An open letter to Damon & Carlton

Posted by on February 18, 2011

I know the odds of them ever actually reading this are slim to none, but I decided that I wanted to send out my own personal message to the former showrunners for the show LOST. My intention is to send them a tweet with this post and hope that they get the chance to read it. Unlike much of what I have seen come out of Damon’s tweets, this is not a flame towards LOST. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

Back in December of 2004, I was on Christmas holidays and ABC was running marathons of episodes of LOST. This was before the days when ABC stopped running LOST in reruns. I had heard a lot of people talking about this show and although I don’t buy into a lot of hype, I thought why not watch it. At the time, there wasn’t much else on that I wanted to see anyway so I sat down and started watching an episode. I then watched another one, and another one. The following day ABC had further episodes on. It turned out that I watched probably between 6-9 episodes of LOST that week. Maybe less but I know that as soon as they had no more, I had a craving for more. I was hooked and started watching it every week.

The show was interesting because it really had an element of mystery but was always seeded by these ragtag group of characters that you only got glimpses into through their flashbacks before their island time. Some characters were flat out annoying and drove me nuts (Shannon was nothing more than a whiny bitch but man she was hot) and other characters were obviously driven to be the leader (Jack), and others were the comic relief (Hurley). However despite the fact that he came off as being a bit of an asshole, and his backstory seemed to agree with his outside, I always somewhat suspected that Sawyer would be very much like the bad guy who would become good, like a Darth Vader being resurrected as a good Anakin (the old guy, not the annoying Hayden Christenson version).

Regardless, I followed the show relentlessly. I had not had a show with a good mythology to follow since The X-Files ended and I always enjoyed shows like that. LOST provided me with yet another intelligent show that intelligent people could watch and theorize, and ask questions, and pick up on all the little pieces that might have meaning. LOST became a big hit and each season that came along seemed to answer more question and pose twice as many new ones.

Unlike pretty other shows, LOST seemed to pull back different layers with each season. The Jungle, the hatches, the others, the freighter, the dharma inititive and time travel, and the origins best describe each season almost as a mini-show within itself. Each season you’d learn more and more about the characters, and we also learned very early on that this was not a show that was afraid to make you go WTF?!?! And you wanted it. You wanted to be surprised. You wanted to know what next big twist was coming. They also weren’t afraid to kill off major characters but they always seemed to find a way to fill the void through other interesting story telling.

But the show itself, was not all about what you saw on TV. For many, the Alternate Reality Games played across the internet also helped keep diehard fans interested. From learning all about the origins of the infamous numbers, taking a university course, and plenty of other online content, LOST showed audience members that you could be engaged in a show without even watching it. Thousands of people participating in trying to find out what exactly Sam Thomas was up to, or wanting to piece together the puzzles that gave us Alvar Hanso’s message. No, casual television viewers wouldn’t see this stuff but for fans who wanted more, LOST gave us more.

During the 6 year run of watching LOST, they had an amazing amount of great episodes. I literally jumped out of my hotel room bed while I watched the episode of Sawyer finally getting the chance to kill Anthony Cooper, the man who’d he’d been searching for his whole life. I was dumbfounded when Michael shot Ana-Lucia and my heart dropped for Hurley when Libby took a hit in the chest. Each show brought out another piece of a long book that I was reading and every week I enjoyed it, even if it wasn’t the best episode of the season. Ya, they had good ones and bad ones, but you take it all together and it was an amazing experience to be a part of.

With all of this amazing writing, and a fabulous story about these characters, I have been seeing tweets from Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse (the two guys who ran the show) and usually if the tweets are about LOST, it’s about some lameass fan who is flaming them for “screwing me out of 6 years of my life). These same folks are the ones that were extremely pissed because of the way the show ended. Many of them flat out don’t get exactly what Damon & Carlton were trying to do and thusly they shit on the LOST community, it’s creators, and the whole world, because they didn’t have enough intelligence to “get” what the point of LOST was all about.

The story was ALWAYS about what happens to these people when they crash on a mysterious island. Yes, the island itself became a character and a key character it was. But the story was always meant to tell you how this special place affected the lives of these people. If you look at what happened to Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sawyer, and many of the others, look at the journey they took from the beginning to the end. Jack, a pure man of science, returned to an island he SO wanted to get away from just to die in it’s forest trying to protect it. Sawyer, the long time con-man eventually became an almost family and normal kind of guy living with a regular law type job with the woman he actually loved. These were the people that we all grew to care about. How many of you were sad when Charlie died at the end of season 3? It totally sucked, but it served the story very well and ultimately brought us to another interesting twist in the show’s history.

The biggest complaint people have about the ending, and the show itself, is that there were so many questions left unanswered. Where did the island come from? Where did all the hieroglyphics come from? Why was Libby in the mental institution? Who shot at Juliet & Sawyer and the others when they flashed through time? What happened to Walt? Why was he so special?

I don’t write television shows. I do have a few ideas for show here and there, but I’ve never been involved in episodic network television. But, I think it’s safe to say that as writers and producers create a show, the show itself tends to take a life of it’s own. It steers you in certain directions and between the show and the audience, you get a feel for where it should go, and what it should do. That being said, I would be willing to bet that at one time, perhaps you pose a question to the viewers through a story arc, but as the story grows, the answer to that question becomes less and less important. However, there’s always going to be people who want answers to everything and can’t live with ambiguity. For that reason, I think the showrunners purposely take little jabs at the audience when their obsessiveness gets a little out of hand.

I listened to almost every podcast Damon and Carlton did and although I don’t know the guys, I got the feeling they are pretty easy going, and that Damon himself had a vision for certain things about the show, and after awhile got a bit fed up with being asked the same stupid questions over and over again. I watched season 6’s The Lighthouse a couple of days ago and there is one scene where they found Shannon’s inhaler. This was a throwback to something that came up in season 1. It’s a question people have asked about many times and it never went answered. In watching this scene again, I smiled and I thought to myself, “I wonder if Damon put that in the script solely to piss off the folks who want answers to all the big questions, but are going to get an answer to a meaningless question instead?” Whether that’s how it went down or not, the point I am making is very simple. WHY THE HELL DOES IT MATTER WHERE SHANNON’S INHALER WENT? For people to get so pissed off about stupid little questions like this is retarded. In no way does knowing the answer to this help you understand the show any better, or make it any more or less entertaining. It’s a simple thing that no one needs to know so why make it such a big deal?

Speaking of the lighthouse, many folks argue that something like that would definitely have been seen by our LOST characters during the run of show. Hurley makes a throwaway quip about maybe we couldn’t see it because we weren’t looking for it. This is part of the mysticism of the island. Where the island itself almost seems to be alive or have a consciousness of it’s own, or perhaps it’s through it’s protector that this happens, I don’t find what Hurley says to be that far off. Maybe things like the lighthouse, and the source cave, are places that you can only see when the time is right or if someone gives you the ability to see it. Why is that so hard to believe? Why is it that some fans think that with all of the mysterious things that go on in this show, for Jacob or the island to hide a lighthouse is just too far of a leap? I mean really? The island disappeared, ghosts live there, a black smoke monster roams the island, and you have people who are immortal, but hiding a building is a problem? Remember, Jacob’s cabin also couldn’t easily be found either.

Then of course there are the big ticket questions that people feel the need to have explained to them in black and white. People want to know exactly what the island is, but they don’t want to have it explained in a mystical way. They want it explained in a way that makes sense. The problem is, for a show like LOST, to come flat out and tell you exactly what something is was never their way. You have things like why Walt was special and was taken off the show. Well, that’s a practicality thing. The actor playing him was growing like a weed and there was no way to keep the kid on the show and hold the show’s timeline together so the best way to solve that issue was to get rid of him. It’s a question that people would love an answer to, but the realities of television and kids growing up kind of get in the middle of that. There would never be any real good way to address that in a way fans would be happy with. They tried a little bit with the DVD extra, but once again, left open to interpretation for fans which many people seem to think is a cop out.

Do I think that some things should have been given a bit more of an explanation? Sure I do. Do I feel the need to blast the show’s creators for it? Absolutely not. Did I like the ending? Well, I sat here in my office and cried for almost 3 hours watching one emotional event after another and at the end, I was just so completely dumbfounded by how emotional the show was to me that I could not have imagined it happening any differently. Yes, I would love to have known more about the history of the island, the previous inhabitants, a lot more about the “mysticism” that seemed to exist there. But at the end of the day, not knowing those things didn’t take away anything from how much I enjoyed watching six seasons of LOST. It didn’t take away from the slow days at work where I’d scour through Lostpedia trying to get my head wrapped around things that I kind of knew but needed clarification on. It didn’t take away from reading the interesting reviews, and listening to the podcasts, and interacting with other fans of the show. It was simply the end of an era for one story of LOST. I do not think LOST itself ends with “The End”. As it’s been said before, this was the end of this story for these characters. LOST was a powerful show and I am sure that we will see more of that story in the future.

But I think the biggest reason why I loved the ending so much was that literally, an hour beforehand, while I watched the recap shows, I made a conscious decision that I was not going to have ANY expectations of the finale. All I wanted to do was to enjoy the last few hours of LOST for what they were, and not worry about questions being answered, or anything. I left my expectations at the door and as a result of that, I was able to enjoy the finale as it was meant to be. I wasn’t burdened by wondering if after this commercial am I going to learn about what happened to Walt, or who created the island, or if mother was the smoke monster as well. I left it all behind me and accepted that this was the end and if I wanted to enjoy it, I had to leave expectation behind. For me, it worked like a charm.

Damon & Carlton, I hope you realize that there are plenty of LOST fans out there who got the ending and got the story you were trying to tell. I know I did. You guys are the ones who have to live with the legacy you left so I hope that you know that fans like me truly adore what you did for six years and that I consider the time I spent watching LOST, listening to your podcasts, and interacting online with your creations, to be a great six years. Hopefully you’ll be involved in some capacity down the road with whatever LOST story comes next, but regardless, thank you for such a great show, and I, along with many others, wish you guys the absolute best.

To those so called LOST fans who think they got screwed by the ending and that it ruined the entire show for you, get the fuck over it. If you are so insanely immature that you think a single episode of a television show can ruin the entire experience, then you never deserved to watch the show in the first place. Go back to watching Grey’s Anatomy or Jersey Shore, and let us intelligent folks enjoy a show as great as LOST in reruns and DVD collections. I know I will.

One Response to An open letter to Damon & Carlton

  1. Zor

    And just as an FYI to anyone who reads this, I received a tweet from Damon himself with the message “@Zor_ I did read it. And thank you, man. It means a lot.”.

    Glad to see it 🙂