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Author predicts Season 3 answers

Lost cast
© American Broadcasting Company

October 8, 2006

Advertiser Staff Writer

For fans of the hit ABC series "Lost," a long summer of speculation, theorizing and withdrawal came to an end with Wednesday night's painfully anticipated Season 3 premiere.

And no one was more eager to dive into the rabbit hole of narrative complexity, moral ambiguity and plain confusion than Nikki Stafford, author of "Finding Lost: The Unofficial Guide."

And while the writer makes no claims to knowing exactly what's in store for America's favorite castaways, she has a pretty good idea of what questions may be answered and layers of mystery-upon- mystery will be peeled.

"We'll see more clearly how The Others work," Stafford said last week during a long-distance call from her home in Canada. "I don't think they'll go as far as a flashback, but if they did, that would be amazing."

Michael Emerson, who plays Henry Gale on the show, confirmed Stafford's hunch at the "Lost" premiere in Waikk on Sept. 30. According to Emerson, The Others will become "more three-dimensional" as the season progresses.

As for a Henry Gale flashback, don't hold your breath.

"As far as I know, he doesn't have a back story," Emerson said.

In typical "Lost" fashion, he answered a question with a question: "What would a flashback even involve?"

Stafford predicted that several other lingering questions will be answered this season:

- How will the Jack-Kate-Sawyer triangle play out? (Stafford thinks choosing Sawyer would be "more fun.")

- What's the deal with the four-toed idol?

- What's the story behind Dharma?

Stafford is also hoping another flashback will reveal why Locke was in a wheelchair before the crash.

"They've dangled that in front of us for years," she said. "Will they finally tell?"

In general, Stafford said she expects the third season to delve deeper into each characters' surface traumas.

Stafford has been following the show since it debuted three years ago, but she admits she didn't fully realize the range of interpretations the surface premise presented.

"About halfway through the season, I read an article about fans and all of their conspiracy theories - that the castaways were actually dead and in purgatory, that it was all part of a government experiment - and I thought, 'Wow!' " Stafford said. "I'd been watching it straight as people stuck on a deserted island."

It didn't take long for Stafford, who holds a master's degree in English from the University of Toronto, to get hooked on the show and its seemingly endless riddles.

"At first I wondered how they would maintain the interest with a limited number of people and a limited area," she said. "It could have been like 'Gilligan's Island,' but the flashbacks made it different. They were able to draw it out. It was an amazing touch."

Drawing on her old research skills, Stafford - who has also written books on "Xena: Warrior Princess," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel" and "Alias" - spent eight intensive months compiling a comprehensive, episode-by-episode guide to the show, an effort that involved watching each episode three or four times to catch every hidden image, allusion and hint of a hint.

The book also contains a section on locations used during the filming of the show. Ryan Ozawa, who with his wife, Jen, used to broadcast a now-defunct "Lost" podcast, "The Transmission," contributed several photos.

Unlike some critics who panned last year's season of "Lost" as impenetrably complicated, Stafford said the evolution of the story was "perfectly logical" to her. She said the biggest problem the show faced in retaining its viewers was the network's haphazard scheduling, which resulted in numerous reruns and interruptions.

"The good thing is that ABC has admitted that," she said. "There were so many reruns, and fans were very frustrated."

The new schedule calls for six new episodes to be shown consecutively. After an extended break, the show will complete the season with 16 consecutive new episodes.

"I think it's brilliant," Stafford said. "A lot of the complexity had to do with scheduling. When I watched the episodes again on DVD, it was so easy."

Stafford confines her viewing and analysis to the weekly broadcasts. While she occasionally visits "Lost" blogs, she does not keep up with all the extra information offered through the show's numerous multimedia marketing efforts such as the Lost Experience.

That, at least, shields her from some of the rampant speculation about which characters will be killed off this season. It's a subject on which she prefers not to linger long.

Still, she does have her ideas about who is and isn't indispensable. Stafford says Jack (Matthew Fox), Kate (Evangeline Lilly), Sawyer (Josh Holloway) and Locke (Terry O'Quinn) constitute the heart of the show and are unlikely to be written off. Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) and Claire (Emilie de Ravin) could be under threat - but then again, Monaghan was the biggest name when the show began, and Claire's character is still important because her child will be pivotal to the ongoing story.

And what about the others?

"Naveen (Andrews) is very vocal and he's made some (controversial) comments, but he's 'Sayid,' who is an integral character," Stafford said. "Mr. Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) is the only one left from the tail section, so I'd hate to lose him."

Wherever the storyline goes this season, Stafford said she hopes the show's writers remain true to their overall vision - and that includes a graceful, satisfying exit.

"I hope that the writers know when to stop," she said. "The show is so tight that after four or five years, it might be it, and to go longer than that would be too much. I know it might come down to what the network wants, and if the show is successful, they'll of course want it to continue. But, given the right to choose, I hope the writers and producers will do the right thing."

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