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- Lost Soul is responsible for this interview and its transcription.
David Fury was a Lost writer who wrote on the show during the first season. He was responsible for "Walkabout", "Solitary", "Special" and "Numbers" (with Brent Fletcher). The following questions were submitted by members of the Lostpedia Forums, and were sent via email. This is the first part of the David Fury interview, and focuses largely on the episodes that he wrote. The interview was posted on May 20, 2008.
Lostpedia: What are your thoughts about the evolution of Locke's character since you wrote “Walkabout"? Are there things that surprised you? Would you have done anything different?
It’s difficult for me to comment on Locke’s “evolution,” since I wasn’t able to watch the show regularly after the second season. Only saw a few episodes of Season 3, and none of Season 4 (though I hear the latter’s been consistently great). The only thing I will say is that Locke was the most interesting character to write, because of the complexities of his psyche. Despite what was revealed in: “Walkabout”, he could, and possibly should, have remained more of an enigma. After a while, all the mystery and potential menace was stripped from him, in favor of the Others. One thing I might have done differently -- I probably would not have focused so much on Locke’s “father issues” since that was the focal point of Jack’s flashbacks and motivations.
Lostpedia: How much of the Monster’s mythology were you made aware of when writing “Walkabout”?
There was no mythology to speak of in place during the early episodes of the series. We were building it as we went along, discussing possibilities. Metaphorically, the monster was just the great unknown threat, the imminent danger around the corner that potentially haunts us all… Some thought of it as a monster of the id, much like in Forbidden Planet -- that maybe it appeared differently to everyone who saw it. The most tangible thought, as explained later by Rousseau, was that it functioned as a security system set up by the island’s creators/early residents… whatever we later decided the answer was. For Locke, clearly, the monster was the “soul” of the island that was responsible for his “miracle.”
Lostpedia: When writing Sayid’s flashbacks, did you do any background research into the Republican Guard?
All I can say is… Thank the Mighty Zeus for Google. I pulled a lot from many articles, blogs, etc. on the subject… And, frankly, made up the rest. It’s not a documentary after all.
Lostpedia: Did Walt have anything to do with his mother’s death? Was this meant to ambiguous, and if so, do you know if there will be a reveal later on in the show relating to this?
Personally I don’t believe Walt had anything to do with his mother’s illness and death, but the ambiguity was intentional, in case it led to a story later. Which, I guess, hasn’t happened.
Lostpedia: Are you surprised that the characters you wrote for - Locke, Michael/Walt, Sayid and Hurley - have become even more important to the “Lost” mythology as the seasons go on?
Not surprised, but gratified. Damon and J.J. created vivid, original, characters, embodied by terrific actors. If I had some small part of securing the place of these characters in the firmament of the show’s mythology, color me happy.
Lostpedia: What do you think the deal is with the Numbers? What’s the best theory you’ve heard?
Frankly, your guesses are as good as mine. No, wait… Better. Your guesses are much better than mine.
Lostpedia: Speaking of the Numbers, who came up with them? What is their origin, and why those numbers rather than others? Whose decision was it to drop in references to these numbers in subsequent episodes as easter eggs for the fans?
J.J., Damon and I met at some restaurant on our day off to break that episode. Hurley winning the lottery was Damon’s idea. But I believe the “Numbers” and their importance was J.J.’s. When I started writing the episode, I already figured to use numbers that had been heard on the show… 4 (number of years Locke was in wheelchair); 8, 15 (Flight 815), etc. When I confirmed my number choices with Damon, I was still missing the last number. I had thought to make it “42” (an homage to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Answer to the Ultimate Question). When Damon had the same idea, that clinched it. It was my idea to have the numbers engraved on the hatch at the end of the episode. After that, I can only assume Damon is the easter egg dropper.
Lostpedia: Was Rousseau a character you invented for “Solitary”, or had the team intended to add her from the beginning? How much of her storyline did you know about when writing the episode?
The voice on that French distress signal from the pilot was always going to be addressed at some point. I had been pushing to have a character (or characters) walk the coastline of the island to see if it was, in fact, deserted. Finding the French woman seemed a logical discovery to connect the dots. I’m not sure who’s idea it was to kind of do a Misery thing… crazy woman keeping wounded man prisoner… but that was plenty to go on. JJ and I broke the bulk of the story together… But with much contribution from the staff. Our Script Coordinator Brent Fletcher (who shared credit on “Numbers” with me) came up with the idea of Hurley’s golf course. It was based on a miniature golf course he constructed in our ANGEL offices when we worked together there.
Lostpedia: Who came up with the famous catchphrase “Don’t tell me what I can’t do”?
That would be The Talented Mr. Lindeloff [sic].
Lostpedia: How did it feel to be nominated for an Emmy for “Walkabout”?
No, wait… Neat. Really neat.
Lostpedia: The character Sullivan was introduced in “Solitary”... Was he written as a one-shot, disposable character or, was he originally intended to have a bigger role in the story (the rash... the Sickness, etc)?
To the best of my feeble recollection, Sullivan was introduced as yet another way to use one of our “Meat Socks” as we lovingly called the background passenger. (At least I think it was “Meat Socks” – like I said, feeble memory.) Yes, his illness (seemingly psychosomatic – nice alliteration, if I say so) was to have everyone thinking it was the illness that killed Rosseau’s team, but that was clearly open to interpretation. And he could have appeared again, if a story warranted… But I guess it didn’t.
Lostpedia: How many of the redshirts have backstories that we haven't seen?
Lostpedia: Was time-travel ever mentioned while you worked on “Lost”? Do you know how long the idea has existed?
There was an exchange (pitched by J.J. when he and I broke the story) in an early draft of “Solitary” when Rousseau tells Sayid she had been part of a research team. Sayid asks her what they were researching. She replies: “Time.” The network saw that draft and asked us to remove the line. They were very timid about anything that smacked of Sci-Fi during the first season. I can only assume they’ve come around.
Lostpedia: “Lost’ has many biblical references in it, including titles such as "Exodus" and "23rd Psalm". Was naming the episode "Numbers", being the fourth book of the Bible, one of them or was it just a reference to Hurley's cursed numbers?
The Biblical reference was purely coincidental. Actually, I had been approached a couple of times during this period about being showrunner for the series NUMBERS that CBS was developing. Although I turned the job down, I was flattered for being asked and thought of the title as a shout out.
Lostpedia: What did you use for inspiration while writing for Lost, and in particular Walkabout?
I suppose my biggest inspiration was the LOST pilot. I constantly went back to reread it whenever I was on script. Additionally, my many years working for Mutant Enemy and for Joss Whedon informed my sense of story-telling – particularly with characters and their flashbacks, telling emotional tales.
Lostpedia: The Whispers featured right at the end of “Solitary”. Do you know what they are?
I can’t tell you what they are now, but I can tell you what they WERE. They were supposed to be the Others, lurking in the jungle. At that time, we hadn’t yet settled on what the Others would be. Since they were undefined, I had imagined they were going to be more feral, gone native… One might say “Reaver-ish.” (I wouldn’t, but one might.) I just didn’t imagine they were going to be spirit-gum, fake beard wearing, boat driving, faux hillbillies... as done in the season finale. My bad.
Lostpedia: Is the black smoke intended to be interpreted that Smokey has a sinister nature?
Ya got me.
Lostpedia: Why does Walt appear quite emotionless in “Special” for a young child whose mother has recently died?
Many children have difficulty processing their grief when a parent dies. I know a boy essentially raised by a grandmother who doted on him, who didn’t cry at all when she passed away. It could also have been a directorial choice.
Or Malcolm just couldn’t get there. In any case, I wouldn’t read anything dark into it. Unless you should. Or just want to.
Lostpedia: Did Walt make the polar bear appear in “Special”?
I’d certainly like to think so. That was the intent. But then… things have changed since my time.
Lostpedia: Do you miss writing for the sci-fi genre? What did you love most about writing for shows such as Lost and Buffy?
I do miss writing a true genre show, very much. The wonderful thing is the stories are wide open, you can set almost any tone. Particularly in Buffy or Angel – I could write a funny episode, a scary episode, a romantic episode… and I could use almost any device (monster/demon/puppet) to tell the story.
24 has been a terrific experience, but it feels extremely limiting to write. I’m looking forward to getting back to a funner sandbox. (See? I can make up words like “Funner”.)
Lostpedia: If you had a role on Lost, which character would you choose to be and why?
Actually I almost had a role. Eddie and Adam – sweet guys that they are-- had graciously wanted me to play the role of Arzt at the end of the first season. Unfortunately, as I was not returning to the show, Carlton was not happy with that idea. In any case, Daniel Roebuck did a much better job than I could have done.
Lostpedia: How are episode titles decided? Did you have any other preliminary titles for the episodes you wrote?
It’s the titled writer’s prerogative to name their scripts, though on rare occasions there is some negotiation.
I was very much into giving my episodes simple one-word titles that hit the common theme of the characters in their stories. I will say Damon had come up with a great name for the “Walkabout” episode before he’d learned I’d already named it: “Lord of the Files.” A little glib, but gotta admit, it’s clever.