Tuesday's episode of Lost has fans turning on each other like some sort of science-versus-faith debate, and executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse pretty much expected it to happen. "Across the Sea" was one of the few episodes of the series that divided the show's normally loyal fan base (I enjoyed it, but its current 8.5 user rating on TV.com ranks it as the lowest of this final season), with detractors questioning the timing and placement of the mythology-heavy episode just before the series says goodbye forever.
"We kind of planned this episode to come at this period of time because we actually wanted to take a break after the deaths of these major characters," Cuse told noted TV critic Alan Sepinwall. "It felt like this was the perfect time to take a time out from the main narrative. And since this was the final big mythological episode that we were going to do, we felt like it was a good placement for it, and now we'll roll into the finale. We make no apologies."
But should even have to think about saying they're sorry? One could argue that it's their responsibility as showrunners to provide us, the lazy viewers, with a show that entertains us. After all, it's their job. One could also argue that these two are artists, and if you don't like their art, too bad. That's the curse of the position they're in, to be loved by many at one moment, only to be turned on in a relative blink of an eye.
Cuse and Lindelof have repeatedly stated that not all of the show's mysteries will be resolved. For example, the Man in Black will probably never have a name, and that angers a lot of viewers. But when Cuse and Lindelof have answered questions, the result has been less than satisfying. A lot of the revelations we've received so far, like the origin of the whispers on the island, have been delivered in clunky ways. It's a double-edged sword; if Cuse and Lindelof don't answer questions, they get slammed. And when they do answer questions, they do so a tad sloppily. And then there's the fact that new questions are are still popping up, even as Lost winds down.
"For the show to devolve into running through a checklist of answers, we would have been, honestly, crucified for that version of the show," said Cuse. "It's ironic that the episode that's generating so much controversy ["Across the Sea"] is one in which we answered questions, but it's not surprising to us. Between what the audience thinks they want and what they will find entertaining—we have tried to make the show in a way that people would find it entertaining, moving, engaging. To do that required having new mysteries. That's the way we operated."
Their interview is an interesting read, as the pair appears to be on the defensive in light of criticism over the episode (and to some extent, the entire season). But should they be? Critics of Lost have spewed hate on message boards and in comments sections this season more than ever, and the show's loyal fans have fought back with fury; Lost articles have become the most heated battlegrounds in television news.
There is one thing in the interview that I have a problem with, though, and that's their answer to the Adam and Eve inconsistency. If you'll recall, when the two skeletons were discovered in "House of the Rising Sun," Jack estimated that the bodies must have been dead about 40 or 50 years, based on the deterioration of the clothes. But the bodies were revealed to be those of the Man in Black and the Mother character introduced in "Across the Sea," who would have been dead for hundreds of years (the time table isn't clear, but it's certainly before Richard Alpert came to the island in the 1800s, and those characters could be thousands of years old).
How do the two producers explain that discrepancy? "Jack is not really an expert in carbon dating," said Cuse.
"The other theory that I would like to throw out there is that Jacob and his mother were just expert craftsmen," said Lindelof. "They made those clothes on that loom so well, it would appear that they were only 50 years old in decomposition, when in fact it's several thousand."
"Or perhaps the fabric is magic," added Cuse.
The two are obviously having a good time dancing around that question, but some Lost fans may not find it funny. At one point there was a strong theory (it involved a complicated anagram) that the two skeletons were Rose and Bernard, who'd time-traveled back to the '70s and would reasonably fit within Jack's guess at the skeletons' age. Is it possible that the theory became too widespread on the internet, and that Lindelof and Cuse decided to change their mind?
I'm not going to throw a hissy fit for every little discrepancy in this ultra-complicated show, but the Adam and Eve thing has become kind of a big deal. For a show that boasts some of the strictest attention to detail of any show, ever, it seems like this component may have gotten away.
Do you buy the answer to the Adam and Eve question? And do you think "Across the Sea" was a mistake?
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom