Tuned In

Lost Discussion Group: Do They Know Where They're Going To?

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Just a couple weeks left of Lost summer school (I’m on vacation the last two weeks of August), so I thought I’d try a meta-question that’s kind of haunted the margins of the LDG, and, in fact, pretty much every discussion about Lost that anybody ever has:

Do the producers of Lost have the series planned out beginning to end? Or are they just making it up as they go along?

There are some people, especially TV journalists, who are of the “They’re winging it” persuasion. (Call this the magic turtle theory of Lost.) Others, especially some intense Lost fans, credit the writers with an almost Godlike power to have engineered wheels within wheels from the get-go. It’s the wimpy answer, I know, but I suspect they’re somewhere in between: I honestly believe the writers know pretty much where the show is going to end, and the explanations for the island’s major mysteries, but the how-they-get there is very much up to inspiration, fan reaction and cast availability. (For instance, Michael’s return was supposedly intended from the minute he left, but Harold Perrineau is reportedly returning at this point in time because the pilot he shot this pilot season wasn’t picked up.) Libby–it always comes back to Libby for me, doesn’t it?–supposedly had to be whacked because Ana-Lucia wasn’t an emotionally impactful enough death. And so on. It’s like a novel–you have the broad strokes, but if you don’t give the characters and kismet some room to take you where they’re going to take you, it’s going to become phony and forced.

What say you? Are they sailing with a map, or are they… well, you know the name of the show.