The numbers are bad! After complaints from viewers and the Lost cast and crew, Netflix has restored the nearly 18 minutes missing from its version of the Lost TV series finale, “The End.” Posters had been cataloguing the lost Lost scenes, on Reddit, for the past three months.
Until Entertainment Weekly (EW) asked, co-creator Damon Lindelof was unaware of the footage missing from the Netflix version. Upon finding out, he was understandably upset. Actor Dominic Monaghan, who played Charlie Pace, was none too pleased, either.
From EW (emphasis ours):
Lindelof gave this statement to EW: “I am totally befuddled by all this. Love it or hate it, the finale that aired is the definitive finale and to alter it in any way defies explanation. Something tells me that this isn’t Netflix’s fault … that it’s an honest mistake and something got miscommunicated — I seem to remember ABC had to make an edit for rerun airings that tightened the show into ‘format’ (42 minutes to accommodate commercials), and somehow that [version] mistakenly got sent to Netflix. This sometimes happened with our finales — we’d ask for extra time and ABC would agree to air, but then we had to do another tighter version for subsequent airings and/or international [markets]. We usually left these (painful) cuts to the discretion of our editors… but as the show lives on in DVD form and on Netflix, there is ZERO reason to have the shorter version out there.”
Adding to the mystery: Some Netflix viewers insist they saw a previous version of the finale (titled “The End”) on the streaming service did have all the footage … so at some point the Netflix matrix might have changed.
And before the idea of multiple Lost finale edits give you any ideas, Lindelof added: “I have no intention of ‘changing’ nor Special Editioning the finale … we continue to stand by it, but this is a fix that needs to happen, so at least people can love or hate it in its entirety. Also, Deckard is a replicant.”
The writer-producer, whose current series The Leftovers recently received a third and final season order, signed his message with a pair of hashtags: #WhatHappenedHappened and #RestoreTheLostFinale.
Lindelof’s “Deckard is a replicant,” crack is a reference to a long-argued question regarding Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, and a great way to start arguments on the internet.
In an interview with The Wrap, before Netflix made the fix, Monaghan vented his displeasure at the idea of cutting the Lost finale:
“If that’s the case, that seems very strange … that feels like that’s something that couldn’t happen — that a company is able to cut another piece of artistic work,” Monaghan said in an interview with TheWrap.[…] We informed Monaghan of the confusing controversy shortly thereafter, when few details were available.
Monaghan backed up Lindelof’s statements. “Damon’s a very smart, creative guy, and between him and J.J. [Abrams] and … Carlton Cuse and the editors of the show, if they had a vision for the finale after six years work, than that is their vision and that is what they wanted you to see.”
“It’s almost a little bit like, is nothing sacred anymore? Are they gonna get a hold of the original ‘Star Wars’ — or the original ‘Lord of the Rings’ and say to Pete Jackson, ‘Hey, it’s a little long for us, so we’re going to cut off an hour here and there, if that’s OK with you,’” Monaghan said. “I think most artistic people would get pissed off about something like that. I mean, you certainly wouldn’t do that to a painting.”
“It’s art. It’s a statement. You should leave it alone,” Monaghan summed up. “It’s already been said, you don’t need to edit a comment that’s already been said.”
When EW tweeted about the story, Netflix responded:
@EW We aren't either! We are in the middle of correcting now, and will have the uncut version back streaming as soon as possible.
— Netflix US (@netflix) January 7, 2016
In checking Netflix before publishing this article, on the version now available, the time recorded under the episode description reads “1h 44m,” (i.e. 104 minutes), so the correction has already been made.
Given the cut episode’s length, it is most likely that Lindelof’s speculation about the cuts is correct: Netflix had put out the version edited for syndication.
In TV reruns, that finale would be cut into two episodes of about 43 minutes each, leaving approximately 17 minutes for commercials, in an hour-long block. Even regular sized episodes are cut for syndication, to increase ad time. Watch a favorite episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Veronica Mars on Pivot, and you will notice missing lines.
EW’s follow-up piece reaches the same conclusion, includes more from Lindelof, and takes a swipe at another controversial TV series finale, too:
Lindelof issued this statement to EW about Netflix’s decision [to put up the full 104 minute version of “The End”] “If governments moved with the same determined alacrity that Netflix just did, there would be worldwide harmony. This is awesome. Netflix is awesome. Ken Kratz is not awesome.”
Netflix typically streams whatever version of a show it receives from the rights-holder. The working suspicion is that Netflix received a version of the finale cut down for syndication. Earlier Lindelof wrote: “Something tells me that this isn’t Netflix’s fault … that it’s an honest mistake and something got miscommunicated … we continue to stand by it, but this is a fix that needs to happen, so at least people can love or hate it in its entirety.”
Now if we can just get Netflix to remove the end of the How I Met Your Mother finale…
Ken Kratz is a former Wisconsin prosecutor featured in the Netflix documentary series, Making a Murderer.
Full disclosure: as someone who wrote a more than 16,000 word recap on the Lost series finale, this reporter feels much better. As someone who recapped two seasons of How I Met Your Mother, the less said, the better.
What do you think? Were you a fan of the Lost TV show? Do you revisit it on Netflix? Had you noticed scenes missing?