Wow. Wow. Wow.
If you're like me, you've done little else today other than think about last night's mind-splitting episode of Lost, what with all its mystery and intrigue and puzzle pieces. Not to mention the apparent time travel, freak-deeky cabin and the reveal that the island must be "moved." WTF?!
Thankfully, the big cheeses in charge, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, agreed to spend a little time this morning answering a few questions. And while I had agreed beforehand to not delve deep into anything spoilery, I tried my best to get us all some info we can chew over until the next episode airs!
Among the findings in this interview:
* The question is not whether Claire is dead but “What happened to Claire?”
* Christian Shepard is dead.
* Time travel is definitely happening on this show.
* Sounds to me like Richard Alpert is doing it. (Remind me later of a theory I have relating to time travel and the knocking up of Losties' moms!)
* They were surprised by today's "announcement" of two extra episodes in season five and six.
* They know whom Kate will end up with in the very end.
DL: Carlton? You know we don’t understand it either.
That is comforting. Well, congratulations, I think the fan response has been so positive this season. There were some people who were frustrated in season three and I feel like all those people who were cynical are back into the fandemonium of the show.
Damon Lindelof: My feeling about is that it feels great, and we're enjoying it more than we ever enjoyed it before, for having gone through the dark times. And at the same time, our attitude isn't, "I told you so we're awesome," because I know we still have 34 episodes to go, and it's a roller coaster.
And at the end of the day people put a lot of weight on the finale, because the finale is the taste left in their mouth for the next eight months. Nobody's talking about the undefeated season that the New England Patriots had—everybody's talking about the fact that the Giants won the Super Bowl, so until the finale is aired, and people respond to that, there are no laurels to be resting on.
Carlton Cuse: Me, I'm just happy, with no qualifications whatsoever.
How are you feeling about the finale about this point? Are you feeling pretty confident about it?
CC: Yes, we were up until the wee hours last night editing the finale. I think we're pretty pleased. We want to be kind of cautious in our optimism, but it feels like the film that we are getting back from Hawaii is fantastic. Jack Bender is doing a great job directing it, and I think that people will be surprisesd by the finale. Not in the literal M. Night Shyamalan way that we surprised the audience last year, but I think emotionally satisfying and also intriguing, and we'll leave people kind of very excited and interested to figure out what season five is going to be about.
DL: Yes, there's a sense of completeness this year in terms of what we set out to do in season four, to tell the story of how the Oceanic Six got off the island, and why they are lying, and what happened in the immediate aftermath of them being rescued, all the way up to Jack yelling at Kate, "We have to go back!" And we feel we've accomplished that, and beyond that there's an indication in the finale of what the future may hold. We're really glad that we got the extra hour from ABC. That made a huge difference in being able to do the two-hour finale or else it would've felt—we were sitting in the editing room last night watching one of the scenes, and we looked at each other, and said, "I can't believe we ever thought we were going to be able to do this in an hour." The scope is large.
Was this season considerably different then it would've been had we not had the strike, or do you feel that you set out what you wanted to accomplish this season?
CC: I think in a funny way it was probably better because of the strike, for two reasons. (1) We just put the pedal all the way down to the metal to get everything done with two less hours. A lot of the more languid, contemplative material went out the window. And (2) I think we were fresh after 100 days off. We came back, and we jumped into the show. We were recharged, and we've had a real sort of energy to attack these last six episodes. Normally, at the end of a season, it's like running a marathon. You're exhausted, you've used every good idea that you've had, and you have the fatigue of writing 17 episodes. We came in fresh, really energized, and I think that really helped the batch of episodes.
DL: It's crazy because you've now seen three episodes of the post-strike work, and we didn't even start writing them until Valentines Day, and now they've aired. It's a tremendous amount of energy put in by the writing staff, the production staff, the actors and the editors. Right now we literally have four editors and assistants all working around the clock just to get the finale done. And Jack Bender is still shooting today, and we're going to air this two-hour movie two weeks from last night. So we're really proud of the fact that we were able to write and produce six hours of television in a 12-week period, which is essentially the same amount of time we had to produce the pilot.
Daniel Dae Kim, Lost
And we found out that there will be one more episode in each of these seasons. Are you happy about that?
DL: I don't know where that came from. I think Carlton and I did a KROQ interview yesterday, and they asked what about the two episodes that didn't get done this year, and we reiterated as we have in many interviews we will probably do 17 next year and 17 the following year. And now everyone's presenting it to us like it's an official announcement.
CC: Post-strike we always said we would make up the ones that got dropped.
Emilie de Ravin, Lost
Obviously the big question after last night's episode, leading into that finale, is "How are they going to move the island?" which is a fantastic twist and also, "Is Claire dead?" Is that a question that you are wanting the fans to be asking at this point?
CC: I think that we want the fans to ask, "What's happened to Claire?" I don't think it's "Is she dead?" I think it's like "Where is she?" and "What's going on with her?"
DL: What's fascinating with Lost is there's a scene where Claire is in the cabin, and she is sitting next to a guy who is dead, and nobody is saying "What's up with that?" They're all saying "Is she dead?" I think the more operative question is, "What is dead?" That's a good question to ask, and one you will certainly be asking over the long hiatus.
Can you say if time travel is definitely a part of the series?
How do you keep all of the different timelines straight? I have to imagine that there's some huge board somewhere where you have all of the timelines, because there's so much overlap at this point. Is it difficult keeping all of that straight, and how closely do you guard that room where all the secrets are kept?
DL: We have a guy, Gregg Nations, who is now co-producer on the show who has been our script coordinator since the very beginning, and that's been his job maintaining the continuity of the show.
The easiest continuity to keep is what's happening on the island starting on September 22, 2004, up until where we are now, which is roughly like day 100 on the island, as of what you saw last night. That's fairly easy.
And then the flashbacks, they start getting confusing because relative to each other. It's not that hard to say Jack ratted out his father and got him fired before he went to Australia, but all of that happened after he broke up with Sarah. [What is hard to sort out is] how those scenes take place in relation to Hurley winning the lottery or Sayid leaving Iraq...so that's all Gregg's job.
Once we moved into the future this year it's become incredibly daunting for him, because all the Oceanic Six are intertwined, and you will begin to see in the finale as we begin to fill in these missing pieces in the future, sort of trying to understand what were the conditions under which the Oceanic Six left the island, and why are they lying, that that gets incredibly tricky. And you will finally get a sense of when the scene that you saw in last year's finale takes place in relation to all of these other scenes where Jack and Kate are on the tarmac.
So, there is no physical document, it's all sort of in Gregg's head. If he were to leave the show or have a massive coronary, it would take Tom Hanks from The DaVinci Code to sort of piece it together, which is how we like it.
CC: But he's just to be clear, he's the keeper of everything that's been done on the show, not the stuff that will be done. He doesn't have to sort of be living in a locked vault because he doesn't have the stuff that is yet to be seen on the show. It's enormously beneficial to have Gregg as a resource because we ourselves sometimes have a hard time figuring out where events happened relative to other events.
Well, you guys know that the fans are very passionate about how the romantic storylines go on the show. In the last episode, obviously we had some really great Jack and Kate stuff. Does it make it tricky to write the romances knowing that the fans do feel so strongly about it? And how much do you take into account how they are going to react to a Kate and Jack scene or a Kate and Sawyer scene?
DL: At the end of the day, we haven't done any official polling but it feels like there's a 50-50 Skater-Jater spilt and sort of Juliet is the Ross Perot. The people who are passionate about Jacket are very passionate, but ultimately the triangle is a product of Kate and will she end up with Jack or Sawyer. It's not like Carlton and I are both rooting for Jack on any given day. We feel like Kate's character is bound to explore relationships with both those guys and both those guys are going to be responsive to her various advances. We know who she ends up with ultimately, but we think that the trail there is obviously going to include a little bit of ping-ponging.
CC: We're both Skaters and Jaters at the same time.
This is a question I don't know if you can or will want to answer...Does Richard Alpert age?
CC: Does Richard Alpert age? I think it's a good observation to say that Richard Albert has been observed in various time periods looking the same, but I think that's all we want to say at this point in time. However, you will learn a lot more about Richard Alpert as the show goes on. He is going to become more prominent in the future of the show.
And it seems like the series has branched off in so many different directions. The scope of what has happened on Lost is just so vast and so intricate. As the series continues for the next few seasons, will things start to come together in some sort of cohesive way or are you still branching out further?
CC: We were actually laughing about this the other day. How, back at the beginning, finding water was sort of the crisis, not whether the island can be moved. The stakes have definitely risen.
We have two seasons left, so we think there will be more incredibly compelling complications for the characters before we get to the end, but again really the great virtue of the end date is that we will start wrapping things up, and we will be trying to tie up all the story threads.
We keep a list of unanswered questions, and we will be trying to answer most of those. Obviously, mystery is a part of life, and mystery is a part of the show. I guess we'll all have to see at the end of the day how satisfied people are, but it is our intention to try to wrap things up. I don't know if the show will become simpler, but hopefully in the wrapping up of these questions, it will be satisfying.
DL: There are some questions that are very engaging and interesting, and then there are other questions that we have no interest whatsoever in answering. We call it the midi-chlorian debate, because at a certain point explaining something mystical demystifies it. To try and have a character come and say "Here is what the numbers mean," actually makes every usage of the numbers up to that point less interesting.
You can actually watch Star Wars now and when Obi-Wan talks about the Force to Luke the first time we hear him, it loses its luster because subsequently the Force has been explained as, sort of, little biological agents that are in your blood stream. So you go, "Oh, I liked Obi-Wan's version a lot better," which in the case of our show is "The numbers are bad luck, they keep popping up in Hurley's life, they appear on the island."
CC: I heard that Obi-Wan had actually experienced the numbers. That's actually a big secret that's now been revealed.
DL: But if you're watching the show for a detailed explanation of what the numbers mean—and I'm not saying you won't see more of them—then you will be disappointed by the end of season six.
Do you see Penny and Desmond as a central plot for the show? And if Penny were to die would Desmond die because she's his Constant? Is that a fair assumption?
DL: Desmond and Penny are an incredibly important part of the show, and one of our favorite romances and relationship to write on the show. Obviously, Sonya Walger is an incredibly busy actor, and as a result of that, it limits our ability to go to the Penny and Desmond well, but every time we do it's very special as something that we do not get to explore every other week. All we can say is that there's a lot more to tell about that story, but hopefully you will have a better sense of that over the summer.
And how much do you know about what you'll be doing next season, and do you know who the cast will be for season five? Have you figured that out?
CC: We are just starting our mini-camping process for season five. That's sort of where we take the big ideas for season five and try to break 'em down into a season-long story arc. So it's a little too premature for us to say specifically what season five is going to be like, in great detail—and once we figure that out we probably won't say anything anyway.
DL: We just finished our first week of mini-camp. We know what the story for the two remaining seasons is, but the big question on the table now is what goes on season five and what do we hold for season six. We don't want the audience to think that season five is just a big tap dance. It's not The Two Towers in The Lord of the Rings saga where it's just a big battle for three hours until you get to the volcano.
CC: We hope it's going to be more like the Empire Strikes Back, in Star Wars, in which the penultimate chapter in the first saga was the best.
DL: We can say as a result of the reduced episodic order though, that we are not shifting out of answering question mode. That doesn't mean you won't get some new interesting questions along the way in season five that will pay off in season six. But there are a lot of engaging mysteries that we will be addressing right out of the gate.
Wow. Wow. Wow.