Next month will mark the seven-year anniversary of the hit ABC series Lost series finale, which was followed by a special episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live from Hawaii, where fans were shown three "alternate endings," that turned out to be hilarious parodies. While there has been talk of the show being eventually rebooted, nothing is set in stone yet, but the new Entertainment Weekly issue that focuses on "Lost Stories" of both film and television, has unearthed some new details about the show that may have lead to a much different ending. This alternate ending revolved around a volcano on the mysterious island that was first revealed in Season 3, and while it was never addressed on the show again, it almost had a huge impact on the finale.
Entertainment Weekly caught up with series co-creators and executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, who finally reveal why the volcano was introduced back in Season 3. Fans noticed drawings of this volcano in a Dharma Initiative classroom and there was even a live model of it. While fans started immediately formulating theories about what this volcano could mean for the show, it was never addressed again. As it turns out, the volcano was actually setting up the show's ending, with Carton Cuse explaining that the volcanic landscape of Hawaii, where the show was shot, inspired him to start this story thread, that was initially going to be stowed away for use later. Here's what he had to say below.
"We were always looking to cannibalize anything on Hawaii to aid in the visual storytelling of the show. We also thought of the island as a character on the show, so we were always looking for things that would give it more personality. It was something we banked and thought we could use downstream."
The producers eventually came up with the concept that the volcano would be the place that created the infamous Smokey, a.k.a. Smoke Monster. The conceit was that the island itself served as a "cork," keeping different incarnations of evil bottled up and away from our world, with the volcano serving as the setting for the epic final battle between Jack (Matthew Fox) and Smokey's human host, Locke (Terry O'Quinn). Here's what Damon Lindelof had to say about how they originally planned to end Lost.
"The question was always, how do you basically visualize and dramatize the idea that the island itself is all that separates the world from hellfire and damnation? And the answer was the volcano. The volcano had been dormant for the duration of the series, but based on moving into this endgame, the island had become unstable and the volcano was going to erupt. We were going to have lots of seismic activity, and ultimately, there was going to be this big fight between the forces of good and the forces of evil, which ended up in the series manifesting as Jack and The Man in Black, in the midst of magma. Magma spewing everywhere!"
Damon Lindelof added that throughout the series' six-season run, he was often the writer/producer who wouldn't think they could pull off a sequence, while his co-creator Carlton Cuse would provide the confidence needed to get the job done. He added that, by the time they got to Season 6, there was an underlying confidence that anything they thought of could happen, which lead to the producers planning on using this volcano in their epic finale. There were plans in place to introduce the volcano in the third to last episode, Across the Sea, where the island's protector Jacob (Mark Pellegrino) would have taken his unnamed brother, a.k.a. The Man in Black (Titus Welliver), dragged him up the volcano and tossed him in. Here's what Damon Lindelof had to say about his plans for the finale.
"It would be visually stunning and really exciting for the audience. After six years and around 121 hours of the show, we had shot literally every part of Oahu that we could for island scenes and flashbacks. So the idea that, for the finale, we could go to this new locale that's going to look new and different and unique, primal and ancient and end-of-the-world-ish, that would be great."
Ultimately, this ending never came to be, because ABC deemed it couldn't afford the transportation costs, especially since the temple set, which served as a refuge for Jacob's chosen ones, was an incredibly expensive set to build. Instead, the creators came up with Smokey's home as a cave of light, with the Jack/Locke fight taking place on the cliffs of Oahu. Here's what Damon Lindelof had to say about why the network pulled the plug on this ending.
"ABC was like, 'Guys, we love you, and we're letting you end the show; we can't let you bankrupt the network in the process.'"
The producers also added that there were other factors that could have lead to a much different series finale, such as Mr. Eko, the breakout character played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who became a favorite of the fans and writers alike when he debuted in Season 2. The producers envisioned a struggle between Eko and Locke that would have had a greater impact on the show's middle seasons, if the actor hadn't left the show after Season 2, causing the writers to envision a new story for Locke. Damon Lindelof added that he thinks scrapping the volcano idea was for the best, while adding another reason why the volcano wasn't used.
"The other thing that happened was that we remembered Revenge of the Sith, and that big epic battle between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, in the midst of a volcanic planet. We knew whatever we did was going to look Mickey Mouse next to it."
Of course, the irony of that statement is ABC's parent company Disney would purchase LucasFilm just two years after the Lost finale aired in 2010. Over the past few years, there has been talk of a Lost reboot, with Carlton Cuse even claiming a few years ago that a new version of the show is "inevitable," even though it hasn't happened quite yet. Perhaps if a reboot does take shape, fans can get the volcano ending that the original creators first envisioned.