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The 'Lost' Creators Come Clean

The Lost Creators Come Clean Esquire


ESQ: Did you ever get trapped in any corners while writing the show?

CC: I think a lot of times we intentionally painted ourselves into corners. As Damon used to say, "Well, then we'll just walk up the wall." That was a fun part of the storytelling — to create challenges for ourselves. The only place we ever got stuck was when we did things we regretted doing, not that they were narrative cul-de-sacs but like Nikki and Paulo. That was an example of a story idea where once we'd initiated it we regretted having done it. Or, on a smaller scale, when we told the story of Jack flashing back to Thailand and how he got his tattoos, we really regretted that we had decided that was a worthy flashback story. That story became really instrumental in convincing ABC that we needed to end the show. We were like, "Okay, this is what flashbacks look like now so it's probably a good idea if we figure out how much longer this show is actually going to go." 

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I knew it!!! They never had a plan. 

ESQ: Was there something notable you feel like you learned from your experience onLost?

DL: Hindsight is 20/20, but the moral of the writing for me is that when you're feeling very scared and nervous about something and you're fairly convinced that it could be a massive disaster, that's exactly the idea that you should do. Although it sometimes turned out to be the wrong move, it's when we were pursing things that felt safe that the show was at its least interesting. "The Constant," which is arguably my and Carlton's favorite episode of the show and I know a lot of the fans share that sentiment, is an example. It wasn't like everyone looked at each other and said, "Ah ha!" There were two days of trying to talk ourselves out of it, saying, "We're never going to be able to pull this off." We'd start talking about a more traditional version and then we'd come back to it and get scared of it. So when you start to feel real fear of failure and disaster, don't blink. That's what you must do.

ESQ: Lost posed a lot of really big questions relating to ideas like good versus evil, science versus faith, and life after death. Do you think it successfully answered any of them?

CC: I think those are ultimately non-answerable questions and I think we tried to always be ambitious in our storytelling. We decided the worst thing we could do would be to play it safe. The show had become successful because we had made bold storytelling decisions and we had to continue to make them. We knew that some of these decisions would lead to a polarization among the fans. When you tackle unanswerable questions like "What is the nature of existence? What happens after you die? What is the meaning of our lives?" there are not empirical answers, but we tried to show how our characters were wrestling with those questions. 

DL: When you talk about something like faith and science on a meta level, it doesn't matter what the show said. When the show ends there are still all these questions that are going to exist. Is there always a scientific explanation for everything in the natural world? Is there a God? The show isn't going to be able to answer that. But we were pretty clear and explicit in our storytelling as the show went on that we were committed to what would be defined as supernatural explanations for things versus natural explanations.

I like the spaceship theory.

DL: We're as unreliable as narrators come. But then another popular theory was that the island itself was some sort of crashed spaceship and the hatch only fed into that thinking. The idea was when they blast this thing open and go down they're going to be inside of some UFO and then the island is just going to lift off out of the water and blast into space for season two. There was a part of me that was always like, "It would be so great if we actually did that!" 

CC: We should just go back to like episode 30 and re-break from there and just make it a spaceship. That would be the unexpected reboot of Lost

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