An Original Writer on Lost Answers the Burning Question

Ryan always sasses me and Jenny on the podcast about our enjoyment of Lost. The question we always come back to is how much was planned from the beginning. Well a writer has spoken out about the subject.

In an interview with IndieWire, writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach says:

Did the writers know what they were doing in advance, or did they make it all up as they went along? The answer, as people who know the workings of the television industry may have guessed, is “Yes.” The details of the Dharma Initiative (even if it was then called the Medusa Corporation), the tailies, the Others — they were all there before a second of “Lost” hit the airwaves. But Grillo-Marxuach admits he never heard the name “Jacob” during his two years in the writers’ room, nor any reference to the man in black. The ideas were there, but their dramatic realization came later.

First we built a world. Then we filled it with an ensemble of flawed but interesting characters — people who were real to us, people with enough depth in their respective psyches to withstand years of careful dramatic analysis. Then we created a thrilling and undeniable set of circumstances in which these characters had to bond together and solve problems in interesting ways.

Soon thereafter, we created a way for you to witness their pasts and compare the people they once were with the people they were in the process of becoming. While that was going on, we also created an entire 747s worth of ideas, notions, fragments, complications, and concepts that would — if properly and thoughtfully mined — yield enough narrative fiction to last as long as our corporate overlords would demand to feed their need for profit and prestige, and then, just to be sure, teams of exceptionally talented people worked nonstop to make sure the 747 never emptied out.

And then we made it all up as we went.

The Jacob and Men In Black stuff was critical to any idea of a central plan. Without that, you may have had Dharma, but you didn’t have what Dharma was looking for.

The Dharma stuff was always more interesting to me than the magic of the island (the island was always a maguffin to me anyway) so maybe that’s why the series came off the rails a bit when Dharma was swept aside and the gods came out to play.

I’m disillusioned and thought the ending was as disappointing as they come, but I still had a blast for six years.

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