Lost: Michael Emerson Breaks Down ‘Dr. Linus’

Lost: Michael Emerson Breaks Down ‘Dr. Linus’
Mario Perez/ABC

03/10/2010 AT 12:00 AM EST

Lost’s latest episode was full of developments designed to keep viewers buzzing and scratching their heads. Charles Widmore finally found a way back to the island -- on a sub! Nikki and Paulo got a shout-out! Richard Alpert doesn’t age -- not because, as Hurley suggested, he’s a time traveler or a Terminator cyborg -- but because Jacob gave him “a gift.” Presumably the same gift that prevents him from taking his own life, which is why Lost’s disillusioned Dorian Gray asked Jack to do the deed for him with a little Black-Rock dynamite. Too bad Jack’s also a Jacob-touch recipient, and therefore, equally worthless with a lit fuse.

Fans will have to wait until later this month for a clearer picture of the mysterious Alpert. Last night’s installment, “Dr. Linus,” was a portrait of another Other, Ben Linus, played by Emmy-winner Michael Emerson. Outed as Jacob’s killer by Miles, the once-powerful islander was reduced to digging his own grave by “bodyguard” Ilana. (Though the brutal beatdown PEOPLE saw her give Ben during a set visit was noticeably M.I.A. from the episode. Hmm.) In the Sideways, a power-hungry Ben attempted to blackmail the school principal into giving up his job, though ultimately, he opted instead to give Alex -- the on-island daughter whose life he’d sacrificed -- a shot at a bright Yale future.

PEOPLE checked in with Emerson for his take on the episode, as well as clues to what’s still in store before the series ends (a Ben death?!). CAUTION: spoilers ahead! --Shawna Malcom

So there are limits to what Ben will do to get what he wants, at least in the Sideways?Yes, Ben was presented with a parallel choice -- a smaller one, but an echo of a bad choice he made in the island world -- and he made a different call, a softer call that we’re happy about.

Was it nice to play Ben’s softer side?I’ll tell you what was fun: When Ben tries to play his card with the principal but he hasn’t the confidence that his alter ego has. He trembles a little when he makes his big play because he knows he’s out of his depth. It was fun to find that shakiness because that’s a color they’ve never asked of me on the show before. It’s almost like I’m playing a different character this season.

Now that Widmore’s back, will Ben’s battle with him resume?You’d think. The producers went to such pains to establish it. But there are three episodes still to film and that’s something that hasn’t been shot yet. I suppose it’s possible that the characters’ conflict can be resolved without facing off against one another, maybe through the agency of some third party.

Would that be disappointing?I’m just a passenger on this ride. But I am anxious for answers that don’t seem to be coming in a rush. I think it’s partly my own personal misunderstanding of the narrative of the show and an over-expectation of climactic answering.

Some fans feel a similar frustration.I think the answering is coming in a subtler way than many of us expected. But the writers’ agenda may not yet be clear to us.

When will you get the finale script?Two days before we shoot it. If I get a complete one. You know with the finale of all finales, there are gonna be blank scenes in it that only the actors involved are privy to. I hope I’m on the show long enough that I’m in one of those secret scenes.

Wait -- could Ben really not make it to the end?There have been some casualties. Pretty soon, there’s only gonna be a few standing.

Has it begun to sink in yet that Lost is really, truly nearly over?No, probably because I just don’t absorb these things the way other do. I always have delayed reactions. In June or July, you’ll probably find me weeping somewhere.

You have homes in New York and L.A. Do you have a house in Hawaii you’ll have to sell?No, I’m such a gypsy actor, that to settle in, make myself permanent, would’ve felt like bad luck to me. Every season I just rented or sublet a condominium. I have a few sticks of furniture that I’ve accumulated over the years, but basically I’ll just pack a few boxes and re-consolidate. It’ll be nice to have all my shoes in the same place again.

Tell us: What did you think of last night’s episode? Were you surprised Ben opted to follow Ilana, rather than Locke Monster? Should Ben and Widmore get their face-off?Mario Perez/ABC

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