The more years that pass following Lost’s initial absence from our TV screens, the more it seems like the show’s creative team was just doing whatever felt right at the time rather than fulfilling some grand scheme. That was seemingly just proven again by Lost’s co-creator and showrunner Damon Lindelof, who claims that part of one of the series’ best episodes was in fact inspired by the horror sequel Saw II. This is no game.
Speaking with Buzzfeed, Lindelof shared that the at-the-time-mindblowing ending for the Season 3 finale ”Through the Looking Glass” came about after Lindelof and co-writer Carlton Cuse watched the Donnie Wahlberg-starring Saw II and were inspired by its ending, for which audiences were meant to think they were watching a scene play out in present real time instead of in the past. Here’s how Lindelof describes their switcheroo of that concept.
Carlton (my co-writer) and I had just finally won the battle to have ABC announce an end date to the show (albeit three years out), which finally allowed us to break from the monotony of character flashbacks (we had one that explained where Sayid had his hair styled all lined up) and launch into flash-FORWARDS. But the divine inspiration of Saw 2 led us to the inevitable conclusion that the best way to do this would be to make our first flash-forward LOOK like yet another flashback. And then, in the final scene, we drop the hammer. Boom. You’re in the FUTURE, BITCHES!!! TAKE THAT, DONNIE WAHLBERG!
As a fan of those first two Saw movies, I don’t have much of a problem with this mirror-image bit of copycatting, as it capped a truly great and tragic episode off with a jaw-dropping twist. After audiences said goodbye to Charlie earlier in the episode, it looked like we were watching a grizzled and pilled-up Jack living a pre-Island life while tortured by something his therapist had given him. And when Kate stepped out of that limo at the end of the episode, inspiring Jack to yell about needing to go back to the Island, it was a shock like few others on TV. Plus, it inspired an entire summer full of yelling about needing to go back to things.
And for all that Lost got increasingly more convoluted and non-essential over the next few seasons, that episode was gold, with that ending serving as a major water cooler conversation starter. And Lindelof knew it, too.
My process is riddled with doubt and self-loathing, but this was one of the rare instances where I felt like I was doing something undeniably great. I felt like I had been crouched down in the darkness of someone’s apartment with all my best friends (the writers) waiting to should out SURPRISE to our unexpected birthday boy/girl (the audience) – and I KNEW they’d be thrilled when we did.
It’s been years since I watched Lost, so I can’t say for certain how well the episode still holds up. But it definitely stood out in 2007, and apparently we have Saw II’s Darren Lynn Bousmann and Leigh Whannell to thank for it.