As soon as I saw the final Comic-Con schedule, my heart sank, because "Chuck" and "Lost" were scheduled back-to-back -- in two different rooms, with "Lost" in Hall H, which is legendary for both its size and the length of its line. I had joked with Schwartz and Fedak that I might just bail on the "Chuck" panel 10 or 15 minutes early and let them conduct the fan Q&A portion, but thanks to some kind people and a willingness to sprint from Ballroom 20 to Hall H, I was able to stay for the entirety of "Chuck" and get into "Lost" with a minute or two to spare.
And it was worth the effort, I thought. I've seen Damon and Carlton in action before at TCA (where the above photo was taken last January), and I enjoy their podcast (more for the comedy value than for anything they reveal about the show, because they're so damn cagey), but I had always heard that, just as Reggie Jackson tended to play his best in the World Series, the Comic-Con stage was the idea venue in which to experience Darlton in action. They did not disappoint. I mentioned a lot of the good stuff on my Twitter feed, but I'll try to capture the some of the highlights after the jump...
After a few video clips (including fake opening credits for an '80s TV show about the Dharma Initiative, which is up on ABC.com), Damon and Carlton came out and said that, since this would be their final Comic-Con experience (they're not coming after the finale), they wanted to thank the fans and also to answer some long-standing questions. One of those was the famous "Are you making it up as you go along?," and they said they had a method to prove that they knew the ending from the beginning: they inserted the script pages for the final scene of the series into a vault with two keys, and promised to open it after the finale on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." (*)
(*) Said method was in service of a comedy bit, or else I'd point out that it wouldn't prove anything, unless they had locked away some notes five years ago.
From there, it was time for a mix of questions -- "We will be as honest and forthcoming as we never were," Lindelof promised -- fan videos (including a great mock opening credits sequence that made the show look like an '80s action series, complete with use of the "Magnum, PI" font (which was also used in that cool YouTube mash-up of Magnum and Han Solo) and a hilarious freeze-frame on the "Lost" logo over Hurley running one of The Others over with the magic bus.
A fan asked about recent Darlton statements that season 6 would resemble season 1 in some ways.
"You'll be seeing many characters you haven't seen since the first season," Lindelof promised.
"There was a certain feel" to season 1, said Cuse. "They were running around in the jungle. Things felt intense and surprising...We feel we have a way to do that in the final season of the show that we like, and we hope you will too."
"It's really our goal to have you watch the final season of the show and not know what we're going to do next," Lindelof added.
Paul Scheer from "Human Giant" showed up to present the guys with a painting of them giving a thumbs-up while being embraced by a polar bear, and after some hedging on the fate of Daniel Faraday, vis a vis Juliet setting off Jughead, another fan asked about flashbacks.
"We are doing something different in season 6," Carlton said. "The time travel season is over, the flash-forward season is over. We have something different planned. Hopefully, you will like it, but we are not going to commit to what it's going to be."
Jorge Garcia appeared in a mock commercial for Mr. Cluck's chicken, then appeared in Hall H itself to ask his bosses if they were going to answer every question, noting, "The last time I trusted you guys, you said Nikki and Paulo were going to be awesome."
Damon cleverly said "Everything that matters is going to be answered," which gives them a ton of wiggle room in terms of what they feel matters.
Michael Emerson then came out to heckle Garcia's heckling of Darlton, and this turned into an argument about whether Emerson didn't like him because he really wanted to play Hurley, and when Emerson (who was, as you can imagine, hilariously sarcastic) denied auditioning for the role, Lindelof played some mock audition footage of Emerson, circa 2004, dressed as Hurley. Very disturbing. Very funny.
There were several Richard Alpert questions -- Cuse promised some Alpert backstory this season -- and when a fan with a thick Boston accent asked the inevitable eyeliner question, we cut to Nestor Carbonell backstage talking to himself in the makeup chair mirror -- "Richard Alpert's not immortal. You are!" -- and, of course, applying a ton of eye makeup. Carbonell would join Emerson, Garcia and other special guests on the stage.
Getting back to Jughead, Lindelof hedged about the survival of Juliet, noting that if the plan worked and time reset, she's fine, and if not, not, but, as with Faraday/Jeremy Davies, he expects to see Elizabeth Mitchell on the show this year in some capacity.
Emerson fielded a question about the fans' nicknaming Jacob's rival "Esau" by saying, "We sometimes deal in Biblical iimagery, but we tend to dance in and back away from it. That might be too much, but I like the way your mind is working."
"You're good at this!" Damon told Emerson, marveling at how impressively he non-answered that.
After a Sawyer tribute clip, Josh Holloway came out with a prop taser and pretended to stun Lindelof to steal his key to the script vault. (It was particularly funny because the taser sound effect was a good five seconds after Lindelof pretended to spasm, and because Lindelof had a hard time not moving around as Holloway stole the key. At one point, he had to lift his head up to help out.) After Holloway stuck Lindelof's hand in a pitcher of water, he threatened Cuse by telling him, "I will shock your friend JJ Abrams again!" (This led to one of the more overt references I've heard Cuse make about how Abrams hasn't worked on the show since season one.) Then he unlocked the box and struggled to read it, so Emerson (who's a great audiobook narrator) took over and began to read the following stage directions:
"'Exterior, circus tent, night... As the flames die, we find Sylar and Parkman...' What the f--k is this?"
We got one final montage, a necrology of all the dead characters set to Boyz II Men's "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday," with the biggest applause going to, in order, Charlie, Faraday and Mr. Eko. Charlie's segment was the last, and longest, because Dominic Monaghan (already at Comic-Con, having joined the cast of ABC's "Flash Forward") came on stage to wave to the crowd. He had something written on his palm, presumably "Not Penny's Boat."
And with that, the final "Lost" Comic-Con panel was over, and if we didn't know much more about the last season than we did going into it, at least we were darned entertained.