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Hindsight: Quotes from Lost’s Carlton Cuse & Damon Lindelof

Many, and I mean many, mysteries have been left unsolved on Lost.
Even worse, there has been over the years a lot of double-talk from the series’ showrunners, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.
Let’s take a look at six seasons of misguided attempts at trying to convince the fans that, don’t worry, answers are coming.

Time Travel
Starting strong.
As you probably know, Season Five was a big long paradox-season filled with time-travel.
Such heavy fantasy-fiction (no other words can describe the show now) was not always present on Lost.
I’ll let Damon Lindelof comment on that:

We’re still trying to be … firmly ensconced in the world of science fact. I don’t think we’ve shown anything on the show yet … that has no rational explanation in the real world that we all function within. We certainly hint at psychic phenomena, happenstance and … things being in a place where they probably shouldn’t be. But nothing is flat-out impossible. There are no spaceships. There isn’t any time travel.

But about four years later, we have:

[Time travel] has been in the DNA of the show since the very beginning.

I guess it was well-hidden from everyone.

Adam & Eve
Another big piece of Lost is undoubtebly the two skeletons Jack found in the fourth episode of the series (later dubbed ‘Adam & Eve’). It was used as proof by Darlton that they knew all along where they were going towards.
As Lindelof puts it:

There were certain things we knew from the very beginning. Independent of ever knowing when the end was going to be, we knew what it was going to be, and we wanted to start setting it up as early as season 1, or else people would think that we were making it up as we were going along. So the skeletons are the living — or, I guess, slowly decomposing — proof of that. When all is said and done, people are going to point to the skeletons and say, ”That is proof that from the very beginning, they always knew that they were going to do this.”

It is stated in the same Season One episode that the clothes are about 50 years old.
What is sad about this is that, as revealed in the (almost) second-to-last episode of the series, Adam & Eve are actually the Man in Black and her adoptive Mother. And they died about two thousand years ago.

The last couple of seasons have made totally irrelevant the central rivalry between Ben and Widmore, the latter appearing to be the main villain of the story.
Yet about 19 episodes before the end of the series, we were introduced to a brand new character, the Man in Black who is now basically the real “big bad”.
Not only that, but Ben was revealed to be both a pawn of Jacob (and the Man in Black), but more importantly had ultimately no knowledge at all of anything that’s happening on the Island, or why.
Despite this, here’s what Carlton Cuse had to say on the subject in 2007:

Ben is such a formative character, he is the biggest bad guy we know on the show. To get to know him is a signal that we’ve become an answer-mode kind of show.

The Season Two episode Dave ended with a huge shocker: Libby was in the same mental institute as Hurley prior to the plane crash. This reveal was actually so big, that it was the only flashback on the show to conclude an episode (and therefore be a cliffhanger). Rightfully so, a lot of people wanted to know how would that fit in the overall storyline, especially since a few episodes later, in the season two finale, Libby poped up again as a sane woman that gave to Desmond a boat (that would later bring him to the Island).
Was she part of the DHARMA Initiative? Did she know Desmond would crash on the Island?
During the third season, there was no sign of Libby, so Carlton Cuse commented:

Given everything else we have to tell, that’s going to be a mystery that’s going to have to get answered in year 4.

Damon Lindelof even added:

The question the audience wants answered is, How did she get from A to B — from Desmond to the mental institution? We know the answer to that question, but the only way to tell that story is through another character’s flashback, and that character would have to be another character on the show who is not among the beach dwellers.

A year later, in a Season Four interview, Carlton continued:

She’ll be in enough of the show for us to fill in the missing pieces of her story. We could not be more pleased. Cynthia is a smart and engaging actor, and Damon [Lindelof] and I have some very cool parts of her story left to tell.

We’re now at the end of the journey, we have seen a couple of times Libby on the show: for about five seconds in Season Four when Michael “saw” her on a boat (don’t ask), and one time this season during a Hurley flashsideway. Both times her appearance was pointless, so basically we’ve never had any conclusion to her numerous mysterious presence in other people’s flashbacks.
Here’s what Cuse had to say on the subject last year:

We feel like that story’s told, it’s done. We’ve told as much about Libby as we want to tell.

They’ve sometimes blamed her story as a casualty of the writers’ strike, but once again, Cynthia Watros appeared for a few seconds in a Season Four episode (barely post-strike), and even in a Season Six episode (way post-strike). I’m simply not believing they couldn’t resolve her mystery.

The End-date
And finally, as we’ve discussed already the other day, the announcement of an end-date was a game-changer in television storytelling. Darlton used that opportunity to show that they knew where they were going, likening this announcement with that of J.K. Rowling’s final Harry Potter book.
As Lindelof said:

One thing I think we have to get out there is this: You won’t have to wait until 2010 to get all the answers you really care about. Some of these answers are going to be coming a lot sooner than you think. The reality is, we’re not going to make you wait until the last episode to give you everything.

The problem with that is, as we’ve just seen, there hasn’t been many major mysteries solved on the show (if any).
Also, the only real answers we’ve gotten were apparently through last week’s episode, Across the Sea, which was, as Damon puts it, a “a big mythological download.”
It’s not like they had three entire seasons to plan out their mythological reveals. Oh, wait.
I also don’t have to tell you that Across the Sea was, as pointed out above, the third-to-last episode of Lost.
So, no, I guess we didn’t have to wait until the very last episode of the series for answers, just the one before it to provide us with more questions.

Obviously, we can’t really list all the contradictory quotes from the last six years, there are just too many.
If you’re dumbfounded as to why this post was written, here are three reasons.
First, kids, don’t be cocky or it will bite you where you don’t want to. Second, I wanted to show that that fans shouldn’t hang on every word of their television deity.
And, most importantly, third, the Lost mythology does not hold up.
We’ll discuss why in an upcoming post, but if you disagree, you should read in the meantime last year’s post entitled ‘Why mythological shows are often idolized‘.

Like Damon said:

At a certain point, a television show is no longer your show. […] The show no longer belongs to the people who are writing it and performing it and directing it. It belongs to the fans just as much.

One Comment

  1. Dudleys Mom

    I’m sadly finding Lost to be incredibly boring in its death throes. I just don’t believe that there is a consistent underlying mythology, and that means I don’t pay that much attention any more, and moreover I’ve completely lost the ability to suspend disbelief. I feel jerked around. And I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed in a show that I once loved and watched as appointment television.

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