How the producers keep us guessing
It finally dawned on me how the producers are able to pull off so many shockers and twists without allowing fans to consistently predict what’s around the corner. This may not interest many people, but I almost majored in film production, so I found it fascinating. The epiphany hit me when I was watching last season’s 12th episode, ‘Dead is Dead.’
One of the big mysteries of the time was whether or not Ben had killed Penny. Before boarding 316, Ben left Jack in the chapel. When Jack asked where Ben was off to, he replied, ‘Oh, I made a promise to an old friend of mine–just a loose end that needs tying up.’ With Desmond showing up to the chapel the episode before, everyone knew he was referring to his promise to kill Penelope Widmore.
Unfortunately (for the viewers), the next time we see Ben, he is beat up and soaking we speaking from a payphone at a dock. The fact that we knew Penny and Desmond were living in a boat screamed that something had just happened with Penny. However, the producers masterfully left Penny’s condition up in the air. We simply did not have enough information to deduce the success of Ben’s attempted assassination.
We didn’t get our answer for six full episodes. In ‘Dead is Dead’ wet finally learn that Ben froze when he saw young Charlie Hume, giving Desmond time and an opportunity to attack Ben before he can shoot Penny.
Nobody could have definitively said that this would be the outcome because we had yet to see Ben’s softer side and compassion towards children until the very episode the producers used it to explain one of their cliffhangers. ‘Dead is Dead’ opens with the scene where Ben kidnaps Alex and spares her life.
They kept what happened a mystery by using an event we would not see until the episode in which the mystery is t be explained. I expect the same to be true with the series finale.
I thought it was interesting how the producers use this technique to keep the audience guessing, especially an audience that can access so much information and communicate on theories boards and forums.