I had the great fortune to be able to attend this year's Comic-Con in San Diego last week, where the Lost crew does a Q&A panel where they dish about the upcoming season. Lindelof and Cuse, as usual, had some very interesting things to say about the future of the show. I've tried to compile them into points below. Be advised this material is SPOILERISH in nature. Read at your own peril.
In addition to the Q&A, there were 3 videos that they showed. The first was sort of a tribute to the Others, and looks very much like something that will be included in the Season 3 DVD pack. I couldn't find a link to it, unfortunately, though it probably exists somewhere on the net. The second was a promo for the Lost video game which is coming out in February, they said. The YouTube link for that is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMDYgzKN-y8. Finally, they had the Dharma video which was linked to in another post on this forum.
Mostly though, it was a Q&A session, and the highlights were:
1. When asked how much content in each episode is controlled by the writers of that episode vs. the entire team of 8 writers, they said that it's mostly a community project, but that each writer (or pair of writers) has their own favorite characters much like the fans. For instance, Ed Kitsis and Adam Horowitz are big Hurley fans. Kitsis had the idea of Hurley finding the VW bus and asked to work it in. DL & CC had been working on the idea of Ben killing his father and thought maybe that could've happened in the bus. They could introduce the bus with Hurley and then cycle back to it later with Ben. It was an interesting look into their creative process.
2. As announced earlier, Michael will be returning in Season 4 as a regular member of the cast. They wouldn't say when, but that it would be early in Season 4 and in a "fairly awesome way". CC also said that Michael's story will be one of redemption and what people need to do to redeem themselves and that his story will be fairly central this season.
3. Ben fell into Rousseau's trap by accident and not intentionally. We will find out this season where Ben was going when that happened.
4. The show from here on out will feature both flashbacks and flash forwards. The operative question with the flash forwards will be how far forward and with whom? Damon says he thinks we'll be happy with how that works.
Continuing in that vein, when asked if the announcement of the ending of the series played a role in how they ended Season 3, they said that it did. They said they sat down at the end of the first season and decided that the flashback device wouldn't work forever. They only had so many revelatory moments for these characters and it would start looking like they were making it up as they went along. They knew they were going to have to switch gears toward the flash forwards. Carlton said that the Jack & Kate scene at the end of "Through the Looking Glass" is NOT the end of the story, though it takes place in the future.
They wanted to demonstrate to the audience that the show has never really been about them getting off the island. People have been after them for a while about a spin off show about what happens after they get off the island, like an “After Lost”, and they had been sitting on the information that there is a whole chapter of the story that takes place off the island. They couldn’t show that until the audience knew that the show was going to end. Because if they had shown the Kate & Jack scene as the end of just *another* episode rather than ONE LESS episode, then the audience would have thrown up their hands and said “They are <bleep>ing stalling again”. But because it was in the context of moving toward the end of the story, they felt like they needed to introduce that part as an invitation to come with them to the end of the story.
5. Claire & Jack will find out in Season 4 that they are related.
6. The Mobisodes (the cell phone mini-episodes) that they've promised for a while should be out this Fall. They wanted to make sure they were part of the canon, but not essential to understanding the show, and yet still worthwhile for those viewers spending time and money on them. Very tricky, indeed.
7. Though they want to work Richard Alpert's character into Season 4, the actor who plays him, Nestor Carbonell, is part of the cast of "Cane", a new show on CBS. Thus his availability will be very limited. They acknowledged this as one of the challenges of the show.
8. Someone very cleverly asked "What questions are we NOT asking that we should?" The big ones are: "Who's in the coffin?", "Who's freighter is it and what do they want from the island?", and "Who else made it off the island besides Kate & Jack?" DL asked Harold Perrineau who he thought was in the coffin. Harold referred to the article stating the person left behind a teenage son and said after a pause "so I think it's Locke". It seemed to me as if this was staged. I thought it a little too cute of Damon to ask Harold that question. So putting that together with Carlton saying Michael's tale is one of redemption, I'm officially in the "Michael's in the coffin" camp.
9. They plan to finish Libby's story through flashbacks next season. Note that they said that at the last Comic-Con, too. It may have to do with availability of the actress. Who knows? The person who asked the question also alluded to internet theories that Libby had Dharma connections. Damon said that speculation wasn't "barking up the wrong tree". Hmmm...
10. They plan to do a Rousseau flashback either next season or in season 5. Apparently timing is the key, as there are things revealed in that story that have to synch up with the larger narrative.
11. They revealed that "Cerberus" on the blast door map does refer to the Smoke Monster, and that "CV" does stand for "Cerberus Vent". However they said that Cerberus is *one* of the Monster's names--the name given to it by Radzinsky, Kelvin, and possibly Dharma. All of which seemed to indicate (though not confirm) that good ol' Smokey predates Dharma.
They also said that while they think the answer for what Cerberus is to be definitive, that the audience will continue to ask questions. They gave the example of Kate's plane. They thought they answered that and people still were asking "but there's microfilm inside, right?" They said that they will answer many, many things, but there will still be a few things left unanswered, as that's the nature of a story. They are happy with how the show will end, and they believe we will be too, and they again stated that it won't end with 10 seconds of blank tape (like the Sopranos).
12. Finally, they said that this season is a little different in that they will have written 13 or 14 of the 16 episodes before the first one airs, so they're working without a net. They won't be able to react to fan feedback like in seasons past. And since so much of it will be done before it airs, there will be a ton of spoilers for those who want them. It seemed they've given up trying to stop them from leaking (as the show passes through about 500 hands before it airs), but they were encouraged by the fan outcry over this season's finale leak. They said that people who look at the spoilers do so at their own peril, and that they've found that those who read the spoilers about last seaon's finale kind of ruined their viewing experience.
Anyway, it was a great time and I was glad to have done it! It was weird because I was sitting pretty close to the front--right in front of a couple of the bigger LOST podcasters (Jay & Jack and The Dharmalars). People kept coming up to get their pictures with Jay and Jack. I found that odd...as did they, I think.