It's confession time again: I've known for weeks that
Lost was going to send Libby (
Cynthia Watros) off to the big island in the sky at the end of last night's episode, and, just like with Ana Lucia, I kept my big, spoiler-obsessed trap closed. And once again, my restraint has yielded a pretty nifty reward - an exclusive postmortem courtesy of exec producers
Damon Lindelof and
Ausiello: Why did you kill off Libby?
Carlton Cuse: We felt like we had run out of story for her. It happens. While we did develop the romance with her and Hurley, we didn't see enough in the way of avenues for where to go with that character. And we were starting to think about what sort of stories we were going to be telling for the characters in Season 3, and we just didn't have enough for Libby that we were excited about. That was on one side. On the other side, we thought, well, shooting Ana Lucia is going to be dramatic, but what will really make it incredible for the audience is that it'll be completely surprising if we shoot Libby, too. And it would be enhanced by the fact that Ana Lucia is not a particularly sympathetic character. But if we added Michael shooting Libby also, who is a very sympathetic character, that would really ratchet up the emotional stakes of the rest of the season.
Damon Lindelof: And all of this was obviously, first and foremost, the idea that Libby's got this mysterious backstory, of which we've only given you the tip of the iceberg. We know she's spent some time in the mental institution with Hurley, and the idea of killing her before she had an opportunity to explain how she got there... we have a master plan for how we're going to tell that story, but it's all posthumous. You'll start to learn Libby's moves through flashbacks over the course of the next season. So we're not done with Cynthia, but Libby is dead.
Ausiello: So we'll see Cynthia next season?
Damon: You'll see her in the [May 24] finale, in fact.
Ausiello: But will we see her next season?
Damon: That's our plan.
Ausiello: Were you pissed off that news of her CBS pilot leaked? It seemed like a repeat of what went on last summer when the trades speculated that Maggie Grace might do X-Men 3, and then she was killed off a couple of months later.
Carlton: We were trying to be helpful to Cynthia as an actress, because she is a wonderful person and we wanted her to have a chance at a job on another show. And an unfortunate side effect of that was that people [interpreted that as], "Well, obviously that means something is up about her time on Lost." It's unfortunate, but I guess at the end of the day, hopefully it didn't get too spoiled in the press, and, more importantly, we gave the actress a fighting chance to get a role on a show for next year. It was important to us that, if we were going to kill her off, we also try to support her, just as her friends and [out of respect] for her desire to get another job.
Damon: It's the price you pay as a producer 'cause you have a choice, and the choice is, essentially, you can force an actor to sit out an entire season...
Carlton: ... by exercising our exclusivity.
Damon: Yeah, by saying, "You're not allowed to go out for other stuff until we formally tell you that we're not picking you up," or you can be a human being about it. And although we anticipated the possibility of this getting out, it seemed like a no-brainer. At the end of the day, a story running in The Hollywood Reporter is one thing, but once they start talking about it on Entertainment Tonight and in TV Guide, which have much [broader audiences], then it's officially spoiled. Like, if my mom calls me and says, "I heard Cynthia is leaving the show," then I know that it's been spoiled. You have a readership that reads Ask Ausiello on the Web that is vastly different - those are people who are seeking spoilers. As opposed to someone who picks up USA Today and reads, "Cynthia Watros got a CBS pilot! What does that mean for Lost?" Then it's like, now suddenly 10 million people know.
Ausiello: How did Cynthia take the news?
Carlton: She was sad. I think it's really hard. When we make those calls they're incredibly hard calls to make. I think, obviously, people like working on the show. It's not a bad job to be living in Hawaii and working on a successful television series. Truthfully, she did take it kind of hard, which motivated us to help her get another job.
Damon: And also, it happened at a time when we were really writing to her. She was stepping up her game. We had just put the script out for "Dave," in which she was heavily featured and that relationship with Hurley was starting to develop, and in response to the awesome work she was doing, that sort of made us feel even more emboldened to go ahead and execute the double murder because we thought her death would really resonate with the audience.