After my trip to the Dolby Theater to kick off PaleyFest 2014 with “Veronica Mars,” I returned last night to celebrate a show that redefined the way we interact with TV: “Lost.” I consider “Breaking Bad” to be the best show I’ve ever seen, but “Lost” is still my personal favorite, even with its bumpy second season, Nikki and Paulo, and numerous unanswered questions. For me, “Lost” wasn’t as much about the sci-fi mysteries as it was about the characters, a sentiment showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse echoed last night to the sold-out crowd.
To kick off the evening, Lindelof said they debated showing us the “real finale” of the show (a line that got a big reaction from the crowd), but ultimately decided to screen the first part of season one’s two-part finale, “Exodus: Part 1.” My wife and I – who, not coincidentally, began our relationship through a mutual love of the series – are rewatching the entire series right now for the first time, so we had seen this episode relatively recently, but watching it on the big screen and hearing Michael Giacchino’s rousing score float through the Dolby Theater as the castaways begin their adventure on their raft – a moment I consider to be an aural high point of the entire series – was a spectacular experience.
Afterwards, moderator Paul Scheer (“The League”) introduced members of the cast – Malcolm David Kelly (Walt), Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond), Maggie Grace (Shannon), Ian Somerhalder (Boone), Yunjin Kim (Sun), Jorge Garcia (Hurley), and Josh Holloway (Sawyer) – and welcomed Lindelof and Cuse to the stage. Scheer, a long-time fan of “Lost,” was a great moderator, joking around with the cast and steering the conversation in interesting places as they reminisced about the series, which debuted ten years ago.
Since my wife and I are currently rewatching the series, we’re also going through the bonus features for each season, and a lot of ground covered in last night’s panel was covered at various points on the DVDs. Yunjin Kim, for instance, initially read for the part of Kate, but when the producers found out she was not only fluent in Korean, but also a major star there (having starred in the “Korean equivalent of Titanic”), they decided to write a character specifically for her. The character of Jin, played by Daniel Dae Kim, was created after the creation of Sun, in a process Lindelof called “very organic.” Jorge Garcia auditioned for the role of Sawyer after J.J. Abrams saw him on an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and told Lindelof they needed to get him on the show.
But there were some cool revelations, too. Hurley was initially supposed to be a repo man in his flashbacks, but as the season progressed and the writers came up with the idea of “The Numbers,” they changed his backstory to a lotto winner. Terry O’Quinn’s John Locke became the character he was because of something Abrams told Lindelof during the filming of the pilot. They didn’t have a script for the second episode yet, so even they didn’t know at that point that the character of Locke came to the island in a wheelchair. But during a break in filming, O’Quinn walked a ways down the beach and just sat in the sand, listening to his iPod and staring at the ocean. Abrams saw this from afar, grabbed Lindelof, pointed, and said “That guy’s got a secret.” Damon asked what the secret was, and Abrams responded, “You figure it out!”When Scheer asked about the coolest thing the cast and crew stole from the set, Lindelof said he had someone turn the cover of the hatch into a coffee table for him.
One of the night’s best moments came during the fan Q&A portion of the evening, at which point a fan stood up and predictably asked a question about who was firing at Sawyer from the outrigger in the fifth season. It’s a question the showrunners have often been asked since the finale, and the answer is one of many things left on the cutting room floor because the writers ultimately decided they didn’t want to spend the final season answering every last question they raised during the show. The outrigger question is one that a lot of fans have been wondering about for years, and Lindelof and Cuse said they would give the audience member “some level of satisfaction without answering your question, which is the ‘Lost’ way” before admitting that they actually do know who was on that boat firing at Sawyer: the scene is actually written down on paper, and one day, they’ll probably auction it off for charity.
Overall, the fastest-selling event in PaleyFest’s 31 year history did not disappoint, and with some time now between the cast/showrunners and the series they helped make possible, it was very cool to experience a look back at one of the 21st century’s most innovative, explosive, surprising, and emotional success stories. “Lost” may be over, but like all great shows, it still lives on in the hearts of the fans.
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