Finding Lost Season Six
the unofficial guide
By Nikki Stafford
ECW PRESS Copyright © 2010 Nikki Stafford
All rights reserved.
"The End": Season 6
Bang! "Come on!" Bang! Bang! The rock hit the hydrogen bomb repeatedly to no effect as Juliet, her face bloody and tear-streaked, screamed at it to just detonate already. "Come on, you son of a bitch!" Bang! And then ... the screen went white. The letters of LOST appeared, only this time they were black, a negative version of the white letters over black screen that viewers were used to. And everywhere, fans screamed, "Noooooooo!"
It was going to be a very long eight months.
Once ABC confirmed at the end of Lost's third season that the show would run for three more years, with 16 episodes per year, the wait between seasons became almost unbearable for the diehard fans who were always left with cliffhangers to keep them guessing throughout the summer, fall, and part of winter before the new season would start up again. The wait before the series' final season was excruciating, and even before it began, fans were already lamenting that this was it, that Lost was coming to an end and soon it would all be over. By June, collective rewatches of seasons 1 to 5 began popping up all over the Internet, with groups of fans going back to the beginning and watching everything in light of what they knew to be true at the end of season 5, and preparing themselves for the epic season 6 that was to come.
In June 2009, Lost was up for a Television Critics Association award for Program of the Year, but was beat out by Battlestar Galactica. At the end of the month, it was announced that Lost had been nominated for five Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series, Best Supporting Actor (Michael Emerson), Best Writing (showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse for "The Incident"), and editing and sound mixing. Michael Emerson took home the award in the fall.
Not all of the news coming out in June was good, though; one of the fan favorites on the writing staff was Brian K. Vaughan, who'd authored the graphic novel Y: The Last Man, which was alluded to in season 5 (see Finding Lost — Season Five, pp. 116–120). He'd cowritten two of the best episodes of Lost — "The Shape of Things to Come" and "Dead Is Dead" — among several others. But in a July 2009 interview Carlton Cuse simply mentioned that he'd moved on "to greener pastures."
After taking their usual month off with radio silence after the season 5 finale, "Darlton," as the fans called them, began to reappear in the media to talk about their show. Carlton brought up one of the major themes of the series that had been explored in season 5: "I think as writers we use the show to explore personal issues, spiritual or otherwise. We're mainly concerned by [the question of] how much faith and how much control do you have over your own destiny, something which is very fascinating to us, and obviously season 5 was an exploration of that with the time travel leading to an event at the end of the season, so that is going to be something we're going to explore a lot on the final season of the show. The writer's room is diverse and that diversity gets worked out in the characters."
But of course, what all of the fans were looking forward to was the big unveiling of the hints of season 6 at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con. And Darlton didn't disappoint. In an event that was jam-packed with fans, with thousands of people lining up as early as the night before to try to get in, Darlton opened the panel "with a word from our sponsors." The first video they showed was a commercial for Mr. Cluck's, where Hugo Reyes, the owner of the company, appears wearing a Crocodile Dundee–type hat and with a didgeridoo slung over one shoulder, speaking in a terrible Australian accent — "G'day, mate!" — and saying that ever since he'd won the lottery, he'd had nothing but good luck.
Wait ... what?!
He announces his new Mr. Cluck's Roasters, a new chicken meal (for $4.42!) that he dreamed up on a recent trip to Australia. What did the commercial mean? If Hugo had good luck, then maybe the numbers weren't cursing him anymore? And did his plane arrive home from Sydney in one piece? The next commercial was a quick one for Oceanic Airlines, boasting a perfect safety record since 1979. Um ... is it possible the Jughead bomb really did reset time at the end of season 5?
The third mysterious clip they showed was from America's Most Wanted, where the host talked about a murderer-at-large, Kate Austen, who was on the run after she'd attempted to kill her "stepfather," Wayne Janssen. She'd rigged the building where he owned a plumbing company, cutting a gas line and allowing the toxic fumes to flow through the building, knowing exactly when he'd be there and when it would blow up. But on that particular day, he'd sent his apprentice to the building, and that man perished in the fire instead of Wayne. Kate had been charged with the murder of the man, but she evaded authorities and was now considered armed and dangerous. As the video ended, Damon turned to Carlton and said, "Funny ... I always thought she'd killed her stepfather." (Well, technically she killed her biological father, but she'd been raised knowing him as her stepfather.) What was going on? Were they really going to attempt a do-over?
But just as fans were starting to feel a little uneasy about what Darlton were hinting at with these videos, Jorge Garcia stepped up to the audience microphone (to the delight of the fans nearby) and, looking a little shell-shocked, asked if Jack's bomb worked, and if so did it reset everything and therefore wipe away everything from the past five years? "Because we all hope that isn't the case," he laughed nervously, "because that would be like, you know, a real big cheat." And suddenly the smile wasn't on his face anymore. The audience roared with laughter, Darlton stuttered through an answer explaining that everything they'd shown us actually mattered, and it was clear Jorge's question had been set up ahead of time by Darlton. If Jorge was voicing the biggest concern among the fans, it probably meant that Darlton weren't going to attempt the do-over that Jorge was upset about.
Soon an audience member began heckling Jorge, saying he was hogging the mike. The heckler was none other than Michael Emerson, who oozed sarcasm as he mocked Jorge's acting abilities. The panel continued with more jokes than real questions being answered. At one point the camera cut backstage, where a diva-esque Nestor Carbonell was applying eyeliner (an inside joke on the fact that people always think he's wearing it because of his naturally dark lashes) and he was freaking out on an assistant that they'd given him cobalt when he always used onyx. Carbonell joined the rest of them onstage, and the next special guest was Josh Holloway, who got the crowd on their feet cheering with delight.
At the beginning of the panel Darlton addressed the question of whether or not they knew where the show was going, and they produced from inside their pockets (or, in Carlton's case, from an ankle holster) one page each of the final two pages of the finale script, then stapled them together and put them in a double-lock box, putting the keys around their necks. When Josh Holloway came out, he pretended to taser Damon and threatened Carlton — who he called "Lurch" and "Frankenstein" — demanding that they open the box up so he could look at the script. Carlton complied, but Holloway simply stared at the pages, apparently confused by what he saw. Snatching them away from Holloway with a snide, "Oh my god, you don't know how to read, do you?" Michael Emerson sat back down and began reading them out loud ... and it was a fake ending to Heroes. The audience laughed, and the panel came to a close, but only after an "In Memoriam" video showed us all the characters we'd lost on the show over the years. The video ended and Dominic Monaghan came out on stage and waved to the fans without saying a word. Could it be? Would Charlie be appearing in season 6?
After the Comic-Con panel, fans had some fun with the ARG (alternate reality game) that was sparked by L.A. comedian Paul Scheer, who showed up at the panel and presented Darlton with his painting on black velvet that he called, "Damon, Carlton, and a Polar Bear." And it was about as classy as it sounds. Fans followed him to his website — www.damoncarltonandapolarbear.com — to watch him over the remainder of the summer as he began to stalk Darlton, finding out that they'd thrown his painting in the garbage, then rifling through said garbage, and discovering the script to the season 6 premiere in it. The website turned out to be part of the promotional machine for Lost, and it had been set up as a wacky storyline to keep fans occupied while waiting for their show. Along the way it showcased the work of various artists who had created limited edition Lost posters that fans could buy.
In November, it was announced that February 2 would be the show's premiere date (and that the premiere would be two hours), but that date soon hit a snag ... of presidential proportions. In January, news started circulating that the office of President Barack Obama was considering setting the date of the State of the Union address for either January 25 or February 2. If they chose the latter, the premiere of Lost would have to be pushed back another week, starting on February 9. Fans began an angry Twitter campaign, trying to get the President's office to reconsider. Finally, bemused White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said to the media that they would not put the SOTU on February 2, adding, "I don't foresee a scenario in which millions of people that hope to finally get some conclusion in Lost are pre-empted by the President." Damon and Carlton immediately rejoiced, jumping on Twitter and tweeting their happiness in 140 characters or less. Carlton confirmed the news, while Damon was more excited: "OBAMA BACKED DOWN!!!! Groundhog Day is OURS!!!!!!! (God Bless America)," he wrote. Before adding in his next post, "Okay. So Obama didn't technically 'back down.' He leveraged Carlton and I to do something on the show. Two words. MORE FROGURT."
In the month leading up to the finale, fan anticipation was running high. ABC released a publicity photo in which the cast was posed in a version of The Last Supper. Various alternate shots put characters in different positions, and fans went nuts trying to analyze why the characters were sitting in specific spots, in particular poses. Who was Christ? Who would be Judas?
Online, fans were madly uploading tribute videos to Lost, and some of them were quite extraordinary (to see my favorite, go here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nqmekTJTk0), much better than the lame non-commercials that ABC was showing. Because the rework didn't want to release a single frame of season 6, the commercials just said the final season was beginning and showed scenes of Jack dropping the bomb. The fan videos, on the other hand, took clips from the previous five seasons and began to weave them together to show some of the show's overarching themes.
The actors on the show, who were about two-thirds of the way through filming the season by the time it premiered, were already waxing nostalgic about the series in interviews. "It feels like high school's going to end, and we're getting wistful," said Terry O'Quinn. "There's a sweetness to these days." Michael Emerson was also feeling that the end was near. "Everyone has a sense of last moments," he said. "Maybe this will be the last scene we shoot at this old location ... or maybe this is the last time I'll talk to this particular character."
Matthew Fox announced that Lost would be the last television series he'd do. "I've done almost three hundred hours of [TV]," he said. "It's been two really great experiences between Party of Five and Lost. I'm ready to take it to the next step and see what I can do in that [film] world."
Rumors were rampant about which deceased characters might appear in season 6 (I won't elaborate here, so you can watch the season spoiler-free), and there were hints starting to creep out that something new was going to happen in the final season that would be unlike anything we'd seen yet on Lost. "We feel [that] tonally, it's most similar to the first season of the show," said Cuse. "We're employing a different narrative device, which we feel is creating some emotional and heartfelt stories, and we want the audience to have a chance in the final season to remember the entire history of the show. ... We're hoping to achieve a circularity of the entire journey so the ending is reminiscent of the beginning."
Matthew Fox said he'd known what the final image of the series was going to be from the very beginning. When the finale was still in the works, Damon and Carlton tried to speak diplomatically about it, but admitted there was a lot of pressure on them to make their series finale distinctive. In light of the recent Sopranos finale, they knew that if they wanted to end the show on a note that would get people talking, they had to be creative. "With Lost, nobody can even guess what the ending is going to be," Damon said. "If you were to have a contest right now saying, 'In one paragraph, summarize what you think the last episode of Lost might be' — if you say it to one hundred people, you will get one hundred paragraphs that have nothing to do with each other. If you say that to somebody about The Sopranos, fifty people will say, 'I think Tony's going to get whacked,' maybe 10 people will say, 'Carmela is going to kill him, but he's going to get whacked.' But no one would have said, 'They're going to be eating in a friggin' restaurant — onion rings.' That's what was so brilliant about it — how do you do the unexpected?"
On a beach in Oahu on January 30, 2010, three days before the season 6 premiere, an estimated 15,000 fans attended the Sunset on the Beach premiere party to watch a screening of the first half of "LA X." Introduced by Darlton, the event was attended by almost the entire cast, as well as several of the writers and directors, which allowed fans to hobnob with their favorite TV actors and see the first hour of season 6 before anyone else did, including media.
Lindelof hoped people would like season 6, and that fans would debate what their favorite season was the way he remembered doing as a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. "There probably aren't that many people out there saying season 3 was their favorite, but they'll say season 3 was their favorite finale," he said. "And some people love season 4 because of all the freighter stuff. Some people love season 5 because of the time-travel stuff. The purists just love season 1...."
Cuse agreed, and told fans to get ready for season 6, because a lot of it was going to be unexpected: "The mantra of the final season in a certain way is 'Anything can happen, be prepared.' We are nearing the end, so if there are any constraints that govern a series, they really go away in the final season. We always felt like Lost was at its best when it was really surprising. We did things that were unexpected. We do have a few surprises up our sleeves for this season, which we think are really exciting."
The fans had rewatched the series, made their tribute videos, boned up on their Dharma Initiative history, made lists of the questions they wanted to see answered, and turned their televisions over to ABC at 8:59 p.m. on the night of February 2, 2010. Now it was time to see how it was all going to end. (Continues...)
Excerpted from Finding Lost Season Six by Nikki Stafford. Copyright © 2010 Nikki Stafford. Excerpted by permission of ECW PRESS.
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