Jacob feels the same way about technology that Locke does. Ben lights a lantern and leads Locke inside. Addressing an empty chair, Ben introduces Jacob to Locke. Ben asks Locke if he can't see Jacob, motioning to the empty chair and telling Locke that Jacob is sitting right there. Jacob is the man who can tell Locke all the secrets of the island. Ben carries on a heated conversation with the empty chair and Locke realizes that Ben is crazy. He asks Ben if he really thinks someone is sitting there, and Ben tells him that he knows someone is there. Locke believes Ben doesn't know anything. Ben apologizes that Locke feels that way and is too limited to see. Locke turns to leave, but hears someone say "help me" and stops. Locke thinks Ben is the one who said the words and shines his flashlight on him, but the cabin begins to shake violently, objects are tossed around and a window shatters. Ben grabs the empty chair and tells Jacob that he's had his fun, but his body is propelled backwards into a wall. Locke catches a brief glimpse of a shadowy man sitting in the once empty chair and flees from the cabin. The cabin stops shaking and Ben exits. Asked what that was, Ben tells Locke that was Jacob.

    Ben and Locke trek back to the Others' camp into the morning. Ben wants to know what Jacob said to Locke, but Locke believes it was all an act put on by Ben. He believes Ben is a fraud and the Others deserve to know the truth of the matter, and Locke knows Ben is leading him in another direction than the way they came. Ben informs Locke that they're going a different way as he wants to show Locke something. He admits to Locke that some of the things he's said to him and the Others aren't true, like he wasn't born on the island. The something Ben wants to show Locke is where he came from. Ben leads him to a very large open-air pit, filled with the skeletons of DHARMA workers — some with bullet holes to the head. Ben tells Locke that this is the place that he came from, the DHARMA Initiative. DHARMA came to the island seeking harmony, but they couldn't even co-exist with the island's original inhabitants. When it became clear that one side had to be purged, Ben was one of the people who was smart enough to avoid ending up in that pit. Ben believes that makes him considerably smarter than Locke, and shoots Locke in the abdomen as Locke reaches for his knife. Ben tells Locke he shot him because he heard Jacob, and demands to know what Jacob said. Locke tells Ben that Jacob said "help me". Ben sarcastically tells Locke that he hopes Jacob helps him, and leaves Locke in the pit.

  • At the survivor's beach camp, Sawyer grabs Sayid, informing him that he was with Locke but Locke has returned to the Others. He shows him the tape recorder he received from Locke. The two head to Juliet's tent to confront her, but discover she's missing. Kate informs the two that she left earlier with Jack when she told them about Naomi. Sayid storms off, telling Sawyer to play the tape to Kate.

    That night the survivors gather to hear what Naomi has to say. They learn that the world thinks they're dead, but Sayid tells them that's not important at the time being. Sun and Claire are amazed that Sayid thinks it's not important, but Naomi interjects and asks them if they're not concerned with being rescued. Sayid tells the survivors they kept Naomi hidden and safe from Jack, because he spent a week with the Others and brought Juliet back. Sun believes Jack wouldn't do anything to hurt them and believes Juliet is a good person. Sawyer asks her if that opinion wouldn't have anything to do with Juliet taking her to The Staff, playing the tape recording Juliet made about Sun's pregnancy. Jack and Juliet arrive, and Jack demands to know where Sawyer got the recording. Juliet tells Sawyer to turn the tape over and press play. The group hears a recording made by Ben informing Juliet that the Others are sending three teams to extract Sun the day after tomorrow and to mark the tents of any other women she believes is pregnant. Juliet reveals to Sun and the rest that she told Jack what Ben was making her do. Asked why he didn't tell anyone, Jack tells them he hadn't decided what to do about it, yet.

The Flashback

  • Flashback: Ben

In the woods, a woman named Emily is in the process of giving birth. Her husband, Roger Linus, delivers the baby boy and gives him to Emily to hold. But Emily tells Roger she's hurting and Roger notices she's still bleeding profusely. Roger picks the two up and carries them through the woods, eventually arriving at the side of a road thirty-two miles outside of Portland, Oregon. Roger manages to flag down a passing car and tells them he was hiking with Emily when she went into premature labor. Before the group can take Emily to a hospital, Emily tells Roger to call their son Benjamin and passes away.

As a young boy, Ben arrives on the island with his father and other people aboard a submarine. Walking along the dock to the shore, the group is greeted by a large sign proclaiming "Namaste!" and The DHARMA Initiative. Casey, a DHARMA gemologist, greets Ben and Roger, giving the two leis. Horace, a DHARMA mathematician and the man who Roger flagged down when Emily died, welcomes the two to the island. Roger thanks Horace for the job opportunity, and introduces Horace to Ben, noting that Ben doesn't talk much. Horace tells Ben it's okay and he knows he'll say something when he has something to say. He leads them onward to processing where new arrivals watch an orientation film narrated by Dr. Marvin Candle. Dr. Candle asks the new arrivals to stay within the confines of the barracks as they're surrounded by a high-frequency sonar fence to protect them from the island's abundant and diverse wildlife. Every morning there is a new code given to allow travel outside of the fence. Dr. Candle continues, telling the new arrivals that there are properties on the island that exist no where else on Earth, and the DHARMA Initiative's mission is to study these properties for the betterment of mankind and advancement of world peace. A young girl, Annie, greets Ben and gives him an Apollo candy bar. Over at assignments, Roger discovers he's to be a work man and is incredulous at the idea, that Horace said they were doing experiments to change the world and he didn't come to clean up after them.

Olivia, a DHARMA teacher and the woman who was with Horace when Roger flagged them down at Ben's birth, teaches a class full of young children about volcanic reactions. As she proceeds with a demonstration, the ground begins to tremble and the building shakes. After the tremor stops, gunshots can be heard in the distance and an alarm sounds. Olivia orders the children to their safety positions while the doors are chained shut and she loads a rifle. Outside, armed DHARMA workers rush off toward the sound of gunfire and explosions. Annie tells a frightened Ben that it's just the hostiles and they'll be okay. Later that night at Ben's residence, Ben overhears his father talking with Horace. Roger tells Horace that he was heading back from The Flame when he heard a huge explosion and was suddenly driving through a huge shootout. Horace informs him that they've been having some skirmishes with the natives; people DHARMA aren't exactly sure who they are. Roger, drinking heavily, tosses an empty beer can at Horace and tells him he didn't sign up for this. Horace reminds Roger that he did him a favor finding him work and that Ben is receiving a quality education. Roger, however, tells Horace he doesn't give a damn about Ben's education, demanding hazard pay for getting shot at and yelling at him to get out. Ben turns to go back to bed, but sees his dead mother outside his bedroom window. He trips and falls backwards, and his father enters and tells him to go back to bed. Turning back to the window, Ben sees nothing there.

On Ben's birthday, Ben and Annie play on a swingset at the barracks. Ben opens a gift from Annie, finding two hand-carved wooden figurines inside. Annie tells him that the figurines are him and her, so they will never have to be away from each other. That night, Ben returns to his home to find Roger passed out on the couch surrounded with beer cans. He tries to take off his father's other shoe, but his father wakes up. Noticing Annie's present on the table, Roger realizes it's Ben's birthday and apologizes while taking another swig of beer. He tells Ben it's kind of hard to celebrate on the day Ben killed his mother. Now she's gone and he's stuck on the island with Ben. Roger lays back down on the catch, beer in hand, and wishes a tearful Ben a happy birthday. Ben rushes out of the house and through the jungle, arriving at the sonar fence. Ben hears whispering around him and sees his mother on the other side of the fence. Ben starts to cross the fence, but his mother stops him. She tells Ben it isn't time yet and disappears into the jungle.

Later, Ben approaches the sonar fence with packed bags and the daily code. He deactivates the fence and safely crosses it. Proceeding into the jungle, Ben searches for his mother and hears whispering on the wind. However, he comes across a long-haired man in ragged clothing with a gun — Richard Alpert. Richard asks Ben if he's lost, trying to assure Ben he isn't going to hurt him. Ben asks Richard if he's one of the hostiles, but Richard asks Ben if he even knows what the word means. Asked what he's doing in the jungle by himself, Ben tells Richard that he's looking for his dead mother. Richard's interest is piqued, and he soon discovers that Ben's mother died off the island and that Ben saw her here and actually spoke to him. Richard tells Ben he should return home, but Ben tells him he hates it there and refuses. He wants to go with Richard. Richard tells Ben that, if that's what he wants, then he'll have to be very, very patient.

Years later, Ben is an adult working with DHARMA as a work man. Picking up the figurine of Annie, Ben places it into his messenger bag and leaves. He helps his father load up a DHARMA van with supplies. Roger notices his son is quiet when he's usually talkative in the morning and learns that it's Ben's birthday. Realizing he's forgotten again, Roger tells Ben that, after they run the supplies to The Pearl, they'll drive up to the mesa and drink some beers together. Ben agrees. Arriving at the mesa, Ben asks Roger if he really blames him for Emily's death. Roger dodges the question and tells Ben he'll do his best to remember his birthday next year. But Ben tells him that's not going to happen and puts on a gas mask. He pops a gas canister, and his father begins to bleed from the nose and dies. Ben hikes back to the barracks and discovers all the DHARMA workers laying on the ground, dead. He finds the body of Horace, the mathematician who tried to help him and his father, and closes his eyes. Richard leads a group of armed hostiles with gas masks onto the barracks grounds and, after looking at his watch, safely removes his gas mask. He asks Ben if he wants them to bring back his father's body, but Ben tells him to leave it out there. The hostiles begin to pile up the bodies.



  • Who are the hostiles? How did they get there before DHARMA?
  • Where did they get poison gas and gas masks?
  • Why has Richard apparently not aged since he first met Ben?
  • Where did Jack and Juliet go to after finding out about Naomi?
  • What has Jack decided to do?
  • Who or what is Jacob?
  • Why does Jacob want Locke to help him? To what end?
  • What happened to Annie?
  • Did Ben plan on shooting Locke all along or only after Jacob spoke to him?
  • Why couldnt the hostiles and DHARMA co-exist?
  • How did Ben come to be the "leader" of the others


The Cursed Numbers

  • 4 was two of the numbers in one of the daily codes for the sonar fence.
  • The hostiles' gas attack occurred at around 4 PM.
  • Ben's watch reads 4:00:15 and 4:00:16 when he looks at it while with his father.


Arc Advancement


  • Ben appears to be losing his influence over the Others to Locke.
  • Ben shows Locke the mysterious Jacob.
  • Jack reveals to the survivors that he knows about Juliet and the Others.


  • Locke is shot by Ben and left for dead.


  • 3x19 - The Brig: Kate tells Sawyer and Sayid that Jack and Juliet took off after she told them about Naomi. In "The Brig", Kate informed Jack about Naomi, trying to get him to realize that his friends think he's turned on them and is working with the Others.


The Show

  • Horace: Horace's jumpsuit marks him as a mathematician with the DHARMA Initiative, and the DHARMA insignia is that of The Arrow.

Behind the Scenes

  • Wife and Mother?: Emily, Benjamin Linus' mother, is played by Carrie Preston. Carrie Preston is the wife of actor Michael Emerson who plays Benjamin Linus.
  • Location, Location, Location: The security system pylons were shot on Kualoa Ranch in Kualoa Valley in Ka'a'awa, HI. The DHARMA Initiative's barracks is YMCA Camp Erdman in Waialua, HI. The exterior shots of The DHARMA Initiative's submarine were taken at the Moli'i Gardens at Kualoa Ranch in Kaaawa, HI.

Allusions and References

  • The Wizard of Oz: Locke believes Jacob is not real and that Ben is the "man behind the curtain" like in The Wizard of Oz. The Wizard of Oz (1939) is a film based on L. Frank Baum's 1900 children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In the movie, Dorothy ventures to the Emerald City to speak with the Wizard and help her friends and find a way home to Kansas. The Wizard appears as a floating head surrounded by fire and smoke, but is later discovered to be a mere man behind a curtain.
  • Lei: When Roger and Ben arrive on the island, they're greeted by DHARMA employees who give each a lei. Lei is a Hawaiian word for a garland or wreath. In Hawaiian culture the lei is a wreath of flowers draped around the neck presented upon arriving or leaving as a symbol of affection. The mysterious island in Lost is, in real life, O'ahu, one of the Hawaiian islands.
  • Chatty Cathy: Roger refers to his son as usually being a "Chatty Cathy" in the morning. Chatty Cathy was a doll produced by Mattel and manufactured in 1959. Revolutionary for her time, the doll spoke 11 phrases when when one pulled a string in the center of her upper back.

Memorable Moments


  • Marvin Candle: Welcome to the island. For your own comfort and safety, we ask that you stay within the confines of your new living quarters. Our barracks are surrounded by a high-frequency sonar fence to protect us from the island's abundant and diverse wildlife. You're now a member of the DHARMA Initiative. [unintelligible] Every morning you will be given a new code to allow you to cross outside the fences if you so desire. There are properties on this island that exist nowhere else on Earth. Our mission is to study these properties for the betterment of mankind and advancement of world peace. Most of you will be working on the mainland. Should you be assigned to zoological studies, the Pala Ferry will carry you [unintelligible] three times a day.