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Episode: - „Weil du gegangen bist“
Damon Lindelof: Well, here we are.
Carlton Cuse: "Previously on Lost. "
Damon Lindelof: That's not you. A lot of people think it is.
Carlton Cuse: People think it is but l like doing it anyway. "Previously on Lost. "
Damon Lindelof:] It could be you.
Carlton Cuse: l wish it was me. It's actually Lloyd Braun. That's the secret.
Damon Lindelof: Well, it's not a secret anymore.
Carlton Cuse: It wasn't a secret before.
Damon Lindelof: Not a very good secret. l love this, "previously on Lost, " here in one minute we'll tell you everything we've done in the last four seasons. Jack and Kate are angry at each other, he grows a big beard. There's a coffin. He's working for Ben. Who is in the coffin? John Locke's in the coffin.
Carlton Cuse: Just spoil it before we see it.
Damon Lindelof: There it is.
Carlton Cuse. There he is. Not looking too good, is he?
Damon Lindelof: All right, so I'm Damon Lindelof.
Carlton Cuse: I'm Carlton Cuse.
Damon Lindelof: And it's 8:15 and time for Morning Edition.
Carlton Cuse: And the premiere of Lost season five. Who's that guy in that bed?
Damon Lindelof: In grand Lost tradition, this is one of our season openers where you're not supposed to have any sense of where and when we are. l think what's really cool about this one is that normally we connect our teaser immediately back into the present time of the show, but in this case we designed one so it wouldn't connect back into the show until well towards the end of the season. It isn't until the 14th hour, The Variable, that we get some context of when and where these events are happening.
Carlton Cuse: It's always annoyed me there's a piece of fuzz on that needle. l don't know. That was a production issue.
Damon Lindelof: We can take it out in post.
Carlton Cuse: Can we?
Damon Lindelof: Now we know that this baby is Miles.
Carlton Cuse: Well, now you're spoiling it ahead... l guess somebody who's watching this commentary already looked at the episode.
Damon Lindelof: If you haven't seen this episode before, or...
Carlton Cuse: This is the spoiler alert. Don't watch this commentary until you've seen all of season five or we'll ruin it for you.
Damon Lindelof: There's that fuzz again. Oh, my God, it's so annoying. That was Willie Nelson. We understand later in the series that Dr. Marvin Chang is a big fan of country music.
Carlton Cuse: Dr. Pierre Chang.
Damon Lindelof: Yes, Dr. Pierre Chang. Marvin Candle. My bad.
Carlton Cuse: Yeah, so, yes. Now, why does he have all these aliases, Damon? We've got this guy, his real name, we've discovered, is Pierre Chang, but yet he's called himself Marvin Candle. He's called himself Wickmund.
Damon Lindelof: My guess is that he just likes to get in character. It's just a little quirk, but maybe we'll learn. By the way, when he says, "l don't need a script," it's just a nice little sense of his own confidence. We like the fact that Pierre Chang here is off book,and he's talking about the Arrow right now, which is a station that we've only been in once,actually, in season two. That's where the Tailies were squatting, and they found a box of stuff that contained a Bible with a piece of film in it, and a glass eye.
Carlton Cuse: Now, Pierre Francis Chang, is it true that after he left the island at the end of the Dharma lnitiative he started a chain of Chinese restaurants?
Damon Lindelof: He did. P.F. Chang's. That's a little-known fact about the show and...
Carlton Cuse: That's a joke for whoever out there actually started P.F. Chang's.
[Lindelof chuckles] l believe that... l don't know.
Carlton Cuse: So here we are. Now we're at the Orchid station, as you may know, which is one of the Dharma Initiative's projects in which they are conducting research and this scene is... This scene actually comes into play much later in the season and, you know, what we tried to do with this scene was set up, in a way, what the premise of this season is. We view each season like a book in a series, and so like... Harry Potter is a series and it concerns the same characters over seven books, but each book has its own story and its own sort of flavor. In the case of this season, the flavor and the concept that we're basically doing is time travel, so here at the beginning of the show we're setting up the significance of the electromagnetic pocket that exists down here underneath the Orchid and in fact, on the island in general. And, you know, we spent a lot of time talking about this scene because we knew this scene would be something that we would circle back around to at the very end of the season.
Damon Lindelof: And, of course, we wanted to tell the audience, "OK, guys, just so you know, we're doing time travel this year," and it's one thing for these two characters to be talking about it in Dharma times, but the way that we're really going to try to connect it back into the show and really explain to you what it is we're doing is, at the very end of this moment, we're going to give you one of our characters on the show, and l think that our decision to make it Faraday was very important for several reasons. First off, he becomes so important later in the season and this is the beginning of his return from Ann Arbor, and here's the big reveal. But l think what's cool about it is when you first watch this in the beginning of season five, you don't know... ls the idea that Faraday was always back in 1977? And for the audience, the fact of the matter is they're watching a flash forward right now because Faraday hasn't been there yet. The Faraday you're about to meet at the beginning of season five who's basically pulling up to the beach in the Zodiac has not had these experiences that we're watching now yet.He has not traveled back to '77. So it's both a flashback and a flash forward because it happened in '77 but not for Faraday. And the complicated nature of all that is really...
Carlton Cuse: That just hurts my brain just to even think about it.
Damon Lindelof: You're not the only one. This commentary... is going to clarify things for you.
[Cuse laughs] Well, it might.
Damon Lindelof: You should have several beers before you continue. It makes more sense if you're drunk.
Carlton Cuse: Exactly. So Faraday obviously is a very significant character, 'cause we also know that he's a physicist, so he seemed to be the perfect character and foil to be explaining the concept of time travel. And speaking of travel and states of being...
Damon Lindelof: Nice segue.
Carlton Cuse: We have John Locke here, who is very dead as the season commences, and obviously this is something which also becomes very significant as the season rolls along, which is John Locke suddenly is walking around on the island and again, so we're... part of what we do, we see the premieres as a continuation of the finales. In fact, this is sort of the final part of last season's finale. Because the finales end on these sort of cliffhanger kind of crescendos, we spend most of our premieres unwinding out of them. There were two tasks that we faced in writing this premiere. One was, how do we set up what we're going to be doing in season five and how do we sort of unwind out of the events that we ended season four with. And, this obviously is a big one here, the revelation that Locke is dead and is in this coffin and the character's discovered, and the fact that now Ben is basically saying, "Hey, you know, we need this guy and this guy's going to become important to our mission for this season."
Damon Lindelof: Most importantly, when we sat down and started talking about season five we said, "We have to get that beard off of Jack." So mission accomplished.
Carlton Cuse: There it is.
Damon Lindelof: For all the complicated nature of the time travel storytelling, that was square one. And l think that basically, you know, in mini-camp last year, talking about season five, we had all this story we needed to tell. We needed to explain what happened when they left the island, the whole flashes island moving thing. And then we had this compartment of stories when Jeremy Bentham came back and talked to these guys which we hadn't done yet, but clearly Ben and Locke talk about that now. Ben and Jack. Ben is about to say to Jack, "What did Locke say to you?" So there's that story, "What did Locke say to all these characters when he tried to enlist them to come back to the island?" You won't get that for six episodes, but how can we begin to tell our stories so that the audience can track it? The answer that we came up with was pick up every story exactly where we left off in the finale. Pick up the Oceanic Six and their quest to get back, and then pick up Sawyer and Juliet and all these guys we're about to see now. When the sky lit up, basically pick them up from right then. So l think it feels like you're actually moving between off-island and on-island, but what you are seeing are flashbacks. These events happened in 2007 between Ben and Jack. These events on the island happened in 2004, at least until the island starts moving, then it's happening all over the place. For these characters they are separated by three years of experience and that three years doesn't get gapped until...
Carlton Cuse: There it is.
Damon Lindelof: In case you're confused.
[Cuse laughs] Just in case. It was very complicated, trying to figure out this premiere, because as Damon said, we were dealing with different characters in different periods of time and how do we illustrate that and tell the story without being confused and so we put a little recap within the episode to try to help the audience remember what took place eight months ago. But let's back up for one moment to this concept of mini-camp. We should probably explain to the audience what mini-camp is 'cause mini-camp probably sounds a little different than what it is.
Damon Lindelof: What does it sound like? First off, it sounds like it's small.
Carlton Cuse: Playing sports, eating graham crackers...
Damon Lindelof: But very, very small.
Carlton Cuse: But very small. But in fact, what we do is before each season,we spend about three weeks with the writers talking about what we're going to be doing in the upcoming season, so a lot of the planning for this episode actually took place two or three months ahead of us, commencing writing on season five, so it was quite a while ago. But it was at that point that we really were nailing down a lot of the details of what we were going to accomplish in the season. That allows us to basically put a scene at the front of the show of Faraday down in the Orchid watching characters talk about time travel because we, by that point, knew enough about what we were going to be doing later in the season to know where and how that was going to pay off.
Damon Lindelof: Exactly. And, in terms of going back to the island, obviously we wanted a bridge to Locke in exactly that moment. He's the first character to basically experience, "Something has happened. l was here with the Others, and now they're gone." For everybody else there was just a bright light, so they all have to begin to experience the same thing, which is, something has happened to us. Either we have moved or we haven't moved. This is an interesting look behind the curtain of the writing process because one of the things we talked about in this episode and paid a lot of attention to is, "What is that fine line between confusion and mystery?" As we originally talked about this story, Carlton, if l remember correctly, Faraday really didn't give them a very detailed explanation of his theory that the island was moving through time until much later in the show.
Carlton Cuse: He didn't, and this is one of the rare circumstances where we went back and we re-shot some material for this episode. By the way, l just want to divert for one second. We had another really important concept that was in mind in the show. We understood this episode was gonna be about very complicated issues of time travel and we had characters in multiple time periods and realized this was gonna be very confusing. As an antidote to that, we would have Sawyer without his shirt on for the entire episode. For people who really couldn't grasp the time travel aspects of the show, there would be Sawyer without his shirt on for the entire hour.
Damon Lindelof: Carlton's idea.
Damon Lindelof: No judgment.
Carlton Cuse: No, judgment.
Damon Lindelof: So, basically, the idea that Faraday is going to come rolling in now, in the original draft of the script, in the original way that we shot it, Faraday always did come in and tell them that their camp was gone, but he was very vague about why he believed this to be. So we started picking up pieces where Faraday was less vague and more specific so the audience was clearly being signaled what it is we are trying to do, which is instead of keeping it a mystery, which is the way that we usually like to tell stories, it felt like, in this case, you know, we have Sawyer... Sawyer is the proxy for the audience. He is basically demanding an explanation, and a shirt later on. He gets neither.
Carlton Cuse: He's cynical about the entire concept of time travel, which also was the voice of the audience. We wanted to have some character go, "Time travel? You're kidding me, "because that's how you make it palatable. You have to have a character who actually is the proxy for the audience, who is like, "This is ridiculous. You can't time travel, Damon."
Damon Lindelof: Or can you, Carlton?
Carlton Cuse: Anyway, so as Damon was saying, basically, this scene became much more explicit in terms of what Faraday told the audience. And mainly because when we looked at the first cut of the original shoot of the original script as shot, it was just too vague. Like the audience, we felt would be dislodged, and for the very first episode of the season, it was really important to set the rules. This episode is establishing what are the ground rules of what's going on. This island is skipping through time or our characters are skipping through time, we needed to make that clear.
Damon Lindelof: And the real change that we made is actually coming up in this act, which is Faraday basically gives his explanation after getting slapped by Sawyer. That scene used to happen at the hatch site in act four. We moved it up two acts so the audience would get their explanation. But just to talk a little bit about the Kate stuff. You know, here we are off the island, and we wanted to start these... One of the great things we think about the off-island stories for the show, always, when we were doing flashbacks were, no matter how nutty it is on the island, what mythological stories we're telling, there's a very accessible and simple character relatable story happening off the island and we didn't want to change up that paradigm with the story of the Oceanic Six. Though they're mostly talking about going back to the island, we wanted them to have stakes people could understand. For Kate, obviously, the highest stakes imaginable are Aaron. She has now become Aaron's mother, we begin to tell that story, how those decisions got made over the first six episodes of the season, but you watch this scene now and you go, 'lt's so obvious that this is got to be Ben pulling the strings. Who else would it be?" But Kate doesn't know that and, you know...
Carlton Cuse: l don't think it's that obvious.
Damon Lindelof: lt's obvious to me because we wrote it.
Carlton Cuse: But it's also, for us, this is... these flashbacks and this... these are the emotional core-type scenes which, you know, hopefully would get the audience bonded with Kate and her mission and help us really understand...a big component of her emotional journey in this season. And, um...
Damon Lindelof: By the way, Kate, like, l just love the idea that she has envelopes of money and guns around her house. lt's just the fact that even after three years of being free, she still lives like a fugitive and that her instinct is to so quickly get out is just really cool to us. And just a quick shout out to Jack Bender, who directed this... Sorry, Stephen Williams who directed this premiere. Jack actually directed the second hour of the show, the Hurley episode which they aired together, so it was a two-hander, but Stephen directed this, like, really nicely done. So here's the scene that we were just talking about. Shirtless Sawyer.
Carlton Cuse: So this scene, this scene was, again, redone. But it sets up a lot of the rules we then follow through the course of the season, and what we really wanted to do with this time travel idea was basically give our characters a chance to experience some other periods in island history. And obviously in this episode they zap around a little bit but in the subsequent episodes, we get to see them actually land for lengthier periods of time and in other places in the show. So we get a chance to revisit Rousseau and her French crew and how they came to the island, how Rousseau went crazy, how she ended up killing her crew members. We visit some people who have shown up on the island with a hydrogen bomb.
[Lindelof stammers] So... You know, basically Faraday is saying, "l don't want to explain it to you right now, Sawyer. l don't want to." And Sawyer is the audience, and he basically slaps Faraday and says, "l need an explanation right now because I'm very confused as to what's happening here." This stuff Faraday's about to say used to happen towards the end of the show. We re-shot this scene so he would explain it here so everybody understood the stakes, and that in many ways saved the episode. Just one more note off the time travel axis. lt's cool, one of the things that we really committed to in mini-camp is that Sawyer and Juliet were going to have a relationship three years in the future. Every scene we wrote between those two, starting with when the flash resolves and they're standing on the beach, to that little pop you saw at the beginning of this scene where they're talking about the helicopter, is beginning to spin them towards that axis of bonding. l think that it was really cool we took our time with that relationship and did it in small bursts, 'cause we weren't sure it was gonna work. By the time you get to LaFleur, and this massive time jump forward three years, the audience either buys they're together or not. It's really a testament to Elizabeth Mitchell and Josh's commitment to that, because we told both actors, "We're going to do this with you guys. Start working towards it, start playing it." Um... It's pretty cool.
[Carlton Cuse]]: And just now going back to time travel again, l mean. [laughs]
Damon Lindelof: It's hard to leave.
Carlton Cuse: I can't get enough talk about time travel. So, uh...
Damon Lindelof: I can.
[Cuse laughs] So here's Locke, he doesn't know where he is and again, you know, in talking about using this time travel device to visit different events in the island's history, one of the most significant things that happened to John Locke occurred in the first season of the show when he discovered this drug plane, this Nigerian drug plane. We thought, "Wouldn't it be cool for John Locke to actually experience it actually crashing?" So, lo and behold, here it comes and now all of a sudden we hope that the audience would come to recognize this plane and understand now we know where John Locke is in the island's history. He is now at the moment when that plane first crashed on the island, a plane which obviously has great significance because he sends Boone up there in the first season, and Boone basically falls in the plane and dies. And obviously these Virgin Mary statues are filled with heroin, which connects it to Charlie and his heroin addiction. And, um... You know... And the one other thing that we had thought about was we didn't... When we engaged in this time travel idea, we were like, "We're not gonna do this all season, it will drive everyone crazy. We can't be skipping through time for the entire season." So we saw this as just a demarcator block, right?
Damon Lindelof: Right, and we knew that we were going to do it for five or six episodes, but l think one of the things in watching the show at this point is the audience doesn't know yet, until the end of this scene, they are in fact skipping. There's only been one flash so far. So the audience watching the premiere is basically like, "OK, so they've moved back in time to the time when the drug plane crashed." That's where they'll be parked for a while. The idea that the flashes were gonna be happening frequently is something that Faraday advances. "l think it might happen again." You don't see it happen until the beginning of the next act, it saves Locke from Ethan and l think it might feel a little cliffhanger-y, that every time one of our characters is in mortal peril the sky lights up. ln fact, that is the island's design. The idea that our characters are not supposed to die, that they are being brought to these periods in time to accomplish very specific goals. What is it that Locke is here to do? ls there any significance to him experiencing Ethan here? Did seeing John Locke in this moment have any ramifications for the Others? Did Ethan go running back to the other camp and basically say, "l saw this guy, he identified himself as John Locke", he had a scene with Alpert. Who knows? But we tried to design every one of these moments with great purpose.
Carlton Cuse: The fact that a lot of these time travel skips occur at commercial breaks is purely coincidental.
[Lindelof chuckles] There you go. And here's our buddy Ethan who is, you know, he's a premiere staple.
Carlton Cuse: Ethan is such a great bad guy. l mean, he is the scariest Other. He gets my vote for scariest Other.
Damon Lindelof: Who's the competition? Like Ms. Klugh? She was pretty scary. Patchy was a scary Other.
Carlton Cuse: Oh yeah. There was... Bowen.
Damon Lindelof: Yeah, Bowen. He was tough. [stammers] What is the criteria for scariest Other, though? ls it the Other you'd least like to run into in a dark alley?
Carlton Cuse: Or a dark jungle. If l was walking around on the island and l would... The last guy l would want to see is Ethan, really.
Damon Lindelof: OK, there you go.
Carlton Cuse: Especially after he hung Charlie.
Damon Lindelof: lt takes him a long time to pull that trigger, though.
Carlton Cuse: lf he just shot Locke right away and quit talking to him, then things would be very different. That would've created a lot of... Would that be... that would be a paradoxical story then, wouldn't it?
Damon Lindelof: Uh, it would be paradoxical. And one of the real challenges in this episode, just to, again, drop back to the making of part of it is... ...keeping Locke tied to this other group of people. Geographically, they are on other places on the island. We wanted the audience to get the sense they were all moving together so when Locke actually joins up with them at the end of the second episode you're not like, "Huh?" And that was very challenging. The only way to bridge those gaps editorially was with the flashes.
Carlton Cuse: And we were concerned that if you saw double flashes you would think that different groups were skipping separately through different periods of time. It was a very hard concept to nail down, as Damon just said, that Locke and Sawyer and Juliet's group were actually traveling parallel, they are both... They're moving to the same periods of time, they just aren't geographically located together. They're on the island, just separated, but they're moving in parallel fashion through time.
Damon Lindelof: One other challenge of the storytelling is that we made a mistake in the season three premiere by only having Kate and Jack and Sawyer in it. When the audience is away from the show for that long, they want to see everybody, so when we write our premieres, we're basically like, "How can we spend some time with every major character?" Now these shows are only 42 minutes long and change. And to basically say, "You're going to see everybody, including Desmond at the end of this episode just to service them, every character gets a scene, it was an enormous challenge to basically track everyone."
Carlton Cuse: But we... We sort of... Yes, but as Damon said, and maybe that wasn't the only mistake we made at the beginning of season three, [chuckles] but it was a significant one, which was the exclusion of too many of the characters. So we said, "OK, let's basically use this premiere to give you one scene for each of the major characters, particularly the off-island characters, so we understand where they're at." And so obviously Sun, we establish, uh, had this very mysterious scene in the finale from the previous year with Charles Widmore, so now this is the continuation of that conversation. And the intention of this was really to establish that Sun is in a very different head-space than the other members of the Oceanic Six who have gotten off the island. She's very angry and upset because she actually blames her fellow Oceanic Six passengers for the demise, or her belief that her husband blew up on the freighter.
Damon Lindelof: We're not sure who she's blaming at this point. There's a clue right there.
Carlton Cuse: It could be Jack, Kate.
Damon Lindelof: She says she wants to kill Ben...
Carlton Cuse: It could be Ben.
Damon Lindelof: Who knows? When people say things on this show, you never know if they can be trusted. So here we are back with Jack and Ben, and Jack is now clean shaven and back in his glorious state and what's cool is that Jack is basically, he's turned around somehow. He is now transformed into the guy that is very much wanting to get back to this island and we haven't yet shown the audience his meeting with Locke, so his motivation is playing closed. What's cool is that we wanted this season to put Jack in a position where other people were making decisions for him, where he's being told what to do. For literally four seasons of the show, Jack is pretty much telling everybody what to do. This season, if you really think about it, all the way up until the events of the finale when Faraday gets shot, up until that time, Jack just does what he's told. In this episode, he's doing what Ben tells him to do. Later on he does what... Eloise Hawking tells him what to do. Then when he gets to the island, he just sits around and pushes around a mop until Faraday comes and tells him what to do. We felt it was really cool to give our leader a break because of what's coming in the final season of the show, he just needed to go with the flow for a year.
Carlton Cuse: One of the things that was interesting and a virtue of mini-camp was we were able to detail out the interaction of these characters off the island with John Locke who leaves the island after them and then comes to visit them and we knew that this took place, but part of what we did in mini-camp was try to decide when are we actually gonna tell that story, and we came fairly quickly to the conclusion that it would be way too complicated to try to insert off-island Locke into this premiere in that fashion, but it would be more beneficial to play Locke's journey off the island as a mystery. We knew what was gonna happen and it informed all these characters' stories, but we had already come to the conclusion that we would do a concept episode about six episodes in, and that would be when we tell the story of Locke's journey. We would now be progressing the story of the Oceanic Six off the island and then the capper to that would be, "Here's the missing piece, when John Locke came to visit them." We actually saw this concept episode as the perfect demarcation at the end of the first suite of episodes. The first suite of episodes of season five, the island is skipping through time and our characters were establishing their circumstances and conditions off the island. Obviously, here we see that Sayid has a pretty extreme set of circumstances. He's caught up in, you know, his life as an assassin and working for Benjamin Linus, and we see that he's a bad-ass guy, and he's in a safe house and he's got a gun hidden under a counter, and gets shot with a tranquilizer dart...
Damon Lindelof: This is a play-by-play. He's, l think at this point, retired from working for Benjamin Linus. We later find out in the season that he quit working for Ben, that he went to Santo Domingo for a while building houses but upon learning of Locke's death, he came and rescued Hurley. So now he's trying to rescue Hurley, and what's cool about this scene is, even at the end of season five, we're still not entirely sure who those guys were working for. Were they working for Widmore? Were they working for Ben so that Sayid would be pushed back towards the island?
Carlton Cuse: Or were they working for a victim that Sayid had killed?
Damon Lindelof: Or are they associated with this mysterious woman Ilana?
Carlton Cuse: Who's that guy taking the picture?
Damon Lindelof: l don't know, but that picture is going to create a lot of problems for Hurley.
Carlton Cuse: Exactly. There's Hurley with his gun. So, yeah, so basically, you know, we also thought that bonding Sayid and Hurley up was a great combination, that in terms of off-island stories that these two characters together would be a fun pairing to show their journey off the island.
Damon Lindelof: Even though Sayid is unconscious for the entire length of Hurley's episode until he wakes up in Jack's arms.
Carlton Cuse: Little Weekend at Bernie's kind of a thing.
Damon Lindelof: Exactly. So now we're back to the island and l think, you know... ...watching this premiere again, you get the perspective not a lot happens for these guys, which is exactly what we needed to do. They walk from scene to scene, you give each character a little moment. "Remember who Miles is, remember who Charlotte is. They came on the freighter." But they're basically sort of going to the site of the hatch, and this was an incredibly important moment for us in the design of the premiere because we knew in the finale we're going back to the hatch. That this thing, the wreckage they're now looking at, the Swan station, as it were, is of critical importance to the show and all of season five. The fact...
Carlton Cuse: ln fact, the final episode is called The Incident.
Damon Lindelof: Correct.
Carlton Cuse: Which you're seeing in this scene the consequences of the incident.
Damon Lindelof: Faraday basically has a great destiny with this hatch. Ultimately he's never seen it before now, but three years from now, after traveling back to 1974, going to Ann Arbor, his entire plan on creating a paradox is based on... starts here. lt's based on the fact that here's this wrecked piece of metal that we haven't even seen since the end of the second season. Faraday is being introduced to it, the audience is reintroduced to it. ln the context of this episode, it's basically, "This is a great way for Faraday to explain exactly what's happening time travel wise." What it really is is set up for where we're going in the finale of the year.
Carlton Cuse: And Sawyer still has his shirt off in case, you're just not yet engaged on this Faraday time travel axis.
Damon Lindelof: You can't let that go.
Carlton Cuse: No, l can't. Speaking of...
Damon Lindelof: Do you want to talk about his shoulders? His pecs?
Carlton Cuse: The other romantic relationship that's going on here. The other thing we were trying to start, we started establishing right out of the gate in this season, is the relationship between Faraday and Charlotte. l mean, we actually knew that Charlotte was, sadly, going to be the first victim of any significance that we were going to... You know, no disrespect to Frogurt, but we knew that we were going to kill Charlotte and we really wanted to bond Faraday and Charlotte up. We wanted to make the emotional stakes of Charlotte's death more significant by virtue of the fact she was someone who was very important to Faraday and Faraday, based on his centrality to the whole time travel concept, is a very significant character for the whole season. Then, ultimately, you know, he meets his maker as well.
Damon Lindelof: And Faraday obviously presents that journal to Sawyer, and that journal becomes a big character in the show. We learn later he got it from his mother who happens to be Eloise Hawking and that journal becomes the point, the way that she is convinced to help our guys go get the hydrogen bomb. So you can see, even now in the premiere, there are tremendous pieces of set up, the least of which is the scene that you're about to see. Now, when we wrote this for the premiere, obviously you tell the actors all they need to know in order to act a scene. But as writers, what we knew was that standing over in the jungle, just out of view, is Locke and Alpert and Ben witnessing this iteration of Locke... for them a past iteration of Locke, going into that drug plane and right now, older Locke is explaining to Alpert, "You've got to go and pull a bullet out of my leg," which is really cool. We didn't revisit it until I5 hours later in the show. When you're doing time travel and you know you're gonna be revisiting the scene, you have a certain advantage as a storyteller, and also in terms of the way you shoot it.
Carlton Cuse: Yeah, l think the thing that was cool was that we didn't want to do this sort of Back to the Future model where characters spent a lot of time interacting with past iterations of themselves. We felt like that was something that movie had done well and we had a very different take on time travel and so this was kind of the front side of really sort of a, you know, a big culminating moment that we thought would be great at the end of the season, which was when Locke actually... There was kind of, um... there was sort of an intermediate beat, too, where actually Locke instructs Richard regarding this compass that he has but we thought, "This will be really great, we'll show this scene here and then at the end of the season, we'll show the B-side of this scene where basically Locke gives Alpert the very instructions that then-Alpert gives to the other iteration of Locke."
Damon Lindelof: Right, and what you learn is basically that Alpert tells Locke the way that l knew that you were shot is because you told me, which is set up for where we're going. But more importantly, when Alpert says to Locke here, "Hey, you've got to die. You're gonna have to die to bring these people back." What you realize is Alpert received that instruction from Locke himself, so Locke is telling Locke he has to die. But given what the revelation in the finale is, draw your own conclusions about exactly what that means.
Carlton Cuse: Right. And, there's also... Look, we really have to give a shout out to Terry O'Quinn who really did an incredible job this season because he had to play these two very different versions of himself and, you know, has been playing for a while this confused, frustrated Locke, who doesn't really understand his purpose or point and obviously when he's skipping through time, this is not a Locke who is particularly happy or in communion with the island, but we contrast this. The Locke that's standing off in the jungle now is a very different guy. That Locke is completely.
Damon Lindelof: You can say that again.
[Cuse laughs] Yeah, he's very...
Damon Lindelof: Very different.
Carlton Cuse: And that guy is very confident and seems very connected to the island and seems very sure of himself.[stammers] And... That was really something Terry really enjoyed playing as an actor was back to this first season Locke, which was, you know, a man of the jungle, a man of danger, a guy who was, you know, very sure of himself and his actions.
Damon Lindelof: And a big shout out also to Nestor Carbonell, who basically, you know, playing Richard Alpert... Alpert has long been a mythological figure on the show. This is the beginning of his introduction into the show proper. He obviously becomes a major and pivotal character in this season, and one of the advantages of a guy who never ages is every time you experience him in the past, he looks exactly as he does in the present, but he also is able to carry knowledge and memories forwards. Hopefully that helps clarify for the audience. He's the only character on the show who was both in Dharma times and the present so he can explain to us some sense of what happened.
Carlton Cuse: Although, at one point in time, he had a really long mod hairdo, so l guess that would be the one change that occurred. lt wasn't an aging related thing, but he did go through a style change.
Damon Lindelof: Back when Ben was a younger boy. But l think his decision to go with the shorter, more preppy haircut was a wise one for a number of reasons.
Carlton Cuse: So here's Locke. Now, again, he's kind of confused. He's taken another jump through time and has absolutely no idea where he is right now.
Damon Lindelof: We have all these rules of time travel that we talk about, some of which we share with the audience, some the characters speculate about.
Carlton Cuse: The central issue with time travel is... kind of... Time travel stories break into two basic categories. You've got paradoxical time travel and non-paradoxical time travel. What that means is basically, in one theory, if you're in the past, you time travel to the past, if you change events in the past, it creates an alternate future. Um... ln the other version, you basically go back in time and you alter events but the universe course corrects and the future doesn't change. You have an in-alterable future in that basically, you know, it's... it's... the... it's sort of like we illustrated in the show when we did this episode with... where Desmond had this vision of Charlie dying and he kept trying to stop Charlie from dying, so he doesn't get shot with an arrow, but ultimately Charlie does drown in the Looking Glass station, so you say to yourself, "OK, well the universe course corrected." Charlie was destined to die and Desmond couldn't stop it. He only maybe altered the manner in which he was going to die, or maybe he was meant to drown all along and those other iterations of Desmond stopping Charlie from dying were just part of that journey. So our characters are really struggling with, and for the course of this entire season are basically, you know, kind of wrestling with this exact question: Can they ultimately, now they realize they're traveling through time, can they change events?
Damon Lindelof: Now everything that Carlton's talking about happens in this scene. Sawyer saying, "I'm going to go to the hatch. l'm going to get some supplies and a shirt and some food." And Faraday saying, "It won't work. You can try, but it won't work because it didn't happen. Desmond didn't recognize you, therefore you are going to be unable to make contact with him." Of course Faraday is full of it right now because he has every intention of contacting Desmond himself. But he is... This is the other theme of the show. Take the science fiction element out of it and what we're really going for here is the idea of free will, of giving our characters choices. The idea that if our characters believe they can't change the future... and... ...will they even try? And l think Faraday is very convincing here so that for the next three years, Sawyer doesn't try. He knows from the moment that he sees Kate and Claire giving birth to Aaron, he doesn't try to intervene. So he basically buys it and it isn't until Faraday returns and basically says, "l think l might have been wrong about this. Let's actually try to change the future in a very profound and large way by detonating a hydrogen bomb," that people start to change their tune. But, we always think it's interesting to let the characters decide, "If l went back to the past and l was told l couldn't change it, would that affect my... Even if it were a lie, would it affect my decision to not try anything?"
Carlton Cuse: And we like this idea that Faraday is so convinced at the beginning of this journey that what happened, happened and that... that the future is in-alterable, and then he comes back from Ann Arbor, Michigan, after three years of studying equations and says, "You know, this is the issue, you actually can change it..."
Damon Lindelof: And here is why.
Carlton Cuse: Because he doesn't want Charlotte to die. Again, you know, we try to take these genre premise ideas and wrap them into character stories and so, you know, for Faraday, yes, he's got a scientific interest in this but his real motivation is personal. If in fact, you know, it's like if you drop a large enough boulder in a stream, it will dam the stream up and change course, so his... He comes back from Ann Arbor convinced that if he takes this hydrogen bomb and he takes it to the source of electromagnetism, and he detonates it, then the electromagnetic force will be negated. Flight 815 will fly over the island, it will never crash, therefore a freighter will never be sent to the island. He will never come here, Charlotte will never journey to this island, they will never, you know, and she will not, in turn, perish. We're establishing the first beats of this whole story, and we see his focus, but at this point he's, you know, we like turning the characters in the course of the show, so here he's got a very different attitude about it.
Damon Lindelof: He's looking in the journal right now, and he's looking at something and he is realizing, "Wait a minute", you can extrapolate later. Was he looking at "Desmond Hume will be my constant"? That was basically the idea. That's what the actor was playing, so the idea that there is one wild card in all of these rules, and that wild card is this man right in front of us right now, Desmond Hume, who at this point in his life hasn't met...
Carlton Cuse: Looks like a wild card, in that yellow suit.
Damon Lindelof: Exactly. That is the international color of wild cards. But l think, one of the things that the audience has sort of asked us, kind of bridging out of this scene is, "So if Desmond met Faraday back in the past, why didn't he recognize him when he first met him?" And more importantly, "Why have three years gone by for Desmond off the island before he remembers this meeting?" For those questions, we basically have to detract towards the island has a plan. The island has a plan, and that plan basically involves all of these characters and manip... When you're talking about something that is a wild card, it's exactly that. The rules don't apply to Desmond. And so to basically say, "Oh, we have to understand the rules that do apply to Desmond," we try to write it off towards Desmond functions more in the spinning of island magic. That is to say, he will serve a function here, which is to activate off the island and go find Eloise Hawking, but the fact of the matter is when he finds Eloise Hawking five episodes from now, it turns out that his entire journey was pointless, other than to be shot. But he does a debt... The island is not done with Desmond yet, and what his purpose is in the show at large is yet to be revealed.
Carlton Cuse: That's right. The thing that was interesting about Desmond is Desmond was really the precursor for this time travel concept. People said, "When did you guys know that you were going to do time travel?" Basically we knew all along, you know, activating time travel was, again, one of those things that really couldn't get determined with great specificity until we knew when the show was going to end, so all of these things really came into alignment for us in the middle of season three when we were able to negotiate an end date to the show, and that allowed us to very meticulously plan out when we were going to implement various concepts like the flash forwards and make the time travel elements more overt. But they had been in the show before and, you know, very clearly we had seen Desmond consciousness travel and we had seen Desmond, as a result of, you know... We felt that Desmond was special in that he basically went and turned that fail safe key and he was at ground zero when the hatch imploded and we felt that that established the criteria for Desmond to be a very different guy and to be the conduit for this time travel concept becoming more overt in the course of the series. And so he does have this sort of special role, and we had seen some elements about time travel earlier in the show. We'd seen Sayid listen to a radio and hear weird static and Forties radio. So we had planted some seeds for this concept of time travel in earlier seasons, but it really was our desire that...
Damon Lindelof: Bang. You have to stop talking now.
Carlton Cuse: Bang. OK, Sorry.
Damon Lindelof: l think that we should try to do this commentary again without saying the phrase "time travel."
Damon Lindelof: Let's see if we could... What would we have to talk about? l can't even imagine.
Carlton Cuse: Or using the letter E.
Damon Lindelof: Ooh.
Carlton Cuse: That'd be good too.
Damon Lindelof: You just used it nine times. All right, well...
Carlton Cuse: Thanks, you guys. We hope that that was more edifying than mystifying.
Damon Lindelof: Or more informative than confusing.
Carlton Cuse: Yes.
Damon Lindelof: Although I'm kind of confused now. All right...
Carlton Cuse: We'll see you soon. Bye.
Damon Lindelof: See you. Thanks, guys. Bye.