The Others have been an overriding force on Lost since the first season. Originally seen in glimpses, they have become full characters now that Jack, Kate and Sawyer are trapped in their compound. Though not even the Others actors know the story, they have their own theories.
Interview: Michael Emerson Lost With Theories
"I have thought right along that Benjamin Linus and his people are rebels or renegades or freedom fighters of some sort and that they are at war with whoever the real powers were that built and control the island," said Michael Emerson. "But I don't have a lot of evidence for that either. That's just sort of a feeling I have. I do feel like there are worse people out there than the others. I don't know if worse is the right word. That implies a sort of value judgment. Maybe I should say there are scarier people out there than the others."
At the end of season two, Ben told Michael and Walt that they were the good guys, though so far they still seem like villains. "Oh, I don't know that he's any more a villain than he ever was, to tell you the truth. I'm still holding out hope that when the details of his real mission are revealed, we're going to think he's a little more heroic than we have."
Heroic, but keeping people in cages? "At the very least, I think he meant what he said. Now, whether his point of view is skewed by his life's experience or not, I don't know but I think he believes himself to be a good man and he's under some pressure. He's fighting some kind of war. I can't tell exactly what it is but he has a terrible responsibility I think."