This year marks the 10th anniversary of Lost, and with it the 10th anniversary of talking endlessly about Lost—a tradition that, along with porn and videos of tiny hamsters eating things, is almost entirely responsible for the flourishing of the modern Internet. Uniquely, much of that talk has been driven by the show’s executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof (when it’s not driving Lindelof into social media seclusion), and a new Esquire interview once again finds them waxing nostalgic on some of the biggest lingering mysteries of the past decade. For example, who keeps making those tiny burritos and tiny pizzas for those tiny hamsters? Is it God? Is it all a metaphor for the hamster wheel purgatory that is life?
But more specifically, Cuse and Lindelof talk about the only real mysteries of Lost that are left after so many years of articles like these—for example, why Sayid’s fingernails were so grotesquely long. (Naveen Andrews liked to play guitar, apparently.) But, even more interestingly, what do they think was Lost’s absolute worst episode?
Despite its polarizing status, it was decidedly not the one with Nikki and Paulo. “That was an example of a story idea where once we’d initiated it we regretted having done it,” Cuse admits. Still, Lindelof adds, “I love the fact that we’re still talking about Nikki and Paulo. Sometimes the mistake, the thing that wasn’t good, is the thing that’s really part of the legacy of a show like ours.” And when it comes to the show’s biggest mistake that wasn’t good—its flat-out lowest moment—Cuse has another one in mind:
I mean, I think the episode where Jack gets his tattoos in Thailand. I think it’s cringe-worthy, where he’s flying the kite on the beach. It was not our finest hour. We used Matthew Fox’s real tattoos. That’s how desperate we were for flashback stories.
Of course, the part of the Lost legacy that belongs to “Stranger In A Strange Land”—which Jack spends romancing a magical psychic tattoo artist played by Bai Ling—is that it prompted Cuse and Lindelof to begin looking for an end to the show (something the pair have said since at least 2009). “That story became really instrumental in convincing ABC that we needed to end the show. We were like, “Okay, this is what flashbacks look like now so it’s probably a good idea if we figure out how much longer this show is actually going to go,’ Cuse tells Esquire of the time they were so rapidly running out of ideas, they decided they could only go three more seasons, tops.
Still, all told, Lindelof estimates, “We did 121 hours of Lost. Arguably only 15 to 20 of them were subpar, bordering on turds.” And arguing over what other episodes he thinks are almost-turds will now fuel the next 10 years of the Internet.