13 Questions with the Producers of Lost: Polar Bears, the Smoke Monster, and the Man in Black
Before we go any further, let's make one thing clear: the polar bears maybe aren't that big a deal. That's just one of the hints Lost executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof dropped about the sixth and final season of the show when we interviewed them at the show's Hawaii premiere party. They also told us a bit about the Man in Black, promised to explain the Smoke Monster, and told us who's really dead.
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TVGuide.com: The show raises a lot of questions, but is there anything that fans have focused on that you never intended to be a big deal?
Cuse: The polar bears. We sort of felt like we explained the polar bears. We saw polar bear cages. We saw Sawyer locked in a polar bear cage. But people were still like, "What's up with those polar bears?" That seems to be kind of an obsession. Libby has also been an obsession.
Lindelof: The new obsession is basically, "How many questions are you guys going to answer?" And people are asking us that like Carlton and I are gonna go, "87. We're just not going to tell you which ones." Or, "What percentage of the mysteries are you going to answer?" But that doesn't take into account the fact that some people consider some things mysteries that other people don't consider mysteries at all or don't care about. So we basically say, every mystery that is relevant to the characters on [Flight] 815, if they don't care about it, then it's probably not going to be answered. So if it's relevant to them or they're asking a question, then it's something that we're going to deal with. But that's the story that we're telling.
TVGuide.com: Is the reset going to be a theme of this season or are you playing with the audience?
Cuse: I think it wouldn't be Lost if we weren't playing with the audience a little bit, but by the end of the premiere, you'll have a sense of what we're doing. We're still doing the same thing we've always done on the show, which is island storytelling and off-island storytelling. It just now starts to take on a different form in the final season. Like every season, each season is a distinct entity, so by the end of the premiere, you should have a sense of what Season 6 is shaping up to be like.
TVGuide.com: Michael Emerson said instead of storylines coming together, the threads keep spreading out. Do you feel like everything will come together at the end or will it keep spreading?
Cuse: I'm not sure I agree with Michael. He might have been toying with you, because we do feel like there's a certain circularity to the show. In the same way that the show started, we're going to come back around to some of the main characters from the first season of the show. To us, the most important thing is, what are these character's destinies? What are their fates? What's going to happen to them? Those are the questions we're really interested in answering. Along the way, we're going to tackle some of the mythological biggies, like what's the smoke monster? You'll learn more about the nature of the island. You'll learn more about Jacob and the Man in Black. Those are the things we feel are important as opposed to what kind of research was the Dharma Initiative doing on polar bears.
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TVGuide.com: Will there be more on the numbers or will that never really be answered?
Cuse: There is definitely more about the numbers in Season 6. I think it will be an individual decision as to whether you'll walk away satisfied by the answer because there's a fundamental conundrum where any question begets another question. It's the Big Bang conundrum. The universe started with the Big Bang, but once you accept that you ask what came before the Big Bang. So at a certain point you can't definitively answer a question in a way that doesn't lead to other questions. Everyone is going to have to find their comfort level with the show.
TVGuide.com: Will the final season be no holds barred? Can anyone die?
Cuse: The mantra of the final season in a certain way is, "Anything can happen, be prepared." We are nearing the end, so if there are any constraints that govern a series, they really go away in the final season. We always felt like Lost was at its best when it was really surprising. We did things that were unexpected. We do have a few surprises up our sleeves for this season, which we think are really exciting.
TVGuide.com: You already know who is going to die in the end?
Cuse: Yes, we have our game plan for how the season will end. Significant discisions like that have definitely been resolved by now. We're still writing the scripts, but we, ourselves, know the fates of the characters.
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TVGuide.com: What can you say of the Man in Black?
Cuse: People who are curious about the Man in Black will get more answers this season for sure. We recognize that that character is mysterious and cryptic and we promise that we will give you more details about who he is.
TVGuide.com: Is Jacob really dead?
Cuse: Is Jacob really dead? Yeah, I mean we've always said that when characters die on Lost they die. He was stabbed, he was dead. Of course, dead characters show up in other incarnations. We have a narrative structure of our show which allows us to have our cake and eat it too. Just because you're dead doesn't mean we don't see you on the show, but was Jacob killed by Ben? The answer is yes.
TVGuide.com: Yes, and Harold Perrineau is among those who's back despite being dead.
Cuse: Yeah, and he's back on the show this year, so you'll see Harold on the show and that's really exciting for us, but he did die on the freighter.
TVGuide.com: Is Kate going to end up with Jack or Sawyer or end up alone?
Cuse: Well, we know what's going to happen to her, but we're not going to tip what's happening to her. But we definitely know what the resolutions of the characters are and we know that people care a lot about the Kate, Jack, Sawyer, Juliet quadrangle and that will be something that you'll definitely get some resolution on this season.
Lindelof: And I think it's great that you actually present that Kate might end up alone as an option, because a lot of people say, "Is it going to be Jack or is it going to be Sawyer?" But that presupposes way too many things that they're not fully aware of in the final season. So there may be a couple of other options that are in play that people aren't considering yet.
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TVGuide.com: Are we going to learn more about why Richard doesn't age?
Cuse: Yes you will. You will definitely learn more about Richard Alpert this season. Now, whether it's enough for you to be satisfied, that'll be up to you. But we're definitely going to explain more about him.
Lindelof: We've been coming up against what we call the chicken and the egg conundrum, which is every time we answer a question, there's two questions left in its wake. So we have to decide where we draw the line. So if the question is, "Are we going to learn more about Richard? Are we going to see his origin story?", the answer is, we would be remiss if we were not to present that. But if we were to say, "Are we going to definitively answer all these mysteries regarding Richard?", it's literally impossible to do.
TVGuide.com: Are there teams supporting Jacob and the Man in Black? And what should we call that guy?
Cuse: The Man in Black.
TVGuide.com: Are there teams? Are there people that are going to take sides this season?
Cuse: People are going to take sides, but that doesn't mean they're not going to switch sides later on. It's a little bit like baseball pre-season. You're on a team, but there's a lot of trading going on.
Lindelof: I think one thing to keep in mind though is that just because one guy wears white and the other guy wears black, don't make immediate judgments over who's good and who's evil. Jacob has kind of put our guys through the wringer in a lot of ways, so it might be interesting to see what the Man in Black has to say for himself.
Cuse: He might have a good perspective.