Question: Can you give me a little tidbit on the super-secret twist that is supposedly going to blow us away on tonight's Lost finale?

Answer: I'll do you one better: I'll let Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse give it to you instead! In recognition of AA's 100th, the Lost EPs agreed to sit down and answer all of your burning questions, as well as offer a preview of tonight's fall finale and the remaining 16 episodes, kicking off Feb. 7. It's the best anniversary gift ever!

Damon Lindelof: Congratulations on your 100th column.
Carlton Cuse: Yes, congratulations.

Thank you! We have limited time, so I'm going to cut right to the chase. More than anything, AA readers wanna know if Michael and/or Walt will appear this season.
Carlton: We have a very clear plan for this season, and I don't think we'll get back to Michael and Walt's story this season.

With Eko gone, you no longer have any African-American men in the cast.
Carlton: Harold Perrineau's story is not finished. He is not on the show currently, but I think everybody is very curious to know what happened to Michael and Walt, and we hope to get back to that story. That character is still out there in the Lost universe.

One frustration I'm hearing is that viewers don't understand why you would bring in new characters like Paolo (Rodrigo Santoro) and Nikki (Kiele Sanchez) when it seems like you're already having trouble servicing the original characters.
Damon: That's a legitimate concern, and I wouldn't say that we have difficulty servicing the initial cast. I do think that we acknowledge that the franchise of Lost if there was one since we don't have bodies on gurneys or clients coming into law firms is the introduction of new characters. We basically get two criticisms: One is that we're not with our main people enough, and the other is [that people are] sick and tired of seeing redundant flashback stories. You can't have your cake and eat it, too. And another criticism we've been getting since the very beginning of the show is, "How come we never hear from, or incorporate into the story, the other passengers, the ones who are sort of carrying logs around in the background?" Obviously we knew it'd be tricky starting to fold Rodrigo and Kiele into the show as if they'd been there all along. But it was an effort on our part to sort of deal with two out of those three criticisms. Although the inevitable, Why aren't we spending more time with Claire instead of spending time with people we don't know yet?" was going to come up. We suffer the slings and arrows of criticisms at almost every creative turn, and again, it's all in the service of the uber-story that is Lost.

Personally, I'd be happy if the show just featured Matthew Fox, Michael Emerson and Elizabeth Mitchell every week.
Damon: We're going to spin them off. It's going to be called "Ben & Friends."

One other complaint I'm hearing this season is that new mysteries are being presented before old ones are solved. Can you say anything about that?
Carlton: We're always in this sort of balancing act. [We want] to keep the audience engaged by the underlying mysteries of the show, but we also want to try to answer questions and give people some satisfaction. And I think maybe the pendulum has swung a little too much into the Well, we need more answers category, and we try to be attentive to that. I think there are some upcoming episodes after the break in the spring that will answer a number of the open questions. We certainly plan to tell the audience this year how Locke got in the wheelchair.
Damon: We'll be getting a lot more detailed about what happened to Locke, Eko and Desmond following the immediate aftermath of the hatch exploding, imploding or potentially doing something else.
Carlton: We're doing a flashback story where you'll find out how Jack got his tattoos.
Damon: And we'll begin peeling back layers of who the Others are, how long they've been on the island, what their origins are. That's really the sort of uber-plot of Season 3. And here's the thing: At the end of season 2, we downloaded a hell of a lot of mythology in those last couple episodes. We explained why the plane crashed and whether or not the button was the real deal. But at the same time, every time we close one door we have to open up another or else we risk falling victim to the Twin Peaks curse, which is that once they told you who killed Laura Palmer, there was no reason to watch the show anymore.
Carlton: What you might also be feeling is that kind of sense that we're basically working on Episode 60, so that's a lot of hours to not know, What's the nature of this island? Where is this island?" The overarching mysteries of Lost remain unanswered. But those questions have to remain unanswered until the show ends. That's something we don't know and we're not in control of when it is going to end. We will attempt to answer some of the transitory questions, but obviously, the big ones have to stay unanswered.

Will Adewale be back for that flashback episode you just referred to?
Damon: It might not necessarily be a flashback episode.

But you said we're going to go back and find out what happened right after the hatch imploded or whatever.
Damon: Yes, we are. It might be a flashback, but we're not going to tell you how that information gets relayed.
Carlton: It might be a flash-forward or a flash-sideways.
Damon: It will certainly be a flash-something.
Carlton: It could be a flash in the pan.
Damon: Look, here's the thing, Michael. We believe audiences aren't really asking, When are we going to get our answers? They're asking, "Are we going to get our answers?" And that's a very savvy question for them to be asking, because of the nature of the television business, it's sort of like, "Are they just stringing us along?" And all Carlton and I can say is that we are absolutely committed to giving you those answers. We know what the answers are, and we're telling them in the most creatively satisfying way for us as storytellers.

A reader named Denise sent in what I think is a really good question. When the plane crashed, Ben told Goodwin that if he ran he could be at the crash site in an hour. Now if they're on two different islands, how could he possibly do that? Walk on water?

Carlton: That island isn't necessarily where they live. It's not necessarily the same place where we saw those guys in the beginning of the teaser of the season premiere this year. I think that would be a very reasonable explanation as to how Goodwin and Ethan could run from the Others' home camp to the crash site.

OK. Another reader, Baude, wants to know when we're going to find out what happened to those kids who were abducted.
Damon: I think you'll begin to get a real sense of the answer to that question in about the second episode back after the break a very real sense.

Does it tie in at all to the fact that Juliet's a fertility doctor?
Damon: I think that's a reasonable connection.

Is the guy with the eye patch going to figure prominently this season?
Carlton: Oh yeah.
Damon: Prominently.

And what about the outside world?
Damon: Obviously, this is the big sort of dangler from Season 2. We broke perspective off the island for the first time at least that's what we're leading everybody to believe and, certainly, that ball is in motion and rolling down the hill at a very fast rate. That is pretty much what begins to dominate Season 3 once we come back from the break. It takes a couple of episodes to get up to speed, but the fact that the island may have been seen is pretty much the entire story arc of the second half of the year.

Is it too soon to talk about what this season's "challah" will be?
Carlton: Yes.
Damon: We've already gone on record as saying we're going to call it the "matzo" this year.
Carlton: Our biggest concern on the show is that we're going to run out of Jewish bread products.
Damon: There aren't that many.

Is there going to be a sort of "challah"-type thing at the end of tonight's episode?
Carlton: No.
Damon: It's not a game-changer.
Carlton: But there's a good cliff-hanger.
Damon: It's a much more conventional cliff-hanger in the vein of Jack Bauer going on a slow boat to China.
Carlton: We believe it's a cliff-hanger that will make the audience want to come back and watch the show when it picks up in February.
Damon: It will hopefully be good enough to incur major frustration from the audience as to "How dare we go off the air for 13 weeks and leave them hanging in that fashion!"
Carlton: The angrier we make them the better the cliff-hanger is, I guess.

You guys have been quoted as saying you're going to drop a "bomb" during the second half of the season.
Damon: There are two bombs being dropped, one of which is a character bomb, and that will happen within the first three episodes after the break. And the other is a more significant story bomb, a game-changer, as it were, and that will happen shortly after.

A big thanks to Damon and Carlton for taking part in this historic AA! Now let's get to the rest of the scoop!