What show is better suited to a conspiracy theory than Lost, the show that had viewers parsing the mythopoetic symbolism of the Dharma Initiative, time travel, and polar bears, practically birthing the 10,000-word recap in the process? So it seems only fitting that, when Lost recently arrived on Netflix, not all was as it seemed. The finale — oh, the finale! — that aired for 104 strange and glorious minutes on ABC back in 2010 has been replaced on the steaming service by a strange imposter 18 minutes shorter. The interesting bit, of course, is that Lost has been available for streaming on Netflix for years, and it wasn't until last September that the good people of Reddit began documenting the various scenes that were nipped and cut. However, now that this has been brought to Lost creator Damon Lindelof's attention, he isn't happy about it. It's his baby! Don't mess with his baby! "I have no intention of 'changing' nor Special Editioning the finale," he told EW in a statement. "We continue to stand by it, but [restoring the original] is a fix that needs to happen, so at least people can love or hate it in its entirety."
As for how the mix-up happened, Lindelof offered one possible explanation. Unlike most Lost fan theories, it actually makes a lot of sense:
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.
ABC Studios provides the content, which Netflix then airs, so it's unclear how this possible switch occurred. Netflix has said that they are aware of the problem and are working on getting the original back up:
@vulture We are! It was an unintentional glitch and we are working on correcting with the "unedited" versions as we speak.— Netflix US (@netflix) January 7, 2016
To add an extra twist, some viewers say that they did in fact watch the full version on Netflix, which would mean that the shortened version was swapped out at later point. What is the truth? Which way is north? What was the smoke monster? All we know is that we have to go back. We have to go back.