Lost: Why Ben Linus is the Best Villain Ever
xRECKONERx wrote this in the Best Villian of 2014 thread on mafiascum.net. Since I think it captures the real essence of my feelings of Ben, want to post it here so I'll always have it.
But... Lost is a personal show for many reasons. You can knock it for all you want... incongruent philosophies, not making sense, an unrewarding payoff, and I'll probably at least sympathize with you. But Ben Linus, as portrayed by Michael Emerson, is one of the most brilliantly written and best performed villains in television history. He's the type of villain that you hate, and yet you find yourself feeling sorry for at your core, and it makes you question yourself. He's the type of villain that you love to hate to see commit these awful crimes... yet, when he does, you see a bit of humanity underneath. He's the type of villain that is only ever solely out for personal gain, but you put yourself in his shoes so well, that you find yourself rooting for him. He's the type of villain that makes you question a little bit of yourself, because he's not all that awful, right? He shows his humanity. But at the end of the day, he did these awful things that make it hard to really admit you root for him.
Ben Linus came around pre-Game of Thrones and pre-Breaking Bad, where rooting for evil characters wasn't commonplace in television. He was a villain, through and through, always working contrary to the protagonists' desires and plots. But... the writing, the way Emerson portrayed him, his place in the timeline of the show... it made it so difficult to hate him. That's why he's brilliant. I would argue that Emerson put on the best villainous performance in television in the past 20 years, with Bryan Cranston as Walter White, James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, and maybe Giancarlo Esponito as Gus Fring in contention for the title. He just owned the role, and despite the complaints against Lost's inconsistent writing, the one part that is arguably perfect is the role of Ben Linus.