There is an article over on YahooTV with an interview of Damon Lindelof, and the brunt of the conversation turns to “Why Charlie had to die!” Here’s the interesting part regarding Charlie:
You’re a bastard for killing Charlie
Lindelof: [Laughs.] True.
Can we talk about that? ‘Cause, oh my god, you killed Charlie, and we fans need to know why.
Lindelof: Yes, of course. Dominic, Carlton and I, and all the writers, really felt that when Charlie threw his Virgin Mary statues into the water last year, that was the end of his addiction arc. We weren’t interested in revisiting it and having him bounce between being drunk and being sober, so we began to really struggle with the idea of what was Charlie to play now. How was he going to evolve as a character?
Lindelof:At the very same time, we were starting to think about what the effect of the second season finale was going to be, with Desmond turning the fail-safe key. And we didn’t want to kill off Desmond, but because this fail-safe key existed as sort of a last resort, we wanted there to be really severe ramifications for Desmond turning it. We didn’t want him to get a free pass. And we felt that it would be cool if it involved time travel in some way. But instead of doing sort of a traditional time travel and creating paradoxes and all that stuff, we just did [the episode] “Flashes Before Your Eyes.” When that experience ended, we wanted him to be able to see the future, and we thought it would be cool if [his visions] always kind of related to Charlie and Charlie’s death, as opposed to seeing 50 different things. That way, he would struggle all season with the idea of whether or not Charlie’s death was inevitable.
Lindelof: We felt that would be a really interesting story for Desmond. But the way it would affect Charlie excited us even more. We thought it would make Charlie enormously heroic. He is a character who I think the audience has really liked, and he has, during the course of the show, demonstrated real heroism. Like when he killed Ethan for example. At the end of season two, we realized that if there was any character on the show who would sacrifice their life so that everyone else could be rescued, that would be Charlie. What we hadn’t decided though, was whether or not Charlie was actually going to die.
So, when did you actually decide to kill him?
Lindelof: Over the course of the year, we began to execute the story, and it was really working. I mean we just loved writing for Charlie. He had this whole new thing to play, and we loved how Dominic was working with Ian [Cusick]. Even with Hurley’s more light-hearted story, Charlie’s impending death gave it real gravitas. It was just a great storyline, and we were thinking, Is there a way for us to have our cake and eat it too? Can we continue prophesying Charlie’s death but not actually have him die, just have him willing to die? But we kind of got to the point—I guess it was during the writing of “The Brig”—where we were all just talking in the writers room and we realized it’s a cheat if he lives. It wouldn’t be fair, because we’ve made such a big story point out of it that Charlie now has to die. If he is going to accept his death, then he has to die. Otherwise, it’s like, why did we do this story at all? We can’t just let him off the hook. He has to die.
How did you break the news to Dominic?
Lindelof: You know, obviously, we started talking to him before we wrote “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” just so he would know what was coming. We told him that as soon as we knew definitively what Charlie’s fate was going to be, he’d be the first to know. And when we made the final decision, we called him and had a very reasonable conversation. He was completely understanding and appreciative and accepting.
On a personal level, was it a difficult decision letting him go?
Lindelof: Enormously. When you reflect back on the pilot, it was really Jack, Kate and Charlie’s story. They’re the three people you experience the crash with. They’re the original sort of three amigos who go tromping out into the jungle. I think Dominic is, along with Jorge, really the heart of the show. And the idea of how would the show feel with Charlie not being in it anymore, that was a very dark tunnel to be looking down and it continues to be. But I think the reality is, after 72 hours of Lost, we have the idea of communicating to the audience that it’s not just the Shannons and Boones and Paulos and Ekos and Ana Lucias who are vulnerable. Everybody is vulnerable. Not everybody’s going to make it to the end of this journey. I think that was an important story point to make.
Are you expecting that there is going to be any sort of fan backlash over this?
Lindelof: I hope so. I mean that honestly. I think that if people are like “we’re glad you did it,” that means we didn’t do a good job of emotionally bonding the audience to Charlie and making them feel like his sacrifice is really tragic and heartbreaking. But Dom’s work has been phenomenal, and in the last two episodes, he raised the bar even higher. And that’s not just a producer trying to be generous to an actor who has now left the show. I think the proof is in the proverbial pudding. I really hope that all summer long, I am derided by people for doing this, because it’ll mean that it meant something.
I wavered on whether or not I liked Charlie at times I did but at times he was annoying. He seemed like a hopeless romantic at times but a nut job at others, I guess thats what people liked about him from a character standpoint.
Are you going to miss Charlie?