There's only three episodes left this season. What is it about this week's episode that sets the stage for the Jack-centric finale, airing May 23?
CUSE: Well, it's a Ben flashback, so it kind of really roots into the mythological history of the show and answers some important questions about the relationship between the Dharma Initiative and the Others. Ben is such a formative character, he is the biggest bad guy we know on the show. To get to know him is a signal that we've become an answer-mode kind of show.
LINDELOF: And more importantly, we meet Jacob the elusive, unseen, presumed leader of the Others for the first time. And this is a character who is every bit as significant to our universe as the Emperor was to the Star Wars universe a character that you didn't get to meet until Return of the Jedi but was referred to all through the preceding films. Jacob is a guy who is going to have a very significant, ongoing sort of story value in our show.
Who's playing this character someone new, or someone we know?
LINDELOF: We're not going to answer that.
Next season will launch in February 2008. All 16 episodes will air without interruption, like 24. There's been talk that the show will move to another day and an earlier time slot next season. True?
CUSE: You'll have to ask ABC. There are strong indications that it will air in an earlier time slot next year. There was a family viewing experience of Lost that was ''lost'' when the show moved to 10 p.m.
LINDELOF: But one thing to keep in mind: Since the show is launching in the spring next year, anything they say now will be subject to change based on how the fall goes. You know, this season, if Daybreak had been a big hit, who's to say what would have happened? We might have come back again at 9 p.m., or maybe earlier. So it depends on what happens with the show that's going to be on Wednesday nights from September to December. That will influence when and how Lost will be scheduled in the spring.
Is it true that the season finale for this season has been given the codename ''The Rattlesnake?''
LINDELOF: ''The rattlesnake in the mailbox'' is the full name.
CUSE: It's one of those highly scary and vulnerable things: What if you drove home and stuck your hand in the mailbox and there was a rattlesnake in there?
LINDELOF: Here's how this came about. One day, Carlton was looking at his mailbox and thinking this: ''Wow! No one would expect this a rattlesnake in their mailbox!'' He shared this in the writers' room one day, and every writer turned to him and said, ''What kind of sick thought is that?! Of course no one would think of a rattlesnake being in their mailbox, because only an extremely sick, deranged individual would put one in there!'' And it was that which made us think, ''Actually, a rattlesnake in the mailbox is the perfect name for what we're doing in our finale.'' Because only an extremely deranged individual would think of doing what we're doing.
CUSE: Well said.
By now, we've gotten to know these castaways pretty well. Take Jack. We know his issues. We know most everything we need to know about what's at stake for him on the Island, what he's been dealing with in his past. In light of this, will the flashback structure continue to be part of the show in future seasons, or will that be reinvented in the finale?
CUSE: Actually, we know very little about the fact that Jack has psoriasis.
LINDELOF: We also felt that a lot of people aren't talking about psoriasis
CUSE: so we felt it would actually be a public service if we actually did a very detailed backstory about psoriasis.
LINDELOF: The reality is, you do know everything there is to know about Jack as a character in terms of what's driving him. But you don't know everything that's happened to Jack. And there is one sort of significant event that we've been holding back that happened to Jack and we're going to show it in the season finale. And as all great flashbacks on the show are, they pertain directly to what's happening on the Island.
Okay. But will the flashback structure be part of the show going forward?
LINDELOF: Let's have that conversation after the finale.
Does the finale set up season four?
CUSE: Yes. The finale clearly sets up season four of the show, and hopefully in doing so, people will see there is still a lot of storytelling left in Lost and will feel really good about the 48 number.
LINDELOF: And it will make you realize that the house you are standing in actually has a lot more rooms than you thought when you came into it.
Nice cryptic teasing analogy! Last question. Don't tell my wife, but I have a crush on Mrs. Hawking, the creepy old lady from Desmond's flashbacks who knows all about his future.
LINDELOF: Huh. I don't even know how to respond to that.
There is no other response other than telling me whether I'll be seeing her again before the end of the season.
CUSE: Can we just back up half a second? Once you say something like that, Jeff, it can't be unsaid.
LINDELOF: Unless you travel back in time, like Mrs. Hawking does. But no, you won't be seeing her before the end of the season but you will be seeing her again.
Sigh. Guess I have something to really look forward to.