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Lost – Exec producer Damon Lindelof on bringing back the dead and Star Trek 2

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Lost Season 6 - Damon Lindelof
Damon Lindelof at the 2010 Winter Press Tour © ABC

In the second part of our conversation with Damon Lindelof, the Creator/Executive Producer of Lost, he talks about Elizabeth Mitchell’s return to the show after her dramatic demise in season five’s finale, and if he thinks anyone has figured out how the iconic series will end.

Is it hard to think of a resolution that is not what anyone else is thinking?

My hope is that certainly by the time we do the finale, plenty of people will be thinking about it and they will feel enormously gratified that they guessed it right.

Have you seen anybody who has guessed it right so far?

I think that there are people who have certainly figured out significant pieces of what we want to do in the final season but they did not have enough information yet. We withheld key evidence so if you’re trying to figure out who killed Professor Plumb, we haven’t shown you that the candlestick is even a potential murder weapon yet, so you can’t get it.

Starting with the season premiere this year, the remaining clues necessary to figure out where we’re going to end the show are going to begin falling into place. We’ve posted the questions. We just haven’t given you enough information to figure out what the answers might be.

Lost Season 6 - Terry O'Quinn, Matthew Fox, Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim
A last supper for Locke (Terry O’Quinn), Jack (Matthew Fox), Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) and Sun (Yunjin Kim)? © ABC

Was Ben moving the island part of the first season plan, or did you come up with it later?

Starting basically between the first and second season when we started to cook the deeper mythology of the island, started talking about the physics of the island, how the island worked, why no one could find the island, who had been on the island before, what was The Others’ story, how long had they been there.

In those conversations we started talking about the wheel, the idea that the island was moving not just through space but also through time and then the question just became when were we going to use that device? I do feel like we always knew we were going to do time travel on the show and we were setting that up as early as the second season.

Lost Season 6 - Emilie De Ravin, Daniel Dae Kim, Josh Holloway, Evangeline Lilly, Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, Terry O'Quinn, Michael Emerson and Jorge Garcia
Emilie De Ravin, Daniel Dae Kim, Josh Holloway, Evangeline Lilly, Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, Terry O’Quinn, Michael Emerson and Jorge Garcia at the 2010 Winter Press Tour © ABC

Has that been the most hotly debated jump the shark issue?

Sure. I think that the show has probably jumped the shark at least a dozen times now, fortunately for us as storytellers but unfortunately for a mainstream audience. There was a time when there were 23 million people watching Lost. That time has passed.

Every time that this show takes a risk, declares itself more overtly, there are going to be people who say, “I wasn’t watching the show about time travel. I don’t like that show. I don’t want to watch this anymore.” We have to tell the story that we’re committed to and hopefully the audience will stick with us but we can’t really compromise that.

Lost Season 6 - Ken Leung, Michael Emerson, Jorge Garcia and Jeff Fahey
A last supper for Miles (Ken Leung), Ben (Michael Emerson), Hurley (Jorge Garcia) and Frank Lapidus (Jeff Fahey) © ABC

Tell us about Elizabeth Mitchell’s return?

We can say that she is going to be on the show this season a couple of times but obviously because of the success of V and because she shoots it in Canada, we’ve been a little bit limited in how much we can use her.

The good news is she’s been amazing in letting us execute our version of the show with her and that’s something that we presented to her when we told her, ‘Hey, you’re falling into a hole and sustaining some rather significant injuries and we’ve got some plans for you in the next season that will allow you to go and do another show but we hope you continue to stay with us for a little bit.’ She was awesome.

Lost Season 6 - Emilie De Ravin, Daniel Dae Kim, Josh Holloway, Evangeline Lilly, Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, Terry O'Quinn, Michael Emerson and Jorge Garcia
Emilie De Ravin, Daniel Dae Kim, Josh Holloway, Evangeline Lilly, Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, Terry O’Quinn, Michael Emerson and Jorge Garcia at the 2010 Winter Press Tour © ABC

After the first season you were saying that you were a little bit worried about building up to the end of the series, because no mater how you end it there are going to be people that will never be satisfied.

The monumental shift in information that I had then, I felt like it would be great to cover my bases and guarantee everybody a shitty ending of Lost (he laughs).

And now you’re actually going to see the ending to Lost, and all we can do is basically put our best foot forward. We do feel like the worst ending that we could possibly provide everyone who has invested this amount of time and energy into watching the show is a safe ending. The ending that is basically like, ‘What’s going to be the most appealing to the most number of people?’

Fortunately for us, we’ve been talking about how the show’s going to end since the network gave us an end date three years ago, so we really have no excuse to say anything other than this is the ending that we wanted to do on the terms that we wanted to do it. We didn’t have to go two seasons too long. We’ve had a lot of time to think about it.

There is certainly a hope on all our parts that everybody universally loves the ending that we put forward. I don’t think it would be Lost if there wasn’t an ongoing and active debate amongst the people who watch the show as to whether or not it was a good ending. If I could put on my predicting hat, there would be people over here who say it’s the worst ending in the history of television, and hopefully to balance them out, my mother will say it’s the best ending, although she doesn’t understand the show!

After Lost, do you start writing Star Trek 2?

Yeah, we’re going to start probably in April once the writing on Lost is done. Star Trek 2 will come out in 2012 some point so we’ve still got a little bit of time, but we’ve been talking about it. We just haven’t been writing.