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Paley Festival: Team Darlton Speak About Final Season of "Lost," Water, Returning Characters, and More

With only 13 episodes of Lost remaining before the series wraps up its iconic run, the series' cast and crew united on stage to talk about the final segments of the ABC drama series, offer a few hints about what's coming up for the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 (and their alternate reality counterparts), and celebrate Lost potentially one last time before the final credits roll.

Appearing at the Saban Theatre as part of the 2010 Paley Festival, executive producers/showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, cast members Nestor Carbonell, Terry O'Quinn, Michael Emerson, and Zuleikha Robinson, writer/producers Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Elizabeth Sarnoff, and director/executive producer Jack Bender gathered on stage with moderator Paul Scheer to answer some questions, deflect some others, and offer a taste of what lies ahead in these next batch of episodes.

I had the opportunity last night to attend the Paley Festival's Lost panel, thanks to a very generous reader who donated her ticket after I was unable to get off of the press waitlist for the event. I tip my hat to her for allowing me to attend what was a fantastic evening of talk, conjecture, and intentionally vague teasing. (Those of you in the know followed along as I live-tweeted the evening's events here.)

So what did the cast and crew have to say? Let's discuss but be aware that there are some (light) spoilers for upcoming episodes below. You've been warned, candidates. [Note: as always, please do not reproduce the following on any other websites or forums. Linking and excerpting are fine but wholesale copy-and-pasting is not.]

The evening began (after a "Treehouse of Horror" clip from The Simpsons, in which Homer travels through time and alters the future by killing a mosquito) with a sneak peek at a scene from this week's episode of Lost ("Sundown"), set at The Temple.

Sneak Peak: I don't want to say too much but it featured Sayid preparing to leave and Miles telling him that he was dead for two hours and that his resurrection took the Others as much by surprise as it did them. But before Sayid can leave, they're interrupted by the arrival of Claire, who demands that Dogen go see "him." Dogen refuses, saying that if he steps foot outside the Temple, he will kill him. Claire's solution? "Send someone he can't kill." (Which would be... Sayid.)

A far too brief glimpse at the episode but a tantalizing one nonetheless. Can't wait to see just what The Man in Black has to say to Sayid and what his message is for Dogen....

Team Darlton revealed that they will begin writing the series finale of Lost next week. They're about to shoot episode 615 and are prepping episode 616. (It makes me both excited and sad to know that Lindelof and Cuse are about to put pen to paper--or fingers to keyboard--to write the final chapter of this amazing series.)

But, despite the fact that Lindelof and Cuse have had the series' ending in mind since nearly the very beginning, doesn't mean that it will end up exactly as they had planned all of those years ago.

"We have an architecture to the end of the show but... there's room for discovery as we put our characters together and find those scenes as we write them," said Cuse. "There's a destination we're getting to but.. there will be moments that [will change]."

SPOILERS! Here's what Lindelof and Cuse had to say about some upcoming plot points for Season Six:
  • Just what happened to Desmond aboard the plane--and whether or not he was actually on the flight--will be revealed very soon.
  • Libby's connection to Hurley will be explored and revealed this season.
  • Lindelof refused to answer whether we will or won't learn this season why women can't get pregnant on the island.
  • Lindelof said that Jacob was telling the truth this week: someone is coming to the island.
  • There's more Charlie in the works as Dominic Monaghan will once again be returning as everyone's favorite former Driveshaft rock star.
  • Darlton tiptoed around the identity of Jack's ex-wife and David's mother though they did say that it is someone we know. Lindelof said that it was Sarah (who was previously played by Modern Family's Julie Bowen) but Cuse shook his head, indicating that Lindelof was in fact lying. (Which means that my theory that it's Juliet Burke is still possibly valid.)
  • Vincent the dog will be back this season and we'll find out what happened to him. However, Lindelof and Cuse declined to reveal whether we'll learn what happened to Rose and Bernard on the island. (They did say that we'll see Bernard in what I like to call the Lost-X universe but they're not saying anything more, leaving me to wonder once more if Rose and Bernard aren't the Adam and Eve corpses in the cave.)
  • Wondering just who or what Ilana is? Lindelof said that "Ilana and Richard will have some things to say to each other and about each other."
  • Another iconic Jack Bender painting (he did the one in the Swan station) will be showing up later this season and may hold additional clues.
  • WALT! Despite his massive growth spurt, Walt may return at some point this season, if the producers can figure out a way to bring him back that makes sense as Cuse said that they were looking for a way to bring him back before the end.

So, what else did Team Darlton and Co. have to say? Here's the breakdown of some other topics of note from last night.

Lists of lists: Lindelof and Cuse did address a fan's question as to why there were so many lists over the years and why Ben said that Jack Shephard "wasn't on Jacob's list." Their answer: whether Jacob actually ever furnished a list of candidates to Ben or the Others is open to speculation... and might have been Ben lying.

Hurley bird: Remember how Hurley claimed that the bird in the jungle said his name? Remember how we all thought it did too? Looks like we may have been right. Lindelof said that the so-called Hurley bird is "on our list of things to explain."

Hitmen drama: Terry O'Quinn didn't answer a question posed to him about the potential hitman series he's allegedly shopping to networks that would pair him with fellow Lost co-star Michael Emerson as suburban hitmen. Emerson was also less than forthright: "It's a thing we might do on a street corner, or in a church basement with the idea that we'll eventually move it closer to Broadway," he joked. Hmmm...

O'Quinn, meanwhile, had the audience in stitches as recounted a hilarious story about a Lost fan in Hawaii who sort of kidnapped him in his truck and took him to meet his estranged wife. Scary and funny at the same time. Michael Emerson, meanwhile, was asked by Scheer which Lost cast member threw the best punch. His answer? "The younger the actor, the more inflamed their performance... and the more likely you are to get hurt."

Not everything will be answered: Cuse and Lindelof were blunt about the fact that not every mystery will be solved, especially those that aren't important to the castaways. For example: "We won't learn who the Economist was that Sayid shot on the golf course," said Cuse. (Me: In all fairness, that was Peter Avellino, not the Economist, whom Sayid killed on the golf course and who provided Ilana with her cover story. The Economist was Elsa's employer and was on a list of people Ben wanted Sayid to assassinate.)

Will we get to see Ben's childhood sweetheart Annie again before the end? "Probably not," said Cuse. And don't hold your breath for another appearance from Matthew Abaddon (Lance Reddick) because he won't be back.

Richard Alpert: Nestor Carbonell on his favorite bit from the series: "Finally finding out who the hell I am." Which means that, yes, Richard Alpert's backstory and origin are coming up very soon on the series. I still maintain that he was aboard the Black Rock but still can't figure out why he was cast in the role of Jacob's mouthpiece and seemingly given the gift (or curse) of immortality.

Backstories or lack thereof: Zuleikha Robinson passed on answering a question about whether Ilana is really old like Richard Alpert or not. Robinson said that it was incredibly freeing as an actor to not to know Ilana's backstory ahead of time, though she did admit to begging Jack Bender for some information about her character's past last season.

Likewise, O'Quinn wasn't told about the truth behind Locke's resurrection last season, nor that he was playing a different character. The scene on the beach between him and Ben after the crash of Ajira Flight 316 was played with O'Quinn playing Locke as though he were "indestructible" as opposed to the vulnerability we're seeing from the Lost-X Locke this season. (O'Quinn said that, as a fan, he would be "heartbroken" if old Locke were truly dead but as an actor, he doesn't care so long as he has a character to play.)

Lindelof said that the directions for O'Quinn while filming "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" were pretty vague and that was the point, rather than give O'Quinn a ton of convoluted information. "Remember when you had that orange in your mouth?" joked Lindelof. "Do that again."

Similarly, Bender told Carbonell to play the scene in the season premiere where the Fake Locke comes out of Jacob's sanctuary as "your 9/11," though he didn't have much more to go on than that.

And Alan Dale never seems to know just what is going on. "Alan Dale says, 'What the f--- am I doing on this show? What am I talking about?'" recounted Bender. "And you give them just enough to have them play it beautifully."

Disney ride: Asked about a potential ride at Disneyland (where Tom Sawyer's island currently resides), Lindelof said, "You don't have to build a ride. Put them in a darkened room, spin them around a few times, punch them in the face and say they've had the Lost Experience."

Damaged people: Elizabeth Sarnoff described Lost as being about "a collection of people who are deeply flawed and are trying to find their way out of it." It's a description that hews closely to my own and sums up the entire thrust of the series outside the mythology.

Full circle storytelling: "We talked a lot about how we wanted to bring the show full circle," said Cuse, while Lindelof said that they intended that the first and last seasons would effectively function as bookends for the series.

Daddy issues: Lindelof said that Star Wars was a huge influence on the series, as well as the writers' own father issues. For himself, Lindelof's father died a year before the Lost pilot was produced and the project was a way for him to process some of his own feelings about the death of his father.

Mr. Eko: Mr. Eko was intended to play a much larger role in the overarching plot of Lost than he ended up having because the actor portraying him, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, wanted off the series and producers wrote Eko out of the series by having him be killed by the smoke monster. Cuse said that the death of Eko allowed them to give more time to other characters and shift the focus in other directions. (Still, I can't help but wonder just what they had in store for Mr. Eko had Akinnuoye-Agbaje remained on the series.)

Chronological DVDs: Nope. Lindelof and Cuse debunked a popular rumor that indicated that the studio would release a version of the full series of Lost with all of the flashbacks and flashforwards placed in chronological order. Not so, said Team Darlton: "There will be no chronological DVD release of the show."

Open to interpretation: Cuse said that once the final credits roll at the end of the season, they're going to be keeping mum and won't be commenting on Lost after it ends in May. (As Fancast's Matt Mitovich pointed out to me via Twitter, that's what David Chase said about the end of The Sopranos as well, but that didn't end up being the case.)

Final words: Lindelof's final word about the rest of the final season of Lost? "Water." The jury's still out on just what that means but Lindelof promised that it will become very clear once you watch the remaining episodes of Season Six.

And with that, it was a wrap for the Lost panel at the 2010 Paley Festival. Many thanks to the cast and crew for an insightful, fun, and memorable evening and to the gregarious Paul Scheer for moderating the discussion with the requisite flair of a true Lost fanatic. (If you were there and got to see Scheer read a list of fan-submitted questions he wouldn't be asking, you know how much he nailed it.)

The final season of Lost airs Tuesdays at 9 pm ET/PT on ABC.


Edward said…
I can't wait for Richard Alpert's backstory.
BNaiman said…
This is fantastic... Definitely more information than I've seen in any recent interviews and I appreciate the time you took giving us a play by play of the panel. Awesome job!

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