The new format of Lost is totally freaking confusing. And yet…not at all.
As you fans will see when the series returns tonight to ABC for season five, the island is "skipping" through time, backward and forward, which makes things interesting, to say the least. But still, the good news is that Lost won't lose you. Or at least not for long.
So how did executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof pull off what is perhaps the most convoluted format for a TV series ever without completely losing the fans?
I just got off the phone with the Damon and Carlton, who explained their game plan for season five and set the record straight on who is really dead…
I just talked to your good friend Michael Emerson last week, and he said that there will be flash-forwards, flashbacks and "flash-presents." What the heck is a flash-present?
Damon Lindelof: Wait. I think we’re having one right now.
DL: Is it the present? It is!
Stop. You just love messing with my mind.
Carlton Cuse: You know, time is a really relative thing. We basically didn’t want to lock ourselves into one way of storytelling, so we have characters off the island that are trying to get back to the island; we have characters that are on the island but are skipping through time; and we might introduce some other characters that might be drifting in some other places in time. We’re moving back and forth between the stories, but not in just the traditional flashback or flash-forward mode. We always look at it this way: What’s the best way to tell any individual story on the show? That’s how we do it, and sometimes it’s flash-forward, sometimes it’s flashbacks and sometimes it’s flash-presents.
You know all of that sounds confusing, right? So was it tricky making sure the audience could follow? How did you do that?
DL: I think one way is to keep characters on the show who ask the questions that the audience is asking. So basically, if Dan Faraday is a physicist who is an expert in the space-time continuum, put him in conversations with Sawyer, who knows nothing about time travel and in fact is not interested in time travel. All he cares about is getting a shirt on.
And all the female viewers care about is him not getting a shirt on.
DL: (Laughs) Right. You know, we try to ground the show in a certain reality so that even when wacky things are happening, this is a world that dates all the way back to the pilot. If a polar bear comes running out of the jungle, you can sit around all day and talk about where you think it came from, but what’s more important is that you shoot it before it eats you.
In the premiere, we have at least two dead characters popping back in. Are we going to see more dead characters return this season?
DL: You know, Lost always prides itself on the ability to give blasts from the past and see faces that haven’t been around for awhile. Christian Shephard, obviously, was dead before the plane even took off from Sydney and has worked more than most of the actors on the show, so you never know when someone’s going to show up.
But are all the dead people really dead?
DL: We’ve tried to stick to the rule that when you die on the island, you are dead for good, unless you appear to Hurley. We try to play the dead card as infrequently as possible so that it doesn’t get stale.
CC: Some of the actors, actually, they realize that they can work more once they are dead so they don’t really mind getting killed off.
Can Locke escape death somehow?
DL: He looked pretty dead to me.
What do you fans think? Is there some way to save Locke? Will you give the new season a shot despite its convoluted premise? Comment below...