|He's Henry Gale, and he's from Minnesota. It's his catchphrase.|
Spoilers everywhere, people.
Benjamin. Motherfucking. Linus. He's the creme of the crop, the best of the best, the most well-written and love-to-hate-and-then-love characters in the entire show, he's what pushes the show from good to great, all the way, baby. Michael Emerson's contribution to the show is astronomical, and this is his first appearance, although for the rest of this season I will have to call him Henry Gale to keep in with the terminology. Overshadowing his introduction just a tad is an excellent storyline surrounding Sayid and, as is the latest trend in this series, a flashback which shows something he's real guilty about.
Danielle Rousseau appears in the jungle and guides a wary Sayid to one of her traps, where she has captured the frail and tired looking Henry Gale. Despite his repeated pleas, Danielle tells Sayid not to believe him at all costs and shoots him with an arrow. Sayid takes him back to The Swan, where he beats him and refuses to believe any of his claims about having crashed on the island with his wife. Jack, angry at Locke for having conspired with Sayid to let the torture happen, forces Locke to open the door by threatening to stop him from pressing the button. Elsewhere, Sawyer finds Hurley's massive stash of food and kills an annoying tree frog. In his flashback, Sayid is taken prisoner by the US Forces in the Gulf War and is forced by US soldier Kelvin Inman (whom we'll meet again) to torture his superior, thus beginning his life as a torturer once the US Army left the country.
Having seen Lost from Season Four onwards I suppose the overall effect of the Henry Gale act is a bit lost on me, and so my primary perspective is imagining the machinations going on in the head of the machivallian schemer currently calling himself Henry Gale. Emerson plays the part with a sly edge - utterly convicted, when necessary, that the Gale story is true, and then for little moments, with increasing frequency as the season goes on, he reveals this beautiful other side which is dark and chilling and manipulative even through bloodied lips. The doubt on the mind of the initial viewer as to whether he's telling the truth or not is what makes the rest of this season so captivating, as Emerson robs every scene he's in even when he's just being beaten up.
|Inman convinces Sayid to torture his commander.|
After a forthnight of meh stories, One of Them gets the season bang on track with a story which develops one character brilliantly, introduces another smoothly and mixes it all up in one lovely characterisation package that played the moral ambiguity of the situation for everything it was worth. I shouldn't need to tell you that this isn't the best of Michael Emerson's performances - they're yet to come, as the exquisitely wound mystery of Henry Gale and who the fuck he is gets slowly unwravelled in a way which, for me at least, is as satisfying as Lost ever managed to be.
NEXT WEEK: Claire remembers all the shit that happened to her! We find another Dharma station! Ethan is a creepy weirdo (was, my apologies.) We take some Maternity Leave.