Throughout history there have been shows on television that have asked a lot from their fans. They make them take leaps of faith as the shows move in byzantine-like ways that seem to have no end.
However, Lost is on a whole other level. Mixing up influences, characters, stories and just about everything it can get it's hands on, this show has a story to tell the world that isn't going to stop until 2010.
With the release of Lost: The Complete Third Season on DVD pending, executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof sat down to discuss some of the features of this new release, the direction of the show and what fans might expect in the Fourth Season.
We saw that these new DVD contain your literature references. Which reference is the most obvious in Season Three?
Damon Lindelof: One of the special features on the Season Three DVD is called "Lost Book Club." You'll get your answers there... but my personal favorite is that Aldo (the Other guarding Room 23 in Episode 7) is reading A Brief History of Time.
What do you think fans will be most excited about on the Season Three special features?
Carlton Cuse: We're very excited about the 24 hours of Lost feature. It really illustrates how complex and collaborative a process it is to make a TV series. We are also very excited about the Blu-ray release. This is the first ABC Disney TV show to come out on Blu-ray and it will be awesome on a quality level. There also is a very special answers feature on the Blu-ray discos only in which Damon and I confirm or deny various truths of the the show.
Did the unveiling of Jacob have more to do with providing answers to the audience, or posing questions to the audience?
Carlton Cuse: If you felt the unveiling of Jacob provided answers, you are probably in the minority! We felt it was important to introduce Jacob as more than just a name at this point as he will become important downstream.
Now that Season Three has answered (and asked) so many questions, what can we expect from Season 4?
Damon Lindelof: To answer and ask a lot of questions. Seriously, though, Season 4 is gonna be a whole new show in a lot of ways. We're really excited with what we're doing and hope that it'll offer as many surprises as the finale did.
So many of the characters are not good or evil, but ambiguous. How do characters like Locke or Ben allow you flexibility for the series?
Carlton Cuse: You use the word ambiguous, we would use the word complex. We are interested in exploring how good and evil can be embodied in the same characters and the struggles we all have to overcome the dark parts of our souls.
If Michael is coming back this season, will be be seeing a physical Walt or still just the ghostly presence? Or has Malcolm now got too big to convincingly be a kid?
Damon Lindelof: Michael is coming back. Definitely. As for Walt... we've always known Malcolm was going to grow faster than we could shoot the show. And we planned for it. Trust us. Please trust us.
Which character's death was the hardest for you to accept this season?
Damon Lindelof: It was incredibly hard to say goodbye to Charlie. We really felt the season needed to end with the loss of one of the major characters and began setting it up very early in the year. Charlie's sacrifice was brutal for us to write... and Dom's performance made it particularly brutal to watch. The reverberation of that death echoes right into the premiere of Season Four.
Do you already know which actor will play the mysterious Jacob? And, was there any episode in which Jacob appeared before he was met by Locke?
Carlton Cuse: Yes, we do know how Jacob will be depicted. Notice the careful wording of my answer. No, Jacob did not appear before he was met by Locke.
Why did you create the characters of Paulo and Nikki? Why did they have to die?
Damon Lindelof: People asked questions about the other characters on the beach. Are we ever going to learn anything about them? so we decided to bring Nikki and Paulo out of the chorus, but once we did it people were angry that we were taking time away from out main characters and giving it to Nikki and Paulo, so we listened to the fans and decided to bury them alive.
How many people are involved in this project? Is it the same crew with which Lost started or is it larger?
Carlton Cuse: There are nearly 500 people who work on Lost. A fair amount of the crew has rotated out over time. About 400 are in Hawaii. The other 100 are here in LA. We write, edit, cast and do all the post production on the show here in LA. All the shooting of the show is done in Hawaii.
So do you already know how the series will end and does it fit with what was planned from the beginning (at least concept wise )?
Damon Lindelof: We always knew the ending, we just didn't know how much time to take before we got there. So, yes, it still completely fits with where we're at in the storytelling right now. With 48 episodes to go, it's exciting to be working towards an endpoint we're already familiar with.
How many days are the survivors in the Island? If you follow this day counting for the next three seasons, the pregnant Sun won't die before the show ends. Well, at least not because the island pregnancy disease. Is that right?
Damon Lindelof: By the end of season three, the survivors have still be on the island for less than a hundred days. Yes. Your Sun theory is correct... but don't forget that you may be jumping into the future next year, so anything goes!
Do you use many special effects?
Carlton Cuse: We shoot the entire show on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. That requires lots of visual effects in order to make Honolulu look like Iraq, Paris, NYC, et al.
With so much fans around arguing about the series, have you ever take from them some ideas?
Carlton Cuse: Yes. Got any?
Is Hawking named after Stephen Hawking? Why doesn't he get old?
Damon Lindelof: You may be confusing Hawking (a woman in Desmond's "Flashes Before Your Eyes" episode) with Richard Alpert... Ben's right hand man. Hawking is indeed named after Stephen. Alpert is also named after someone famous, but you're gonna have to look it up for yourself.
Will you be doing many flash-forwards next season or does it give too much away about who will survive?
Carlton Cuse: Flash forwards will be a part of Season 4, yes. But it would be wrong to think that the flashforward you saw is the end of the series.
Do you already know what will be the last image of the last episode of Lost? A little message for my colleague Raphaelle please?
Carlton Cuse: Yes, we do know what the last image of the show is and it won't be a black screen! Who is Raphaelle? Hi and aloha, Raphaelle!
Is there any explanation for selecting the names of Locke, Rousseau, Hume for some characters?
Damon Lindelof: Yes. They are all people on Carlton's bowling team. Oh... and world famous philosophers whose writings we liberally steal and infuse into the show.
4 8 15 16 23 42. Will we know someday what do these numbers really mean?
Carlton Cuse: We may explain what 16 and 23 mean. Were very conflicted about giving up the meanings of 4,8 and 42.
Did Nikki and Paolo die because the fans didn't respond to the characters or just because it was incredibly cool to get rid of them like that?
Carlton Cuse: BOTH!!!!
What was the most difficult thing to film in the Third Season of Lost?
Carlton Cuse: The underwater looking glass station, which required a combination of building a set, a functional water tank, and special effects.
Does the Island have a name? Are we going to find it out?
Damon Lindelof: The island's name is "Herbert Jablonski."
Why did you choose Hawaii to shoot Lost?
Carlton Cuse: The environment of the show was as important as any character. After reviewing many options Hawaii seemed the best possible choice. It is an utterly beautiful place and yet not too remote to allow us to fulfill the logistics necessary to make the show.
After all the expectations you created with Walt, are we really never going to see them again?
Damon Lindelof: Oh, you'll see him again. But you're gonna have to be patient. Sorry.
Was the person in the coffin at the end of Season Three someone we've seen before?
Carlton Cuse: Yes.
Season Three saw the death of a lot of main characters. Was it your intention from the start of the season to create such a bloodbath?
Carlton Cuse: This year was about the Others. The ending of the show we felt had to resolve the story of the others. We promised a showdown. that showdown had profound consequences both sides.
The feminine characters are complete by themselves and do not depend on the masculine characters to be credible. Was this something that was thought from the very first moment or was it something that gradually rolled on?
Damon Lindelof: It's totally intentional. And if Carlton and I didn't do it that way, our wives would get angry at us. Honestly, we're blessed with such amazing actresses... individuality and strength are traits we really look for when we're casting. We knew from the moment that Elizabeth Mitchell came in to read for Juliet that she was really gonna shake things up. If there's any reason to watch every episode of Season Three again, it's to watch the growth of that character.
Does the secret of the island implies that all of its inhabitants have to pay a price for being there?
Damon Lindelof: Yes, and that price is $3.95. In seriousness, the show is about redemption. All the characters on this island are confronting the failures of their past and revisiting issues that go to the core of their emotional make up.
Be sincere... the big stone foot is Leonidas' and all of losties are Spartan, isn't it?
Damon Lindelof: Is this because you figured out Paolo and Xerxes are the same person? Damn. You busted us.
Since you reveal that the secret of the island is about space-time traveling, many unsolved things in Lost now seem to have an acceptable explanation. Why did you decide to reveal that?
Carlton Cuse: When ABC/Disney allowed us to end the show in 48 more episodes it was time to begin a new modality of story telling which includes flash forwards. The show is like a mosaic. There are tiles in the present, in the past, and now in the future as well. When all the tiles are in place the story of lost will be complete.
Since Charlie didn't die because of the explosion, why didn't he swim back to the surface instead of drowning?
Damon Lindelof: Two reasons. One, once he closed the door (to save Desmond) the porthole that Mikhail blew out was too small for him to fit through. Second reason, because he knew, no matter what, that he was gonna die... so why bother?
The Third Season pushed Kate and Jack apart. But the last episode show that their relationship is stronger than ever. Is this something you made on purpose ? Why did you want the fans to believe they have no chance together ?
Carlton Cuse: The Jack/Kate/Sawyer triangle is something that will go on for a long time! . And who says they don't have a chance??
In the first half of the season, fans said the show didn't provide enough answers. Are you worried you went too far in the other direction for the second half of the season?
Carlton Cuse: No, we think the balance at the end of the season was right. We see each season of the show like a book. The answers we essential for this book of the show to feel complete.
How do you manage to keep the series on the thin line between drama and fantastic?
Damon Lindelof: Very, very carefully.
Can you talk a little bit about about the Wizard of Oz references sprinkled through the series?
Damon Lindelof: The Wizard of Oz (and obviously Alice in Wonderland) are recurring themes in Lost. Both are about real people finding themselves in fantastic worlds... and desperately trying to get home again. We throw these references (Henry Gale, White Rabbits, Hot Air Balloons) in to pay homage to these stories which so heavily influence us in our storytelling.
Do you work with physicists to make the time travel theories seem plausible? Besides the writers, who else helps to create the script of Third Season?
Damon Lindelof: Unfortunately, physicists are too busy doing physics to help us with our story problems. Most of the stuff we do on the show is heavily researched (coughcoughWikipediacough) to give it that feel of authenticity. And speaking of Time Travel, you'll wanna check out the brand new ORCHID Dharma Orientation Video on the Season 3 DVD.
What's the reason to watch Season Three on dvd?
Damon Lindelof: One of the things that we think hurt the storytelling this year was breaking the season up... doing six episodes that were dark and depressing and probably too focused on the Others before we reunited the group and got to the meat of the season. In addition to the fairly awesome behind the scenes stuff, watching the season as a whole is something we really think enhances the experience.
How often are the Hawaiian rainstorms actually written in?
Damon Lindelof: Much more often than we actually shoot them! Hawaii often calls us and says -- "Seriously. Another downpour? You guys are killing us!" But hey, rain is dramatic, right?
After three seasons of flashbacks, was it inevitable to go with flash forwards as there were fewer and fewer flashback ideas? Will the flash forward trend become the norm, or will it balance with flashbacks?
Damon Lindelof: Absolutely inevitable... not to migrate completely away from flashbacks, but at least to find a new paradigm for storytelling that changed up the nature of the show. Moving forwards, you'll get a mix... every week will hopefully be a guessing game as to not just who will be focused on... but when we're focusing on them.
Lost: The Complete Third Season will come to DVD stores on December 11 from Walt Disney Home Video.