When "Lost" showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse finished the first draft of the season finale script, it was 80 pages long - about 25 pages more than a typical teleplay for the show. And thus a two-hour season finale was born.
"We had an eight-hour story planned (for the second half of the season) that got condensed to five initially as a result of the strike," Lindelof told reporters on a conference call Thursday. "Trying to cram all that story in - around the finale, the rubber hit the road, and we realized that it all felt very rushed and we were shortchanging the emotional moments, the character moments.
"So we read the 80-page first draft ... and we said, `There's no way we're going to be able to cut this down to a 55-page script. Why don't we expand it to 100?'"
The "Lost" finale, titled "There's No Place Like Home," will actually be a three-part story, beginning with the May 15 episode and concluding with a two-hour event on Thursday, May 29 (the show is off on May 22 to make room for the finale of "Grey's Anatomy"). Lindelof and Cuse strongly suggested that the finale will reveal how the Oceanic 6 come to leave the island and the ramifications it has for those characters and those left behind.
"All I can say is, Sawyer isn't one of the Oceanic 6 and Jack and Kate are," Lindelof says, referring to the ongoing love triangle between Josh Holloway's, Evangeline Lilly's and Matthew Fox's characters. "It will obviously be a huge focus in the final three hours of the show that comprise the finale in terms of how that series of events transpires, and ultimately what happens to Sawyer."
Among the things that may not be revealed by season's end, however, are the backstories of the "freighter folk," the new characters introduced at the top of the season. "Because the season got shortened, one thing we didn't get to do as much as we planned was tell the story of the freighter folk," he says. "Some of that will be deferred to next season."
The two showrunners are also hoping to, as Lindelof puts it, leave viewers asking "What the hell are they gonna do?" with the finale, hinting at another possible change in the narrative structure of the show.
"There might come a time in the show where the word `flash' becomes irrelevant," Lindelof says. "If you stop and think about what we've done this year, there's the story on the island which we perceive to be the present, then there's the story of the Oceanic 6, which is happening off the island in the future.
"But if you were to switch perspectives and were off the island, focusing on the Oceanic 6 trying to get back, that would be the present, and what happened back on the island would be either a parallel present, a possible future a possible past, who knows. When you hear the `whoosh' noise, the question becomes, where does it take you?"
"Lost" returns to ABC at 10 p.m. EDT April 24.