With just two regular episodes plus one super-sized series finale left to air, ABC’s ‘Lost‘ continues its “wild ride” this Tuesday with an outing that fan fave Michael Emerson calls both “unexpected” and “unusual.” Is the hour’s suitably special guest star up to the task? Emerson previews the sprawling saga’s final weeks, sizes up the ever-expanding finale, and explains why he may not be the one to ask for answers once the screen fades to black on Sunday, May 23.
We’ve missed seeing you as of late. Remind us, what has Ben been up to? He, Miles and Richard went off on a mission, right?
Yes. When last heard from, they were going to go out and try to figure out a way to blow up the airplane.
So maybe they were responsible for the package of C4 that UnLocke (played by Terry O’Quinn) found on the plane?
That’s a good question, but no… I think Widmore is behind that.
This week’s episode, “Across the Sea,” is especially unique for ‘Lost’ in that if features barely any regular cast members, yourself included. What is this episode out to accomplish?
The episode takes place in a… time and place completely unexpected. That choice is unusual for our show or any show I’ve ever seen.
One of the few things we know is that ‘The West Wing’s Allison Janney guest-stars as “Woman.” I suppose if you’re going to ask someone to do the heavy lifting, a four-time Emmy winner is a good call.
Yeah, and I suspect that if you asked her now, she would say the lifting might have been too heavy. Our show is rough – the days are long, and the working conditions sometimes are kind of grim – but from everything I hear, she gives a really compelling performance. People should be very interested to see what goes on in that episode.
We next see you on May 18, in the penultimate episode “What They Died For.” Is that when we meet Ben’s well-rumored “surprise love interest”?
Yes. Yes. [Pause] “Yes” is my answer to that. It’s fun and unexpected, and I think it will be thrilling for longtime viewers.
The two dominant theories are that Sideways Ben is with Rousseau… or Tom Friendly.
[Laughs] Those are both excellent choices. I don’t know which one I like better.
The May 23 series finale has been expanded by 30 minutes and will now run two-and-a-half-hours. Why do you think that is?
It’s surprising… and yet in a way I’m not surprised at all. The finale script was so thick and so dense with action…. When we were shooting it, we went so far overtime, I thought, “How are they ever going to squeeze all this into two hours?!” If ‘Lost’ has any flaws, it’s that occasionally we suffer from trying to cut too big a show [for the given time slot], so I’m happy to hear they thought there was enough great stuff that they had to let it breathe. It’s a really great sign.
What is there so much of – action? Verbal exposition?
It’s everything. There’s so much in it. There are tremendous action sequences in it, and to give them the full scope and breadth, sometimes you have to let it be a little bit longer.
Might the finale present too much information to download? Could even the most passionate ‘Lost’ fan come away a bit dizzy?
There’s a lot going on in it, I’ll give you that! The show is definitely going to be a wild ride from here on to the end.
One concern this season is that the Sideways storylines won’t prove to be that significant in the scheme of things. Will that reality somehow tie into the bigger picture?
Yes, and I think one of the reasons the finale is longer is because you have that to do. They’re very much in the business of… integration… in the finale.
What are your own plans for finale night?
Some cast members and I have a thing to shoot for [the apres-finale] ‘Jimmy Kimmel’ [special] in the afternoon, and then I’m doing a personal appearance [at the Los Angeles Orpheum], where they’re showing the finale on a giant screen. But I’m done there when the show starts, so I’ll probably come home and watch it. [Wife] Carrie [Preston] and I may have some friends over.
‘Lost’ bosses Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have said they are entering “radio silence” after the finale airs. Will cast members be unreachable for comment as well?
I think that’s just something they’re doing. But I have to tell you that even though I read and acted in a lot of scenes in the finale, [the bigger picture] is not completely clear to me yet. Some things I wont know until I see the broadcast. One of the reasons we may not be doing a lot of chattering with the press, at least in my case, is I may not have all the answers. I may be a little bit… unclear.
There has been talk that we could see you and Terry O’Quinn work together again, perhaps playing bounty hunters in one proposed series.
Yeah, that was an idea that we kicked around a bit, and he’s spoken to some producers about it. If it has legs it would be a long way off. But of it’s a fun idea, I would leap at the chance to work with Terry on anything – whether it’s singing on a street corner or doing a play in Baltimore. Why not, it’s what we do! We were good together, let’s take our show somewhere else!