‘Lost’: You Are Not the Boss of Cuse & Lindelof

Posted: May 14, 2010 in Threat Quality
Tags: , , ,

Well. I suppose I have to concede my Lost theory about the Smoke Monster being somehow a separate entity from the Man in Black, based on these answers from producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof in an interview with Alan Sepinwall.

Which, unfortunately, has me downgrading my enjoyment and interest in the last episode, “Across the Sea.” Also not helping: these guys are going to be giving interviews for years where they have to defend their creative decision-making for the final season.

And…ehhh they’re not off to such a good start. You can read the full interview here, but I’ll pull some choice quotes, along with a bit of the ol’ Holland commentary magic.

Some mild spoilers on – but only if you’re expecting to see the other side of that outrigger shootout from last season (in which case…sorry.):

Lindelof on providing answers to long-running questions:
This was going to be the season where we said, “Whatever your theory was, our presentation of the endgame of the show may disprove your theory, so we’re sorry if you don’t like the fact that you don’t get the Man in Black’s name, but you don’t get it.” So that’s going to piss some people off, and it’s their right to be pissed off.
(HOLLAND’S TAKE: It’s mostly going to piss people off who remember the narrative backflips the writers had to do to avoid giving the Cigarette Smoking Man a name on the “X-Files.” Does anyone remember Skinner barking, “Men like him don’t have names!”? Yes, that was akin to “I only thought of one name for a baby.” It makes the lack of a name into a plot point without a worthy resolution – and THAT CAN BE A PROBLEM.)

Cuse on airing “Across the Sea” at this point in the series:
We’ve felt a desire to provide the audience with Jacob and the Man in Black’s origin story and make it not the last episode of the show for a very good reason. The show is going to focus on these characters. That’s what we believe is more important and that’s what we believe the audience wants to see. This all worked the way we wanted to. We planned it out so we could do a big mythological download episode at this point so that it would allow us to have the end of the show be more character-centric.
(HOLLAND’S TAKE:  In other words, it’s entirely possible you could skip this episode with no serious repercussions.)

Lindelof on fan complaints:
Usually, when we get criticisms, it’s along the lines of, “I really wish you hadn’t done that.” Or “I wish it had been different.” And you throw it back at them and ask, “Well, what did you want it to be?” And they say, “I wanted to see the statue built,” or “I wanted the Man in Black’s first name,” or “I want to know about the guy Sayid shot on the golf course.” Okay, that’s cool, you wanted those answers and we decided not to provide them to you.  It’s not because we’re being cutesie, it’s because that that didn’t fit with our vision of the show.
(HOLLAND’S TAKE: See…buddy. It’s about weighing the important things – you showed an Egyptian statue on a supposedly uninhabited island and then treated it with the same level of importance as ‘Random dude Sayid shot’, but they are NOT the same level of importance, dig?)

Lindelof on the point of “Across the Sea”:
We wanted to explain why the Man in Black had behaved the way that he does, and to show that like a lot of other characters on the show, he’s the victim of very bad parenting. To reduce him to just a supernatural force, as opposed to a person, was not our intent. “Across the Sea” was our attempt to say, “Here’s why Jacob feels the way he does about people, why the Man in Black feels the way he does about people,” and a bit about their childhood. It’s as simple as that and as complex as the themes of the show are.
(HOLLAND’S TAKE: So…yeah. Apparently what we heard and saw was what’s true. Shame, I rather liked my smoke-monster theory, in that it felt marginally less dumb than “…and then the brother turned into a smoke monster.”)

Cuse on not naming the Man in Black:
I think for us to explain why we’re not giving him a name veers too far into the territory of explaining things that we don’t feel the need to explain.
(HOLLAND’S TAKE: You…should probably have taken a poll of what the audience considered explanation-worthy. Just to be on the safe side.)

Cuse and Lindelof on a continuity gaffe:
You’ve said many times that when people find out who Adam and Eve are, we’ll all realize just how long you’ve been planning the mythology. Well, I went back and watched the “House of the Rising Sun” scene, and Jack says that the clothing looks like it’s 50 years old. Is he just not very good at calculating the rate of decay on fabric?
CC: Jack is not really an expert in carbon dating.
DL: He’s not really a forensic anthropologist. We need to bring in Bones.
CC: Or Charlotte. She’s an anthropolgist.
DL: The other theory that I would like to throw out there is that Jacob and his mother were just expert craftsmen. They made those clothes on that loom so well, it would appear that they were only 50 years old in decomposition, when in fact it’s several thousand.
CC: Or perhaps the fabric is magic. A lot of theories there.
(HOLLAND’S TAKE: DON’T GET CUTE WITH US, SONNY-JIM. Especially when you point out that 1) Jack made a mistake that does kinda contradict your ‘planned it all along’ claims, and 2) YES YOU DID HAVE AN ANTHROPOLOGIST, shame you didn’t USE HER IN THAT ROLE.)

Lindelof, quite possibly missing the point here:
Interviewer: There have been some people who’ve said, “Okay, they don’t have to answer all the old mysteries if they don’t want to, but it’s not fair for them to keep introducing lots of new ones at this late date.” How do you respond to that?
DL: Are there any readers who actually like the show?
(HOLLAND: Heh. I do like the occasional bouts of “Look, YOU wanna write this show?” the guys have.)

Lindelof, making a pretty good point about fan complaining:
We could say, “Yes, this was great!” And the fans would say that we jumped the shark. I love the idea that some fans are literally saying we jumped the shark last night! 119 hours in! We finally jumped the shark! So good! You guys are going to spare yourselves the agita of the final three hours of the show.
(HOLLAND’S TAKE: …Fair enough.)

Cuse and Lindelof, really, really ticking a lot of people off here, too:
Interviewer: Okay, finally, I have to ask, simply because it’s been driving me nuts for a year and a half: what’s going on with showing the other half of the outrigger shootout?
CC: The outrigger shootout is not something we’re bending around in gyrations so we can solve it. In the grand scheme of the show, that is a fairly obscure piece of the show. It is your particular obsession…
DL: …and you’re not alone in it.
CC: You’re not alone in it. And yes, it would have been great if we had had the opportunity to close the time loop. But you can’t get everything done and keeping the narrative going in a straight line. It’s not like we didn’t want to do it. Like Damon says, it was just too much of a narrative deviation to do it.
(HOLLAND’S TAKE: …You kidding me with this? I get wanting to subvert the whole “If you introduce a gun in Act I” theory, but…you KIDDING me with this?)

  1. Tad says:

    yeah, i have been expecting to see the other end of the outrigger shootout for awhile. not exactly a “mystery” they need to close out, but just seems kind of pointless to stick that in there if they weren’t going to show the other side of it. oh well, 3.5 hours to go!

  2. Carl says:

    Gag. LOST has literally gone from my favorite show on TV in Seasons 1 and 2 and becoming the totem of everything I hate about Hollywood storytelling in seasons 5 and 6. It doesn’t matter if anything makes any fucking sense as long as they keep tuning in or buying tickets to our sequels.

    “Nobody really cares about continuity and reasonable suspension of disbelief anyhow” they grumble, “the lemmings just want to be entertained moment to moment anyhow. Quick, blow something up.” Except when every cries out on these very counts because they care desperately, its “What, you don’t like our television show? Write your own fucking television show.”

  3. braak says:

    I’ll tell you something, as someone who has now made TWO television shows: it’s not as hard as these clowns let on.

  4. Moff says:

    I’m not under any illusions otherwise: The show is gonna be, at minimum, a bit of a letdown at this point, and possibly much worse. But Lost is still going to end up a groundbreaking piece of television. Worthwhile complaints notwithstanding, it’s easy to forget that no one has ever done a show like this on primetime network TV before. Moreover, probably no one since Twin Peaks has tricked so much of mainstream America into watching speculative fiction—and Lost is a lot bigger than Twin Peaks.

    Do you guys really think the Man in Black needs a name? To say that he does isn’t just a minor quibble, to my mind, but the complete opposite: If he’d had a name, it would have felt like they did something wrong. As soon as it became clear they weren’t going to give him one, it was like, “Ah, yes, that makes sense.”

  5. Jeff Holland says:

    @Moff: Regarding the name, it’s totally a minor quibble, but remains a little irksome to me – particularly since I’ve seen how quickly it can go from a stylistic issue to something that stands out within the dialogue for being a little bit stupid (the X-Files issue).

    Granted, it’s LESS stupid within “Lost” dialogue, where characters have a consistent habit of not asking obvious follow-up questions. And when you’ve got a nickname-dispenser like Sawyer around, I imagine all the characters must not be TOO worried about people’s actual names (and yeah, yeah, Sawyer and Hurley aren’t their real names, so it can qualify as one of the show’s running motifs).

    But your major point remains true: This is a show that has never been before, nor will ever be again (in this form). And we should respect it for what it is (and I do – it’s just easy to get frustrated, especially when the show doesn’t do what I want it to, which Darlton addresses). Hell, even its closest analogue – Twin Peaks – only lasted two years, one with significant network interference that, near as I can tell, caused its collapse.

    Which is all to say, I think I’m just gonna shut up about it until after the finale, when we can break it down nice and proper like.

  6. paradol rex says:

    Another problem is that the answers they DO give don’t make any sense at all.

    When we first saw the Black Rock it was strange and creepy to see a giant ship in the middle of a jungle. How did it get there? Imagine if a character had said, “I bet it was flung here from the ocean.” Everyone else would have looked at him like an idiot. Because that answer is stupid.

    Just like the stature. If, when they first saw it, someone asked, “What do you think destroyed it?” and someone responded, “I bet a wooden ship was flung at it from the sea,” everyone would again look at that person like they are an idiot. Because that answer doesn’t make any sense.

    While I appreciate what they were trying to attempt and on the scale they were attempting it, I think ultimately that attempt was a creative failure.

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