'Lost' 10th anniversary reunion at PaleyFest: Five things we learned from the panel

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Image Credit: Michael Kovac/WireImage

“We have to go back.” That’s what Dr. Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox) says after returning home from the island in the third season finale of ABC’s epic drama Lost. And this Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, several of those castaways — as well as executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse — did indeed come back, to discuss the pivotal series as it celebrates the 10th anniversary of its premiere.

In addition to Lindelof and Cuse, the panel included Josh Holloway (Sawyer), Yunjin Kim (Sun), Jorge Garcia (Hurley), Ian Somerhalder (Boone), Maggie Grace (Shannon), Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond), and Malcolm David Kelley (Walt). The cast and producers reminisced about their magical time on “The Island” and, naturally, still left us with a few unsolved mysteries. (Meanwhile, the panel’s moderator, comedian Paul Scheer, awkwardly urged audience members not to ask about another mysterious plane crash because it would “be in poor taste.” Yes; yes it would.) We did, however, learn these five things:

Confirmed: The castaways weren’t dead the entire time
Cuse definitively confirmed this for all skeptics. He blamed the theory partially on shots of plane wreckage that appeared at the end of the series finale, which may been confusing. Lost‘s team thought this footage, left over from the pilot would serve as a good segue into the post-show commercials. “At the end of finale, you had a buffer of when the show ends, to the first commercial [right after]. You don’t want to just slam a Clorox ad,” Cuse explained. But “when people saw [the wreckage], it exacerbated the problem.”

Cuse and Lindelof still defend their series finale
Lost was metaphorically about lost people looking for meaning in their lives,” Cuse said. “The ending had to be a spiritual one that explained these characters’ journey and destiny.” (Lindelof acknowledged that early on, viewers guessed that the show’s characters were caught in some kind of purgatory — a theory he and Cuse always shot down.) “Obviously, there are all these mysteries, and in the final episode of Lost, we could answer a question that wasn’t asked,” Lindelof added. That question: “What is the meaning life? And what happens when you die?”

We’ll never learn who was in the outrigger that shot at Sawyer and co. in season 5
“I have to give you some level of satisfaction without actually answering the question —  the Lost way,” Lindelof said. In fact, the scene’s script has the answer — “which is not the Lost way.” Ultimately, Lindelof and his team felt it would be cooler to let this remain a mystery — though they knew doing that would eventually come back to haunt them: “We said to each other, ‘Someone is gonna stand up and ask us about the outrigger [one day].'”  Cuse added that “every question begets another question,” which leads to didactic and boring answers. “We wanted to tell an emotional story that showed what happened to the characters. We cared much more about what happened to them,” he said.

The writers and producers hated Nikki and Paulo even before you did
Lindelof admitted that he and the writers did not like Nikki and Paulo, background characters who came to the forefront after fans clamored to know more about everyone else wandering around the island: “We started writing these characters, and as soon as we got into the editing room, we [knew they weren't working].” The duo was featured in the first half of the third season, then buried alive. While it would have been easy to simply let them drift off into the background again, Lindelof said it was important for the writers to admit their mistake. That’s why they devoted a whole episode to Nikki and Paulo’s backstory — leading into their death. From the audience’s perspective, he said, it appeared that the creative team had listened to their complaints, but “we already hated them ourselves.”

Daniel Dae Kim wasn’t always speaking Korean
Cuse recalled Yunjin Kim approaching him one day and saying that her onscreen husband’s words weren’t actually Korean. (Yunjin, who has appeared in numerous Korean films and TV shows, emigrated from South Korea to the U.S. when she was 10. Daniel, who is fluent only in English, emigrated from South Korea to the U.S. when he was two.) “He eventually got very good,” Yunjin assured.

Watch a clip from the panel below:

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