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Episode: - „Die Konstante“
Carlton Cuse: Hi, this is Carlton Cuse here.
Damon Lindelof: And I'm Damon Lindelof.
Mark Goldman: And I'm Mark Goldman. l was the editor on this fantastic episode.
Carlton Cuse: We're sitting in my office on the Disney studio lot, which is, uh, full of all sorts of fancy video and electronic gear so we are able to bring you this commentary on the episode The Constant. Right now, Damon and l are in the middle of writing the season four finale, and so everyone graciously came here to our office with their gear so we were able to do this.
Damon Lindelof: Technology around us, not unlike the technology that currently surrounds Lapidus, Desmond and Sayid. There's a piece of paper that, uh, is fairly important, in terms of the bearing, which gets them into trouble here.
Carlton Cuse: Right. So this episode is one of our special episodes, where we break the regular conventions of the show, and as opposed to trying to tell a beach-oriented story or focus on a lot of different characters, this is an episode which focuses almost entirely on Desmond and his story. And, as we've learned in past seasons, Desmond has a particular quality that defines him.
Damon Lindelof: We'll talk a bit with Mark. We've never actually had one of the editors do a commentary before, but, more than ever before, Mark was really involved with the storytelling of this episode from very early on. Obviously, it started with reading the script once we had written it. But he immediately... Mark, do you wanna talk a little bit about what your impressions were when you read The Constant...
Carlton Cuse: Don't just sit there. Gosh. Heck, it's a commentary.
Damon Lindelof: ...you were gonna have to cut this and try to make it make some sense.
Mark Goldman: lf these two would stop talking for a moment...
Carlton Cuse: There we go. There's the first thing he did.
Mark Goldman: lt was such a liberating thing, to be able to... ..edit in a way which normally would be mistakes. Just cutting right in the middle of a scene, cutting to anything. When l first read the script, l was like, "This is gonna be fun." And, uh, you know, one thing is... ...Lost is a subjective show. You're very much with the characters. And, uh, l thought it was really important that we experience the show the way Desmond experiences it. Desmond is sitting there and he's in one place, and suddenly, bang, he's in another place. Um... There wasn't any...
Carlton Cuse: The basic concept, obviously, is that we were dealing with Desmond's conscious mind traveling between two times, between 1996 and the present on the island, which was 2004
Carlton Cuse: And the quick back and forth was something we debated a lot about, how we were gonna execute it. We knew that in the script, it was one thing to write a transition between the periods of time, but it was another, visually, how we illustrate it. Was there going to be some sort of warping of the frame? Were we gonna double up on images? Were we going to have some kind of a smear effect? We talked about sound effects, a lot of different solutions as to how we'd illustrate those moments when Desmond would move back and forth from one period of time to another. And then Mark showed us, uh, an episode of...
Mark Goldman: Star Trek. The final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Damon Lindelof: All Good Things, which we had already ripped off to write the script. Mark said, "Hey, have you ever seen this episode of Star Trek?" "Oh, no, we haven't. What an odd coincidence that Picard is out here..."
Carlton Cuse: "In the wineries."
Damon Lindelof: Exactly.
Mark Goldman: And l believed them. But...
Damon Lindelof: Exactly.
Mark Goldman: And l believed them. But... If you don't remember it, rent it, watch it again, 'cause it's great. And they had a cutting style which they just cut. There was no fancy effect. In some cases, there was no sound cut.
Damon Lindelof: The script, every time there was a cut, we wrote the word "bazam."
Mark Goldman: Something like that. Which l chose not to include in the temp cut.
Damon Lindelof: You didn't want to turn into Captain Marvel.
Carlton Cuse: It was funny because Mark, as an editor... All editors have different... Like anyone, they have different personalities. It's funny. After working with Mark over time, you discover there are places where he likes to dig in a bit about certain things. Often, those are the kinds of battles that make the work better on all fronts. And, um, we were really unsure about what to do. But Desmond had gone through this big electrical flux, when he had turned the failsafe in the hatch and he had done all these weird electromagnetic experiences. We sort of felt like we do need a sound cue. Mark kept fighting us on these things. l think we looked at a couple. You did them intentionally badly.
Damon Lindelof: Mark was, "You really want to see what it would look like with sound."
Carlton Cuse: Crappy the transition would be.
Mark Goldman: l can assure you, like most of my work, it was unintentionally bad. But, uh, as it turns out, yeah, it was one of those few things when, from the script, l was like, "l can see it."
Damon Lindelof: Maybe what we can do is, when Desmond has his next jump here, which l can do for us live. lt's after they land on the freighter. l will do a "bazam" sound effect so you guys can see how bad it would have been had we had our way.
Mark Goldman: Why don't you grab your televisions and shake it a little bit to give it a visual.
Damon Lindelof: That's the other way.
Carlton Cuse: Can't make frames go back and forth.
Damon Lindelof: Back into the story, one of the things that we were like, we're coming to the freighter for the first time in the show here in episode five. We always talk about this thing in the show which is the shot computer. This is from season two, which is you would have mindless exposition unless the characters were in a constant state of crisis. We were talking about when they go in the hatch, it has to be explained they push this button every 8 minutes. We're like, "If Desmond has time to explain that to them, the scene is just gonna go on and on. So we should shoot the computer." So there's a crisis going on. It has to be repaired in 8 minutes, and that way, all the exposition happens on the fly. We're like, if they land on the boat, they ask these guys a million questions about who and why they're here. We need a shot computer. Our solution was Desmond is the shot computer. He's the crisis. He's going crazy because he's jumping between... He doesn't recognize these people. So all these guys, Keamy, who you're meeting for the first time, all the questions you wanna ask, you can't.
Carlton Cuse: Keamy, Omar. Sayid.
Damon Lindelof: You can't ask them, because Desmond is completely losing his brain. So we're about to do a, uh... We're about to do a time jump.
Carlton Cuse: I'll talk, and when it happens, you'll do it. This was one of the hardest story breaks we've had on this show. l mean, we actually forgot about it. Then one of the other writers came in and said, "We spent five weeks on that story break." Sometimes, the reason you survive in episodic television is you forget the pain of it. This was very hard...
Damon Lindelof: Bazam!
Carlton Cuse: You were late.
Damon Lindelof: You were yammering. Next time.
Carlton Cuse: Next time. OK. Anyway, it took us about five weeks to break this story. Normally, it takes about two weeks to break an episode. That gives you a sense. We were doing this under pressure of other episodes behind it. But it was a really hard episode to figure out what was above the water line. A lot of times we think about stories... The metaphor we use is an iceberg. You have to construct the entire iceberg, but only the top percent of the iceberg ever actually is seen. The same is true with a story. You have to make a lot more of the story up and make it all make sense. You just show the part on screen that you wanna show. ln the case of this episode, a lot of challenges were about the exposition issues Damon talked about. How much explanation goes on? We didn't want the story bogged down in esoteric conversation about time travel. We wanted to find an emotional through-line, and that through-line became the essence of the show, which was what is Desmond's constant? Yes, he's time traveling. Yes, he's experiencing an existence in two different consciousnesses. But the constant...
Damon Lindelof: Consciousni?
Carlton Cuse: Might be good. But the emotional constant, the thing taking him through it is, as he says, Penny.
Damon Lindelof: And she's really pretty. Um, you know, very challenging episode. It bears being mentioned here that the entire staff broke this together over the period of those five weeks. This was an all hands on deck scenario, although Carlton and l wrote the script. Here we go. Hold on one second. Soon as he reaches for the change.
Carlton Cuse: I'm not gonna interrupt.
Damon Lindelof: Get ready.
Carlton Cuse: It's all you.
Damon Lindelof: Bazam!
Carlton Cuse: OK. You know what? It works.
Damon Lindelof: It works.
Carlton Cuse: We made a mistake. We should have put "bazams" in. Maybe we can put them in for the DVD
Damon Lindelof: What l was gonna say is...
Carlton Cuse: Already doing commentary for DVD.
Damon Lindelof: Jack Bender directed this episode beautifully. As much... People really responded to The Constant. It's in large part due to Mark's editing, Jack's direction and, of course, Ian's performance.
Mark Goldman: Ian is subtly brilliant in this episode. There are... These guys gave him a tricky task, which was, um, first you're conscious in 2004, then you go to '96, then come back but don't know where. As l would watch this episode over and over again, l became even more impressed with first of all how... Despite how hard it was to break, how the script managed to tell you what was going on at the right time, and Ian, his performance of...
Carlton Cuse: He's amazing. He was telling us a funny story...
Damon Lindelof: There were a few jump cuts when he was slamming on the door. Something which normally would look absolutely awful, but hey. Everything was up in the air in this. If you go back, you'll go, "Wait, he just jumped in the middle there." you'll go, "Wait, he just jumped in the middle there."
Carlton Cuse: Anyway, Ian was telling a funny story about how one of his sons had expressed interest in being an actor, and Ian was kind of a little proud he'd had enough influence that his son wanted to follow his footsteps. "But, Dad, l wanna be a main actor." [all laughing]
Damon Lindelof: Oh, my God.
Carlton Cuse: But l think Ian has acquitted himself as a main actor on our show.
Damon Lindelof: l will have you know The Washington Post had a March madness Lost bracket in which they took characters from the show and faced them off against one another all the way to the finals. They had a bracket of Oceanic 8 survivors, island locals, flashback characters, people who were dead, and you advanced in your bracket. It came down to the final face-off, the two favorites on the show were Sayid and Desmond. And the winner was Desmond.
Mark Goldman: Excellent.
Damon Lindelof: Desmond was the favorite in The Washington Post. That is a legitimate publication. That is no Starlog.
Carlton Cuse: Here's another interesting tidbit. Jeff Fahey, playing Lapidus, our pilot, was, um, someone we... We do casting on our show backwards. We think of actors we wanna work with and tailor parts to them. As we were constructing who the freighter folk were gonna be, and you've seen some of them there, two in the background. There's, uh... Charlotte and Faraday. We were thinking about who would be a cool helicopter pilot. We wanted sort of a dissolute guy in his fifties. The name Jeff Fahey popped up in our consciousness. We started to track him down and turns out he was in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Damon Lindelof: Where most actors hang out when not acting.
Carlton Cuse: Running an orphanage. He actually flew... He was coming back to the U.S., coincidentally, for some reason. His agent told him of our interest and he came here to the Disney lot and had lunch with us. We took him to the Rotunda, which is this fancy dining room in the top of the main...
Damon Lindelof: Not that fancy.
Carlton Cuse: There was Jeff having a Cobb salad and a black cup of coffee...
Damon Lindelof: Can l call a time out? When he says, "l was just on a Ferris wheel," l can't wait to do a scene in the next two seasons where in the background we see Minkowski riding a Ferris wheel. We realize, "That's where he leapt to."
Carlton Cuse: Fisher Stevens, phenomenal actor.
Damon Lindelof: The moment when... after Desmond has waved his hand, and you can see him flicker back into the present. It's terrific.
Carlton Cuse: So anyway, Jeff Fahey came and had lunch with us. It must have been dislocating for him to be with Disney executives in this, uh, in this semi-fancy... ...dining room, but he was energized by the thought of getting back to acting onto network television. So he cut most of his beard. He left a little bit of it. We put him on a plane to Hawaii and he dove in. He's been a fantastic addition to the show. It was one of those great finds. And, uh, you know... We really feel like one of the reasons that this season has been successful is just how lucky we got in terms of casting freighter folk.
Mark Goldman: Let me interrupt for a second. If you watch Desmond's eye, it'll dilate just before the cut. [mimics whoosh] There it goes.
Damon Lindelof: That was cool. l love that cut, the way the sound dissolves here.
Mark Goldman: This is one of my, uh... When l first cut this, l went off of the doctor to that shot. l thought, "lt's so brilliant 'cause I'm going from POV to POV." l said, when l screened this for our illustrious executive producers, "This is my favorite cut in the show." Mr. Damon Lindelof went, "This was my least favorite cut." As it turns out, because he is executive producer and can hire and fire, l said, "You're right. We'll do something different."
Damon Lindelof: That was the one place we changed the cut for the better.
Mark Goldman: It was actually...
Damon Lindelof: You were right about everything else But the cut as it is now is cool. I'm just realizing...
Carlton Cuse: Did you slow that shot of the soldier walking away or did Bender shoot it slow?
Mark Goldman: He shot it slowed down.
Damon Lindelof: This is weird. I'm just realizing for the first time that Ian must be wearing a fake beard on the freighter because he's clean shaven here. What a great fake beard that is. For all the duff we get about fake beards.
Carlton Cuse: The reason is that basically it all comes down to time. We don't make these decisions that far ahead of time. Since this was such a long break and we had enough time, our production team was able to actually do this. So, what happens is that he shaves down to a stubble. His stubble is covered with makeup. But there's enough stubble there that they adhere the beard to it. Meanwhile, his long hair is under a skull wig. Then there's a, uh, short-haired wig placed over that. It's a complicated process to be able to jump him back and forth between this guy, who looks like that, and the clean-cut soldier in the past.
Mark Goldman: Another thing that helps these cuts, by the way, is it's not just the drama of the visual change and shock of being in the middle, but, um, sound helps you when you're cutting from a quiet scene of a doctor with the eye, and then, all of a sudden, the rainstorm hits. That helps the shock and confusion.
Carlton Cuse: In that case, the klaxon was an intentional thing we wanted in there to increase the level of chaos. We wanted to create a sense of impending panic and the arrival of white team members who show up in a minute.
Damon Lindelof: By the way, you know, um, here is a touchstone of the great traditional time travel story, which is you have the expert, in this case, Faraday, the physicist. He's our Doc Brown here, who basically is gonna tell the protagonist to go and find him in the past, which works every time. l also love how Faraday has got it together enough to keep his tie on, but his shirt is only half tucked. That's how he rolls.
Carlton Cuse: Jeremy Davies is another fantastic find among the actors. He was somebody who we heard was available and interested in doing TV. And we constructed this role around him because we had seen him in Rescue Dawn and Solaris and just loved what he'd done and thought this guy is the right flavor for Lost. and thought this guy is the right flavor for Lost. He's gonna come on the show and give us something we don't have. Jeremy is incredibly obsessed with his performance and how he does everything. There's an enormous amount of work that goes into what he's crafting onscreen. That's one of the reasons he's so memorable, compelling when you watch.
Damon Lindelof: The infamous journal.
Carlton Cuse: Right. And next to him is Rebecca Mader, an English actress, who came to our attention 'cause she had done another show for ABC, where she played a lawyer, but with an American accent. When she came in, we asked her, "Do the scene in your normal, British accent." That's when we fell in love with her. She just had a certain vivacious charm that, uh, really came across in the audition and won us over. She was more part of a traditional auditioning process, but won us over and that was how she got her part.
Mark Goldman: The infamous Eloise.
Carlton Cuse: The one thing which we avoid when it comes to time travel on Lost is what is referred to as paradox, which is this notion that you show up and see your same self in another time.
Damon Lindelof: Can l interrupt quick? The paradox talk is longer. This is where we start... There's this complicated conceit in the script. We talked about it with Mark and everybody involved. We needed to visually and editorially show that when Desmond starts coming back into 96, that some time has elapsed. When you asked about that slow motion shot, that's the beginning, which is that guy bumps into him, but when he comes back, that guy is far away from him. When we came back this time, he's actually passed out. He's collapsed in the phone booth. By the time Faraday begins to explain at the beginning of the next act, "There's this disconnect with your body. Taking longer for your consciousness to get back." That is a piece of exposition that is hard to get in dialogue, so you need to show it visually. So it makes sense that, by the time Desmond's nose starts bleeding, you believe he's in jeopardy. That's something to look out for.
Mark Goldman: If you go back to that transition, it's a really good example of how sound helps it. Tom DeGorter runs our post sound house.
Damon Lindelof: Amazing.
Mark Goldman: Does a fantastic job with little time. Ra'uf Glasgow, the producer for post, also works on the stage. They worked hard on helping these transitions. You'll notice when you cut to it, because there's such a cacophony in the room, when you cut to the, uh, booth, there's almost no sound. Then it just sort of sneaks in, which, hopefully, you don't notice. But it helps with the shock of the transition.
Carlton Cuse: Television is an amazingly collaborative medium. One of the most enjoyable parts is everyone bringing artistry to bear here. It starts with story and script, but all sorts of other people get involved. And whether it's Mark editing or Jack directing, actors interpret performances, sound guys... Everyone works, and work relatively independently. There's so much work, always six or seven episodes going. It's not as though we micro manage these processes as executive producers. We sort of throw the script out into the world of our show and our collaborators all have their hack at it. What comes back is really greater than the sum of the parts. That's due to the incredible artistry of the people who work on our show.
Damon Lindelof: We're gonna come to paradox in a moment because there's a scene about paradox, um, you know, coming up. But essentially, this is our flux capacitor scene.
Mark Goldman: Here's a key line right here.
Damon Lindelof: "You can't change the future." Those are the rules on Lost, which is very hard to adhere to because if you tell the audience that something Desmond does back in '96 can alter the present, we go back to the episode we did last year where Miss Hawking comes to Desmond and says, "No matter what you do, the course of time will find a way to course correct." You can save somebody's life who's supposed to die, but eventually the universe will kill them.
Mark Goldman: You can change the immediate future.
Damon Lindelof: You can change the immediate...
Mark Goldman: Speaking of altering the present, that rat, Eloise... You know how Lassie was actually a boy? Well, Eloise was actually a boy.
Damon Lindelof: You can tell from that... that POV shot.
Mark Goldman: We... You can't because our visual effects crew did remarkable work.
Carlton Cuse: Took care of his anatomy.
Damon Lindelof: The de-balling process.
Mark Goldman: Its technical term.
Damon Lindelof: Exactly.
Mark Goldman: If we hadn't done that, you would have known.
Carlton Cuse: What we're trying to do is illustrate that this process was also not a constant process, that basically people experience it differently. What's happening to Minkowski is not the same as to Desmond. What's happening to Desmond is not the same as to Eloise. The fundamental process is the same, but the results vary, like... Different people can take steroids and have different results. Different people can be exposed...
Damon Lindelof: Carlton gets very angry on steroids, whereas l pitch ideas about time travel.
Mark Goldman: Damon tends to run around in a maze.
Damon Lindelof: Exactly.
Carlton Cuse: Damon's one of the few people who takes steroids to play video games, actually.
Damon Lindelof: Battlezone. As Carlton mentioned, Eloise has been sent, her consciousness was sent an hour into the future, where she already knows how to run the maze. Desmond's past consciousness is traveling into the future as well. Minkowski's present consciousness is traveling into the past because, as we will soon learn, he has no future to travel to. He's about to die on the boat.
Carlton Cuse: You know why it takes so long to break this story.
Mark Goldman: What did he say?
Carlton Cuse: We had to work out all these permutations, and, again, we're trying not to violate the concept of paradox. That's the part where we find time travel is not engaging for the audience. You want to see the people move back and forth between two different time zones, but the encounters with themselves and alteration of the future was something we are opposed to because we want people invested in the future. We don't want the audience to think you've seen Kate and Jack have this really intense conversation in flash-forward at the end of season three and then discover it means nothing, a new parallel future could be constructed in which that is rendered as not having existed. That was real, means something. That can be the only inevitable course.
Damon Lindelof: You know what would be interesting, and l leave this to the fans to do, to cut a version of this show that doesn't have any of where Desmond goes in the past. So literally the scene just plays continuous as they're struggling over the phone. Suddenly, you see him look at his hand. That's the perspective for everyone else. These things are all happening minus Desmond's subjective reality because it happens within a nanosecond.
Mark Goldman: lf you do cut it and it works better than my version, we'll air that.
Carlton Cuse: lt's like The Godfather trilogy reorganized in narrative order.
Damon Lindelof: Here's another... Minkowski was absolutely essential for this story because this is another tentative successful time travel story. The function that Q played in All The Good Things, which is there is someone who is undergoing and understands the same events as our protagonist. Faraday can speculate as to what's happening to Desmond, but Minkowski knows what's happening to Desmond emotionally. Therefore, he needs to be the person on a story level who tells Desmond, Therefore, he needs to be the person on a story level who tells Desmond, "Penelope is what you seek in both time periods." Thank God for commercial breaks.
Carlton Cuse: He also foreshadows... He sets up the stakes for Desmond because Minkowski's ultimate demise sets the stakes for what possibly can happen to Desmond if he does not find his constant.
Damon Lindelof: Jeremy actually put all those equations up on that board. He has taken a crash course in physics, um, I'm not making this up, in order to understand Faraday better. l love him in this scene because he's sort of faux sympathetic to Desmond, but you realize all he cares about is his equations. "l don't care about you or whether you're gonna die or anything else. l need to get as much information from you as l can to figure out how to time travel."
Mark Goldman: l heard Jeremy went back in time and spent four years.
Damon Lindelof: Before Private Ryan, he went back and studied.
Carlton Cuse: That's a very grim Eloise.
Mark Goldman: Not the real rat, though. Stunt rat.
Carlton Cuse: Stunt rat is in this grimace of horror, like a good horror movie.
Damon Lindelof: Are you saying we didn't kill Eloise, we killed the stunt rat? That's almost as bad.
Mark Goldman: That's just acting. Great acting on the rat's part.
Carlton Cuse: That rat actually, uh...
Mark Goldman: lf you go back to the first scene in '96 where he walks up to Faraday, Jack Bender's dog is in the background. He would want me to mention that.
Carlton Cuse: He would.
Mark Goldman: We had to unionize the dog. Now, every time we re-run the episode, the dog gets...
Carlton Cuse: We pay it $,000.
Damon Lindelof: That dog is in a union?
Mark Goldman: He gets residuals. Which Bender pockets.
Damon Lindelof: Will it have to strike if the actors can't resolve their contract?
Mark Goldman: Of course he will.
Damon Lindelof: Unbelievable. Here it is, the mission statement. The title of the episode, The Constant. This is a scene we struggled for many days over in the room because this idea of saying that there's an emotional solve to a, you know, to a temporal problem, which is if you find Penny in both times, both in the past and present simultaneously, you'll stop going crazy. How do you boil that down to what is half a page of dialogue to be delivered by Faraday? And more importantly, it totally sets up what is the real centerpiece of the episode, the reason we think people responded to it is what Mark did...
Mark Goldman: Notice the rotary phone. For those of you under the age of find out more information on the Internet.
Damon Lindelof: Wikipedia. But what Mark did in the closing moments of the episode, when Desmond calls Penny, um, was all set up there. It works 'cause you understand what's happening. Favorite cut.
Mark Goldman: Great setup, Mr. Bender. That's all his transition.
Damon Lindelof: That's the cut Mark showed us to convince us that we should just do hard cuts.
Mark Goldman: I Remember...
Carlton Cuse: That was a cool shot, a very intentional thing. We wanted Desmond, at some point, to see himself and see what he looks like because his consciousness, he realizes... The story is told from the point of view of Desmond. That's the first time he gets to see himself looking like Eddie Vedder.
Mark Goldman: He's like, "Oh, my God. l look great with long hair." It's impressive, 'cause, as you know, these are all shot out of order. And the two sides of that cut where he starts falling... They shot the second half where he's falling a couple weeks before they shot the first half where he's falling. And... But, everybody... Jack and the script supervisor, they all did such a great job of setting them up.
Carlton Cuse: Here, we're laying some pipe for basically a future mystery, which is who is the mysterious person on the freighter who is helping them out? This was very intentional because we knew we were going to be building to, uh, Michael's return. We wanted to lay some track for that.
Damon Lindelof: Spoiler alert. Shouldn't be watching with commentary...
Carlton Cuse: If you're watching the commentary and you haven't seen what's gone on...
Damon Lindelof: That cut, we went off of Sayid.
Carlton Cuse: The scene really engaged the audience because this gets back to our deeper show mythology, when all of a sudden you see Charles Widmore, who is a significant character, but not a character we've seen a lot of in the course of our series so far. He's basically at this auction house trying to buy the journal of the first mate of the Black Rock.
Damon Lindelof: Which is the first time we've introduced Widmore into the mythology of the show. He's always been the guy who's been... Get after Desmond to stay away from his daughter. Suddenly, my God, could Widmore be interested in the island? This is... This is laying a lot of pipe. The last thing this episode needed is, "Hmm, this episode is slow moving and very easy to follow. Could you throw in some setup for the fact that Widmore might be the big bad on the show?" "Sure, why not." Here's an auction scene.
Mark Goldman: This actor who was the auctioneer was so brilliant. l assumed he was a real auctioneer that you guys had hired. l don't even think he's English. l mean, he just knew what to do. My first cut of this episode was about twice as long and was mostly auctioneering.
Carlton Cuse: It was actually a flourish... There was a flourish of paddles and bid raising. Mark had worked it into a crescendo.
Damon Lindelof: He's like, "It's not supposed to be exciting?"
Carlton Cuse: This was... What's really amazing, and our hats are off to the production folks in Hawaii, here's an episode where we had to shoot Oxford, where we had to make things look like...
Damon Lindelof: l have to interrupt you for five seconds because, as you'll notice, everybody listen, what are you not hearing here?
Carlton Cuse: Urine.
Damon Lindelof: There's a lot of eight-year-olds watching this and they might start peeing.
Carlton Cuse: There are a lot of people who urinate without making noise. l think this show is for them.
Damon Lindelof: Widmore needs a prostate exam. He's standing there for five minutes and nothing came out.
Carlton Cuse: That's, l guess, why he's so angry in general.
Damon Lindelof: Someone's urinating.
Carlton Cuse: As Damon was saying earlier, the hardest thing to crack on a story level is here you have a complex time travel episode, and we wanted it, like all things on this show, not to just be hardcore genre. So we had to figure out a way to really have this show, have the episode have emotional resonance. As we like to refer to both of our mothers, who happen to be named Sue, watch the show. This is one of those episodes where they might not follow everything going on, but they were clearly set up for the big emotional payoff scene which is coming up here. The show succeeds at its best when it does both things. When it actually provides fodder for the mythology fans and we take on cool genre things and put a spin on them, but always, first and foremost, we're looking for emotional resonance, emotional connections that are why we think the larger part of the audience is watching the show. In this case, the audience really is invested in Desmond's relationship with Penny. Now, he is on track. He's been given all the instructions, which is, "You have to find Penny and get to Penny. You have to communicate with her." But, obviously, an obstacle here of great significance is the radio room...
Mark Goldman: That's my favorite line. When he says, "l need a minute." There's wire sticking out all over.
Damon Lindelof: He's Sayid!
Carlton Cuse: He can do it. All he needs is a minute.
Damon Lindelof: Minkowski buys the farm, which is the other thing a dramatic story requires, a clock. Now, the clock is going to be if Desmond can't make this call in time, he's gonna go the way of Minkowski.
Mark Goldman: Here's a great moment... Look at his face there.
Carlton Cuse: What's funny is we had talked about how we'd deal with Christmas on the show and about should we do a Christmas episode. When we talked about it more, we couldn't figure a way that wasn't like the Ewoks singing.
Mark Goldman: A very special episode.
Carlton Cuse: That's it. There's your reference to Christmas in Lost, right there. He looks at a calendar and sees that it's Christmas.
Damon Lindelof: And Minkowski says, "l can't get back." Although... That's basically the problem, he's still riding his Ferris wheel, but can't get back into his consciousness. This is what's gonna happen to Desmond as he's about to explain. Just to jump forward quickly to the next act, this is another reason the break took five weeks, which is what does Desmond have to... which is what does Desmond have to... Now that he knows what's happening, Faraday's explained it, what does he need to achieve in the past that's going to help him in the present? The idea we came up with was he needs to get Penny's number. This very stupid idea that when a guy first meets a girl, he's just trying to get her number. Suddenly, the entire future of this relationship and, in fact, the season finale of season four hinges upon Desmond's ability to convince a Penny to give him her phone number and not change it. That's a very silly conceit for a scene, but now, as we see him go and see Penny for the first time in the episode, here's a place where l think Sonya Walger, who is just fantastic and resonates on the show every time she shows up, it's amazing the way they play this and how he doesn't sound like a complete raving lunatic.
Mark Goldman: Absolutely. If you wanna show off what a great actor Ian is, you would use the phone conversation. But this next scene coming up, when he's inside, the more l watched it, the more impressed l was. There are a... These guys here gave him a tough task, which was to not look like a lunatic and make you want her to give the number. There's a lot of actors who, frankly, couldn't have done what Ian did. Um... It's really, uh, brilliant acting in a very un-showy way.
Carlton Cuse: By the way, if you want to find out what an actor's really like, to really understand how high praise that is, if you want to find out what an actor's like, ask an editor. Because an editor has to look at the performance. You would be amazed if you looked at actually what actors do sometimes in their dailies and what an editor then takes and uses to craft a performance. So when an editor is saying an actor is brilliant, it's because take after take, scene after scene he has choices. That actor is delivering a range of performances, all of which are usable, all of which are relevant.
Mark Goldman: It's a matter of acting... The ability to act with your eyes is a real gift. And when he...
Carlton Cuse: l only act with my fingers.
Mark Goldman: Which you're really good at. But...
Damon Lindelof: Speaking of eye acting, look at that. Let's just watch their eyes. Obviously, Penny, Sonya, has not an easy part to play here, too. This guy's rambling on about ridiculousness after having essentially broken her heart. She's gonna give him the number 'cause you can see she hopes...
Mark Goldman: ls she gonna do it?
Carlton Cuse: Yeah. You can see it in her eyes, perhaps.
Mark Goldman: Part of the editor's job is how long do you hold a shot. And here... Say it! Give it to him! Oh, yes! That's sort of what we do. We sit in the room and go, "How long do we want that moment?"
Carlton Cuse: ...as long as you can. In other cases,
Damon Lindelof: you want it bang, bang, bang.
Carlton Cuse: The moment dictates. The film tells you what it wants to be.
Mark Goldman: It's an interesting process, finding the show.
Damon Lindelof: So l have to interrupt. So here we're about...
Mark Goldman: Jump cuts. Terrible. Who cut this show?
Damon Lindelof: Here, we're about to get into the pièce de résistance. We'll let Mark talk uninterrupted through it. You guys should know that we look at a director's cut or an editor's cut and then sit in the editing room and give notes. It's a fairly extensive back and forth process. What you're about to watch is what Mark presented to us. It is the editor's cut. We did not change a frame of any of this. And what you see is what we got.
Mark Goldman: l share the credit with the writers and the actors. Along with the rescue of Charlie, when Jack and Kate find him hanging, l have to say this coming up is probably my favorite scene that l cut. If you have a chance to look at a script, every once in a while, instead of having one line above the other, the writers will put it in two columns. Just off...
Carlton Cuse: Dual dialogue.
Mark Goldman: Dual dialogue to tell you it should be a little on top of each other. When l read this brilliant phone conversation, and it ended with each of them saying, "l love you." l was like, "l know what has to happen here." Giacchino's music, when it comes in, breaks your heart.
Carlton Cuse: l do have to interrupt and say that not only had we spent all these weeks breaking this scene and many more writing it, but then we watched dailies when it was shot, we knew this story upside down, backwards, forwards. Then when we went to screen it the first time, we actually watched this scene, we were, ourselves, in tears after watching it.
Damon Lindelof: That shot gives me chills, in front of the Christmas tree. You realize that's her in the real world.
Carlton Cuse: Yeah, and that's it, Christmas on Lost.
Mark Goldman: There's the moment when he says, "I've been on an island." That's how we know Desmond is back. He's got his wits about him again. It was... l mean, the faces.
Carlton Cuse: It's a moment which makes this job so fantastic, when it transcends work on any level and becomes an emotional experience. Even as close as we were to it, we had that profound emotional experience watching this. When it finished playing, we were kind of sitting there blubbering away. l was like, "That works pretty well, Mark."
Mark Goldman: Exactly.
Damon Lindelof: Back to the teaser.
Mark Goldman: When l laid in some old Giacchino music, which was their theme, and l placed it over this scene, and l said, "They're gonna be weeping all over America at this scene."
Carlton Cuse: Do you play music when you cut the scene, or cutting it dry?
Mark Goldman: No. You cut it dry, but you find the rhythm, and this scene, in particular, you cut a frame here, you add a frame back there. This moment...
Carlton Cuse: This back and forth is fantastic.
Mark Goldman: Then she's gone. l love this shot. The way he looks at the phone. And the performance that Ian gives with these next couple of lines, there's nothing fancy in them, but...
Mark Goldman: Ohh!
Damon Lindelof: There you go. It's a big challenge to say, "He's been through this entire experience. How do we convey that the Desmond we've spent all the time with is back?" His consciousness is where it's supposed to be. And everything is OK. That's all acting. You just write him saying, "l did what l needed to do. l'm all right."
Mark Goldman: All he has to say is, "I'm perfect." And it's really emotional.
Damon Lindelof: This is a fairly intriguing little coda we stuck onto the end of the episode. "lf anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant." Obviously, this is all set up for Faraday's own story. One would certainly ask why he didn't remember having met Desmond, if this had occurred.
Carlton Cuse: That's a good question.
Damon Lindelof: That is an excellent question to be asking. Your first clue.
Mark Goldman: Can we tell them the scene used to go on and...
Carlton Cuse: No.
Mark Goldman:...set the stage for another episode?
Damon Lindelof: Actually, that was not the ending of the episode. We play that moment and then Charlotte comes traipsing up and drops a bag at Faraday's feet with the gas mask in it. She says, "Come on, we have to go." Which set up episode six. But after the emotional high of the Desmond and Penny scene...
Mark Goldman: That's part of editing, finding what you don't need.
Carlton Cuse: You know when you need to get out. That's our cue too. Gentlemen, thank you so much.
Mark Goldman: This was a thrill.
Damon Lindelof: Thanks for listening.
Carlton Cuse: Goodbye.