Back in 2005, I wrote the cover story for the Rolling Stone Hot Issue, on Lost star Evangeline Lilly. I also had a sidebar with various bits of information on Lost, which was then entering its second season, including “There Are More Survivors” and “Easter Eggs Abound.”
One section was more controversial than the others:
THEY’RE MAKING IT UP AS THEY GO
The Lost creators have often claimed they know where the show is going and that everything will ultimately add up. Well, the current creators, anyway. “There was absolutely no master plan on Lost,” insists David Fury, a co-executive producer last season who wrote the series’ two best episodes and is now a writer-producer on 24. “Anybody who said that was lying.”
“On a show like Lost, it becomes a great big shaggy-dog story,” he continues cheerily. “They keep saying there’s meaning in everything, and I’m here to tell you no–a lot of things are just arbitrary. What I always tried to do was connect these random elements, to create the illusion that it was all adding up to something.”
Many plot elements were concocted on the fly, Fury says; for example, they didn’t know Hurley won the lottery until it came time to write his episode. “I don’t like to talk about when we come up with ideas,” Lindelof demurs. “It’s a magic trick. But we planned that plot. We seeded references to it in earlier episodes.” Fury disagrees. He says scenes with those references were filmed much later and inserted into earlier yet-to-air episodes: “It’s a brilliant trick to make us look smart. But doing that created a huge budget problem.”
(By Gavin Edwards. From “The Secrets of Lost,” in Rolling Stone 984 (October 6, 2005).)
Those three paragraphs led to a fair amount of discussion among the show’s fans (and some sniping at Fury by Lost writer/producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach). I reprint them now as the show enters the final stretch; we’ll see whether Lost wraps up a way that seems satisfying (or premeditated).
My personal opinion is that the show was flying by the seat of its pants in the first season, but that once they reached the summer break, the Lost brain trust came up with a roadmap, which they have sometimes followed. There’s more than one way to make good TV, and some of my favorite shows have worked just fine by improvising their way through the plotlines. But in the case of Lost, which has large central mysteries, the creators have often assured fans that not only is there a master plan, there has always been a master plan. Let’s just say I’m skeptical.