Damon Lindelof and the cast of Lost presented a panel for fans at The Paley Center for Media’s 2010 Paleyfest. Before greeting the fans, Lindelof answered press questions. Each episode of Lost’s final season gives us more questions, and Lindelof remains expert at giving satisfying answers with no spoilers.
Q: What is the process of writing the series finale?
Damon Lindelof: A lot of it is like putting a puzzle together and you just look in the box and see what pieces are left. The longer you put a puzzle together, the easier it is to finish it. While we’re starting the process of actually writing the finale this week, we’ve been talking about it for the last five years, more specifically as we’ve been going.
Q: How hard will it be to reach a finished version of the finale?
Damon Lindelof: We’re trying not to think about it. In a lot of ways, you have to treat the process like it’s just another episode of the show because we have to start shooting it soon and Hawaii needs to start building things and that’s sort of a thing. We get caught up in the emotion of the fact that over the course of the last year as we’ve been doing some of the big moves in the endgame, you get emotionally compromised by that. But, you stop, you take a breath, you hug it out and you move on.
Q: Should we not take your tweets so seriously, or are you actually neurotic about defending the show against fan comments?
Damon Lindelof: No, I basically tweeted, “Hey, listen, if you think that the episodes are filler, then you should watch NCIS.” I don’t mean it in a bitter way. I actually like NCIS. It’s just please, spare yourself the frustration. It’s the worst thing to be told as a writer that something that you’re writing is filler because that basically means it has no meaning and it has no import. I know that there are fans out there who are really, really driven by purely the mythology of the show and then there are fans out there who are purely driven by the character of the show. Most people are somewhere in between. Are we sensitive to criticism? Absolutely. We’re writers. But, we’re also very neurotic and Lost is our baby and if you insult our baby, we’re going to come after you.
Q: Can you be too tapped in via Twitter?
Damon Lindelof: No, because the fanbase, our fan base, you cannot say that there is a sort of universal consensus. Every episode that airs, there’s a spectrum of people who loved it and people who didn’t love it. To expect that we’re going to get to a point where Tony Soprano’s eating onion rings, cut to black, everybody loves it. No, it’s a divisive, risky ending. Our show is divisive and risky so we’re not looking for any consensus, but sometimes we feel like we’re the president and we have to defend our policy.
Q: Are there some topics people want too definitive an answer for? Like why is Jacob vague? Well, because he’s vague.
Damon Lindelof: Look, what is your level of satisfaction before we go too far in explaining things? Who knows? Did we need The Architect in the second Matrix movie to explain everything to us? At what point should he have stopped? Well, that all depends on what your realm is. We want people to understand why people do what they do and to that end, we feel that we’re putting that show together. But, we’ve talked about midichlorians before. We’re changing the conversation now but when Obi Wan Kenobi shows up after he’s been killed, he has information that would be enormously useful to Luke. “Hey, Leia’s your sister. You should know this.” But he withholds it. Why? Why is Obi Wan Kenobi such a dick? But nobody asks why Obi Wan Kenobi is such a dick because all he has to do at that point is get to Dagobah and do some training. Then when Luke leaves, Obi Wan shows up and he’s talking to Yoda and he’s saying like it’s a real bummer he left. You should have showed up Obi Wan and said, “Don’t leave. There’s nothing you can do. You’re going to lose your hand. Han is going to be frozen.” He didn’t do any of that. So Jacob is following Obi Wan rules and we’re sticking to that explanation.
Q: Given how many mysteries the characters have dealt with, they would want direct answers but people are still speaking in Obi Wan riddles.
Damon Lindelof: Well, the question just becomes who is in a position to answer those questions? Richard Alpert appeared to know a lot more than maybe he does know, but it feels right now that Locke or whatever entity or person or being is in Locke’s skin right now or pretending to be Locke or not pretending to be Locke, that seems like someone who would have a lot of answers and hopefully they’ll be asked some of the questions that you’re dying to know the answers to.
Q: Sideways has given you a whole other avenue to explore these characters. How satisfying will that continue to be?
Damon Lindelof: For us, the Sideways were a hugely exciting thing for us to be doing but also it’s divisive as well. I think people are saying, “We’re beyond this. We don’t need these stories.” All we can say is they are absolutely, 100% necessary to tell the story of Lost and hopefully by the end of the season, it will be more obvious as to why.
Q: I’m with you and excited.
Damon Lindelof: Thank you, my friend. Thank you very much.
Q: By the way, Modern Family was here and Julie Bowen thinks she’s the mother of Jack’s child.
Damon Lindelof: You know what? It’s so interesting because she’s the obvious choice but because it’s Lost and because we didn’t tell you that it was her, you didn’t see a picture of her, suddenly it’s this great mystery. So all we can say is sometimes a pipe is just a pipe. Sometimes it’s a horse.
Q: Could it be Juliet?
Damon Lindelof: It could be anybody. I mean, it could be Hurley.
Q: Will we be learning more about the candidates?
Damon Lindelof: Yeah, I mean, I think one of the big questions of the show is why were these people brought to this island? At least now we have some sense of it has something to do, if Jacob is responsible for bringing them there, it has something to do with this fact that he has been observing them for quite some times.
Q: Is death more prevalent this year?
Damon Lindelof: Look, no more this year than any other year. I think the stakes are certainly for real. Sayid died in the premiere and then came back to life. Supposedly dead is dead on the island but all we can say is that Jorge I believe is quoted as saying people are dropping like flies, but it doesn’t’ feel like more people are dying than any other season of Lost.