Thursday, January 31, 2008

Michael Emerson Interview, Part 2

Wednesday's blog had our interview with "Lost" star Michael Emerson, who plays Ben Linus, villainous leader of The Others. Emerson talked about the effects the strike had on the show.

In today's posting, Emerson gives the viewers a little bit of insight into the end of Season 3 and the eight completed episodes of Season 4. "Lost" debuts tonight with a one-hour recap (ABC, 8 p.m.), followed by the season premiere at 9 p.m.

TVGuy: Where do we pick up the action? At the end of Season 3, you had just gotten beaten up by Jack (Matthew Fox).
Michael Emerson: It picks up exactly there. It's the next tick of the clock. By no means has Ben reached the bottom yet. It's an interesting season for Ben. He's always been accustomed to having resources - guns, people to do his bidding. Now, he's just a beaten refugee with nothing to play with except his own wits.

TVG: Do we learn about the people on the boat?
ME: It's going to be a violent Season 4. I like the show when it's darker, bloodier. It was about these two opposing camps, the Losties and the Others. Now, a third camp is introduced. We have five new series regulars. It's excellent, certainly very dangerous. ... Scarier people (than Ben) are coming, and it becomes the villain we know rather than the villain without. There's going to be a softer attitude toward Ben in Season 4.

TVG: We're going to be seeing more flash forwards as we did in the Season 3 finale. You said (during our spring interview) you had no idea about the flash forward.
ME: It was a great idea. All our scripts, everyone but the people involved Matt and Evageline (Lilly), we all had blank pages for those scenes. I got to see it at the same time as the rest of America. I thought it was a stroke of genius. Matt said, "Now 'Lost' is the show we all hoped it would be," and I think I agree with him. Showing there's no happy ending post-island, it's very grown up.

TVG: There's the scene in the Season 3 finale where Jack goes to a funeral, but we don't know who is in the coffin. There's been some speculation that it's Ben.
ME: Who is in the coffin is one of the great mysteries of Season 4. It wouldn't occur to me that it's Ben. The way the scene has power, it's someone who we care about, someone Jack feels loyalty to but Kate doesn't. Whoever it ends up being I think it's someone we care about, and I don't currently think that's (Ben).

TVG: There are rumors of the return of cast members previously killed off.
ME: Yes, we see the return of more than one dead character. There are a lot of characters we know who appear in flashbacks. People keep cycling back from the past.

TVG: Some people were disappointed that it was revealed to be on an island and not purgatory.
ME: Well, it's not a literal purgatory, it's a figurative one. It's very much purgatory. This is a place where people revisit the sins of the past and try to find atonement or redemption. It still is purgatory. It works on all levels.

TVG: Last season, your wife (Macon actress Carrie Preston) guest-starred during the episode that gave Ben's story. Will we see more flashbacks involving Ben?
ME: Not in the first part of Season 4 (the eight completed episodes). But I've been told by the producers the events in episode 320 will be revisited in the future and recontextualized.

TVG: Last year, we talked about how from a certain point of view, Ben is the hero of the piece, not the villain.
ME: Will we see Ben in a heroic light? That's a thought to hang onto.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: Following the "Lost" recap and season premiere, ABC is also debuting the new quriky drama "Eli Stone" at 10 p.m. Jonny Lee Miller plays the title character, a lawyer who suffers from a brain aneurysm and begins to see things that others don't. Is he a nutcase or a modern-day prophet? The series has been compared to the likes of "Ally McBeal" and "Pushing Daisies" in its whimsy. The talented supporting cast includes Victor Garber ("Alias") as Stone's boss and Natasha Henstridge ("Species") as his girlfriend, so it might be worth a look.

NBC is countering "Lost" by running a two-hour "Apprentice," (NBC, 9 p.m.) which involves some sort of convuluted subplot in which Vincent Pastore pretends to go over to the women's team after a falling out with his teammates, but is really a double-agent. ... Yeah, I didn't get it, either.

An additional belated birthday present for moi is an all-new CW schedule tonight, including a new "Smallville" (CW, 8 p.m.), featuring the return of Braniac (James Marsters), and a new "Supernatural" (CW, 9 p.m.), one of TV's most underrated shows.


zodin2008 said...


Without question, yesterday and today have been my favorite TV Guy blogs ever.

Michael Emerson is such a fantastic connection for you to have - not just because he's a terrific actor and (agree) TV's best villain (and I agree again that Mike Rosenbaum does terrific work on 'Smallville') but I truly appreciate that Emerson is unafraid to talk about the show in depth and not really hide from your questions.

It also seems he has a very warm working relationship with the entire cast & that always makes for scenes to play out better.

Some of the greatest TV villains of all time are the ones who are somewhat evil (like Ben Linus) but yet you feel some pangs of sympathy and support for them.

It's why Spike (James Marsters) worked so well on "Buffy" or going back a bit further, the wonderful Marc Alaimo (Gul Dukat on DS9) or Ron Rifkin (Arvin Sloane on "Alias") were always so great. You couldn't hate them 100% because the actors were so good at delivering some empathy for their complicated bad guys. They made you understand where they were coming from.

In fact, I would argue that Jack Coleman (HRG on "Heroes") performed that type of character SO well, that's why he has now become a heroic character. I wouldn't be shocked if Michael Emerson's Ben became a good guy by the end of the series.

I am also excited about the return of the CW Thursday shows - they are the only 2 CW shows left I watch, after quitting "Reaper" and "Everybody Hates Chris" in the past 12 months.

We will try out "Eli Stone" for sure.

By the way, I have a belated recommendation. But with the strike, my wife & I decided to Netflix the first season of "Brothers & Sisters" and we are in fact shocked at how much we like this show. I can now totally see the addiction and reverse an earlier stance I had taken against the show.

The acting is very first rate - an amazing cast including the aforementioned Rifkin and led by Sally Field - and just really entertaining. What's also interesting is a running theme of political differences during every episode. The family is somewhat split between Republica and Democrat and there's political arguments woven into all their conversations.

This is pretty accurate because I have these kinds of political arguments with family & friends all the time.

Phillip Ramati said...

Emerson's a great guy to talk to - as scary as he is on the show, he's equally as nice off it. I'm guessing we'll see a slightly less evil Ben this season, if only because the third group is apparently even more bad than the Others were.

After its tumultuous start, Brothers & Sisters has built up quite the following and seems to have found the perfect home on Sunday nights.