Will Lost one day have a Seinfeld-Curb moment?

Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse “crashed” a Lost-one-year-later panel at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con (see this Entertainment Weekly story).

Their mission? To once again deal with those pesky unanswered Lost final season questions. (By sheer coincidence, Lindelof also has a new ABC fall season series to promote, Once Upon A Time.)

The two offered a sequence (presented as a supposedly “deleted” scene from the first season but in truth newly shot) which purported to show that, really, there WAS an explanation in place from the start. They weren’t making it up as they went along. They just left this scene out.

It is posted at the ABC.com site.

In the scene, the mysterious characters of Jacob and the Man in Black (introduced late in Lost’s fifth season) are shown looking on out of sight, and intercut with an already aired sequence between crash survivors Jack Shepard and John Locke debating why they were on the island.

There’s a mocking, sniping tone between Jacob and the Man in Black (whose name is mischievously revealed by Jacob to be the not-so-ominous-sounding “Barry”). They recap various story threads. Time travel. The mysterious hatch.

And metaphors. Barry sarcastically observes, “We’ll see how happy these people are when you explain their whole reason for being here … with a metaphor.” To which Jacob responds: “You think they’ll be disappointed?” “They want answers, Jacob!”

“They,” of course, are the fans as well as the crash survivors.

So just as Cuse and Lindelof did with their Jimmy Kimmel show appearance immediately after the Lost finale in May 2010, they’ve turned to humor to parry the complaints from some fans still feeling frustrated and shortchanged by the explanations parceled out in the concluding two-and-a-half hours of Lost.

There’s a touch of self-deprecation here, but still a sense of mild exasperation – not just at how unsatisfied the survivors would be with metaphors for explanations, but implicitly over the fact that there’s never going to be enough info for those persistent fans, either.

Will the duo ever admit that the fans might have a point? Will there ever be a full-fledged acknowledgment that perhaps the Lost finale and final season did not deliver as it could have?

If there is, it may take a very long time in coming. But there is a model. The (almost) mea culpa for the criticized finale of Seinfeld, from its writer, Larry David.

Eleven years after that 1998 Seinfeld finale, on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David (sort of) (implicitly) acknowledged that maybe (maybe) there was some disappointment at that Seinfeld wrap-up episode.

But Larry David had an inspired way to “fix it” without ever explicitly admitting to any of its shortcomings. Using the construct of Curb Your Enthusiasm, with performers playing themselves in a fictional story arc setting, he could revisit Seinfeld, organize a reunion, do a new “final” episode, and still treat it as a “Seinfeld reunion show that wasn’t a reunion show.”  (Although a Jerry Seinfeld line in the Curb setting did come close to an apology as he noted, “We already screwed up one finale.”)

This time it was letter perfect, providing creditable closure to the saga of Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer. In the process, Larry David took care of two finales at once, with that episode also wrapping Curb’s seventh season.

Not everyone has another show that allows for such a detailed course correction. But if Lost’s Cuse and Lindelof score big in any of their subsequent series, maybe someday they might have a similar opportunity (and the desire, in hindsight) for some kind of do-over.

So here’s wishing them great success for a long run of time-warping, fantasy-stretching series that can keep the door open for a return to the island. With luck, perhaps before the year 2020.

© 2011 Walter J. Podrazik

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