Friday, November 11, 2005

The New Yorker puts in her two cents on the LOST kill.

I assume that by now, any real fan of LOST has seen Wednesday night’s episode by now, or has at least heard about what happened.

If it’s still waiting for you on your TiVo, and you’ve managed to avoid the media blitz surrounding it, stop reading now.

Why Shannon?

For the greater part of last season, I was fairly indifferent to Shannon’s character. She often came across as a one-note and single dimensional, a spoiled, self-centered girly-girl, who was mean to her brother, er, step-brother. We occasionally got glimpses that she may have had more to her than the shallow ditz that she seemed. She did help translate the eerie radio tower transmission with her cursory knowledge of French, and worked with Sayid to decipher the map he had taken from the French woman. The show even tried to make her sympathetic by giving her an asthma attack, and developing a romance between her and Sayid. Some were scandalized by Boone’s flashback episode that revealed intimate details of his history with Shannon, but I wasn’t particularly shocked by the whole step-sibling trist; it’s been done before.

But then, a couple episodes shy of the first season’s finale, things started to get sort of interesting for Shannon. Boone died in a violent accident, and she was devastated. Not only that, but the ambiguous nature of “the accident” gave her cause to go out on a vendetta against Locke. Locke’s disappearence after bringing Boone to Jack, and overall cagey-ness about what they were doing in the Jungle, gave her rational justification to consider guilty. I liked that the writers/producers were making Shannon into a sort of dark, brooding figure who was potentially a loose cannon, i.e. when she went after Locke with the gun. There was also the touching moment, where Walt passed Vincent onto her, which I thought was a nice touch, and it seemed like finally after a season of sun-bathing and flirting, the show was ready to take her character to some interesting places. Boone’s death was just the sort of the thing that could really unhinge her. Wouldn’t it have been cool (I think) to have a derranged survivor on the island? If you ask me, even though its been forty eight days since the plane crash, people all seem a little too “chill” on the island.

In this season’s premiere, it seemed like we might get to watch Shannon’s inevitable spiral into insanity, when we got a glimpse of her hallucinations with Walt in the jungle. But let’s be honest, with everything going on in the hatch, no one, neither survivors nor veiwers, was paying much attention to what Shannon did or didn’t see. And so five episodes into the new season, without much of any progression with her character, there is a Shannon flashback episode. The flashbacks started out interesting enough, solidifying the fact that Shannon’s father was in the car that collided with Sarah’s SUV. (Sarah was the woman whom Jack operated on in the hosptial in the season’s first episode. It was implied that Shannon’s father died because Jack was giving Sarah immediate attention in order to save her.) Here we have another coincidence which seems bound to play out on the island, and in some interesting ways to boot. We also learn that Shannon’s past is a Cinderella story of sorts, with an evil step mother who takes all her father’s wealth as her own after his death. Shannon wasn’t always the gold digging leach she has been portrayed as, and once upon a time, she was an innocent sweet young girl, who was trying to make it on her own. I like the fact that they used this as an opportunity to bring Boone back, (despite the bizarro hairstyle he sported) and it was also compelling to see that there was a time, where they had more of a supportive sibling relationship with one another. Ok, so now we have something to work with. Shannon obviously underwent some hardening of the heart that will be revealed at some point down the line.

Except that it won’t, because she died.

My guess is that the writers were thinking, ‘let’s make make this character seems as sympathetic as possible, and then just when everyone is rooting for her, let’s kill her off.’ But I don’t think it worked.

First off, I’m not really buying the whole Sayid in love with her thing. After forty eight days isn’t it a little bit early in a relationship to say you’re in love with someone and you’re never going to leave them? I mean, that’s a month and a half after knowing someone, and they weren’t even involved for the first couple weeks. Maybe I was supposed to be moved by their passionate embrace in the pouring rain as they declared their undying love to each other. But I wasn’t.

Secondly, Shannon’s transformation from pure and innocent, to kniving wench is only intriguing and powerful if you get to see what caused it. While the death of her father was probably a large factor, it still didn’t change her enough to accept the money from Boone when he offered it. I think it’s a cheap shot to do such a one eighty on her character, try to pull the audience’s heart strings by showing us her past hardships, and then kill her.

I also think its sort of sloppy storytelling to kill off both Boone and Shannon, particularly so close together in the show’s timeline. There was untapped potential with both her character and storylines, and it seems like all of the time devoted to developing those were a waste. Because the problem, was that the show hadn’t sold us completely on Shannon yet, or at least they hand’t sold me. They had only begun to make her more interesting in the past several episodes, and so the death didn’t really hit me the way that a main character’s death should. I didn’t really care.

Now, there’s always the factor that the writers and producers were just trying to work around the fact that Maggie Grace wanted to leave the show for her burgeoning film career. Maybe they hadn’t planned to kill her off at all. Maybe they just had too. It’s also possible that they’re still somehow planning to pull out all the stops, and kill off Sawyer instead of or in addition to her. Seems unlikely though. Maybe I’m just jaded because I knew the spoiler weeks ago.

I am, however, very much looking forward to next week’s episode depicting the “other fourty eight days” of the survivors from the tail plane. Also a big Hallelujah for Michael, for finally putting the sticks to Anna, and demanding that she tell them what the heck they are all talking about re: the others. It was about damn time.


Anonymous crazymonk said...

C'mon, people can fall in love very quickly in harsh circumstances, such as during war, or on an evil deserted island.

As for Shannon's death, I was starting to like her character quite a bit, so I'm slightly disappointed. But I'm pretty sure it's something the writers threw in because of necessity (e.g., your film career example) and not in service of a larger plot. Lost has no larger plot.

3:55 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

True about the larger plot business...

1:33 AM  
Anonymous DC Dionysian said...

Are we sure she's dead? How will they get to reveal the bit with Jack not saving her father if she's not there to put it together?

1:06 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

And what about the fact that The Fog was terrible? Isn't her movie career already over?

7:36 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

Tell me about it.

10:20 PM  
Blogger The Moviequill said...

they better make up for killing her by tossing in more gratuitous shower scenes with Kate...

7:13 AM  

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