Lost: Season 3, Episode 20

The Man Behind the Curtain (9 May 2007)

TV Episode  |  TV-14  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
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Ratings: 9.3/10 from 2,897 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 4 critic

As Ben takes Locke to see Jacob and reveal the island's secrets, Ben's background on the island is exposed--as well as what happened to the Dharma Initiative.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:


On the day of his birthday, Ben recalls important parts of his life: when he was born, his mother Emily, pregnant of seven months, was hiking with his father, Roger, dying after the delivery in the woods nearby Portland, Oregon. Years later when he was a boy, Ben's unemployed father moved to the island with him accepting a job offer, but becoming a frustrated man with a simple position of janitor in the ultra-secret project 'Dharma'. His drunkard father blamed him for the death of his mother. But because of the island's mysterious power, the young Ben had visions of his Dharma teacher, Olivia, and decided to leave the compound, meeting the so-called 'Hostiles'. Years later, the grown-up Ben kills his dysfunctional father with poison gas while he leads the 'Hostiles' in an all-out attack against the village, killing the entire staff of Dharma Initiative, and Ben becomes their leader. In the present, Locke brings the dead body of his father, and meets Ben and The Others at their new ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Release Date:

9 May 2007 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ben's Dharma Initiative jumpsuit is different from those worn by other characters - it doesn't have a Dharma logo on it, and is a slightly lighter color. See more »


During a flashback, a teacher informs the class that sodium bicarbonate will react with water to create "lava" for their small scale volcano. In reality, an acid such as vinegar is necessary to cause a reaction, thus causing the sodium bicarbonate to release C02. See more »

Crazy Credits

The producers gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of the people of Hawaii and their Aloha spirit. See more »


References The Wizard of Oz (1939) See more »


End Title
Written by Michael Giacchino
Performed by The Hollywood Studio Symphony
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User Reviews

21 December 2008 | by (prejudicemadeplausible.wordpress.com) – See all my reviews

"The Man Behind the Curtain" had a huge impact on "Lost" fans and sent the countless internet fan sites into a frenzy. I was one of the many who was completely taken by the episode and found it a worthy way to cover a number of significant events, make a number of important revelations, introduce us to Ben's history (and to say that this episode failed to deliver a character story with real depth would be nitpicking, the script had a lot to accomplish and is mostly satisfactory), and still provide one or two surprises. Upon further reflection the episode's still very, very good, but remains a triumph of imagery and an iconic success more than an episode that works on many levels, as the best episodes on "Lost" do.

And the iconic imagery is plentiful indeed. The dolls, the cabin scene, the period DHARMA scenes, the patricide, the mass DHARMA grave, Alpert's surprise appearance, and even more scenes and images remain burned into every "Lost" fan's memory, surely. The performances help the episode attain its iconic status; imagine if Michael Emerson didn't have that indescribable look on his face, behind the gas mask, during the purge. If he hadn't been so convincing in the cabin. Imagine if the child actor playing Ben hadn't been as genuinely talented as he is, and had over-acted. It's an episode with a ton of information, and for those who watch the show only for the mystery and mythology it is paradise.

On the other hand, the episode, while it is still great entertainment in my estimation, doesn't do much else other than attempt to blow your mind with every successive scene with some sort of revelation or intentional bit of iconography. It's good entertainment, but doesn't have a truly cohesive emotional base on which it builds on. All things considered it's probably as good as it could have been- perfect and mind-blowing on first viewing, and iconic and entertaining on repeat viewings. The trouble with this is that on repeat viewings I start thinking about my reaction the first time I saw it, while when I watch truly great episodes, such as the one that came just before, "The Brig", I never flash back to my reaction on first viewing, but am totally drawn into that world all over again. The episode's not disappointing however, only in relation to its reputation as a classic. Also, the direction by series newcomer Bobby Roth is poor.

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