In deference to this episode being an enjoyable filler, some tangential questions.
Assuming that the creators (of the show, not of the island) couldn't have known in advance that Lost would become a phenomenon, it seems unlikely that they would initially have done more than write a few scripts that they would put alongside some sort of skeletal master plan. The plan would allow for a certain amount of prehistory and complex symbolism that they would scatter around the island; these curious bits would have been stuck in there for a couple of reasons: to drive a season's worth of shows and to provide--without needing to tie down loose ends--curiosities.
Questions: how many scripts would beginners write before the network would greenlight their project? How many before they would start shooting? Do y'all think a multiyear dramatic arch was planned before they even cast the show? To what extent are current shows based on events and characters who weren't a glimmer in the creators' eyes when production began? If you gave a Lost island quiz to some of you and to the island's creators before the first season, which group would know more about the island?
Good questions-- I may be wrong, but my understsind is that pretty much a full season of Lost was bought based only upon a one page "concept" outline. No scripts were written when the show was bought.
What's more, I have heard that Damon and JJ got together and sketched out pretty much the whole show before they wrote a single script. I vaguely recall hearing that they felt they had about 100 episodes worth of story to tell.
Obviously, the will be more more than 100 total episodes of Lost (unless they plan to end it next season, and I think they would have to rush things if that decision was made). I think that a fair amount of what we are getting now is "filler" that was not part of the original story. But, I also think they are giving away secrets and details and plot twists that have been there all along-- they may just be adapting them as they go.
For example-- the original plan may have called for the "Penny" character to be someone connected to Jack but they changed the show when they added the Desmond character and wanted to expand on his history. I suspect that they never planned to get into "The Others" nearly as much as they have and that Juliet was certainly never planned. But, when the audience suddenly really connected with Ben, they decided to make him a huge part of the next season. I think one reason this season has felt somewhat disapppinting is that most of this year has been stuff that was not planned from the start and probably will not matter very much in the end.
I have no problem with any of this. Just because the show was planned in one way, does not mean adapting it and altering it along the way is a bad thing-- heck, it would be foolish to not do this and doing it has given us characters like Desmond and Ben who are among my favorites on the show. But, the producers/writers need to keep an eye on where they have been so we do not get inconsistencies that anger the audience.
I am still eager for them to pick an end date for Lost-- I think 5 seasons makes a great deal of sense-- and to see the scripts start to take us toward that end. While I will miss Lost when it is gone, I will be very disappointed if they turn it into an XFiles or Alias where it loses its focus and goes in such random directions that the audience no longer cares.
-Jason "I am confident JJ and Damon have their eyes on the finish line and will end it in at the right time" Evans
-Jason "this is sorta like asking us how we would do against Coach K in quiz about the 2007 Duke season if K had to take the test in November and we got to take it today" Evans
First of all, beginners have almost a 0% chance of getting a TV project greenlighted. It is almost always established writers and producers who can get an idea greenlighted, which means that a production company will fund the shooting of a pilot. Usually that decision will be made based on the reading of the pilot script and what is called a bible - the bible is usually made up of a detailed main character list (almost like detailed bios of all the main characters) and a synopsis of 6-12 episodes so that the production company has an idea of the storylines, thems, arcs, etc. the writers/developers have in mind for the concept.
Once the pilot is shot, it is shopped to the big studios and networks. If they are interested they will most likely ask to read the bible and may ask for an even more detailed bible before they make a decision to "pick up" the pilot.
Again, I realize there are many exceptions to this and deals get done in many different ways. This is just my understanding of the typical route.