It's virtually impossible to tell whether Lost's Ben Linus is a good guy or a bad guy. As much as we keep churning out the theories, TVGuide.com turned to Michael Emerson himself for his thoughts on Ben's upcoming storylines. How much of Ben's past will we see during the time jumps? Will we ever meet Annie? Have we already?
TVGuide.com: Has Ben's revenge mission against Charles Widmore been trumped by getting the Oceanic 6 to return to the island?
Michael Emerson: I think Ben has not forgotten what Charles Widmore has done to him, and I think he's going to try to take care of that business at the same time as he's taking care of the larger mission.
TVGuide.com: With all this time jumping happening on the island, will we see young Ben again?
Emerson: Yes. In fact, now that we are sort of ping-ponging around in the time-space continuum, all those backstories are re-emerging in more important ways. And the characters are, to some extent, going to be recontextualized. I know Ben is. You're going to learn things about him that either mitigate or intensify some of the judgments you've made about him.
TVGuide.com: It's pretty hard to tell if he's good or bad on any given day.
Emerson: I think they mean you to be right there and not know. You may leave the series at the final conclusion still not knowing if he's good or bad.
TVGuide.com: Did Ben's little girlfriend Annie die in The Purge?
Emerson: We don't know. That's still up in the air, but I'm guessing that's one of the most burning questions of the backstory that I'm sure will be dealt with. We have so much bouncing around in time and space to do this season it will make you dizzy. It's also going to provide some thrills and chills. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: So you think Annie will pop back into the picture?
Emerson: Yeah, I think so. In fact, I may go so far as to say we may already know Annie. Have you considered that? I'm not speaking from knowledge of a script because that's not a thing that has been written, but stranger things have happened on the show. Everyone is more connected then they ever thought, and it's often by blood.
TVGuide: Maybe Ben has unknown relatives on the island as well?
Emerson: That's a good one. Or it could be a deal where maybe some people never escaped a time or place. Or maybe some people are no longer in control of the when of their lives. Our writers are smart sci-fi guys and they're going to push the envelope.
TVGuide.com: How about revisiting that crush Ben had on Juliet?
Emerson: I think it must be explained, or its end must be explained — the end of those feelings. You might want to put that in the file labeled "Stuff Ben Doesn't Have Time to Think About But May Be Able to Further Down the Line." I suppose it's possible, though, that the writers have made us understand that Juliet made her feelings too clear to Ben and the world, and he's moved on.
TVGuide.com: How often have your scenes crossed with Fionnula Flanagan's Eloise Hawking?
Emerson: Well you haven't seen it yet, but I've worked with her a lot. One of the tributes to the genius of our writers is they will introduce a character like Eloise Hawking in a one-off kind of deal and we all think, "Oh, that was an interesting side journey that we could have gone on and didn't." But the writers haven't forgotten about it. They've brought it back around so it dovetails neatly with what's going on.
TVGuide.com: Can you give us any idea on when or how we'll next see Jacob?
Emerson: Jacob seems to have fallen away from our consciousness. The show is so much more wrapped up in intermediary leader figures. There seems to be a whole raft of people Ben must answer to, but they're not as high up as Jacob. Jacob seems to have receded into the mist again — sort of mysterious and godlike. He continues to be much talked about, and ultimately is the force behind the island. And the island is changing. We thought of it as a rock in the water, but now it appears to be more of a movable organism now. So to be in charge of such a thing — what does that mean? These are questions I ask myself.
TVGuide.com: Do you ever find yourself just reeling after reading a script?
Emerson: I have read a couple of scenes in the middle part of the season where I've dropped the script while reading it, or I stood up and said, "Oh my God, they can't do that, can they?" And they can. They can do whatever they want. There are a couple of things that will just make your hair stand on end. People across the country are going to jump up off their sofas and scream, "No! No way!" I just love it. [Laughs]