Former Lost producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are acknowledging that while much of the recently concluded show's mind-bending stories and puzzle-piece arcs were mapped out from day one, other stories and arcs were the result of action-reaction or were simply winged as needed.
"It was a combination of both those things," Cuse said in an exclusive interview. "There was a big, mythic architecture which included a lot of what's in the finale, in terms of where we end the show, that we knew way back in the beginning. And then, before each season, we'd have a writers' mini-camp and spend a month without any pressure of writing other scripts, figuring out the architecture of the upcoming season. That'd sort of take the artists' rendering and turn it into blueprints, and then, during the season, episode by episode, we built the structure. We allowed ourselves a lot of flexibility to change things around as we were doing construction. It was impossible to have everything planned out, and so it was kind of built in stages."
On the phone with Cuse was his writing and producing partner Lindelof. He stressed that while everyone was thinking long-term, they had to do so without being presumptuous. After all, many a show—Lindelof cited Twin Peaks—fizzled out after a wildly successful first season. "We didn't want to be of the mindset in the first season to assume that people would want to watch the show for six years," Lindelof said. "That's a gift that the audience gave us, to be able to do the show as we did. To sit down at episode eight and start to talk about what you're going to do in the second season ... The guys doing FlashForward, for example, were being asked about the second season at the upfront last year. It's good to have a plan, but at the same time the most important plan is making the next episode really good. That's the only job that Carlton and I and everybody else on this show has ever had."
Lindelof added, "Sometimes in order to make the next episode really good you need to have an incredible superstructure and the blueprints that Carlton is referring to, but at the end of day it really wasn't until we negotiated the end date that we could sit down and in a very detailed way say, 'This is exactly what we want to do over the course of the next three years. We know exactly how many episodes we have to do, and we think people will probably watch us for another three years if we're able to execute this.'"
Now that Lost is in the history books, Lindelof is moving on to co-writing the next Star Trek feature. Cuse plans to take a break and then will seek out his next project. Meanwhile, for all the closure and answers the Lost finale provided, it also left many story threads hanging. What the heck was/is the island? Where was Walt, and what powers did he have, anyway? What did the Dharma Initiative actually want? Who built the statue, and why? In other words, there seems to be plenty more story to tell.
Cuse, asked if he'd want to be involved if Lost ever returns in some form, replied, "That's like when they interview boxers at the end of a fight and they say, 'Do you want a rematch?' and the guy is going 'No mas, no mas.' We are so exhausted ... that the only answer we can give you is that we have no plans to do anything else with the Lost franchise after this show. We're not setting it up. We didn't invent a sequel. We have no expectations that we will continue to do anything with the franchise. Right now we are viewing this as the end of our storytelling with Lost."