Posted Wed Mar 25, 2015 at 08:00 AM PDT by Michael S. Palmer
Haters and Losties alike. You've probably wanted to know the definitive answer to the "did the writers know where they were going?" question since 'Lost' crash-landed onto network television in September of 2004.
'Lost' blended elements of science fiction, survival thrillers, mystery, and character drama. For some, it was a thematic trail blazer that proved genre shows could be mainstream. For others, it was a great idea that failed to live up to its potential, crushed under the weight of its own complications and failing to answer all the Mystery Box questions. To this day, mention co-creator/co-showrunner, Damon Lindeloff, and you're bound to get furious, hateful comments about how much he sucks. Hell, the first tweet I saw after the outstanding 'Breaking Bad' series finale was aimed squarely at Lindeloff.
For me, personally, I absolutely adore 'Lost', warts and all, and have watched it twice all the way through. I don't care how uncool it may be to admit it, but I even love the 'Lost' finale. It was beautiful, action packed, emotionally satisfying, and wrapped up the major plot lines (I do not care who shot at Sawyer's canoe in Season 5). Sure, the "sideways" flashes were a little hit or miss, but that's okay too. Very few pieces of art are perfect.
Given my feelings for show (while admitting it had ups and downs), it probably doesn't surprise you that someone like me would get frustrated when people start arguing about whether the writers knew where they were going the entire time, or if they simply made it up as they went along.
My frustration over this particular obsession isn't the notion that another human being might not share my subjective feelings about the quality/success/failure of a six season television series...
It's over the fact that people are debating this question as if the answer, one way or the other, can be used to objectively prove 'Lost' is either "amazeballs" or "the worst show ever" when arguing with other human beings who might not share your subjective feelings about the quality/success/failure of a six season television series. (See what I did there?)
There's a fantasy that movies and TV series spring forth, fully formed, from the mind of auteurs. A Stephen Spielberg Film. A Martin Scorcesse Picture. Created By Aaron Sorkin. But the truth is this: movies and television shows -- especially network series that need 22-24 episodes per season -- are a crazy, complex beast of ideas that form over the course of a long, collaborative process very few outside Hollywood get to see and understand first hand.
Which is why it's such a thrill to share with you The Lost Will and Testament of Javier Grillo-Marxuach, a new blog post by 'Lost' first and second season Supervising Producer, Javier Grillo-Marxuach. Want to know if they knew where they were going? You're about to get an answer. Not a simple answer; this essay's pretty long. But the real one. A glimpse behind the creative curtain (hint: it's a little bit of genius, a little bit of magic, and heaping gobs of hard work).
Mr. Grillo-Marxuach digs deep, answering all sorts of questions, some you may already know about, many others you like will not, including....
Which main character was supposed to die in the pilot?
How did the character backstories evolve into show's signature flashback structure?
What type of show did ABC really want to produce?
Was is the Island? Was it always supposed to be that?
What did JJ really want The Hatch to be?
Who was the true creative force behind the show?
How much did they use from that other Island script ABC commissioned?
What was Hurley's original backstory?
Was Walt psychic?
Why did Damon Lindeloff hire Carton Cuse to be co-showrunner?
What were The Others originally called?
Who named the Dharma Initiative?
Where did the Numbers come from?
Did the Writers always know what the Island was, or did they make it up as they went along?
And, most of all, what really goes into creating a genre-bending smash-hit lightning-in-a-bottle TV series?
Click HERE to read the full essay, and then come back to tell us what you think. Did it surprise you? Change your feelings about 'Lost'? Enforce them? As long as you take the time to be sincere about your thoughts, I'd honestly love to hear them all. Cheers and thanks. Don't know about you, but my first thought after reading this essay... time to go back and revisit 'Lost' again soon!
Oh, and PS. "[The Island] is not purgatory. It was never purgatory. It will never be purgatory. "
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