Is Lost turning into That '70s Show?
For now, at least, ABC's sci-fi fantasy ended its time travel in 1977 — and if you haven't watched this week's episode yet, stop reading right here.
The reunion in Wednesday's episode "sets the template for what the show's going to be in the next phase of storytelling," says executive producer Carlton Cuse. Kate, Jack and Hurley have rejoined Sawyer and Jin, disguised as new Dharma initiates; Sayid, deemed an island "hostile," is imprisoned. "We're kind of done with the rapid skipping through time for a while," Cuse says.
In the seven remaining episodes (including a two-hour, game-changing finale May 13), he says the show asks, "What do they do now, and what are the consequences of that?"
Starting next week, the show returns to its original format, each episode built around a single character with the back story in flashbacks.
The show "becomes a lot more character-centric," Lindelof says. "For those people who were more confused or scratching their heads" at the time-traveling, "it's sort of normalized."
A major focus is the new love triangle of Kate, Sawyer and Juliet. Juliet is living with Sawyer, mysteriously known as LaFleur, Dharma's tan-jumpsuited security chief, in the '70s. "Juliet's aware that Kate's return will cause problems," Cuse says. Yet Jack, who vied with Sawyer for Kate and was engaged to her off the island — still carries a torch.
The recalibration of Lost will temper the show's most confounding season yet, a relief to ABC executives.
"We long had this idea to do time-travel storytelling," Cuse says. "But we were afraid that once we started implementing it, we would become a more overtly genre show and that we would lose viewers." (They did: Lost is down 18% this season and faced a big test Wednesday in the season's first matchup against American Idol). "We kind of expected some people to be turned off."
But Lindelof, conceding viewers were frustrated, likens Lost to coursework: "College gets harder as you go on, and you're now taking Advanced Lost." For those who follow the drama for its rich character entanglements, "all that really matters is that (Sawyer) likes Juliet, Juliet likes him and now Kate is back. But the real hardcore fans want mythology."
Producers promise more answers in coming episodes: How was Sayid captured to return to the island? How did Hurley learn about the Ajera flight that brought him there? And how will Sun, Ben and pilot Frank Lapidus reunite with their castmates?