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Lost showrunners reflect on George R.R. Martin throwdowns and collaborating again

By Tara Bennett

After six weeks, we've come to the end of the road with our 15th-anniversary celebration of Lost in our limited-series podcast, Through the Looking Glass: A Lost Retrospective, co-hosted by SYFY WIRE senior producer Tara Bennett and renowned TV critic Maureen Ryan.

Our grand finale is a doozy as co-creator and executive producer Damon Lindelof and executive producer Carlton Cuse reunite to talk about the anniversary for the first time on any podcast this year. They reflect on their careers, lives, and the media landscape that has evolved (and not evolved) in the nine years since the Lost finale aired.

In particular, Lindelof speaks enthusiastically about the Lost fandom who have remained outspokenly positive about the series. He admits, "I will say this, in all this time, no one has ever come up to me and said, 'I didn’t like Lost.' Some interviews have gotten a little testy. But no one has ever said it to my face, which leads me to believe that [negative sentiments] are greatly magnified by anonymity of the internet."

But a lack of anonymity for A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin, who was an outspoken critic of the Lost finale back in 2010, did give Cuse the opportunity to confront the author about his comments. "I ran into Martin and confronted him, and said, 'Tell me to my face your thoughts' and he backed down immediately," Cuse relates in the podcast. "I said, 'Wait until Game of Thrones ends, see what it’s going to be like." 

Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse

Lindelof followed up by adding, "It was devastating what he said [about Lost]. But the other part is there’s no part of us who wished [that reaction on him]. I watched the Game of Thrones final season, and while those [criticisms] are all fair, that show is a miracle. And I say to George R.R. Martin, with all due respect, let’s separate what Dave [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] did from what George did. D and D actually ended their show. George, let’s have a convo when you end your story because I don’t think you have the guts to do it. And that’s why you’ve had writer’s block for the last seven years. We didn’t have to end our show. Carlton and I could have walked away."

The finale podcast also touches on what the duo — affectionately known as "Darlton" — did immediately after Lost to recharge their creative energy and why they chose the follow-up projects they did. They even go back to the tumultuous first season, when Lindelof suffered a nervous breakdown and quit the show for two weeks.

That's all in contrast to what we might now call "Muffin Gate": The moment, right before Lindelof's breakdown, when ABC told them that the Lost pilot pulled in a whopping 18 million viewers for the premiere. 

"The next morning, I got into Carlton's office to openly weep and there were all these muffins," Lindelof says with a laugh about the sea of congratulatory gift baskets filling Cuse's office. "Now I’m able to realize it was once in a lifetime. I don’t want to replicate it. And the boldest thing is to continue to do what you love but try not to repeat yourself. The only way to do it is to pair with other people. I did it with Tom Perotta for The Leftovers. And with Watchmen, I partnered on that text with entirely different people. But I know [Carlton and I] will make something else again."

"I do look forward to the fact we will do something together again," Cuse concurs. 

For that, and so much more — including toxic fandom, the whole "celeb" showrunner thing, how Desperate Housewives comes into play, and the ongoing impact of Lost's ending — listen below!

Thank you for joining us for all six episodes of Through the Looking Glass: A Lost Retrospective. Each episode is available wherever you get your podcasts:

Apple Podcasts
Google Podcasts