As I've mentioned before, I boarded the LOST boat long, long after it sailed. Actually, I don't think I started watching until after the series finale. I'm nearly at the end of the series, and I must say that the show has had its ups and downs. Seasons 3 and 5, particularly, were disappointing and poorly-constructed, though Season 2, in my opinion, was very well put together.
As I've become engrossed in the series, I've discussed with other fans of the show the lack of character development in later seasons. We meet multiple new characters as the show progresses, but they lack flesh--they're like cardboard cutout characters that are there to answer some questions or raise some questions or maybe probably die, but not before they've become romantically involved with someone.
One delightful exception to this rule, however, has been the character of Benjamin Linus, played with absolute brilliance and poise by Michael Emerson. Linus' character, introduced in Season 2, has steadily and naturally progressed and unfolded--perhaps "unfolded" is the better word, because the way LOST is constructed precludes up-front character development. LOST lives and dies by the flashback--or flash-forward, or occasionally flash-sideways.
It's true, the creators missed fire with Nikki and Paolo and Charlotte and multiple others, but Linus is a home run. In Season 3 I hated him, as I should, but by the end of the season, I began to feel stirrings of pity for him. Throughout Seasons 4 and 5 he began coming into his own dramatically, often providing or sparking much of the emotional conflict especially off-island. Now, in Season 6, he's the most human, the most compelling, the most accessible character left alive.
This is not due, in my opinion, to the genius of J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, and Carlton Cuse. I think that Michael Emerson's incredible interpretation of the character is what makes Benjamin Linus so rounded, so alive. Emerson is in constant control of his voice; he obviously knows his scripts and knows his character and makes a conscious effort to adopt his character's voice. He is in constant control of his body; he can evoke arrogance, sliminess, and pathetic sorrow with his posture. He is in constant control of his facial expressions and his breathing; he's a whole-body actor.
Michael Emerson is why Benjamin Linus is awesome. Michael Emerson is an awesome actor, and I want to see more of his stuff.
Long live respect!