SDCC: Lost finale teased amid live theatrics

After six seasons, ABC's acclaimed television series Lost is finally coming to an end, although judging from the turnout in Hall H at Comic-Con on Saturday morning it could certainly sustain a few more, if only for the sake of its rabid viewership. Executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse appeared in person to thank their fans and answer a few questions—albeit in predictably evasive fashion—while offering a few glimpses about what's yet to come in the sixth and final season in a panel that featured a heavy dose of live-action theatrics.

Conducted almost as an informercial rather than a proper presentation, the Lost panel opened with an advertisement for "Lost University" before screening a preview of a "1980s television program that may be of particular interest to Lost fans," at least according to a title card. (One presumes this is at least vaguely a reference to the recent lawsuit brought against the series' creators by a television producer who says he created the core characters and story in the late 1970s.) The clip was brilliantly executed in '80s detail, down to its horrible VHS quality, and boasted secrets about "The Dharma Initiative," which was also the name of the pseudo-documentary. Lindelof later indicated that this documentary would be part of the bonus materials in a future DVD release, although he didn't specify whether it would be released in conjunction with season five or six.

Most of the panel was fan-fueled, starting when Lindelof and Cuse said that they are often asked whether everything that has happened on the show is according to plan. Accordingly, they decided to answer the question once and for all by locking two pages from the script from the final episode in a box, which they would open on Jimmy Kimmel Live on the day of its broadcast to confirm they conceived it before they even started shooting the new season. "There's no way to prove it," Lindelof said. "When the show's over we can just say no, we weren't making it up as we go along."

"We have talked about the fact that the final scene of the show is written, and for the first time we have actually committed that to paper," he revealed.

Opening the floor to questions, the duo said that season six will have some similartities to season one. "The biggest moment in the show's life was when we were able to announce the show's death," Lindelof acknowledged. "As soon as we were able to start working towards an endpoint, we wanted to make sure that the show felt like it was closing a loop, in a way, so that the final season would feel like the first season. There's a good chance that you'll be seeing characters you haven't seen since the first season."

"I think there was a feeling that they were running around in the jungle, and things felt intense and surprising," Cuse added. "For us, the kind of emotional discovery that went on as we learned about these characters in the first season, we feel like we have a way that we're going to be doing that in the final season of the show that we like, and hopefully you will too."

While they didn't commit to what sort of storytelling structure the inventive program would use in its final season, Lindelof did clarify that they were done with some of the tricks of previous seasons, specifically time travel and flash-forwards. But after they announced the winners of a contest for fans to write a real theme for the show, they screened two more brief clips, the second of which was a scene from an episode of America's Most Wanted in which Kate Austen is the featured perpetrator. What's most interesting about this is the revelation that Kate's stepfather was not the victim of the gas leak she created, but another man.

Afterward, none other than Jorge Garcia (Hurley/Hugo) appeared in the question queue to ask Lindelof and Cuse a few of his own burning queries, including what happened to Shannon's inhalers in season one. But before he could find out the answer, Michael Emerson, who plays Ben, approached Garcia and chided him for wasting the fans' time. Garcia responded by suggesting Emerson was bitter that he didn't get the part of Hurley, and Lindelof and Cuse backed up Garcia's claim by running his audition footage.

Fans peppered the panelists with questions about the future of characters and storylines, and, among other revelations, they told the audience that Richard Alpert's (Nestor Carbonell) backstory would most likely be explored in season six. "You will be seeing a lot of Richard, and I think we will be incredibly remiss if we didn't give you Richard's backstory before the show ended," Cuse said. After another fan admitted that he cried "like a sissy" when Juliet fell down the well at the end of season five, Lindelof confirmed that actress Elizabeth Mitchell would appear in the final season, although he didn't say if that meant she was still alive in the current timeline. (Mitchell is also a regular on another new ABC series, V, which debuts in midseason right along with Lost.)

Otherwise, they said that the source of the food dropped on the island in earlier seasons "might be something [they] were going to try to deal with in the final season," and that the Dharma Initiative would not play as big a role in season six as in past seasons. But as the panel came to a close, Josh Holloway joined the stage, tasered Lindelof and took his and Cuse's keys to open the box containing that final scene. When Holloway had trouble reading it, Emerson took the pages, only to discover that they were actually from a script for Heroes. But as the presentation ended with an "In Memoriam" segment that recapped all of the cast members, big and small, who died during the show, Charlie himself, Dominic Monaghan, strode out on stage, proving, if nothing else, that Lost will live on in the hearts and minds of its fans even if it comes to an end on television.

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