'Lost' producers reunite at Comic-Con, present new footage
Did Darlton offer definitive proof that they had a plan?
Over the last few days, it appeared that the two main creative architects of "Lost" were having a Twitter war, as Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse kept sending increasingly hostile tweets at each other about something they only called "the Marble Rye." It got to the point where some "Lost" fans were sending out anguished tweets about how Mommy and Daddy were fighting.
As it turns out, the entire beef was staged to set up Team Darlton's surprise, hilarious entrance into the memorable "Entertainment Weekly Presents... Totally 'Lost': One Year Later" panel.
Moderators and "Lost" fans Jeff Jensen and Dan Snierson opened by suggesting that fans might be better off at virtually any other panel going on at that time, then bickering over whether Jensen should be allowed to screen his bootleg DVD copy of whatever "the Marble Rye" was. Then a man in a Stormtrooper costume charged in, yelled that the DVD was never meant to be shown, and ripped off his helmet to reveal Cuse, who was quickly followed by Lindelof in a Dharma Initiative jumpsuit.
Carlton explained that they had planned out the entire series mythology in the first season, and that the season 1 finale, "Exodus," contained a scene that would explain most of it - and which he ultimately felt was too much. Lindelof then griped that the whole "Were you making it up as you went along?" question had only gotten worse since the series ended (in somewhat controversial fashion), and now, "We have the smoking gun. We can show them a scene that clearly and specifically can make the question go away forever."
"The integrity of the show would be violated!" insisted Carlton.
"Since when do you care about the integrity of the show?" Damon retorted.
The crowd - all shocked and pleased to have Darlton appear - overwhemingly voted to see the footage, and... well, you can watch for yourself, now that it's up on ABC.com:
(For the record, top "Lost" director Jack Bender himself shot the new footage on the Disney backlot a few weeks ago, on a patch of lawn near where "Brothers & Sisters" used to film, and Titus Welliver and Mark Pellegrino happily showed up to do it.)
Once the crowd had gotten over the shock of learning the Man in Black's real name was Barry, Cuse and Lindelof took questions from the fans, each of whom received a "Star Wars"-themed "Lost" poster for their troubles.
If anyone was expecting Darlton to start filling in any of the remaining blanks from the show, they were quickly disabused of this notion when an early questioner asked about my own pet obsession(*): who was shooting at Sawyer and the others in the outrigger right before a time jump in season 5?
(*) I've now badgered them so much on this question that Lindelof actually asked if I was in the audience after that was asked.
"We will not be filling in the missing blanks after the show is over," Carlton said, first using a metaphor about life also having unanswered questions, then more practically saying it wouldn't be fair to be giving an answer here, and an answer there, for years to come, "scattered like horcruxes along the pop culture universe."
And specifically with regards to the outrigger, Lindelof compared it to the Russian in "The Sopranos," and said, "At that point, we'd answered so many questions, and the response to some of those answers was 'Blech!' So basically, we were like, 'The outrigger box will stay unchecked.'"
One mystery that they said was always meant to be unexplained was the source of Walt's powers, which Lindelof likened to Stephen King's "Carrie," where it's just accepted without explanation that Carrie is telekinetic.
"That's one of those things that never felt like a mystery to us: why is Walt special?" he said. "The answer is, because he is."
(That said, because they had expected to be canceled after the first 13 episodes, they never banked on having to deal with Malcolm David Kelley's growth spurt, and at that point had to write him out, only giving Walt some semblance of closure in the bonus epilogue, "New Man in Charge," on the complete series DVD set.)
Lindelof and Cuse have both taken a lot of heat from some corners of fandom - including one of Lindelof's personal heroes, "Game of Thrones" author George R.R. Martin - for how the show ended. But Damon said that with time, he's been able to find that even people who didn't like certain major aspects of the finale (the explanation of the sideways universe, specifically), almost everyone he meets at least liked certain parts of it.
"Almost everybody digs the idea that Hurley's in charge at the end and Ben's going to be his number two," he said. "That's not a controversial idea. Almost everybody likes the idea that Jack dies. Some are sad about it, but they like it. It's when you start to get into the other territory - what was the sideways world, what did it mean, what did it represents - things that speak on a deeper level to the sixth season of the show and the series that's the sticky wicket. But at the very least, if you go down a checklist of the finale - Did you like this? Did you like this? - it's not a zero sum game."
Both producers chose the show's first season as their favorite, even though Lindelof said it was "the most unhappy time of my life" and he cried through virtually all of it, until "we went to Hawaii and watched them shoot the raft launch, and it clicked for me: 'The word "Lost" is going to be next to my name when I die, and I'm cool with that.'"
(Carlton: "He was still crying during season 2.")
Damon said that as much as he enjoyed the voices of Ben and Hurley and some others, his favorite scenes to write almost always involved Jack and Locke together.
(Carlton: "That was my favorite combination, but when Claire had Squirrel Baby, that was great, too.")
Near the panel's end, the writers were asked how it felt to have created something that made such an impact on so many people. Cuse talked about the many people who worked on the show right along with them and said they'd cherish the experience forever.
Lindelof added that the show wasn't just a collaboration between himself, Cuse and the rest of the creative team and cast, "but by the people in this room. We had a dialogue going the entire time the show was on that was critical to use the entire time as writers. It's like when a football team takes the field at home, and crowd noise has a factor. You guys were our crowd noise."
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