We pick up the conversation with Damon and Carlton discussing one unforeseen advantage of the recent writers' strike: being able to respond to audience confusion. (Note: Teases and spoiler stuff are at the end. Veggies before dessert, you know.)
CARLTON CUSE: If we were sitting down with you right now, and there hadn't been a strike, we would be in the middle of writing the finale. The entire season would have been done and the audience would have only seen two or three episodes. Now, we actually have an opportunity to react and adjust to how people are feeling about everything.
DAMON LINDELOF: Naomi's bracelet in the Sayid episode is a key point here. I got some e-mails from people who wondered if there was a connection between Naomi's bracelet and the bracelet worn by the woman Sayid killed in his flash-forward. There is no connective tissue. Sometimes a bracelet is just a bracelet. We just thought it would be a cool emotional touchstone for Sayid; Elsa's bracelet reminds him of Naomi. But some people interpreted that, ''Is there something more there?'' We might need to address that.
CUSE: But this is a commentary on how the flash-forwards work. We were very concerned if the flash-forwards would have the same emotional resonance as flashbacks because people naturally, easily understand flashback storytelling as a device. The bracelet is one example of where people, I think, can get lost.
DOC JENSEN: Some people are even wondering if the flash-forward stories in each episode are being presented chronologically. For example, did the opening sequence of Sayid's flash-forward in which he killed the Italian guy on the golf course in the Seychelles actually occur after his ill-fated Elsa affair?
LINDELOF: There was originally a line in that episode where Sayid said, ''I've just returned from the Seychelles,'' which would have cleared all that up. But we lost it in editing because the scene went on for four minutes. When we're presenting you with a narrative, it's always happening in chronological order.
CUSE: Lost is complex and dense, but we are very conscious of the limits. If we are going to jump time, we're not going to jump narrative order within the time jumps, too.
LINDELOF: We wrote the Sayid episode before the Boston Red Sox won the World Series a second time. So when Jack said to Frank Lapidus, ''Did the Red Sox really win the World Series?'' and Lapidus says, ''Please don't remind me,'' certain subsets of the Lost audience began asking, ''Is it possible Lapidus is actually from 2008?!'' But you have to understand: we are not writing the show for now. We are writing the show so that when you put it in your DVD player 20 years from now, you don't have to understand the nuances of the Red Sox winning the World Series, only they hadn't won it in a long time.
CUSE: But you won't have a DVD player, Damon.
LINDELOF: It'll just be downloaded into your brain.
NEXT PAGE: Forget the idea of several possible futures. ''The problem with alternative realities is that you never know when the rug is going to be pulled out from under you. We want the audience to believe that the jeopardy is real.''