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Episode: - "Across the Sea"

Commentators: Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse


Damon Lindelof: Hello, I'm Damon Lindelof.

Carlton Cuse: And I'm Carlton Cuse. Welcome to our audio commentary for the episode Across the Sea.

Damon Lindelof: There's the sea right there.

Carlton Cuse: Damon, I would just say that we should start with one key word about this episode, and that word would be "polarizing."

Damon Lindelof: Yes, so, that means there's a polar bear in this episode? 'Cause I haven't seen any in season six.

Carlton Cuse: I like the word "polarizing" because it contains the word "polar."

Damon Lindelof: It does, and there are two poles, one pole being you love this episode...

Carlton Cuse: Which I do.

Damon Lindelof: ...the other pole being you hate this episode. Which I do. Man, do I hate it. This is the worst episode of the show ever. This is the show... I think she actually just jumped the shark. You didn't see it there in the water, but...

Carlton Cuse: She got a ride to shore from a shark. There's a difference between riding on a shark and jumping a shark.

Damon Lindelof: Another pregnant woman on Lost. I wonder if she's gonna have babies and then die. They've never done that before.

Carlton Cuse: You're being cynical, especially as you co-wrote this episode with me.

Damon Lindelof: Wait, what?

Carlton Cuse: You used to actually profess to like the episode at a certain point.

Damon Lindelof: I do. I actually really love this episode.

Carlton Cuse: You were faking!

Damon Lindelof: We were doing a shtick because this episode, like Expose, was enormously divisive. And...

Carlton Cuse: Kind of surprising. I did not expect the level of polarization... Was that correct?

Damon Lindelof: Yeah.

Carlton Cuse: ...polarization that this episode caused among the fans. Perhaps because you're looking at two women who you've never seen on Lost before, in the teaser here. That's of course Allison Janney, famous from her stint on The West Wing.

Damon Lindelof: Right, we'll talk about Allison in a minute, because clearly she's sort of the driving force of this episode. But a little bit more about the way people reacted to this episode, which is, this an episode that we knew we were going to do. We knew that it was very important for us to treat Jacob and the Man in Black as characters. Give them some form of an origin story and try to understand a little better about the way they were, why they were the way they were. And you kind of had to start at the very beginning with those guys. And in order to do this, we'd have to dedicate an entire episode to it. And I think we needed to time that episode very close to the end of the series because we'd be setting up certain set pieces in this episode that would pay off in the finale.

Carlton Cuse: Look, it was clearly risky, with basically four hours to go in the show to do an episode that was set in four million BC.

Damon Lindelof: Which is why I hate it.

Carlton Cuse: No. Really, it's not four million BC. Let's say it's between four million BC and 1963. Somewhere in that territory is where this episode lies. But the exact year is a mystery.

Damon Lindelof: If you go four million BC, you have to think, like, is that actually one million BG? Like, Before Gilgamesh? Before the age of Gilgamesh?

Carlton Cuse: We said we were not gonna talk about that, Damon.

Damon Lindelof: OK.

Carlton Cuse: We, we talked about that before we came in here and we're not talking about Gilgamesh.

Damon Lindelof: OK. Well, I just think he doesn't get mentioned. It's all about BC these days.

Carlton Cuse: This is the Big Bang Theory, Damon. As Mother says later on in the show, every question just begets another question.

Damon Lindelof: I think she actually just said it. If we hadn't been babbling, we would've heard her. But, OK, so enough about how polarizing this episode is. We'll come back to it again and again. This is a recurring motif on the show. One of the things we love to do on Lost is this idea of history repeats itself. There have been many births on the show. Benjamin Linus, obviously, his mother died in childbirth in... just outside of Portland, Oregon. And of course, Claire did not die in childbirth. But Aaron was the first baby who was safely born on the island. And of course now...

Carlton Cuse: Sun is pregnant.

Damon Lindelof: We have the birth of Jacob.

Carlton Cuse: Right. And what we really wanted to do was, basically, we felt that this was the final mythological origin story that we were gonna do on the show. And we saw this very clearly as a companion piece to Ab Aeterno, which was earlier in the season. And when we looked at the island's mythology, attempting to try to explain all of that was...

Damon Lindelof: Daunting.

Carlton Cuse: ...unimaginable, actually, to us.

Damon Lindelof: Yes.

Carlton Cuse: You know, who built Taweret? Who were all the ancient people that were here that built some of these inner workings of the island that we've seen? That sort of fell out of the spectrum of the story that we were telling in our series. But what did, in our opinion, fall into that spectrum was: "Who is Jacob?" "Where did he come from?" And "What is the origin of the relationship between Jacob and the Man in Black?"

Damon Lindelof: Right.

Carlton Cuse: Here it is, right here.

Damon Lindelof: Because clearly Jacob is directly responsible for bringing the Oceanic 815 castaways to the island and that's the story that we told. So we do need to have a more fundamental understanding about why he did that. And the answer is presented in this episode, in a way we felt would be much more compelling than just having Jacob sit them down in the fireside chat, which happens in the next episode, and relating this story to them.

Carlton Cuse: Ow. That has got to hurt.

Damon Lindelof: Maybe she had a bug on her head. It's possible.

Carlton Cuse: And that's it.

Damon Lindelof: I love that shot. The babies.

Carlton Cuse: Good, evil.

Damon Lindelof: Rocks.

Carlton Cuse: Rocks. All that kind of stuff.

Damon Lindelof: Here's a little interesting piece of trivia, in terms of...

Carlton Cuse: J.J. made that on his Apple computer, that Lost logo.

Damon Lindelof: That's true.

Carlton Cuse: ls that the trivia you were talking about?

Damon Lindelof: That is an interesting piece of trivia you just relayed. Before we talk about the Senet set which I will let you do because I know how you love it.

Carlton Cuse: Senet. People actually say, "What is that game?" Well, Senet was an ancient Egyptian game. The thing that's interesting about it is no one is actually completely clear as to what the rules were.

Damon Lindelof: You talking about Lost?.

Carlton Cuse: [laughs] I'm talking about Senet, but it does apply to Lost as well. And to carry the metaphor forward from there, people have extrapolated what the rules are but there does not exist a set of rules. For either Senet or Lost.

Damon Lindelof: And in fact, people... We're recording this commentary before the show has actually ended, but we anticipate that one of the questions after the series ends is gonna be, "Why didn't you ever explain the rules to us?" And this episode is the most that we ever want to explain the rules.

Carlton Cuse: The rules of Senet?

Damon Lindelof: Not the rules of Senet. Characters keep referring to rules. You know, Mother basically says later in this show that they can't hurt each other. For us, we kind of wanted to pause at this idea of what's the difference between a rule and a law? That is to say, if it's a rule that these two can't hurt each other, and at the end of this episode Jacob does in fact hurt his brother, is it possible to break these rules? So are the boys basically obeying these rules but they're possible to break, or are they impossible to break? And that's an excellent question, because it's one that you wonder when Jack and Sawyer are debating in the episode that precedes this about the bomb that Locke has put on the sub. If the Man in Black's rule is that he can't kill candidates, is he just choosing to follow it? Or does he have to follow it? And that's a question that we want to have out there. And not definitively answer.

Carlton Cuse: That's a very good question. And I think, like everything else, we decided that the mythology story would be no good just if it was gonna be a download of mythology. It really had to be a character story. We sort of saw this as its own little morality play. And understanding the personal relationships between Jacob, the Man in Black, and their mother or their surrogate mother in this case, was really the thing that interested us as storytellers. And again, like everyone else on Lost, they're not black and white depictions. I think that there might have been sort of a notion that the Man in Black was all evil and that Jacob was all good. But this episode kind of is our attempt to say, "No, it's actually much more complicated than that." And particularly, we wanted this episode to challenge your assumptions about the Man in Black.

Damon Lindelof: Yeah, and kind of what's cool and is articulated in the scene we're about to see is there's this idea of nature versus nurture. And Mother already recognizes that the Man in Black is capable of doing something that Jacob isn't. Which is lying. And this is his nature. She's gonna nurture them. She's gonna shape these boys. But these boys are very different. And she's identifying the Boy in Black as special, a word that we have heard used to describe other individuals on Lost. Obviously, the Boy in Black shares certain attributes with these characters. We'll see that he demonstrates he can see dead people. Where Jacob cannot. But he's got this wanderlust. His need to leave the island and find out what's across the sea is essentially a very accessible desire and it ends up being his undoing.

Carlton Cuse: Yeah, I mean, I think that there are certain thematics here about the perils of... ...of questioning of basically seeking what is more important, answers or the journey? That's something that kind of underlies what's going on here to some degree.

Damon Lindelof: Right, and at the end of the day, these themes are sort of in play and this episode lives in a much more metaphorical space than in terms of giving direct answers. But again, what we wanted to show was, even all these years ago, when Jacob and the Boy in Black were growing up on the island, certain things that we saw happen to our castaways in the series Lost, are happening to these boys, to Jacob and the Man in Black themselves. In fact, this very scene. We purposely, Tucker Gates, who beautifully directed this episode, we said to him when we were toning it, we want to replicate that idea of when the Others first walked by and our guys were hiding in the bushes and you just see their feet.

Carlton Cuse: Yeah.

Damon Lindelof: The idea that at one point Jacob himself was hiding in those bushes, too, would really help to start to relay that circularity that we were going for.

Carlton Cuse: That's right. Exactly. And by toning, just to kind of make that clear, we basically, after we write the script, we sit down with the director of the episode and we go through the script scene by scene and kind of talk about the intent of each scene. You might think that the script itself would be enough to convey that, but it really isn't, actually. The script is sort of an architectural blueprint of the scene, but it's really helpful to actually sit with the director and have a conversation about, "OK... This is why the scene exists in the show, what we're trying to convey." The director then talks about his plan for how to execute it and then we kind of discuss if that's exactly what we want and we all collaborate on creating the best vision of it. In the case of this episode, what was really, I think, bold is that we did an episode which really doesn't have any of our main cast. I mean, as we were watching the early part of this commentary, and the cast credit was rolling, I thought it was kind of amusing to see that you see this giant list of actors who are on Lost but none of them actually appear in this episode until the very, very end. And everyone you see in this episode is in the guest cast role that subsequently follows. We also understood that in order to pull this episode off, we needed a tremendous actress. When we were in the room and breaking the story, we...

Damon Lindelof: We were, like, at least 6'2. When you say tremendous, I just want to be, I just want to clarify.

Carlton Cuse: Yeah. And we were like, "Who's kind of a prototype?" Someone who's intelligent and forceful and has a real presence on-screen and so our prototype in the room was, "Well, we want an Allison Janney type." And lo and behold...

Damon Lindelof: Yeah. Lo and behold, we called April Webster, our casting director, and were like, "We need an Allison Janney type, but just for the fun of it, why don't you call Allison Janney and see if she is interested." And hours later, we were on the phone with her and hours after that, she was on her way to Hawaii.

Carlton Cuse: She was interested, but... It was really amazing and we're incredibly grateful for Allison, to Allison, because she had a pilot and a bunch of other commitments and she, I think, put herself in a situation where she was going through a lot of gyrations to do our show, to fit it into this tiny window of availability that she had. But it was really critical to us. Having someone with her presence and talent and intelligence was the key to pulling this episode off. People may be polarized, but in the honest truth...

Damon Lindelof: You can't be polarized about how awesome Allison is.

Carlton Cuse: We really loved this episode. I think if we had done this episode, like episode five of this season, there would've been a different perception of it. Part of the perception as we sit here recording this commentary was that it was so close to the end that people, I think, are a little fearful that we're veering off and telling this kind of tangential story with only three and a half hours to go.

Damon Lindelof: But now you see this introduction to the cave of light and this explanation that this light is sort of representative of what we've used the phrase, "the Island" before. Which is, this is what must be protected. This is what people want. Maybe this is what the Dharma Initiative was after with all their drills. Maybe this is what Widmore wanted at some point. It's this light. Men want it and it's my job to protect it and it's gonna have to be one of you. This story, this origin story, is very relevant to everything that happens on the island into the endgame of the finale. So, the idea of not understanding that this is where it's all gonna go down... If we did this episode as episode four or five of the season, it's not budded up to when it's relevant. So the idea that, OK, so it's a cave full of light. At the end of the day, that's really what it is. But all these other things that are in play, like Desmond being thrown in that cabin and blasted with light, start to kind of pay off in the episodes after this one where you understand, "l needed to see that place, before I heard people talking about it to understand that it existed." And now, here we have the rules talk, which is... The Man in Black says, "One of these days you can make up your own rules and everyone will have to follow them." That's a line you might want to think about if you're obsessed with understanding what the rules are in Lost, because we know that Jacob's got a bunch of them.

Carlton Cuse: I think it's funny, because we were talking about this as we were getting the reaction to the episode. Like Expose, I think some people perhaps don't like this episode because it does sort of comment on the series as a whole. And yet, we sort of felt this episode was important, because... Again, thematically, to us, the idea of how one should enjoy and appreciate Lost has a lot to do with enjoying and appreciating the journey, as opposed to this notion of answers and destination. ln some sense, we thought people will see this episode and they'll say, "OK, this is what answers on Lost look like." You can get a mythological download. You may think you want a mythological download, but this is what a mythological download looks like. To us, the show is really about the characters and the real essence of what is important to us to resolve in the remaining time of the show is, "What are the fate and destinies of these characters?" But yet, that does not discount the fact that we wanted to tell this story. This is the way in which these kinds of stories get told. They don't get told by Jack and Hurley and Sawyer sitting around and saying, "l found a scroll that explains the history of Jacob and the Man in Black."

Damon Lindelof: What did the scroll say?

Carlton Cuse: The scroll said what we're seeing right here.

Damon Lindelof: This is better.

Carlton Cuse: Isn't that better than a scroll?

Damon Lindelof: It is. Are you reading any good scrolls right now?

Carlton Cuse: I actually did read a good scroll today, as a matter of fact.

Damon Lindelof: I like to read a scroll before I go to bed. It just gets me in the mood.

Carlton Cuse: It's a scroll that in fact might actually be in your DVD box.

Damon Lindelof: There you go.

Carlton Cuse: It was amazing. "Wow, somebody found some logs from Captain Hanso's ship!"

Damon Lindelof: You refer to the Black Rock?

Carlton Cuse: Yes. The Black Rock. Good scroll.

Damon Lindelof: Good classic scroll. Good scrolls. Just...

Carlton Cuse: Love this actress, by the way. She came in, we cast her, she was fantastic.

Damon Lindelof: The kids are awesome, too.

Carlton Cuse: Yeah.

Damon Lindelof: Kenton Duty, who plays young Jacob, obviously appeared in the third episode of the season for the first time as Locke and Sawyer are trudging along and the idea that he is young Jacob. lt was our first hint that we were gonna be giving you this story. We cast Kenton way back at the beginning of the season, knowing that we were gonna do Across the Sea as the third to last episode. So we made sure he was gonna be available for this and...

Carlton Cuse: Here's an interesting production note. May I interrupt for one moment?

Damon Lindelof: My fun piece of trivia that I was gonna say before, when you started talking about J.J.'s logo was the fact that in the first draft of the script, the first act of this show, Jacob and the Man in Black were four-year-olds.

Carlton Cuse: That's true. Yes.

Damon Lindelof: A fun production note because when we sent that to Hawaii, Jean Higgins had a coronary. She's like, "You really want four-year-olds chasing boars with spears?"

Carlton Cuse: There's child labor laws, too, which like the younger you are, the less amount of time you can work. So, if you're a four-year-old, you can work like 19 minutes a day or something like that.

Damon Lindelof: Not in Thailand.

Carlton Cuse: I'd like to know who calculates how many minutes. That's why, when you have babies on shows, there's always multiple babies because the babies can only work for a certain number of hours. But l'd like to know who figures out, like, what's the appropriate amount of time a baby can work versus a four-year-old, versus a seven-year-old, versus like a 12-year-old? How do you decide that's enough?

Damon Lindelof: Carlton, I believe there are some tests where they put a baby, a four-year-old, and a nine-year-old...

Carlton Cuse: On an auto assembly line?

Damon Lindelof: Yeah, in an assembly line.

Carlton Cuse: See how many cars they build?

Damon Lindelof: They give them some basic tasks...

Carlton Cuse: Riveting? Welding?

Damon Lindelof: Now the baby has obviously fallen asleep.

Carlton Cuse: Door-hanging.

Damon Lindelof: So we're gonna say 11 minutes.

Carlton Cuse: Yeah, I mean, after a baby hangs some doors on a car for 11 minutes they're pretty exhausted.

Damon Lindelof: I didn't think we'd end up here.

Carlton Cuse: Meanwhile... Across the Sea.

Damon Lindelof: Yeah.

Carlton Cuse: May I get back to my relevant story?

Damon Lindelof: Tell your story.

Carlton Cuse: We're so far beyond that but we're going back there. The caves. Back when I was gonna talk about this, we were in the caves. Now, as you may recall, those of you who are now in some sort of obsessive mode, have watched all the episodes of Lost, you're now on episode 15 of the last season, and you also are listening to our commentaries, so, you know, you're burrowed pretty deep. Those caves that you...

Damon Lindelof: What Carlton's trying to say is you probably don't have a girlfriend. And that's OK. Because when I was your age, neither did l.

Carlton Cuse: I'm sad about that for you. So anyway, back in the first season of the show, when we were in Oahu shooting the show, there was really not an available sound stage. We actually rented this building that was this warehouse. Well, it used to be this warehouse and then a bunch of people were killed in there and it was empty for a while so we rented it and we built...

Damon Lindelof: I love how you glossed over that. It was referred to us as "a massacre" by our location scout. Oh, yeah, you guys can shoot here for cheap. If you don't mind "the massacre."

Carlton Cuse: They brought a person in who lifted the curse on the building, OK?

Damon Lindelof: He burned some incense.

Carlton Cuse: It was done.

Damon Lindelof: A massacre is a massacre.

Carlton Cuse: Anyway, that's not the point. The point is they built some caves in this warehouse, OK? So the cave set was in the warehouse but then, eventually, we moved to a sound-stage. And in the move, the cave set was struck so the cave set was actually destroyed and therefore this season we had to reconstitute the cave set on stage. And it was actually kind of... it was a real sense of circularity from the beginning of the journey to the end, to see that cave set which kind of was the first set we had on Lost, and then to see it again, sort of rebuilt on our new sound-stage very close to the end of our show, I don't know, I just liked the symmetry of that. That's all I was trying to say.

Damon Lindelof: I'm sorry for interrupting constantly.

Carlton Cuse: That's OK. I think people were probably more interested in the massacre than they were in that story, which wasn't really very interesting.

Damon Lindelof: Just a couple of words on one of the things we were going for emotionally here. In this scene, when Mother says to Jacob, "l love you two in different ways." And she's just been abandoned by the son she clearly favored, and she asked Jacob to stay with her, one of the things that...

Carlton Cuse: Manipulative parents, perhaps?

Damon Lindelof: Yes, that's true. Carlton and I talk ad nauseam about how Lost is really a study in...

Carlton Cuse: Bad parenting.

Damon Lindelof: Bad parenting. But we really largely avoided the idea of mothers in the show. And why might that be, Carlton?

Carlton Cuse: Perhaps because...

Damon Lindelof: We're afraid of our moms.

Carlton Cuse: Yes, we both have very... powerful mothers.

Damon Lindelof: Our moms are still alive.

Carlton Cuse: Yes, our fathers are not.

Damon Lindelof: It's much easier to condemn someone who cannot defend themselves. So...

Carlton Cuse: But, there's no illusions. Our mothers are not like... My mother has never, as far as I know, hit anyone with a rock.

Damon Lindelof: As far as you know.

Carlton Cuse: Right.

Damon Lindelof: But the idea that basically the entire series, the Oceanic 815 crashing, is because this woman was not more forthcoming with her sons and that she was incredibly deceptive and violent and dangerous. And just... She probably never read any of Dr. Spock, because he wasn't gonna come along... This is not Mr. Spock, the Vulcan, this is Dr. Spock the child-psychologist who revolutionized parenting. Mother probably not a good parent.

Carlton Cuse: Yeah. We actually had another whole sub-story here where Jacob went to the World Series of Senet in Las Vegas in 347 BC, but that just didn't fit into the overall picture of 43 minutes of narrative.

Damon Lindelof: Right. And then someone told us that Vegas didn't exist until, like, 1250 AD. So, we didn't want to screw up that piece of continuity.

Carlton Cuse: Yeah, exactly.

Damon Lindelof: So now we get to see Mark Pellegrino and Titus Welliver work together. And the thing that's amazing to me about Jacob and the Man in Black scenes when you watch them is you feel like these guys have been on the show for seasons and seasons when the first time you ever saw them together was in the season five finale. For one scene.

Carlton Cuse: I know, it's crazy.

Damon Lindelof: So pervasive is their dynamic that you're kind of like, "Oh, right. Yeah, we never even... Jacob had been mentioned prior to that, but I never even saw him until the season five finale, so..."

Carlton Cuse: And these guys...

Damon Lindelof: It was only 15 hours ago...

Carlton Cuse: I love that, by the way, that magnetic shot, basically showing the magnetism.

Damon Lindelof: That was 37 takes it took to do that.

Carlton Cuse: He actually threw that and it bent in the air. No, that was a visual effect. These guys, by the way, are wonderful actors who have worked in many things and if you were to look them up on the Internet, you would find long and impressive r?sum?s for both of them and yet... ...both of them have commented on how now they have become so defined by their roles as Jacob and the Man in Black that that's the thing that people come up and comment on. "Oh, my God, you're the smoke monster."

Damon Lindelof: If you want to see some awesome acting, watch Mark in the first season of Dexter and watch Titus in...

Carlton Cuse: In Deadwood.

Damon Lindelof: ...in Deadwood or Gone Baby Gone. In which he is extraordinary.

Carlton Cuse: Those guys, they're wonderful. And again it was a very purposeful decision not to make... to kind of center our show on two sort of perfect deities. And by perfect, we mean perfect manifestations of good and evil. And that's the case in most mythology shows. You get to the point where you have that person who's the personification of good and that person who's the personification of evil. We sort of feel like in Lost that that dynamic exists in each character including our sort of authority figures. And that was what we were trying to convey in this episode.

Damon Lindelof: Totally. And it's just... A few words about Mother again here. One of the very interesting theories, which we are not going to confirm or deny here in this commentary...

Carlton Cuse: Sorry.

Damon Lindelof: ...but is worth mentioning is the idea that Mother is the smoke monster at this point in the game. Because later we will see that...

Carlton Cuse: That is interesting.

Damon Lindelof: ...she has laid waste to the entire village. And what an interesting theory that is because one of the questions that keeps arising is: If Jacob's smoke monster was his brother, then who was the smoke monster before him? Or was the smoke monster actually created in this episode? Does good always need evil? And that is an excellent question to be asking. Why weren't we clearer, more defined, about that? Carlton, why won't we just answer the question?

Carlton Cuse: By answering that question I think we would strip the audience of their ability to have the exact conversation that you and I are having. And to debate the exact issues that you mention. And that is the part of Lost that we feel... ...that we should not take away from the audience. We feel like the show speaks for itself but the show has things that are intentionally ambiguous to allow people to debate and discuss. This is one of them. Which is, what is the origin of evil? Does it exist as this episode is started or are we seeing the origin of evil? ls this a Garden of Eden story? Or is this really a morality tale in which there are still unrevealed mysteries?

Damon Lindelof: The more interesting question is: What is evil? I mean, is the Man in Black really evil? Or is he a victim? I mean, clearly, all the guy wants to do is leave the island. He hasn't hurt anybody. He hasn't done anything malicious.

Carlton Cuse: Not yet.

Damon Lindelof: Yeah, but, you know.

Carlton Cuse: Not yet.

Damon Lindelof: Was he evil before she started doing a number on him?

Carlton Cuse: This also gets down to that debate of nature versus nurture, too. Mother's intention is to keep these boys sheltered from what she considers to be the pervasive evil that exists in the world outside of the things that are in her control. So, is it innate in him? Was he born with a sort of genetic propensity for the ability to be evil? Or was it something he learned through residing with these other people on the island?

Damon Lindelof: One of the interesting lines in this episode is that she's telling the boys, "Stay away from those people. Those people are bad." And then Jacob says, "But we're people." And she says, "We're not like them." And she says "we're not like them," but what is the phrasing that Jacob uses when he anoints Jack in the episode after this?

Carlton Cuse: He says, "Now, you are like me."

Damon Lindelof: So, what's that all about?

Carlton Cuse: That's very interesting. I wouldn't want to say too much more about it but I think it's... Those words seem carefully chosen.

Damon Lindelof: Interesting. Not like we were throwing darts at a dartboard.

Carlton Cuse: Not at that moment. We were throwing darts before we wrote that scene.

Damon Lindelof: There were two choices Jacob could use when he anointed Jack: One was, "Now you're like me" and the other was... "Booya".

Carlton Cuse: Shazam. "Shazam" was also there.

Damon Lindelof: "Shazam," right.

Carlton Cuse: I personally voted for "shazam." But you didn't want to do the lightning strike.

Damon Lindelof: If you say "shazam" there's gonna be a lightning strike.

Carlton Cuse: That's true. There was light, but not a lightning strike.

Damon Lindelof: Right. That's where we agree to disagree.

Carlton Cuse: Exactly.

Damon Lindelof: So, the donkey wheel here. Obviously here's another moment in this episode where we get a little bit of a sense of the thinking behind that donkey wheel that first appeared back in the season four finale, that Ben turns... ...was actually the brain-child of none other than the Man in Black

Carlton Cuse: and his scientific peoples.

Damon Lindelof: And his very smart people there.

Carlton Cuse: Exactly. So he makes kind of a cool allusion to the idea that they're building some sort of system to harness the water and the light. So can we draw some conclusions that maybe there's almost a circulatory system to this island?

Damon Lindelof: The island itself is alive? Well, she does refer... There are references to that area of light as the heart of the island.

Carlton Cuse: Right.

Damon Lindelof: That's a very Mother Earth principle, and a lot of people think before this episode aired, that Allison was playing Mother Earth. Because, again, we didn't name her. Let's talk a little bit about naming.

Carlton Cuse: OK.

Damon Lindelof: 'Cause one of the questions we get asked a lot is why didn't you tell us the name of the Man in Black? And we obviously didn't give Mother's name either. Should we talk a little bit about why we purposefully withheld that information?

Carlton Cuse: Sure. Although there's not much we can say about it other than it was a very specific choice that we made. We felt that, you know, the Man in Black should not have a name. We felt that was... that the very was a creative choice that we thought was cool.

Damon Lindelof: Speaking of choices, if I may segue, that's what this entire scene that we're about to see is about. Obviously, this is when Jacob becomes Jacob. But much greater, the show is about character and we always want to explain where the origin of certain behaviors is for our character. Jacob seems to be a guy on the series, who is obsessed with this idea of choice and freewill. Even when Ben is about to stab him, he says, "Hey, you don't have to do this. You still have a choice."

Carlton Cuse: Right.

Damon Lindelof: But that is not what Mother says to him here. She thrusts this responsibility on him and it is not something that he chooses. This scene is really about Jacob's character, but for people who hate on this episode, this scene basically is as far as we ever go in really articulating this theme of where we stand in the battle between free will and destiny.

Carlton Cuse: Right. And we wanted Jacob to kind of rebel against the circumstance he was put into. Which is that he did not have a choice. He basically was compelled to become the protector of the island and so therefore, that completely shaped the way in which he was the protector of the island. We thought that this episode would help illuminate some of the choices and decisions that he made. This inherent passivity of the character. The idea that he sort of enlists Ben as a proxy to kind of be a conduit between him and the people of the island. He didn't really want to engage with those people. We felt that this episode was illuminating in terms of understanding certain mysteries about the way Jacob behaved with our castaways. That the reason for doing this story was not strictly to say, "Oh, here's the origin of how these guys came into existence." But really for it to be revelatory by character. For us to be able to leave this episode and really understand, "OK, now I really have a better fundamental understanding of why Jacob behaved the way that he did towards our castaways and that his behavior significantly shaped the way events on the island unfolded."

Damon Lindelof: And... beautifully articulated, by the way.

Carlton Cuse: Thank you.

Damon Lindelof: What we begin to realize in this scene is that Mother, the moment that pregnant woman washed up, was already starting to try to plan out her own demise. She doesn't want this job anymore. Although the benefits are clearly awesome because you don't age. But the wardrobe is very limited and there's not a lot of good food on the island.

Carlton Cuse: The work hours are horrible.

Damon Lindelof: So now she saw these two boys, she wanted it to be the Boy in Black but she managed to sort of con Jacob in many ways into doing this. And she knows that based on what she just did to the Boy in Black... ...that, sorry, the Man in Black, that he is gonna come and kill her. And that's why she says, "Thank you" when he does. So she actually sort of manipulated, just like Sawyer does in many ways, she conned these two guys into relieving her of this massive responsibility. And there's a certain amount of tragedy in that. One might ask, did Jacob do the same thing?

Carlton Cuse: Right. And I think that, in some sense, he did. It seems that the show is telling us that you can be the protector of the island for a period of time but it is a limited period of time. That time might vary from person to person, but at a certain point, you become aware that your time is over and it's time for someone else to come take that job. The question ultimately is...

Damon Lindelof: There should be term limits.

Carlton Cuse: There is kind of...

Damon Lindelof: There should be...

Carlton Cuse: Not distinct term limits, but the length of terms vary.

Damon Lindelof: Right. I mean, obviously...

Carlton Cuse: Here's the ravaged village. Was that done by Mother as a smoke monster? Was that done by Mother as her person?

Damon Lindelof: There is a lot of smoke around, Carlton.

Carlton Cuse: There's fire. Where there's smoke, there's fire. Where there's fire, there's smoke.

Damon Lindelof: I'm saying Allison Janney versus 20 armed men... Probably a little bit... Now look, she's a scrapper. We all know that. But this is impressive, especially in daylight.

Carlton Cuse: He got his Senet game back, though. That's important.

Damon Lindelof: Right. He is not happy right now.

Carlton Cuse: No.

Damon Lindelof: And this is all sort of part of her game.

Carlton Cuse: I love this shot Tucker does here. Just spinning around the character and you see the fire and destruction and his rage and his anguish.

Damon Lindelof: Right. I think one of the other interesting things about this episode and one of the reasons why I personally like it so much and I think you share this, is... In the way that the old school flashbacks of Lost made you have an entirely different understanding of someone once it was over, you actually, kind of in this episode, you're rooting for the Man in Black. You're actually really sympathizing with him. Jacob is... you understand more about him. He's a victim, too, but he's kind of a mama's boy. He's kind of a guy who got sucked into this thing and ended up with this job that he didn't want. But the real dynamic character in this tragedy is the Man in Black. When you realize that Mother basically manipulated him into killing her so she wouldn't have to do the job anymore, he's every bit as much a victim as Jacob is. And the fact that this guy just wanted to leave the island, but now that has turned him into this sort of very angry man, who is embodying John Locke in the episodes that follow this one, it's very interesting. If you don't have sympathy for him, at least you have a certain level of understanding.

Carlton Cuse: Yeah, we kind of liked the... It was kind of fun to write the last act of this episode, which is what we're watching right now, because this was sort of the Shakespearean tragedy. The events that she started at the end of the last act are gonna lead to this waterfall of scenes that she kind of imagines to some degree. But there's an inevitable tragic conclusion that arises. And this is the first big event of that which is her own demise at the hand of her son.

Damon Lindelof: Yeah. Shakespearean, biblical. Again, we pull from all these... 'Cause Shakespeare, I don't know if you knew this, wasn't born until 1700 BC. It's a little-known fact. In Stratford-upon-Avon.

Carlton Cuse: I'm not sure. I can't give you an exact date on that.

Damon Lindelof: No he was cited in the circle of Stonehenge. 1700 BC.

Carlton Cuse: 1700 BC.

Damon Lindelof: Right.

Carlton Cuse: OK. I thought you said AD.

Damon Lindelof: Riding a triceratops.

Carlton Cuse: That's cool. All right.

Damon Lindelof: True story. OK, so she says that she... This is a different kind of love on the show. We do romantic love, but...

Carlton Cuse: Death love? I love you, you stab me?

Damon Lindelof: Interesting thing to say to somebody who has just stabbed you. When you stabbed me, I was like, "What?" I was like, "Why? Why did you do that?"

Carlton Cuse: Here's the thing. Why is it when most actors die, they choose to keep their eyes open as opposed to closing them? Do you think it's because it's more expressive? Or you think people think, "It's cooler. When I die, I'll leave my eyes open."

Damon Lindelof: Closing your eyes is cliche? And I think the actors are basically like... They don't want to do the old. When we were playing Cowboys and Indians as kids, you die, you grab your chest, you gurgle, then you close your eyes.

Carlton Cuse: Were you a cowboy or an Indian?

Damon Lindelof: I was a... I was... ...sort of the local attorney for the cowboys. Very non-confrontational. I'd say, "Listen, please, there's gotta be a way we can work this out."

Carlton Cuse: Yeah. Now, so here we are and one of the things that we discover here is that there's something mystical about this heart of the island. This bamboo forest is not far from where our castaways resided, yet they never were able to stumble through the bamboo forest and find the magical cavern of light, the entrance to the heart of the island. But yet these characters, imbued with a certain mystic authority on the show are able to discover this location. There's a lot of things that are actually set up in this episode that the audience doesn't even know at this point because they haven't seen the end of the show.

Damon Lindelof: Right, and one thing worth mentioning here that is informative on a commentary now that we're into it, is that it seems like the golden light is much brighter in this episode here than it is in the finale, Carlton.

Carlton Cuse: Yes.

Damon Lindelof: If I were to have a theory that that apparatus we see in the finale with the stone sticking in the middle of the pool that's sort of blocking the light, maybe that apparatus wasn't created until after this event.

Carlton Cuse: I think that's an incredibly likely deduction, Damon.

Damon Lindelof: It's possible people went down there and basically...

Carlton Cuse: They built something.

Damon Lindelof: Some people think the light went out in that shot but it was just the smoke monster obstructing the light. The light has not been diminished in any significant way but is probably largely responsible for what just happened.

Carlton Cuse: Absolutely. And there we see Titus'... the Man in Black's transformation into his non-corporal smoke form.

Damon Lindelof: What's cool is...

Carlton Cuse: His body still exists.

Damon Lindelof: Body still exists.

Carlton Cuse: There it is... right now. There it is. I see his ear.

Damon Lindelof: This is actually a nice piece of foreshadowing that people are not aware of at the time that they were watching this episode, which is someone else is gonna be washing up to this exact same spot.

Carlton Cuse: By the way, I just need to tell you, because I don't want anybody in the commentary to, you know, think that we're not informed of the facts, but Shakespeare was actually born in 1564.

Damon Lindelof: 1564. BC.

Carlton Cuse: AD.

Damon Lindelof: AD.

Carlton Cuse: AD. 1564.

Damon Lindelof: How did you know that?

Carlton Cuse: I just know that, OK? I mean, certain things you should just know. If you get an education, you should know things like Shakespeare's birth-date.

Damon Lindelof: Yeah, and if Gregg Nations happens to be sitting in your commentary and holds up a pad that says Shakespeare was born in 1564...?

Carlton Cuse: That helps.

Damon Lindelof: That would be another way.

Carlton Cuse: That's another way to know.

Damon Lindelof: Exactly.

Carlton Cuse: I'm just saying. At least I can say it was 1564.

Damon Lindelof: Next you'll be telling me that he couldn't possibly have been riding on a triceratops.

Carlton Cuse: No, he could not have been riding a triceratops.

Damon Lindelof: It's a subject for debate. You love this episode. I hate this episode.

Carlton Cuse: It's polarizing, isn't it? Shakespeare's birth and his triceratops riding is polarizing. OK, so now, we really felt it was one of the interesting things to do at the end of this episode was to contextualize. There's an answer in this episode. What is one of the big questions dating all the way back to the beginning of the show?

Damon Lindelof: Who are the skeletons in the caves that were discovered by Jack and Kate and why was Jack's chest so hairy then and is not hairy at all now?

Carlton Cuse: The mystery of the skeletons was more important than Jack's loss of his chest hair.

Damon Lindelof: Right.

Carlton Cuse: They are both relevant mysteries. Now we realize that the Adam and Eve skeletons are Mother and the Man in Black. And people speculated they were Rose and Bernard. They've speculated they were Jack and Kate. They had speculated all sorts of things but we also thought it was really cool to see our characters here, way back from season one. Really kind of re contextualizing and show oh, my gosh, this is what our characters looked like back then. They were so young. They were so naive, so innocent, so uninformed about this place. And Jack is sort of speculating that maybe these skeletons are 50 years old. They just knew so little and their journey was so new at this point. And we wanted to kind of connect that feeling to us, now, four hours from the end of the show. Three hours from the end of the show.

Damon Lindelof: People have asked us, at what point in the series did you guys know but I think that we can say that... when we were working on that episode, House Of The Rising Sun we knew that Adam and Eve were going to be mythological figures that were entirely responsible for Oceanic 815 crashing on the island. So that when Locke called them as Adam and Eve, he'd be referring to these characters are personally responsible for us being here in some way.

Carlton Cuse: All right. Time to say goodbye. Thank you.

Damon Lindelof: Goodbye, Carlton.

Carlton Cuse: Goodbye, Damon.

Damon Lindelof: This is our final commentary, isn't it?

Carlton Cuse: I thought we were doing the finale?

Damon Lindelof: Maybe at some later date.

Carlton Cuse: Goodbye.

Damon Lindelof: Goodbye. Goodbye, Bad Robot. Goodbye, ABC Studios. Goodnight moon. [men laughing]