Just like Jack Shephard at the conclusion of Lost season 3, executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof had to go back. In this case, the two returned to comment on the Island once again at the 2020 New York Comic Con Metaverse. Moderator Josh Horowitz of MTV asked pressing fan questions to the two creators about a number of Lost-related topics. By the end, the two showrunners claimed to have now answered every question anyone could possibly want to know.
The panel was pre-recorded a full 16 years since Cuse and Lindelof gathered at producer-director J.J. Abrams’ house in 2004 to watch the pilot episode of Lost. But the panel focused on more the ending, with Lindelof reminiscing about when he and Cuse watched the finale of David Chase’s The Sopranos, with the now infamous cut to black over Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
The two Lost bosses thought the finale was pure genius and had to be told that the reaction of the public was mixed. Once they knew that the television viewing public could dislike something they thought was perfect, they were prepared to bring Lost in for a controversial landing.
In May 2010, after six seasons, they didn’t totally crash the plane with the finale, titled “The End.” Lindelof reminded everyone that back in the first decade of the new millennium, the idea that a primetime network show with good ratings would be allowed to end was a new one. The first three seasons of Lost have over 22 episodes each, while in comparison, Lindelof just won an Emmy for Watchmen, a story told in nine episodes. A fan asked the writers what would be different if Lost was a 2020 show made for binging and streaming and Cuse pointed out the show would be completely different.
“We wrote to those act breaks,” said Cuse, by which he means the commercial breaks. The ebb and flow of suspense, action, and character work all had to peak just before commercial. He noted it’s possible a new Lost could also be a lot more vulgar, as the showrunners said the scripts for the episodes were littered with “the F word” to add emphasis.
Like any Lost gathering, even a digital one, there were very specific questions about the lore of the show, from debated contradictions to things that were left unanswered. For the most part, Lindelof and Cuse were able to joke around questions like “Did Hurley leave the island to see the new Star Wars trilogy?,” and whether Lindelof would make Hurley’s yearly golf tournament on the Island (“the DHARMA invitational”) canon post-airing by decree. Mostly, though, the creator insists that they gave us all the answers the first time.
After the emotional toll it took for them to make a good version of Lost the first time, they’ve come to a peace with how it turned out. The Lindelof family recently re-watched the whole show over a period of eight months and enjoyed it more when Damon was not in the room, explaining his memories or intentions. After 10 years of Lost off the air, they’ve become much more comfortable with letting the show speak for itself. Some things didn’t work out as well as they wanted to because of the realities of producing a TV show; a question about the true nature of the Whispers on the Island concluded with Lindelof saying they had a conversation amongst the writers and never actually came to a single solid conclusion.
The two do think that the text of Lost holds satisfactory answers for the questions Lost poses except for one: who was in the season 5 outrigger that was taking shots at our Losties? It is one of the infamous “unanswered questions” of Lost that hasn’t been addressed since the episode aired. Cuse refused to entertain the question again, staging a mock walk-off of the panel, while Lindelof said they absolutely know who was in the Outrigger, and that “other people” have seen the writing that answers the question, but the showrunners will not. Lost will forever have one question the showrunnners won’t answer. The rest (they claim) have all been wrapped up.
Both Cuse and Lindelof admitted that they had not been approached by Disney about rebooting or spinning off Lost for a modern audience, but neither of them are actively against the idea. In what shouldn’t have been a surprising answer from the guy who just remixed Alan Moore’s Watchmen into a sequel series and the man currently in charge of the Jack Ryan at Amazon, both showrunners say the one thing that has to be missing from any future versions of the show is them. They did their four seasons, they were sad they had to kill Charlie and that they spent so much time in the writers room talking about Neil Frogurt, but the future of Lost is new. Lindelof even suggests that Lost’s progenitors in the mystery and mythology based TV shows — The X-Files and Twin Peaks — should be redone by people who have their own perspectives to share and stories to tell.