It’s over! Here’s the complete chat log from today’s Lost event with Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.

I’m sitting in a chat room with Lost creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse right now, chatting about the Lost Season 4 DVD/Blu-Ray and the upcoming fifth season of the hit show. I’m presenting you with the live questions and answers as they happen! Keep checking back for the next hour or so to get the first word on Lost season 5!

As Lindelof and Cuse answer questions, I’m getting to watch special features from the season 4 DVD. Playing right now is an amazing feature, a TV conspiracy special about the Oceanic 6. The basic conceit is that the producers of the show don’t believe the Oceanic 6’s story, and they’ve gone into great detail to debunk it. They even compare Jack’s hair on the day he boarded the plane to the day he washed up with the other survivors! It’s a very in-depth, very cool special feature. I’ve been feeling down on DVD features – too many people are doing cookie cutter bullshit – but this makes the purchase worth it, to me.

Q: By having shorter seasons
now, do you feel the storytelling has become much easier — or do you
feel regret and often go “man, it would be great to have three more

Damon Lindelof:
The storytelling has never been easy… but we’ve always felt that
“less is more.” The complaint that we got most often in the first
couple seasons of the show is that we were not moving the story
forwards fast enough — “stalling” — which, unfortunately, is a
necessary tactic when you’re doing 25 episodes a year. The truth is
that we actually liked those episodes low on incident (“Claire sends a
message on a bird, anyone?”), but the show is much more fun to write
when we can just power through and give you guys a hearty meal as
opposed to a zillion little courses that never quite get you full.

Q: What’s up with the
four-toes statue and some of the crazy stuff that’s happened over the
years on the show … are we ever going to get the answers to these

Cartlon Cuse:
Yes, more on the 4 toed statue to come! In fact (spoiler) the 4 toed
state might come to life in the Zombie season. As we roll into the end
of season 5 and certainly in season 6 the show will definitely be much
more in answer mode.

Q: Are we ever going to get
back-stories for Rousseau, Libby, and/or Walt or does that now fall by
the wayside with only thirty-four episodes left?

Cartlon Cuse:
Let’s just say you will get more information about Rousseau and Walt at
least. We can’t comment about who will or wont get full-on flashbacks.
Obviously as the story moves forward we’ll be answering questions at a
faster rate. But some stories — like Libby’s — we feel are pretty
much finished.

With the end of the series looming in 2010, is a feature film being considered at all?

Damon Lindelof:
The answer, Brian, is no. At least not by us. We’ve always felt that
the show should definitively end the same place it started… on
television. To bring our characters to some sort of cliffhanger where
the audience gets none of the answers that they really care about and
then say, “Now give us ten bucks. buy some popcorn and we’ll give you
the rest!” would pretty much be the worst thing ever.

Q: Now that you are close
to being finished with writing season five, how does it feel to know
you are so close to the home stretch in this odyssey? Has it brought
out reflections or feelings you didn’t expected either personally about
the process or towards the storyline?

Cartlon Cuse:
Tara, I think all of us who work on the show know what a special
experience it is. Our ability to negotiate and end date to the show so
far in advance was I believe unprecedented in network TV. It has given
us a real sense of what the journey is going to be. Normally when you
work on a TV show you never know when it is going to end. You’re just
trying to survive season to season until the proverbial horse drops out
from underneath you. We’re not quite far enough along yet to start to
wax nostalgic, but I think we all recognize that we’ve had a chance to
do something really extraordinary. I was watching all the bonus
features and thinking about the special alchemy of LOST. You can do
your best as a storyteller but on TV you also need a great cast, crew,
directors, composer, etc. You really see on those features what a
collaborative art form it is. We are truly blessed that this assembly
of talent came together for this project. The journey of making a show
over six years and the hourse it takes really makes you a family — and
we’re about as happy and as functional a TV family as I’ve ever seen or
worked with.

Q: Watching season four in
one or two sittings, on DVD, do you think there’s a break in style
between the pre-strike and post-strike episodes?

Damon Lindelof:
Hopefully not, Charlie. The fact of the matter is that we designed out
— at least roughly — the entire sixteen episode season… planting
flags as to what would happen where in the grand scheme of things. In
that original design, there were a couple of episodes focusing more on
the Freighter Folks (Faraday, Miles and Charlotte) that got pushed into
this season, but more importantly, things like Jack’s appendicitis and
Keamy arriving at New Otherton and killing Alex happened SOONER than we
had planned due to the collapsed schedule. I think if there’s a sense
of separation between the first eight episodes (ending with “Meet Kevin
Johnson”) and the final six hours, it’s that the story is really moving
at a much higher rate of speed than we’re traditionally accustomed to.

Q: What television series
imprinted you as kids the most growing up-that perhaps influenced your
decision to make a career in smallscreen?

Damon Lindelof:
Thanks for asking that question, April… because I was a TV JUNKIE
growing up. Other than watching endless hours of cartoons (THUNDERCATS,
VOLTRON and yes, SMURFS), I loved watching “grownup shows” with my
folks… like DALLAS. Perhaps that’s where I got my love for melodrama!
The show that REALLY affected me, however, was TWIN PEAKS, which I’d
watch every week with my dad. He’d tape the show on his VCR (remember
those?) and we’d watch the episode AGAIN right after it aired in our
quest to pull every last clue out of the show. The idea of a TV Show
being a mystery and a game that spawned hundreds of theories obviously
was a major precedent (that’s a fancy way of saying we ripped it off)
for LOST.

Q: You’ve mentioned Nikki and
Paolo not hitting with the audience. How do you draw a line between
making the audience happy and telling the story you set out to tell?

Cartlon Cuse:
Devin, its now kind of a moot point. Moving forward it will be
virtually impossible for us to adjust in-season to audience feedback.
By the time the show premieres on Jan 21 we will have written 14 of the
17 hours and probably will be deep into the specific scene plotting for
the finale. This season we’re going to be completely relying on our on
instincts and judgments — combined with the feedback of our
collaborators here on the show and at the studio and network.

Q: The story has really
arrived at a point where the science fiction and fantasy aspects can’t
really stay in the subtext anymore, is this liberating for you guys as
writers or do you wish you could go back to some of the science vs
faith ambiguity of the earlier episodes?

Damon Lindelof:
It actually IS liberating… but at the same time, the show constantly
forces us to evolve. We CAN’T go back to the ambiguity of Season One
because our characters have experienced so much since then. Carlton and
I often talk about the STAND… how the story starts with something
scientific, an epidemic that kills of 99% of the world’s population…
but slowly and steadiy transforms into a mystical tale where people are
having prophetic dreams… and finally, LITERALLY ends with the hand of
God coming out of the sky and setting off a nuclear device. Our story
has always been about a journey… but just because we’re embracing
some of the more fantastical aspects of the island, doesn’t mean we’re
completely abandoning the science vs. faith of it all.

Will there still be flashbacks and flash forwards next season?

Cartlon Cuse:
Hi Kelly. Yes, there will still be flashbacks and flashforwards but we
are not limiting ourselves to those ways of transitioning between
stories. We still love doing them and will when appropriate. There are
still some cool flashbacks left to tell for our characters.

Q: Do the shorter season
schedules give you the time and energy needed to accomplish want you
want, or do you still find yourself under the gun from week to week?
Are you still on a 8-day turnaround schedule?

Cartlon Cuse:
Thanks Michael. No, we are still on the same schedule, starting a new
episode every eight days. Its just that the overall production season
is shorter. When we’re in the middle of it, its just as insane. The
biggest benefit to only doing 17 hours this year is pacing — we don’t
find ourselves writing stall episodes. It really allows us to keep the
peddle to the metal.

If you had to pick THE pivotal moment from season four, for each of you, what was it? Why that scene?

Damon Lindelof:
Hard to pick, but the one that immediately leaps to mind is the scene
in the finale between Jack and Locke in the greenhouse. Obviously, the
ramifications of Locke telling Jack (once again) that he’s not supposed
to leave the island… but if he does, he must LIE about everything
that happens… is essentially what kicks off the entire story of the
Oceanic Six. We think its really cool that it was actually Locke’s
idea, even though Jack doesn’t present it that way. And now that Jack
is standing over Locke’s coffin, the relationship between these two men
becomes really central to the endgame of our story.

Q: Do you feel that following
the various viral campaigns that have been tied to the show is
essential for understanding the mythology? Is there a risk of losing
more casual viewers who can’t keep track of the complex mythology.

Cartlon Cuse:
We consider the viral campaigns to just be additive and non-essential.
Our rule of thumb is you should not need to watch anything but the
mothership — the network show — to have a complete understanding (or
at least as much as that is possible) of the show.

Hey Guys, when will season one and two be getting the Blu-Ray treatment? Any plans?

Cartlon Cuse:
Hi Jon. We have heard of no plans to go back and re-release seasons one
and two on bluRay. But if I were a betting man I’d lay down a lot of
money that you’ll be ale to buy a complete series blu-Ray box set when
all is said and done.

Q: You mentioned Desmond
earlier… his reunion with Penny at the end of S4 was one of the
greatest moments in the show’s history thus far (not to mention one of
the year’s best TV moments). Nothing’s going to happen in S5 to
jeopardize their happiness, right? Right?

Damon Lindelof:
I’m sorry, Daniel. Wrong. Wrong.

Q: There is a lot of concern
amongst fans over how the show will work without the chemistry of the
full ensemble. Is that separation something you will address in season
5, or is that more part of the remaining two seasons of story.

Damon Lindelof:
We’re concerned, too! I think everyone, writers and fans alike, feels
the show is at its best when our characters are together… but the
fact of the matter is that the story is constantly twisting and turning
to keep them apart. Let’s face it — Absence makes the heart grow
fonder… but there’s nothing sweeter than a reunion. All we’re willing
to say at this point is that if we were to spend the ENTIRE duration of
Season Five with the Oceanic Six trying to get back to the island, we
are fully aware that the audience would strangle us.

Q: When you’re breaking
stories, do you play to the strengths of a particular director —
character development = Stephen Williams, action = Jack Bender — or do
you tell the best story and let your incredible production crew figure
out how to bring it to life?

Cartlon Cuse:
Thank you Stephen Williams, masquerading as Michael Stailey, for your
question. No, we break the episodes irrespective of who’s up on the
director’s calendar. In fact, the director’s schedule is fairly fluid
and they move slots so we would drive ourselves crazy trying to target
a certain episode for a certain director.

Q: The show continues to
return to eastern religion and mysticism. How much of that is your
personal interests and how much of that is just window dressing?

Damon Lindelof:
Well… we try to infuse the show with all sorts of religious allegory,
depending on what kind of story we’re telling. The Eastern religion and
mysticism is something that started coming up a lot as we talked about
the Dharma Initiative… but the thinking was more, “What if these
hippies from Ann Arbor, Michigan were kind’ve like the Beatles and
thought a trip to India could spiritually rebirth them?” Hopefully,
when all is said and done, the themes of the show are hopefully
universally spiritual… at least that’s what we’re going for.

Q: It seems that the next
season will have A stories set in two time frames. Does this mean that
you have to outline the story of the season in advance in ways you
never did before?

Cartlon Cuse:
Our approach to the story telling changed drastically once we were able
to negotiate an end date to the show. Before that we didn’t know if the
mythology had to last two seasons or seven seasons. Once we knew there
were only going to be 48 eps of the show left we were able to start
charting out the remaining journey. We approach it on three levels.
First we have discussions about the uber-mythology and plant the big
landmark events in rough locations. Then at the end of each season we
have a writer’s mini camp where we discuss the arc of the upcoming
season in great detail. Then we break each individual episode and see
where we end up at the end of each break. We give ourselves a fair
about of latitude to listen to the show and react — writing more or
less for various characters or situations depending on how they play.

Q: We saw a lot more of
Christian Shepherd in Season 4. Does this re-appearance tie into the
empty coffin Jack discovered in Season 1?

Damon Lindelof:
Indeed it does… and I think its safe to say you’ll be seeing
Christian again in Season Five. And what’s up with those white tennis
shoes he was wearing back in Season One?

Q: It’s common knowledge that
Ben was a character that came in, clicked with the audience and the
story. What other characters/actors HAVE clicked that surprised you and
HAVEN’T that surprised you?

Cartlon Cuse:
Good question. And you’re right about Michael Emerson. He’s the biggest
example of a character who we just fell in love with beyond our
expectations. I would say Desmond would also be in that category. The
audience really fell in love with him right from the get-go and he
quickly moved right into the mainstream of our cast. Nikki and Paulo
were less successful. We tried to introduce them out of the show’s
chorus as it were and the audience cried foul. We listened and killed
them off.

Q: Hi Damon and Carlton, did
the new structure (and experimentation) of flashbacks and flashforwards
in season four open help you feel emboldened to explore even more with
structure in S5 and how?

Damon Lindelof:
Howdy, Tara! Yes — the fact that the audience embraced switching gears
on the show from REVERSE to DRIVE emboldened us to get a little more
loose with how we drive (as long as we’re never in neutral!) the story.
The cool thing about Season Five is that it takes a little while for
your brain to fully absorb how the story is unfolding… but hopefully,
once it does, you’ll realize we’re trying something new yet again.

Q: At this point, how do you
view the Lost DVD sets — are they part and parcel of the show? Are
they extensions of it? And what are your thoughts on the people
experiencing Lost week to week on TV versus in one or two or three
commercial-free sittings on DVD?

Damon Lindelof:
The DVDs are definitey part and parcel of the show. We’ve always
thought of an episode of Lost playing on several different levels…
they’re almost designed for repeat viewings. In fact, our habitual use
of planting hidden “easter eggs” is tailor-made for the DVD experience.
Personally, I love watching my favorite shows (particularly serialized
ones like DEXTER) one after the other. I sometimes think about how
frustrating it would’ve been to read the Harry Potter books ONE CHAPTER
AT A TIME once a week. I’d pretty much kill myself.

Q: You’ve previously confirmed
that Michael is dead. It would appear that Claire has also taken a dirt
nap. But we’re still left hanging on Jin’s fate. Will both characters
fates be resolved in Season 5?

Damon Lindelof:
Good question. I would beg to differ on Claire’s alledged “dirt nap”
(unless you mean taking a nap on dirt) — didn’t we see her last
sitting in a cabin with the mysterious Christian Shephard? As for Jin,
we’ll definitely be seeing more of him in season five… but as we’re
moving through past, present and future… who knows WHEN we’ll see

Q: You’ve previously confirmed
that Michael is dead. It would appear that Claire has also taken a dirt
nap. But we’re still left hanging on Jin’s fate. Will both characters
fates be resolved in Season 5?

Damon Lindelof:
Good question. I would beg to differ on Claire’s alledged “dirt nap”
(unless you mean taking a nap on dirt) — didn’t we see her last
sitting in a cabin with the mysterious Christian Shephard? As for Jin,
we’ll definitely be seeing more of him in season five… but as we’re
moving through past, present and future… who knows WHEN we’ll see