Before we get to the shocking events of last night's Lost, I have a confession to make: I've known for weeks that Michelle Rodriguez was leaving the show and I said nothing about it in Ask Ausiello. No hints. No spoilers. Not even an asterisk quiz. And you're probably wondering why. Well, it's simple: I knew Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse wanted Ana Lucia's death to be a big surprise to viewers and I wasn't going to be the one to ruin that for them - or you. Plus, I knew if I kept my big trap shut, I'd stand a better chance of getting them to spill the beans about the shocking plot twist before it happened, and then be able to post it to my blog the moment the episode was over. All in all, I think it was a pretty fair trade-off. Oh, and you're probably wondering about the fate of Cynthia Watros' Libby since she too was gunned down by Michael last night. I'll have the full story on that next week. But first, let's get to the bottom of M.Ro's ouster.

Ausiello: Was it always your intention to use Ana Lucia as a one-season character?
Damon Lindelof:
A lot of this is going to sound like spin, so all we can give you is our word that this is exactly what happened. Around late February of last year, we started throwing our respective lines in the water to find the leader of the tail section, who we knew was going to be a Latina woman and who would be conceived as a romantic foil for Jack. We wanted her to be in her mid-thirties and be a detective from the LAPD. So we started putting out feelers unofficially because we wanted her to show up in the penultimate episode of last year. That way, when we started our plan for Season 2, it wouldn't feel like we had pulled her out of our asses. So, right around that time...
Carlton Cuse: I got a call from Michelle's agent saying, "Would you guys be interested in Michelle Rodriguez? But she's really only interested in being on the show for a year."
Damon: So we basically said, "A year is not necessarily ideal for us, but let's bring in Michelle and have the meeting." And she came in and met with Carlton and I and then, in the last 15 minutes, J.J. [Abrams] happened to be across the way doing some Alias stuff and he came over and sat down with her and we just hung out with her and chatted. It turned out that she worked in Hawaii on Blue Crush and knew a lot of people down there. But she made it very clear in that meeting that she's sort of a nomadic spirit and she did not want to commit to doing any more than [one season]. She wanted to do one kickass arc, as she described it, and we basically started to wrap our brains around her energy and say, "Yeah, we'll bring you on the show and then we'll kill you off at the end of the year." And she was totally cool with it and we were totally cool with it, and we parted ways and talked amongst ourselves. Obviously, the network and the studio normally don't want to get into a situation where they're not making multiyear deals, but we assured them that this was in fact the plan, and that even if Michelle was a rocking sensation on the show, we were going to stick to the plan. So they signed off on it and made the deal accordingly.

Ausiello: And then the DUI...
Carlton:
Then she got this DUI and Damon and I looked at each other and we were like, "Oh, great. Everybody is going to think we're killing her off because she got a DUI." But there really wasn't anything we could do about that. I mean, the story was set. We had made plans. With Lost, we think it out well ahead of when we actually shoot it. We thought about altering our plan, but [this] was in fact what was best for the show. The fact that she got a DUI would come and go and what would live on would be the show, and our plan was still the best plan for the character. Ironically, we actually thought about changing it the other way around once [the DUI] happened, but it really was the best story. We wanted to tell the best story.
Damon: And obviously that decision was further mitigated by the fact that Libby is shot at the same time as Ana Lucia. Basically then we said, "Oh, s--t. Both Michelle and Cynthia were busted the same night for DUI and we've got this story point coming up where they essentially both get shot at the same time, so it's going to look like this is the Lost producers attempt to say, 'Don't drive drunk!'" But as Carlton says, all it created in us was [the thought that], "Maybe we shouldn't do the plan now, 'cause people are going to think this is a reaction to [the DUIs], as opposed to this [plan] existing prior to that event."
Carlton: As you'll see, everything that happens for the rest of the season all sort of falls from this event. And we're not doing ourselves or the fans of the show or the show itself any service by altering those plans because of Michelle's extracurricular activities.
Damon: Not to mention that we didn't even know if that option would be available to us. We were still functioning under the auspices of that meeting, which was Michelle saying, "I want to do a year and then move on."

Ausiello: Did you meet with Michelle to make sure everyone was still on the same page?
Damon:
Michelle happened to be [in Los Angeles] and she came by to see us. We basically said to her, "So we're going to stay on course." And at that point, Michelle was kinda like, "Hey, I'm living in Hawaii...." She might have been able to wrap her brain around [staying] a little bit longer on the show, but she did not say, "I want to stay on the show!" She was basically like, "Yeah. That's a good plan."
Carlton: And once we told her what was happening, she was incredibly supportive. She thought it was sort of a kickass way to go, and she got very on board with the idea of how she was going to be exiting the show.

Ausiello: Rumor has it she was a hard-ass on the set and everyone hated her. Care to set the record straight?
Damon:
We're not in Hawaii on the set so all we can speak to is our working relationship with Michelle and what we have heard from the other actors and directors on the show, and we never heard anything remotely resembling that she was a hard-ass. You know, she's Michelle. She's got a very playful spirit. But she's totally professional and got along well with all the other actors. We get calls over the course of our career about difficult actors. We did not get those calls about Michelle.