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Team Darlton Promise "No More Jack Flies a Kite" Episodes on "Lost"

The biggest Lost mystery of all has been solved: actor Nestor Carbonell, who plays the Others' putative leader under Jacob, does not wear makeup.

"Do you want to hear something shocking?" asked said executive producer/showrunner Damon Lindelof. "And this is the honest truth. When we first saw dailies of Nestor, we said that someone has got to talk to him about the eyeliner situation, but he does not wear any eyeliner or mascara. He is 100 percent sans make-up. That’s the truth."

That's, ahem, a relief. The notion of whether Carbonell was wearing makeup and whether we'd be seeing more of him (a resounding yes) were two of the many burning questions thrown at Lindelof and executive producer/showrunner Carlton Cuse, Lindelof's partner in crime, during last week's Lost panel at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, following a screening of the fifth season's third episode, slated to air next week.

Of the Lost's fifth season, which launches tonight, look for Josh Holloway's Sawyer to take more of a lead role, following last season, where Holloway took a back seat to the Oceanic Six.

"Last year, because of the Oceanic Six storyline, a lot of the focus was on Kate, Jack, Hurley, Sun, Aaron and Sayid and there wasn’t as much focus on Sawyer," said Lindelof. "This year, we tried to make up for lost time. Josh has been doing amazing work. We’re currently writing the thirteenth episode of this season, so we’re three or four episodes shy of the end and we’ve seen a lot of Josh’s work."

"It is sort of the season of Josh," said Cuse, who said that he and Lindelof were currently breaking the season's thirteen episode.

Lindelof and Cuse were very upfront about the fact that they did not want us sharing spoilers with readers, so I am going to do my best to avoid including comments that could impact tonight's episodes. (Look for these comments to appear after the premiere episode.) But what else did Team Darlton have to say about the Season Five, Daniel Dae Kim and Emilie de Ravin, supporting players' contracts, and more?

A mini furor erupted this week following Lindelof and Cuse's comments at the press Q&A about their evident disdain for Lost spoiler sites.

"We don’t like it," said Cuse simply. "People who went to spoiler sites and learned that the end of Season Three was a flash forward were greatly disappointed in the journey of that episode. It wrecked it for them. What we really are trying to do... is to respect the journey that the fans have in watching the show. The fact that you don’t know what’s going to happen when you watch a Lost episode is a big part of what we try to do. We try to fill them with a lot of unexpected incidents. Certain sites are out there to try and they're completely mercenary. They're just trying to use Lost spoilers to make money for themselves. It’s hard to have any respect for that."

Ouch.

Given the nearly revolving nature of Lost's sprawling cast, Lindelof was asked whether it was difficult to juggle secondary actors' availibilities with the demands of the story that he and Cuse are telling.

"Well, now that we have the end date for the show, we can pre-plan a lot more," admitted Lindelof. "In the case of Nestor [Carbonell], he was on [CBS'] Cane last year and we were in a position where if Cane had been picked up, then you probably wouldn’t have seen Richard Alpert again on Lost. We had to have a plan B, which would’ve been catastrophic for us because we’d weaved Richard Alpert into the story in such a significant way. However, once Cane wasn’t picked up for a full season, we made a deal with Nestor, which basically secured his services should we choose to pull the trigger on them until the end of Season Six, so we would have him until the end. When you have secondary characters who are essential to the plot, like Charles Widmore or Richard Alpert, the benefit of knowing the story ahead of time is that we can try to lock those actors down so that we’re not in a situation where we’re waiting around for them to be available. The other good news is that we shoot from July through to March and the show premieres in January, so we have latitude... Someone might not be available for the episode we want them for, but we can try to slot them into a later episode."

And on the subject of that end date, which ABC and network president Steve McPherson very generously negotiated with them, both Cuse and Lindelof admit that having an end date to work for has been a huge blessing. "I think the end date has completely liberated us," said Cuse. "We didn’t know if the mythology was going to last for two seasons or nine seasons, which was paralyzing... Now that we know exactly how many episodes we have left, we’re really able to plan and do this with confidence that we know how much of the journey is left."

As for the series being dense enough to ward off new viewers, Lindelof said that the network and studio have realized that, at this point in the series' run, they are making Lost for the hard-core fans rather than new viewers... but those same new viewers would be wise to start at the very beginning and catch up, much like Lindelof himself did with the Harry Potter book series.

"The network and the studio have been enormously gracious," said Lindelof. "Normally you would expect a tremendous amount of pressure to do a lot of recapping in every episode with characters talking about what happened last week, but they accept Lost is a serialized adventure. We love to hear stories of how people tell their friends about Lost and these friends consider the show too weird and too impenetrable, but then they watch the Season One DVD and they get really into it. I remember hearing about the Harry Potter series around the time that the third book came out. As a result of getting caught up in the buzz of 'Prisoner Of Azkaban,' I went back and bought the first Harry Potter book. By the time J.K. Rowling released the seventh book, they had picked up a lot of people along the way."

Meanwhile, Lindelof admitted that the series was "treading into the realm of complete and utter suckiness" during Season Three and promised no more "Jack flies a kite" episodes. (Hee hee.) Still, Lindelof said, "We are writing the only version of the show that we know how to write."

However, fans looking for a single explanation for the series' plethora of mysteries are out of luck. "It doesn't reduce down into one single thesis statement," said Cuse.

As for what to expect from Season Five, Cuse and Darlton were as tight-lipped as ever.

"You will see more of Widmore and part of what we hope to give the audience more this season is a greater sense of the island’s history," said Cuse, who alluded to the island's four-toed statue. "People have a lot of questions and part of what this season will explore is what happened to the island in the past."

As for members of the cast featuring prominently in Season Five, don't look for Emilie de Ravin to be turning up much in the series' fifth season but Daniel Dae Kim will be turning up, but possibly not in the way we might first think.

"You’ll definitely see Jin this season," said Cuse, of Daniel Dae Kim's character, seemingly killed when the freighter exploded in last season's finale. "He’s a series regular. Claire is not a season regular this season, but her story is by no means over. You’ll probably see more of her in Season Six."

As for whether Jin survived that blast? "We're not saying that Jin is alive after the explosion on the freighter, said Cuse, "but we're not saying when [you'll be seeing him again]."

(Given that one of Lost's trademarks is non-linear storytelling, it's therefore possible that Daniel Dae Kim could return as Jin in a flashback or a vision.)

And Team Darlton wouldn't give us any hints or clues about Ajira Airways, who "sponsored" the box lunches we were served last week at the Press Tour. Hmmm... Still, Lindelof joked, "Can you please give ABC execs exact change for those box lunches? They really appreciate it."

As for the new logo that Lost is sporting in its fifth season, Cuse said that it's entirely intentional. (As if it would be anything other than that!) "In the past, the Lost logo used to grow out of the island but now you can see the cityscape in the letters of Lost," explained Cuse. "That illustrates that the fact that the first part of this season will be split between the people who are home and the people who are left behind on the island."

As for why Lost is so successful, Cuse had a simple answer. "I think it’s different to other shows out there," he said. "We can make the show complicated and challenging and people like the fact that the storytelling is complicated. It makes you sit forward."

While we may not have learned the secrets of the island from listening to Lindelof and Cuse, we all certainly know that fans will be sitting forward and more tonight when the series makes its much anticipated return to television.

Season Five of Lost kicks off with a three-hour event tonight at 8 pm ET/PT. Click here for an advance review of the first two episodes and here for an advance review of the third episode. And click here for Part Two of this Q&A, which discusses "Because You Left" and "The Lie."

Comments

Anonymous said…
Wow. Thanks so much, Jace, for this great post. I'm really looking forward to this season with as much anticipation as I had for the show after it's phenomenal beginning. I think that having an end date has really, truly freed the creators and that will show in the storytelling. I'm also glad to see that the network isn't forcing them to try to grab new audience members at this point in the game. With a show like this, I think that recapping, etc. just waters down the story for the fans and the new audience members would still probably be confused anyway!
That is hilarious about Nestor Carbonell. It totally looks like he's wearing eyeliner! And mascara! Glad to have that cleared up. At least one of the Lost mysteries has now been solved!
Anonymous said…
I'm glad that Cuse spoke up against spoilers. I cannot fathom why anyone would want to have a great show like Lost "spoiled." As Cuse said, the fun of watching Lost is not knowing what's going to happen next. I would be so disappointed if a major plot point (or even a small one) was revealed before I had seen the episode. I just don't get it.

Also, I'm very (selfishly) glad that Cane was canceled because Richard Alpert is an integral part of the show and I'm sure we still have much more to learn about him!
Anonymous said…
I have actually seen the first three episodes and I have to say that they are amazing. I do agree though that I can't stand people that give huge spoilers on what is going to happen on a show. I would never reveal major plot points even though as I type this it is so hard not to talk about what happens in the premiere. Lost fans should have a ton of things to talk about tomorrow. Enjoy the episode and for those of you who avoided spoilers I applaud you and you will be happy that you didn't read any spoilers since the episode will just be so much more satisfying for you.
Anonymous said…
Season three was a bit slow at first but nowhere near "suckiness"...it's actually my favorite season overall, maybe tied with season two.
Anonymous said…
@Cory: I agree. I didn't think it was terrible at all and was just as invested in the show as in the beginning. Weird that Darlton would even think that S3 was bad. I can't wait for tonight!!!!!!
Mazza said…
Great writeup of the panel, Jace! This is definitely the most complete recap of the Q&A that I've seen so far and I can't wait to see what's in Part 2. I love that someone asked about Nestor wearing makeup as it does really look like he has heavy eye makeup on. And I am glad that Jin will be back some how eventually.

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