For six years, the groundbreaking drama Lost had us scratching our heads as one confusing plot element after another was introduced. In between polar bears, the Smoke Monster and that pesky Dharma Initiative, it was easy for viewers to get a bit, well, lost.
Fast forward to the controversial series finale of the plane crash drama, in which all the characters are seen in a church heading towards a big, bright, heaven-like light. Did that mean the characters were dead the whole time? Were they in purgatory? But, what about the polar bears?!
Lost’s executive producer Carlton Cuse and co-creator/executive producer Damon Lindelof provided some answers for the fans’ most burning questions at 2014’s PaleyFest, which is an interactive television pop culture event held in Hollywood.
Cuse, Lindelof and some of the cast gathered at PaleyFest to celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary and hold an interactive panel.The original plan was to air the show’s premiere plane crash episode, but in consideration of the missing Malaysia Air flight, that idea was scratched.
Instead, the first season finale was aired to the crowd of superfans, followed by a Q&A panel where Cuse and Lindeloff started peeling back layers on some of the show’s most frustrating mysteries.
So, were the characters actually all dead during the entire series, from the second the plane crashed?
“No, no, no. They were not dead the whole time,” Cuse finally cleared up.
But what about the images we saw during the credits of the series finale, where the plane wreckage is all empty?
“At the end of the series finale, ABC thought it would be good to have a buffer between when you have the end of the show and when they cut to say, a Clorox commercial,” Cuse explained. “We didn’t have a lot of extra footage lying around, but we had footage of the plane wreckage on the beach. We thought, let’s put those shots at the end of the show and it will be a little buffer and lull. And when people saw the footage of the plane with no survivors, it exacerbated the problem.”
So were they in some sort of purgatory during the show?
“There was a very early perception that the island was purgatory and we were always out there saying ‘It’s not purgatory, this is real, we’re not going to Sixth Sense you,'” Lindeloff cleared up.
Well, what exactly does the series finale mean then?!
Both Cuse and Lindeloff first confirmed that all the characters were in fact dead when they meet in the church to go to heaven.
Cuse gave an explanation to why the writers and producers decided to end the series the way they did: “Very early on we had decided that even though Lost is a show about people on the island, really, metaphorically, it was about people who were lost and searching for meaning and purpose in their lives. And because of that, we felt the ending really had to be spiritual, and one that talks about destiny. We would have long discourses about the nature of the show, for many years, and we decided it needed to mean something to us and our belief system and the characters and how all of us are here to lift each other up in our lives.”
So, well there you go. The most definitive answer we’re probably ever going to get about the ending of Lost.
But what about all those other unanswered questions, like why in the world were polar bears running through a deserted island?
This is where Cuse and Lindeloff remained tightlipped.
“We felt like Lost was sort of the Big Bang Theory and every question would only beget another question. But what we cared about most was the emotional journey of each character,” Cuse said.
So, it seems like some of the show’s smaller mysteries will forever go unanswered. But now, Lost super fans can peacefully go to bed knowing the answers to the show’s most exestential questions.