DarkUFO - Lost

Thanks to Mike for the heads up.

The finale of a TV show can provoke all sorts of feelings — from devastation to elation, from closure to closed-fist anger — and Lost‘s last episode has drawn the full spectrum from different factions of its deeply passionate fan base. Four years after its airing, the epic and polarizing farewell installment of ABC’s obsessed-over mystery drama about a group of plane-crash survivors on a bizarro island still has people talking/debating/clogging message boards. (Should you need a refresher and/or guidance, may we suggest (re)reading Doc Jensen’s insightful recap.) As this is the time of year when veteran series often ascend into the afterlife — How I Met Your Mother signed off with a fair share of controversy a few weeks ago – we decided to explore the finale phenomenon with a story in EW‘s April 11 issue titled “The Art of Saying Goodbye.” The creators and showrunners of 10 iconic shows shared with us the challenges of trying to satisfyingly wrap up years of story in a single episode. In the bonus Q&A that follows, Lost exec producer Carlton Cuse — who wrote “The End” with co-creator/exec producer Damon Lindelof – discusses how they plotted the final beats of the Lost saga, why they opted for a spiritual resolution instead of answering questions, and how the overwhelming pressure placed on a show’s last episode can “only lead to disappointment.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When and how did you and Damon start fleshing out the finale?

CARLTON CUSE: There was this grand plan that we had — the idea that the show would start with Jack’s eye opening and it would end with Jack’s eyes closing, which meant that Jack [Matthew Fox] had to die. That was a hugely significant choice because we couldn’t think of a finale of a show that we’d seen where the main character had died. I think that idea went all the way back to Damon writing the pilot. That was right in the DNA from the very beginning… And then pretty early on, we started talking about, “Someone has to end up in charge of the island,” and we’d debated back and forth who that might be before deciding that inevitably and perfectly it was Hurley (Jorge Garcia). The finale is like a hedge. You plant it, but then over time it grows bigger and thicker, and as we went down the stream with the show, we kept getting additional ideas. While some of the basic ideas remained from early on, it was made much richer just by going through the creative process of making the 119 episodes that preceded it.

Can you pinpoint when you locked in the story points for the finale?
It’s hard to say because there was a lot of debate and discussion. I don’t think anything was locked in on our show until we wrote it. (laughs) There were three phases of planning. There was the grand plan that we had, with things from the beginning like Jack’s eye going to close, and we’re going to get people off the island before the end of the show. There was larger operative principles. Then there were seasonal discussions that we’d have these writers mini-camps for where we would discuss the architecture of each upcoming season. But then as we wrote each episode, we left ourselves plenty of room for discovery, invention, to change our minds. So when we sat down to write the finale, it wasn’t like, “Oh, we’ve now come to an episode that we know exactly what it is going to be in every scene, in every shape, and in every form.” Damon and I and the other writers approached it like we did other episodes, where we gave ourselves room to make creative discoveries as we were writing it. We obviously had a lot of conversations about where we were going to land or what the ending was going to encapsulate, but it wasn’t written until it was written.

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