Season 1 introduced us to many new faces and characters. Many will argue the most complex and interesting was John Pope. The bad ass with a soft spot for kids it would seem. But as we moved on through season 1, another character became center stage that was just as interesting and mysterious, Ben Mason. Season 2 brings even more complexity to his character and is in my opinion the most interesting character of season 2.
Ben Mason – Season 1
Ben Mason is the middle son of Tom Mason, the 2nd in command of the 2nd mass. Bookish like his father and very quiet, he was taken and harnessed by the aliens just after the start of the invasion. It had been nearly 6 months since anyone had seen Ben and Tom, Hal and Matt held out hope they would find him again. Much of season 1 was spent with Tom and Hal doing their best to look for Ben between gathering intel, supplies and relocating the group.
Finally Hal spots Ben with a group of harnessed kids at a nearby hospital and rescues him along with the other kids and takes them back to the 2nd mass. Once Ben awakes, the hope everyone had at the rescue of Ben and the others turned into mystery and despair as they were not as they should be. Ben seemed to be normal, talkative and happy to be home unlike Rick was when he awoke. But when asked about his time with the skitters, he tells Matt they were not all bad. They were like a family and took care of him. Hal overhears this and is concerned over Bens recovery.
Nobody else seems to notice the subtle changes in Ben, except for Hal. Before Ben was taken, Hal had a fight with him and things weren’t left on good terms. Hal wants to do everything in his power to protect his little brother and does what he can to push him for information without pushing him away. Ben manages to do 100 push ups without breaking a sweat, something Hal tells Dr. Glass he could barely do 10 of before the invasion. She seems to brush it off but Hal won’t.
While others might not notice the changes in Bens behavior, those in the 2nd mass notice his spikes and don’t like him or Rick being around them. They call them ‘razorbacks’ and want them out of the 2nd mass. Hal and Maggie jump to Bens defense and get them to back off. But Ben knows when he isn’t wanted around. Through everything he has been through, Ben knows nobody wants him around. His family has to love him because they are family, but nobody else seems to want him there, or at the very least they are afraid of him. Ben agrees to leave with Clayton to this sanctuary with the other kids. Hal feeling guilty over a fight they had before Ben was taken and just before their mom died, decides to go with them also to watch over Ben.
At the sanctuary Ben feels further isolated from the group as Jimmy does his best to distance himself from Ben. At dinner Rick questions Ben out loud asking how he could eat their food. The question was in such a way that you know he didn’t mean Claytons food, he meant the humans. Ben knows there is still a connection with the aliens, but he won’t share that with anyone. Rick is the only other person who knows or understands this. Ricks father finds out the real reason all the kids were brought to the sanctuary, to be given up to the skitters. Along with Hal they all escape and hide in a nearby house. Hal sends Ben back to camp to get help. Hal knows Ben will be able to outrun anyone else but Jimmy still questions whether Ben will get help or simply run off to the skitters.
Ben pulls through for them, making it to Weaver and getting the backup in place so when Clayton came back to the sanctuary with Tom and the kids, Weaver and his men were waiting. This helped give Ben some friends among the 2nd mass. Jimmy finally trusted Ben now and so did many others, as he ended up saving them. At Mikes funeral, Rick doesn’t understand how humans could kill each other. They would never kill one of their own. He goes on to say Ben of all people should understand that.
Hal stumbles upon Ben jump roping, something unusual for him because he wasn’t the exercising type before the invasion. Ben goes to grab the stop watch before Hal does but Hal gets it first and reads 2 hours, 40 minutes. Ben tries to brush it off as a mistake, but Hal knows better and Bens strength continues to grow. Dr. Glass does a follow-up exam on Ben and notices the skin on his back is becoming hard, like the skitters. She doesn’t concern Ben with this but she knows something isn’t right. Dr. Glass decides to take her hunch one step further and do an autopsy on a skitter. Her fear is realized when they find a harness on the skitters spin. Dr. Glass isn’t sure what to make of it, are the children turning into skitters? Or what were the skitters before the harness? The end result is Tom and Anne know the aliens still have a hold over Ben and they arent letting go.
The aliens are moving forward with an attack on the school just as the 2nd mass is setting up an attack on the alien structure. Rick goes nuts and attacks uncle Scott in order to stop him from using a radio to jam the aliens signal. Ben was helping Scott with the jamming, as he could still hear the signal in his head. Ben was under extreme pain when the correct frequency was chosen. Eventually Ben found Rick and tried convincing Ben to go with him back to the skitters. Ben refused and called for help but Rick jumped out the window and Ben ran after him. Rick managed to get away but Ben was almost shot as the others outside thought both of them were running to the skitters. With Bens help, they managed to jam the signal and stop the attack on the school but not before causing extreme pain to Ben and causing him to collapse.
Tom learns from the aliens that although the harness has been removed, the process the harness started was not finished and Ben was not free from it. Tom would do anything to protect Ben and agreed to get on the ship even though his better judgement was not to. As season 2 starts we see Ben, stronger, faster, more alert and deadlier then ever before. He was the perfect solider as a fighter but his hatred towards the skitters is putting others in harm’s way. The changes Ben fought hard to keep secret were mostly in the open for everyone to see, and the distrust of him in the 2nd mass was growing. With Tom gone, Hal is the only person who stands between Ben and the 2nd mass and the only person who knows something more is going on. In a recent interview with Drew Roy, he explains a confrontation Hal and Ben have that leaves Hal very worried about his brothers state of mind.
During our set visit in Vancouver, we learned from director Greg Beeman and others that Bens story is the most complex and interesting of the new season. Having seen the first 4 episodes, I can certainly agree. In season 1 Pope was our complex bad guy we all loved to hate. In season 2 Ben is the most complex and interesting story. The aliens and the mystery continue to grow as we watch Ben change and we all start to question everything we thought we knew about the aliens.
Writer, producer, director and actor, Jessup will next star on the big screen as the lead role in the independent film Blackbird, in which he plays an angry and troubled teenage boy who is wrongfully accused and arrested for a crime he did not commit. He ends up in juvenile detention where he quickly realizes the changes he will need to make if he wants to survive.
Jessup is best known for his leading role in the Discovery Kids television series Saddle Club, in which he played Simon Atherton, a 13-year-old computer geek.
Jessup credits his love for the dramatic arts and entertainment industry to his involvement with local youth theater growing up. His skills extend far beyond the scope of acting on the big or small screen as this teenage prodigy has been writing, directing, producing and editing films from the age of 11.
His producing credits include the independent film Amy George, which recently premiered at the Wisconsin International Film Festival. The independent film follows a 13-year-old boy’s quest to become an artist, whose dreams are halted because he believes his mundane life has left him unprepared to make his dream a reality. After reading a book on what it takes to become a true artist, this seemingly unlikable boy finds himself in a life of risk, ecstasy, wilderness and women.
Jessup recently completed the short film Something, which he wrote, directed, produced, and edited. Something follows 10-year-old Jack as he struggles to find beauty in life after he survives the collapse of the human existence. He also wrote, directed and produced the short film I Don’t Hurt Anymore! in addition to the play Pushing Normal, in which he received the Award of Distinction for the script at the 2010 Sears Drama Festival.