Saturday, November 12, 2005

Day Late, Dime Short

Viewers of Lost, stand warned. This entry contains SPOILERS from last week's episode, so if you haven't seen it, go away.

Is it possible to take a completely unlikable character and make him or her sympathetic? I suppose it depends on why the character is unlikable in the first place.

Wednesday night the writers of Lost set out to accomplish the impossible, and unfortunately I have to say they weren't quite able to pull it off. In fact, I would say they committed double character-assassination in the process.

From episode one, the character of Shannon has been my least favorite person on the whole show. She was spoiled, self-centered, scheming, generally a big fat bitch. I was frustrated as all hell when Sayid, one of my favorite characters on the show, started to fall for her. Other than the fact that actress Maggie Grace is passably pretty and has a great body, what in the world could Sayid see in Shannon that appealed to him? She grated on my nerves worse than nails on a chalkboard.

Contrasted with her step-brother, Boone, who was the nice-guy boy-scout extraordinaire, Shannon was all the more shrewish. If we are to believe the backstory we were shown, time and again Shannon would use Boone's semi-incestuous love of her to con him out of tons of money and into bailing her out of one bad spot after another. Knowing how in love with her Boone was, she even went so far as to sleep with him only to coldly tell him afterwards that that would never happen again. Like I said, b-i-t-c-h.

And when Boone bit the dust end of last season, I had a hard time buying into Shannon's crocodile tears. She was oh-so-torn up about him, yet the entire time they were on the island together she never showed him much more than contempt. Whatever.

But last night, in their sloppy attempt to make Shannon sympathetic, the writers went the lazy route. Instead of giving us little tidbits over the course of the entire season that hinted at a decent person beneath her party-girl user exterior, the writers constructed a backstory for Shannon that included a Cinderalla story in toe shoes. Apparently Shannon was the victim of an evil stepmother who denied her of her due fortune when her beloved father was killed in an accident. Suddenly poor, Shannon had no way to finance her ballet internship in New York City.

Through all of this, Shannon is portrayed as this sweet, child-loving, doe-eyed ingenue. We are not given any reason to believe this poor little orphan girl would ever turn to a life of sleeping with one scumbag after another in order to scam huge sums of money from her trusting step-brother, Boone. The woman in the backstory flashbacks had as much resemblance to the Shannon we'd seen on the show so far as I have with Maggie Grace. Not so much. At all.

Not only did her backstory conflict directly with what we've known of Shannon so far, it showed a Boone in complete opposition of the one we'd known on the show. The Boone in the flashback was cool, in control, and seemed to be far more worldly than Shannon while the one on the island was kind of a bumbling doofus good-guy. When Shannon begs him - tearfully - to let her stay at his NYC apartment until she can find a job, Boone coldly informs her that he's taken the "very good" job his mother has just offered him and will be moving away from NYC. He's sorry and all that, but not that sorry. No hint at all of any kind of love or even lust or infatuation on Boone's part, certainly nothing that would lead me to believe he'd travel all over the world bailing Shannon out of abusive relationships.

So within one hour, the writers of Lost committed two counts of character assassination, and for apparently no good reason. At the end of the show, I felt not one iota of compassion for Shannon. I still couldn't understand why hot Sayid would be in love with her. And when she got shot, only my intense hatred for Ana Lucia, which simply cannot be surpassed, made me remotely sorry that it was Shannon and not AL that had been killed.

Even after their attempt to make me care about Shannon, I still didn't. I don't care that she's dead (I mean, above and beyond my normal human compassion that anyone ever would have to die). In fact, I'm kind of glad she's gone because now Sayid can find someone else that is far more deserving of his studliness.

I guess with Shannon's character, it was a case of a little too little, a little too late on the part of the Lost writers. Twenty minutes of forced pity couldn't make up for nearly thirty episodes of disgust and contempt.

On the upside, Naveen Andrews deserves an Emmy just for the look he gave Ana Lucia after Shannon got shot. Now I finally have a visual of what an expression of "murderous rage" looks like. Wow. Bravo, Naveen.


AE Rought said...

OMG, amen to that Sister!! We SO need to get together and watch this show. We hate and love all the same characters for all the same reasons.

I told another online friend of mine that I felt the writers really let me down on Wednesday. As for as character assassination, then nearly tanked three for me. You know that I love Sayid, but I couldn't be made to swallow that bitter pill of Shannon as a love interest. As a vehicle to create the murderous look, I can accept, past that... Hell no.

On a funny note, my girlfriend here hated Shannon too. She called me the next morning singing, "Ding dong, the witch is dead!" :)

Oh, sorry for the lengthy silence, btw, I've been busy working on webpages and submissions.

Lynn M said...

Yes, AE, I do think we would watch a show together and have exactly the same reactions!!

So, are you a Kate and Jack hater? See, I'm not, and for the life of me I can't understand all of those who dislike these two so much.

In the end, I mostly care about Sawyer and Sayid. I told my hubby last week that if Sawyer was the character who died, I'd stop watching the show.

And I'm in a toss up about whether or not I want Kate and Sawyer together. They have great chemistry, but I'm just not sure...

AE Rought said...

Actually, I like Kate and Jack together. Although, sadly enough, I hear that Jack is supposed to be paired with that heinous Ana Lucia. *gag*

Kate and Sawyer are too much alike, I think they'd burn each other out. Sawyer's so dangerous sexy, though, that I think he could create chemistry with anyone that he breathed at!

If Sawyer or Sayid take a foreign island dirt nap, I'm done watching. They are the show for me.