LAST EDITED ON 05-24-10 AT 08:23 PM (EST)
HD, I can't answer much but I've read the answer to this one:
>>>When we first learned about the Others, we saw glimpses of them walking through the jungle: single file, barefoot, dirty, and (if I remember correctly) one of them dragging a stuffed animal. The Others that have played an active role in the last couple of seasons have not resembled that at all. What's the explanation?
David Fury, the Emmy-winning writer responsible for Walkabout, Special, Solitary and Numbers (who created the backstory for and brought into focus the characters of Locke, Walt, Sayid, Hurley), gave an interview after he left the show where he talks about how some things evolved.
He said the Others were originally conceived as people who had gone primitive from their long time on the island. The Whispers were originally supposed to be the Others (and they continued to use them like that at least through the episode where Shannon was killed and Cindy kidnapped). At the time he created the initial whispering, he didn't expect the Others to turn into the very different charactes we saw when they kidnapped Walt. From the way he says it, the Deliverance style Others were not in disguise; that was their end of Season 1 concept.
With that information, my inference would be that they were still unsure about the Others when they developed Season 2, as there are primitive others stalking the Tailies, and bearded Deliverance Others dealing with Jack and Co. By the end of Season 2, they had decided to go with more sophisticated Others, operating out of the hut village where they had the dock and the boat that Mike took.
The fake beards would be a retrofit to explain the Deliverance look, so that it wouldn't be obvious that the writers had changed their notion of the Others.
By Season 3 premiere, the Others live in Otherton and bake muffins and have a Book Club, and I think that Ben's ordering out Goodman and Ethan to find survivors and get lists was again something to tie into previous season events (Season 1 Ethan's scary presence and Season 2 Goodman's infiltration). In Season 2 they had introduced a list and the idea that the Others were collecting the Good people and children -- a storyline that was later dropped.
Ben ordered lists, but that never went anywhere. For awhile it seemed that Jacob was evaluating people who showed up at the island, but later they went with Jacob pre-selecting people and knowing when they came -- no need for lists.
Cindy and the kids popped in and presented the idea that the Others weren't as bad as they appeared what with all the putting people into cages. Cindy appeared brainwashed or under Stockholm syndrome.
Cindy and the kids were with the group that got mortared by Widmore, and that entire group perished except for Smocke and Jack. I live near a guy who did extra work on Season 6, who was one of the Temple people who ended up with Smocke. He confirmed that his group was all dead (on a local forum).
It REALLY bothers me that they kept Cindy and the kids around all that time and then mortared them off screen. I really didn't want to see the kids blown apart, but it wasn't great for them to disappear and nothing ever to be said about them again. They were ultimately pointless characters, who may have had a storyline originally, but then didn't.
As for Walt, Fury developed his character, and left it deliberately open. He had special powers that the Others were interested in. In other interviews, the Creators admitted that they were thrown for a loop when Malcolm grew too fast to continue into a story that was supposed to be confined to 90 days. They had to write him out, and they had said that before Season 2 ended. Unfortunately they sailed him off on a boat without disclosing anything much about the point of his character.
David Fury developed the Numbers after he was told they needed a set of six cool numbers for Hurley. He explains in the interview about how he used numbers like 8 and 15 that were already part of the show, and how 42 came from Hitchhiker's Guide. 42 was mathematician and Looking Glass writer Lewis Carroll's favorite number, and I know that Douglas Adams knew that, but don't think Fury knew it.
I think he must have gotten 23 from Darlton. There was an old interview with one of the two where they talk about Robert Anton Wilson, who wrote an essay on the Number 23, so I know the Lost writers knew about the cult of 23. It's also got a few notable mentions in "The Third Policeman" -- the book they told us to read that Desmond had in the Hatch. (A book in which there is a substance for omnium that is probably a good genesis for the magic light. It's also a book where the main character discovers that he's dead at the end of the book, and in Hell.)
108 is a mystical number too. That was not invented by LOST, just appropriated.
In the Lost Experience, which I didn't play but have read about, they made up some guy named Valenzetti who had an equation. You can look it up in Lostpedia. I never cared about that answer because to me it's less interesting than the real symbolism of the numbers they picked, but it's supposed to explain why those numbers were punched into the computer.
Again, Fury puts the kibosh on the idea that the smoke monster was originally conceived as MIB or Jacob's brother. Originally it was thought of as the supernatural element to their Survivor/Lord of the Flies concept, and Fury saw it as a Forbidden Planet type monster of the id. (Which would explain why it used to uproot trees.)
Then there was the idea given (by Rousseau?) that it was a security system. I think it was less important what the monster was in the beginning than that there be something utterly terrifying and inexplicable to the castaways. Also, it discouraged their exploration of the island. Darlton has said in a recent interview that they didn't want to follow a classic desert island structure where the castaways explore the island and build a good shelter and all that. The monster presence probably facilitated their going another direction.
Originally they had a concept put together in five days, and a hurry up Pilot. ABC had asked for a show to compete with Survivor, a Lord of the Flies desert island concept. They didn't think it was a series. ABC ordered 12 episodes, and they set out to make 12 episodes of the most ground-breaking TV they could do, something that might become another Prisoner or Twin Peaks.
Then because of the ratings, ABC told them to make a long series out of it, and they had to scramble and come up with the mythology. I believe they had the idea all along that the island had special properties, and as Jack said, they always planned for it to end with him closing his eye and dying where he landed.
After the shock of last night, I believe that what they originally intended was to write a tale of Purgatory, of bad acts redeemed by works. Thus the clues they threw out by mentioning books where you find out the character is dead or dying.
Problem was, people guessed early on that the island was Purgatory, and they had this ratings monster to keep going. So they denied categorically that it was Purgatory; they promised it was not in Hurley's head in the mental institution either. However, that gave them another problem. The things that happen in Purgatory or a troubled brain ultimately don't need to have rational explanations, so they were stuck with pseudo-science. Then they went to time travel, and eventually went all out magical mystical godlike powers.
The Flash Sideways was not conceived until pre-Season 6, when they needed a new kind of flash device. And I think they did intend for it to be an Alt that they had created with a variable in the timeline, Jughead slash Incident.
They didn't write the Finale script until March or April, when much of the Season had already been filmed. I think at that time they decided to get their Purgatory in. I need to rewatch the Finale, but I lay awake last night spinning over the Flash Sideways events, and in no way do they make sense as any kind of purgatory for people who died years after 2007.
Nor is it a happy place, not with Keamy in it. Nor is it Jack's personal purgatory, as their are several storylines that the Jack character is not part of and not at all aware of. Nor are Ben and Hurley's stories in any way intertwined ... nor did they bring Richard Alpert into it, although Ethan was there.
Occam's Razor says the simplest explanation is usually correct. The writers changed their minds along the way, and right up to the end. I think to enjoy it I have to look at it as improv.