Still care about ABC's Lost? Here's 'Ben' on what's coming in the final season

As usual, all things about ABC's Lost are hush-hush, lest any posters on the Fuselage message boards get wind of spoilers, but rumors persist that long-departed cast members such as Maggie Grace may return for at least one appearance in the show's sixth and final season.

First things first, though: Are the regulars still coming back? Season five ended with a bomb exploding in the past, possibly erasing the entire present of the show.

Michael Emerson, who plays Ben Linus, confirmed that at least he is still an active part of the show. "My understanding is that I am," Emerson said in an exclusive interview last week at the Saturn Awards in Burbank, Calif. "For how much of season six, that's a good question."

Yes, more cryptic answers from the actor who plays the most cryptic character on the show. He even kiboshed my theory about erasing the present timeline. If the bomb prevented the crash of Oceanic Flight 815, seeing everybody live happily ever after wouldn't earn high ratings for the finale.

"I could see why you might think that, but from my perspective as playing that character who arrived late on that show, it doesn't sound terribly dramatic unless there's something in that equation that I don't quite get," Emerson said. "I'm just curious about what dramatic paths we'll follow."

One dramatic path might be further explorations of the mysterious Jacob. The fifth-season finale revealed Jacob as a corporal presence, but still not quite human. Ben stabbed him, intending to kill Jacob. "I'm still not sure that he's a person like you and [me]," Emerson said. "I'm still not sure he's a person like Ben. Is he killable? I don't know. We haven't been to his funeral yet, so I don't know. I don't know where all that's going."

Season six might finally give us more Ben flashbacks. We've seen Ben in flash-forwards, sending Sayid on assassination missions and trying to shoot Desmond. We've met Young Ben in the past, but we have yet to see much of Ben as an adult.

"What constitutes a proper Ben flashback?" Emerson said. "There are some gaps in Ben's bio, and I think we may look backward a couple of times this season. I'm just guessing."

Don't expect any big changes for Ben, though. While audiences have seen him go from Henry Gale to the evil leader of the Others to a sympathetic young boy, Emerson has always acted as Ben and will continue to do so. "Ben has always seemed straightforward to me, and I don't think Ben has changed much over time," he said. "I think audience perceptions of Ben [have] changed."

In a separate interview at the Saturns, Lost executive producer Carlton Cuse told a group of reporters that he would not answer any questions about the coming season, not even with vague, dodgy answers. But he promised that he and fellow executive producer Damon Lindelof will be ready to answer questions for fans attending the Lost panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego next month.

"I hope you're coming to Comic-Con," Cuse said in a group interview. "Traditionally, Damon and I go into radio silence this time of year, and then at Comic-Con, we will answer questions. We want to give the fans a chance to speculate and theorize about what they saw in the finale, so we don't want to kind of be interpreting the finale at this point. Come Comic-Con, we'll have a few more things to say about what's going to happen in season six."

Somebody please ask whether we're going to see what happened if the plane never crashed, so Cuse will give us an answer. "Perhaps, or it will be evaded in more elaborate detail," he said.

Lost returns in January 2010 on ABC.

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