Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lost Preview: Still-Tall, Non-Ghost Walt Returns! - TV Guide

By Matt Mitovich

Lost fans really haven't spent much time with Walt in recent seasons, save for a hand-wave from an apartment window and a haunting visit to Locke's would-be grave. But this Wednesday, Michael's son will get a bit more screen time as "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" details Locke's odyssey from donkey wheel to casket. Malcolm David Kelley — who as Walt was one of Lost's original cast members — shared a glimpse at his character's latest appearance. I have to tell you, a reader emailed me saying she was skeptical about your Lost future because of that Tyson chicken commercial you're in.
Kelley: Oh yeah, my manager told me about that! A lot of people are bugging out about that commercial — "What are you doing?!" But sure enough, Walt returns this week. In what capacity?
Kelley: Let's see.... I don't want to give anything away... but there's a situation where he knows something is going on, but nobody told him. It's that sort of thing. What, does he get wind that Jack, Kate and the others are returning to the island?
Kelley: I'm just going to be talking to somebody, and.... **** Now that the show is time-jumping around, do you get to play closer to your real age of 16? No more waving from windows or skewed camera angles?
Kelley: I do, and that's a very cool thing. I don't have to play this young boy anymore. I don't have to change my voice or have them dub in someone else's voice. There were a lot of things we had to do to try to make me sound younger. When you first started the show, did you worry, "If I start to sprout, I'm going to lose my job"?
Kelley: I really didn't expect me to grow that fast! It was just over a year period that I started sprouting up and my voice got deeper. I wasn't really thinking about it. I didn't know how long the show was going to go, but then they started saying "2010".... Does Walt know that his father is dead?
Kelley: [Pauses] **** I'm not sure. There's talk that Walt actually was on the flight back to the island in spirit, because Hurley took some of his comic books with him.
Kelley: [Laughs] That'd be pretty cool. But I hope I get to go back to the island myself at some point. But maybe since Walt has his telekinesis-like powers, somebody doesn't want him back on the island. He could prove too useful to ... someone.
Kelley: Right, that's true. So maybe they're doing a smart thing!

Lost's Lance Reddick: Be Prepared for His Return - TV Guide

By Mickey O'Connor

The Feb. 18 episode of Lost left viewers with a whopper of a burning question: How did Kate, Sayid and Hurley end up on that Ajira Airways flight when they seemed so opposed to doing so? Did the mysterious Matthew Abaddon (Lance Reddick) have anything to do with it? talked to Reddick about what exactly we'll learn about Abaddon next as he plays a significant role in "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" (Wednesday, 9 pm/ET, ABC). In the meantime, Reddick offers up some juicy insight:

Thus far, Abaddon has helped assemble the team that came to the island from the freighter. He visited Hurley in the booby hatch to ask about the rest of the Oceanic 815 passengers. And he convinced a wheelchair-assisted Locke to go on a "walkabout" through the Australian Outback.

Although Matthew means "a gift from God" in Hebrew, the Bible assigns Abaddon many not-so-cheery meanings, including "a place of destruction" and "the realm of the dead." The word is also described as a creature that resembles a centaur with long hair, locusts' wings and the tail of a scorpion. All in all, scholars have roughly interpreted all this to mean that he's the king of hell, the anti-Christ, the big guy: Satan.

When asked this very question, Reddick chooses his words carefully: "He believes he's on the side of the good guys." This answer is, of course, fitting for a show that also features Benjamin Linus, Charles Widmore, the Others and "the freighter folk," none of whom conform easily to good guy-bad guy characterizations.

While Reddick says he has been given key pieces of context on Abaddon's backstory, which he declines to share, he says he prefers to "play to the mystery." Well, it has certainly worked.



"Just as every single moment that Abaddon has shown up has been a surprise, how he shows up and how the character develops throughout the episode... just be prepared to be very surprised," Reddick says.

We're prepared! We're prepared!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lost's Michael Emerson: "We May Already Know Annie" - TV Guide

By Gina DiNunno

It's virtually impossible to tell whether Lost's Ben Linus is a good guy or a bad guy. As much as we keep churning out the theories, turned to Michael Emerson himself for his thoughts on Ben's upcoming storylines. How much of Ben's past will we see during the time jumps? Will we ever meet Annie? Have we already? Has Ben's revenge mission against Charles Widmore been trumped by the getting the Oceanic 6 to return to the island?
Michael Emerson: I think Ben has not forgotten what Charles Widmore has done to him, and I think he's going to try to take care of that business at the same time as he's taking care of the larger mission. With all this time jumping happening on the island, will we see young Ben again?
Emerson: **** now that we are sort of ping-ponging around in the time-space continuum, all those backstories are re-emerging in more important ways. And the characters are, to some extent, going to be recontextualized. I know Ben is. You're going to learn things about him that either mitigate or intensify some of the judgments you've made about him. It's pretty hard to tell if he's good or bad on any given day.
Emerson: I think they mean you to be right there and not know. You may leave the series at the final conclusion still not knowing if he's good or bad. Did Ben's little girlfriend Annie die in The Purge?
Emerson: We don't know. That's still up in the air, but I'm guessing that's one of the most burning questions of the backstory that I'm sure will be dealt with. We have so much bouncing around in time and space to do this season it will make you dizzy. It's also going to provide some thrills and chills. [Laughs] So you think Annie will pop back into the picture?
Emerson: Yeah, I think so. In fact, I may go so far as to say we may already know Annie. Have you considered that? I'm not speaking from knowledge of a script because that's not a thing that has been written, but stranger things have happened on the show. Everyone is more connected then they ever thought, and it's often by blood.

TVGuide: Maybe Ben has unknown relatives on the island as well?
Emerson: That's a good one. Or it could be a deal where maybe some people never escaped a time or place. Or maybe some people are no longer in control of the when of their lives. Our writers are smart sci-fi guys and they're going to push the envelope. How about revisiting that crush Ben had on Juliet?
Emerson: I think it must be explained, or its end must be explained — the end of those feelings. You might want to put that in the file labeled "Stuff Ben Doesn't Have Time to Think About But May Be Able to Further Down the Line." I suppose it's possible, though, that the writers have made us understand that Juliet made her feelings too clear to Ben and the world, and he's moved on. How often have your scenes crossed with Fionnula Flanagan's Eloise Hawking?
Emerson: ***** One of the tributes to the genius of our writers is they will introduce a character like Eloise Hawking in a one-off kind of deal and we all think, "Oh, that was an interesting side journey that we could have gone on and didn't." But the writers haven't forgotten about it. They've brought it back around so it dovetails neatly with what's going on. Can you give us any idea on when or how we'll next see Jacob?
Emerson: Jacob seems to have fallen away from our consciousness. The show is so much more wrapped up in intermediary leader figures. There seems to be a whole raft of people Ben must answer to, but they're not as high up as Jacob. Jacob seems to have receded into the mist again — sort of mysterious and godlike. He continues to be much talked about, and ultimately is the force behind the island. **** So to be in charge of such a thing — what does that mean? These are questions I ask myself. Do you ever find yourself just reeling after reading a script?
Emerson: I have read a couple of scenes in the middle part of the season where I've dropped the script while reading it, or I stood up and said, "Oh my God, they can't do that, can they?" And they can. They can do whatever they want. There are a couple of things that will just make your hair stand on end. People across the country are going to jump up off their sofas and scream, "No! No way!" I just love it. [Laughs]

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lost Preview: Will Jin Reunite with Sun? - TV Guide

By Matt Mitovich

ABC's Lost (Wednesdays at 9 pm/ET) tied up at least one loose thread when a young Danielle Rousseau and her team fished a water-logged, dehydrated and yet very much alive Jin out of the ocean last week. Will Jin now reunite with Sawyer and the other still-stranded castaways? Will Sun learn her husband is alive before she's gone too far? And just how good is Jin's English these days? Daniel Dae Kim shares a look at the "excellent adventure" to come. That was a very cool reintroduction you got.
Daniel Dae Kim: Yeah! I was happy with the way they did that, for sure. What is going through Jin's mind at this moment?
Kim: [Laughs] Probably water. Water. Food. I don't think he really cares about anything else. He's probably so dehydrated and dazed that he doesn't have much awareness of what's going on. And without Faraday around to explain to him the time-jumping thing...
Kim: I think he's still confused as to how this could be. But you'll see that he goes through his own little "excellent adventure." [Laughs] Like Bill and Ted. I guess that after the freighter explosion, he swam within the radius of the temporal whatnot?
Kim: Yeah. Somehow, wherever he landed after the explosion was within the radius of this... phenomenon. Does Jin know enough English at this point to get some answers from his rescuers?
Kim: That is a very interesting question. Watching Jin's journey with English over the next few episodes will be very interesting. Even though he's now back on the island, it could be a while before he crosses paths with his friends.
Kim: Absolutely. **** The producers of course played your status very close to the vest. Was it hard going along with that ruse?
Kim: Actually, it wasn't. They assured me from the beginning that it didn't mean anything more than exactly what it was: a ruse. I just kept my head down, did my work and let them worry about that stuff. I understand ABC will now "magically" re-insert you back into the Season 5 cast shot?
Kim: That's what I'm being told will happen! That's all composited anyway, but I was at that photo shoot. They have singles of me I assume they'll composite back into [the cast photo]. Do you think Jin would approve of the mission of vengeance Sun is currently on in the States?
Kim: I think that Jin, in his transition to who he is now, would probably make less of a judgment on Sun for anything. Maybe she'll learn that he's alive before she goes too far?
Kim: I'm curious to find that out myself. I'd like to see how much of her new personality is because of what she believes happened to Jin, or is it part of a larger growth for her? Is it safe to say they will be reunited by the Season 5 finale?
Kim: You know what? I am not sure. We just got the script for [Episode] 13 out of 17. But I think it's inevitable that they're reunited at some point. What else can you tease about Jin's upcoming storyline?
Kim: I can say this: He finally has some scenes with characters that he, in five years, has never really interacted with. Are you still on board to star in The King & I in London this June?
Kim: Absolutely! I'm working on my singing and the text. I'm excited to do it. I have to laugh at how the instant that news got out last summer, people started "killing Jin off."
Kim: [Laughs] It probably went a long way to aid with the ruse!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Lost: Digging Inside Season 5 - EW

by Jeff Jensen

Across the street from a neatly tended cemetery on the island of Oahu, there is a gated lot where the past, present, and future of Lost all come together. The Others' submarine, Henry Gale's hot-air balloon, Locke's outrigger — all beached on the grass like so many Black Rock shipwrecks. And inside a large soundstage, hidden away from prying eyes, Lost's iconic castaways are huddled on a top secret set, ****. The action being shot for the year's 12th episode is almost spoilerifically indescribable, *****

No, Lost definitely isn't playing it safe, even though it has every reason to do just that. Coming off a critically acclaimed, Emmy-nominated fourth season and entering its next-to-last year, ABC's brilliantly odd, infectiously frustrating crypto-drama (airing Wednesdays at 9 p.m.) could have attempted to keep its no-longer-huge-but-still-fervently-fanatic base sated and stable until 2010's Gimme all my answers NOW! series-capping season. Nope. Didn't even try. Instead, Lost has opted to start season 5 by baring its potentially alienating geek soul and challenging its audience even more with gonzo storytelling. Thought the show was confusing before? Try this on for size: Time travel. Quantum physics. Hydrogen bombs. And a Da Vinci Code-meets-Foucault's Pendulum-meets-Weekend at Bernie's conspiracy to save (or destroy) the world, the linchpin of which involves U-Hauling the corpse of John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) back to the Island. When the gloriously strange saga of Lost finally concludes next year, season 5 is likely to be remembered as the one when the series came out of the closet and declared itself. But here's hoping it doesn't lose everyone in the process: So far this season, Lost is averaging 11.3 million viewers, down 3.4 percent from last season, and a far cry from the series-high average of 15.9 million in season 1. But the producers say: Come what may. ''The fear is that Lost just became an AP class, and really, what's one's incentive for taking an AP class?'' says exec producer Damon Lindelof. ''But the show has gotten to that point where it had to let its freak flag fly. It needed to announce, 'You wanna know what the Island is? You wanna know why these people were brought to the Island? You wanna know what their purpose for being there is? Well, it might be a little weirder than you would've hoped.'''

But is it too weird? ''I was a little worried about the start of the season, to be honest,'' says Lilly, battling back a cold and enjoying some late-afternoon Hawaii sun in between takes. ''It might sound terrible to say, but the mythology of this show eludes me. I am all about the characters and the interplay of the relationships and the angst of redemption and retribution — all those good nuggets. So, in my biased view, I've been running around telling the world: 'Be patient! It's just the first half of the season! We'll come back!''' Her costar Matthew Fox has another, more optimistic take. ''It feels very different from what Lost has felt like in the past, but in a really good way,'' says the actor, sporting neatly parted hair and some dangling iPod earbuds. ''There will be many, many answers, lots of things from past seasons that left the audience thinking, 'That's never going to pay off' — but it does, in really cool ways that make you go 'Holy s---!' The season has a real feeling of things coming together, and it builds a groundswell of momentum for the end of the show.''

So, baffling or brilliant? Let the debate begin.

Of course, Lost has always been pretty off its rocker. Ghosts. Locke's legs. Smokey the monster. Those who've hoped Lost would avoid sci-fi answers may have been fooling themselves. ''Honestly,'' says Lindelof, ''the non-genre answer just isn't that interesting.'' And now it's clear the time-travel element of the Island (beyond just the flashbacks/flash-forwards) has been part of the show from the beginning. Among the clues: the never-identified cave skeletons (might they belong to time-tossed castaways?); the name of the company that recruited Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) to the Island, Mittelos, which is an anagram for ''lost time''; the sprinkled-in Stephen Hawking references. ''Whenever the show presents something about the history of the Island — like coming upon the Black Rock slave ship — these are things we are setting up for the endgame of the show,'' says Lindelof. ''This season, it's like the audience is finally opening up a present that was actually bought and wrapped years ago. At least, we hope they think it's a present.''

In other words: The producers have a master plan — and an exit strategy. But that master plan couldn't be unleashed fully until Lindelof and partner Carlton Cuse negotiated a series end date during season 3, a.k.a. The Year Lost Learned a Show About Castaways Stranded on an Island Can Last So Long No Matter How Clever It May Be. "The same way our characters were sort of locked in cages in season 3, when the show went awry,'' says Cuse, ''we felt locked in cages because we didn't know if our mythology had to go two more years or nine.''

Now uncaged, the producers face the challenge of telling their story successfully without unraveling the franchise. Cuse and Lindelof are keenly aware that time-travel yarns have had a spotty record of late (Life on Mars: struggling; Heroes: ugh; Journeyman: anyone? Bueller?) and that even the smartest stuff has the unfortunate side effect of causing serious brain crampage. The producers promise an approach to time travel backed by researchable science (Popular Mechanics even has a Lost blog analyzing it) and grounded in humanity. Cuse and Lindelof allow that the season premiere — in which a fragmented narrative mirrored the Island's erratic skips through time — may not have totally nailed that value, but they believe it was a necessary starting point. ''The complex episodes come early this season,'' says Cuse, ''but they lead to greater rewards downstream once the audience understands the rules of the game for the year.''

Seeing that plan play out has been heartening to Lost's cast, many of whom were left feeling alternately OMG! and WTF? by the season's first scripts. ' 'The first episode was wonderful, [but] it was also a lot to digest,'' says Jorge Garcia, adding that the storytelling of the Hurley-heavy second installment left him baffled enough that ''it totally went over my head that it was a Hurley episode.'' More worrisome to others was the possibility that a sci-fi emphasis might compromise the show's identity, limit its possibilities, and make the drama even less accessible to non-geek-minded viewers. ''I'm mixed about it, to be honest,'' says Daniel Dae Kim, whose presumed-dead Jin was discovered alive and well — and in the Island's not-so-distant past — on the most recent episode. ''One of the things that attracted me initially to this show was how universal the themes were and how different the kinds of stories it could tell. Now, I feel with the sci-fi we're becoming definable in a way that maybe we weren't in the first season. At the same time, I like how the writers are showing allegiance to the true fans. The people who stayed with us are being rewarded with the more complicated and nuanced storytelling that they've been hungering for.'' As for ABC's feelings about Lost's dive down the sci-fi rabbit hole, senior VP of current drama programming Kim Rozenfeld says, ''There were aspects that were certainly unorthodox, but we were comfortable because we knew how they set up the larger story.''

Despite her early season jitters, Lilly says she's committed to the producers' vision. ''You're either along for the ride and part of it, or you're not. And if you don't trust the writers, you might as well get off the boat,'' she says. ''I respect that they do things that could potentially alienate parts of their audience, because that means they are being true to their story and not being manipulated by outside pressure.''

And that story is still capable of addressing very relatable human themes. ''Usually in shows, the cliff-hanger is all about who's shacking up with who,'' says Leung. ''On Lost, the cliff-hanger is about the meaning of existence. What does it mean to be alive?'' Jeremy Davies — whose quirky physicist Daniel Faraday has emerged as a major player of late — credits Lost with allowing him to process the recent deaths of his father and a close friend. ''There have been so many compelling synchronicities between my life and Faraday's story line,'' says the actor. ''I'd be in a lot more trouble, personally, if I didn't have this opportunity to channel these energies within me.''

As for Lindelof and Cuse, they're channeling all their energies squarely onto the Island. ''We feel like the audience will be really clamoring to get back to the Island after these first seven episodes,'' says Lindelof. ''And they'll get a big massive dose of it for pretty much the remainder of the season.'' *****

**** ''Season 5 is about do they or don't they make it back to the Island, and every character has their reasons,'' explains Lilly. *****

***** Despite last year's helicopter kiss-and-whisper between Kate and Sawyer (contents of said whisper will be revealed soon), Lilly believes that the audience is rooting for Kate and Jack. ''But I could be completely wrong!'' she laughs. ''What I've noticed is that the audience tends to root for the coupling that gets the most screen time — and right now, what they're seeing is Kate and Jack.''

Whichever way romance blows on Lost, Fox hopes that it just doesn't...well, blow. He feels the show has sometimes indulged the lovey-dovey stuff for the sake of ratings. ''That's someone going, 'People love romance, so just turn the buttons and dial it up,''' complains Fox. ''Look, I understand that. But it has to be f---ing credible. Our world doesn't lend itself to conventional romance. Yearning? Yes. Desire? Yes. Passion? Yes. And when those things play out in the context of survival s--- that's gotta get done, where people's lives are f---ing at stake — that's cool. But romance? I haven't always bought it for Jack and Kate, and I haven't always bought it for Kate and Sawyer. The show's too intense for that.''

Besides, it's not like pandering to the audience is likely to grow it — not at this point. News flash! Lost — brainy, challenging, locked into an evolving, serialized story — is a tough choo-choo to jump aboard if you're not already up to speed. Ratings are likely to continue to inch down as opposed to up. But the producers aren't sweating it. ''For most showrunners, existence is predicated on 'If I get good ratings, I get to keep doing this,''' says Cuse. ''But we know Lost is ending, no matter what the ratings are. So we're just trying to make sure that we end the story well and we get it executed on film the way we want it.'' However, the storytellers hope that anyone who has ever been a Lost fan will tune in next year as the show moves into payoff mode and begins resolving long-term character arcs. Indeed, compared with this year, season 6 sounds like it could be something of a blast from the season 1 past. Lindelof teases that the sci-fi-heavy season 5 (which includes ****) ''sets up where we need to go in season 6, which will be much more grounded and character-centric than it is this year.''

Whatever form it takes, Fox believes they will go out strong — with or without massive ratings. ''People will remember it the way they want to remember it,'' he says. ''What I will remember is that Lost was one of the most innovative, risk-taking, smartest shows ever. That's how I want to remember it. And I think it deserves that.''