Lost’s Black Body Count.

Last night’s other Major Event, for those who could pry themselves away from the presidential debate long enough to realize it, was the return of ABC’s stranded-crash-survivor series, Lost. Now in its fourth season, the show made an exciting reappearance — thankfully providing a brief reprieve from the ongoing new-episode drought and making good on the promise of last season’s finale. These flash-forwards are gonna be wild (and not a moment too soon. If we had to sit through another one of Sawyer’s cons or Kate’s narrow escapes from the law —like we get it: they’ve all got checkered pasts —we might not have made it to the series end).

But we’re not here to recap Lost. Rather, we’d like to chime in on a trend we’re beginning to notice as we continue watching it. It seems that, like George W., the Lost writers don’t care about Black people.

Now before you protest too soon, on the grounds that part of the show’s appeal is that “no one is safe” and any of the regulars can go at any time, we’re going to concede that we agree. Killing off Boone in Season 1—a dark-haired chap with alabaster skin, cerulean eyes, and no acting charisma to speak of —definitely set the “Game on!” stage for what’s followed. The writers also killed off Boone’s blond sister (as soon as she began “dating” the brown-skinned Iraqi), two other blond survivors, Libby (as soon as she started getting next to the lovable, light-skinned Latino), and most recently, Charlie, the heroin addict with the heart of gold. And, of course, there’s the various and sundry other white extras from the both sides of the island who’ve bit it since the show began.

That’s great, but to that we say, it’s a predominantly white cast. In that case, since careless gun- and knife-play, wild boars, ruthless villains, and a black “smoke monster” are daily threats, killing off whites is rather inevitable, isn’t it?

To date, there’ve only been about eight Black non-extras (and by non-extras, we mean people with speaking roles *and* storylines) on Lost. As of last night, only one remains. Let’s take a look at them and their status below:

mike

1. Michael Dawson (Harold Perrineau) – one of the original series regulars whose initial claims to fame were his carpentry skill and preoccupation with his formerly estranged son (for whom, we found out before the end of the first season, he relinquished his parental rights to his ex’s new fiance). By the time we saw him last, he’d turned into the wild-eyed liar who murked the aforementioned blond Libby and an (unlikable) Latina character, Ana Lucia. Rumored to be returning as a “regular” some time during the current season, we have this craaaazy feeling no one will be happy to see him. We smell decomposition in his future.

Status: Written off, soon to return. Alive, but likely not for long.

waltmike

2. Walt Lloyd (Malcolm David Kelley) – Michael’s mind-controlling, teleporting, sort of bratty son. Last seen escaping the island on a nifty little speedboat his dad purchased with the lives of two other survivors, as well as his credibility with his former crew. On occasion, Walt returns as an apparition. Usually, these reappearances amount to very little. There’s been no word on whether he’ll be written back into the show when his dad returns.

Status: Alive, but likely too far into puberty to be written back on.

3. Susan Porter (Tamara Taylor) – Walt’s mom. Though she only appeared in flashback for two episodes, Susan and her new white husband whisked Walt away to Australia to begin a new Michael-less life in Season 1. But maybe she was a bit too hasty yanking Walt away from his daddy. The boy creeped out his stepdad to such a degree that the latter desperately called ol’ Mike after Susan’s sudden death (for which he considered ol’ think-it-and-it-happens Walt responsible) and begged him to take the boy off his hands.

Status: Dead.

4. Rose Henderson (L. Scott Caldwell) – One of the few middle-aged cast members and currently the sole Black series regular, Rose has become the resident Big Momma of the crew. Every now and then, she sidles up to some other regular and spouts platitudes and scriptures (both of which she has in vast supply). She is a few steps away from hugging folks to her bosom and cooing, “Momma knows,” though we suspect that’s more to the actress’s credit than to the writers’. Rose’s cancer was supposedly “cured by the island,” so she’s not likely leaving it any time soon. But there’s no end of ways the writers could pen her demise. And let’s face it: it’s only a matter of time, isn’t it?

Status: Still a series regular, but there’s not much more to do with her, if they’re not going to turn her evil. Death’s imminent.

5. Mister Eko Tunde (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) – In one of the more frustrating developments of the series, Eko was introduced as a “Tailie” (a survivor from the assumed destroyed tail end of the plane) in Season 2, only to be killed off before the end of Season 3. The writers went to the trouble of giving him an excruciating backstory which included his being a child soldier, drug runner, and ruthless adult murderer. On the island, though, he carried a scripture stick and donned a cross necklace, letting slip on occasion that, yes, he is a priest, thanks for asking.

Status: Dead at the hands of the “smoke monster.”


6. Yemi Tunde (Adetokumboh McCormack) – Remember that jungle-tangled aircraft of dead Nigerian heroin traffickers? The one with the baggies of heroin stuffed into Virgin Mary statues? The one Boone crawled into and died? Yeah. One of the corpses on it turned out to be Eko’s little brother, Yemi. Turns out Yemi was the real priest; his brother stole his identity in order to run the heroin on the plane. Yemi was gunned down in the federal agent crossfire.

Status: Dead, but briefly emerged from the afterlife to aid in killing off his brother. He was one of the figures who “appeared” within the smoke of the “monster” before it bludgeoned Eko to death.

7. Bea Klugh (April Grace) – Bea was part of the team who kidnapped Walt. A creepy lady in her own right, she was best known for ticking off a series of questions about Walt’s background? (i.e. Does he often appear in places where he shouldn’t be?) Aside from weirding us all out, she was a gun-toting, bonafide member of the Others. She was offed by one of her own in the Season 3 finale.

Status: Riddled with bullets, never to return.

8. Naomi Dorrit (Marsha Thomason) – Naomi was relatively new to the crew. She showed up half-dead already, impaled by a tree branch while parachuting onto the island. Her claims to fame: seemingly arriving to rescue the crew, then later having her true motives and identity questioned… in a mortal wound-inflicting kind of way. The cast went to the trouble of bandaging her up… only to have her knifed in the back by Locke in the Season 3 finale. We thought that was it for her. Then in the premiere, she “crawled off on her own” (highly improbably, with the knife still in her back) only to die a few hours later, after telephoning the rest of her people to the island. Last words: “Tell my sister I lurve ‘uh.” (She was British.)

Status: Deceased, ol’ chap.

Let us know if we’re forgetting anyone. Last night, a new Black character surfaced and he’s eeeevil. In a shout-out to The Wire fans, he also played menacingly by Lance Reddick. So far, IMDB only has him down for one episode, so we’re not prepared to list him as a surviving black cast member just yet. Besides, does anybody think that, if dude ever resurfaces, he’ll see the end of two seasons?

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22 thoughts on “Lost’s Black Body Count.

  1. quadmoniker February 1, 2008 at 2:53 pm Reply

    I had noticed this about all of the black characters dying or leaving the show. I almost stopped watching completely after Eko’s death. First of all, how many episodes did they really need to drag is death across? Secondly, except for Rose’s husband, all of the Tailies have died. So they introduced all of these characters in the second season only to kill them, which really undermines their ‘no one is safe’ promise, because we weren’t as invested in those characters in the first place. People need to start dying again. I had thought they should start with cry-baby Jack, but now we know he survives.

  2. slb February 1, 2008 at 3:03 pm Reply

    Eko’s flashbacks were some of the best of the series. I can only imagine what his life would’ve been like, had he left the island with the “Oceanic Six.” I think he was far more valuable alive than dead (unlike some of these lingeringly alive folks… Claire, I’m looking at you. And Kate).

    And you’re right about the pointlessness of introducing the Tailies. With every new crop of people who suddenly impose themselves on the original Jack-led bunch, I get increasingly annoyed. Like these parachuting people… what will they call them, the Other Others?

  3. BMedius February 1, 2008 at 3:45 pm Reply

    Awesome perspective !

  4. quadmoniker February 1, 2008 at 4:26 pm Reply

    “I get increasingly annoyed. Like these parachuting people… what will they call them, the Other Others?” – slb

    I know. In the beginning, the producers joked how they wanted to keep the show fresh but didn’t want it to be like Gilligan’s Island, where the show’s guest stars were clearly able to waltz onto the island but the stranded tourists could never get off. But it’s kind of become a high-tech version of that.

    I agree about Eko’s flashbacks. He was also a good counter to Locke. Now it’s all the same boring people. You’re right about the flashforwards, too, it would have been unbearable to watch any more increasingly overwrought drama from their pasts.

  5. slb February 1, 2008 at 4:47 pm Reply

    QM-

    I remember that Gilligan comment and you’re right. It really *has* become like that. I’ll never forget the beginning of Season 3, when they opened on that book club gathering and the suburban house, then they panned out to reveal that it was like… the Others’ neighborhood, completely with cul de sacs and minivans. I was like, “Oh, COME ON!” Like that’s a whole other cast right there. And they just come and go as they please, go off and recruit people, bring them back by submarine or flight or whatever, and the original Lost crew can’t get beyond floating a few feet off on firewood and fuselage.

    I mean, Desmond came there on a sailboat. Penny found their location. Those Dharma Initiative people… It really can’t be all that remote, can it?

  6. quadmoniker February 1, 2008 at 6:16 pm Reply

    SLB-
    Totally. And you would think that the effort to find a plane full of lost people would have been big enough to overcome whatever the underwater 70’s era jamming station thing could have produced. But somehow, despite all the improbabilities, I remained addicted through last season’s worst episodes. Maybe I’ll stick it out this year.

  7. slb February 1, 2008 at 9:40 pm Reply

    Yeah, me too. I’m committed to the cause. 🙂 Too bad they didn’t get to finish filming the season. How many did they say they have, eight? Twelve?

  8. quadmoniker February 1, 2008 at 9:46 pm Reply

    I don’t know. It really sucks with this show, too, because they take such a huge break between seasons.

  9. slb February 1, 2008 at 9:51 pm Reply

    USA Today‘s saying there’s only eight. Bummer. I remember reading that there was some debate about whether to hold off on airing these until the strike resolved. I’m not sure what would’ve made more sense. I’m more upset that the season was only going to be 16 episodes, strike or not. That seems totally bogus.

  10. quadmoniker February 2, 2008 at 2:38 pm Reply

    Yeah, it’s really annoying. I’m glad they didn’t hold off though. If we had had to wait any longer, I would have had to rewatch the last 3 seasons just to remember everything.

  11. quadmoniker February 2, 2008 at 2:42 pm Reply

    Also, another annoying thing about the whole Others little village. . . in season 1, when Sayid asked Rousseau if she had seen other people on the island and she said, “No, but I can hear them,” it was one of the genuinely spooky things about the show. But now that we know that they have book clubs and waltz around the island dragging tents and camping out in the open, she seems like the dumbest person to ever have lived.

  12. slb February 2, 2008 at 3:38 pm Reply

    You’re right. Every time I see the actress’s name in the credits I roll my eyes. Hard. Rousseau stuff *never* makes sense. And since so much time had passed since the last season, I couldn’t even remember why she was with them as they made their trek toward “getting a signal.” (This is the only show that makes a big melodramatic deal about what basically amounts to a “Can you hear me now?” sequence.) Then I couldn’t remember if Ben’s Alex’s bio-dad or not. (Not, right? She had some big sad story about the real dad getting “infected” and dying, right? And what about *that?* You’d think she’d be leery about exposing herself to all these new people if she so great fears The Infection….)

    I think we’re just supposed to buy that Rousseau is cracked. Or shattered, one.

  13. Laura February 4, 2008 at 10:58 pm Reply

    Unless Rousseau is in with the Others. In (mild) defense, I read that Eko wanted to leave the show because he and Locke hated one another. Also, I believe Ana Lucia was written out of the show due to poor off-screen behavior (DUI?) along with Libby. Also, I don’t think Naomi’s really dead. Also also, what about the new black character- the ‘lawyer’. Perhaps he will become a regular.

  14. slb February 5, 2008 at 6:06 am Reply

    Laura-

    I acknowledged the new guy in the last paragraph; I excluded him unless they’re going to give him an arc. That’s interesting about Eko. I hadn’t read that. And Ana Lucia’s not on the list, but I do think her DUI played into their decision to off her. Plus, I don’t think viewers were very receptive to her at all.

  15. […] all his insightful political commentary in ‘Where is The Love‘.) Harold Perrineau, the tenuously alive black dude from Lost. Tracee Ellis Ross, who only appears for a second, but as Diana Ross’s […]

  16. […] Question is: How long before he gets killed? […]

  17. Chris January 7, 2009 at 8:06 pm Reply

    What the writers of ‘Lost’ have done is a little more insidious than just eliminate all the black actors. They have also reinforced common negative stereotypes of black men as drug dealers and murderers. Even though I’m having trouble getting my head around the idea that of 40 something survivors only the black men are so disappointing.

  18. Combat Jack February 13, 2009 at 8:59 am Reply

    My wife and I just started watching Lost (we’re mid-way through season 3). Frustrated with the stereortypical handling of Black men, I googled “Black men on Lost” and found this gem. Don’t know whether I should be effin frustrated at the writers pulling that same “evil, wide eyed, magical, drug pushing, ultra-spiritual negro thing only to kill all ’em darkies off first; or how bold said writers are to go to that tired script over and over and over again. I do like the show and determined to ride it through, but once again, white stays ignorant and Black stays losing.

  19. Darren February 24, 2009 at 12:03 pm Reply

    I’m glad there’s a blog post for this. I found it via a Google search.

    I’m a white guy, so was a bit slow to realise what was happening. We’re now a few episodes into Season 5 and it occurred to me that Lost doesn’t allow black people to develop meaningfully at all.

    SEASON 5 EPISODE 6 SPOILER ALERT!

    What triggered it was when Ben and Mrs Hawkin were on about bringing as many back on the plane as they could, yet no one mentioned Walt.

    After some brain-racking I made a similar mental list to what you made here in your blog. You can also add Mikhail the one-eyed Russian to your list of lazily-enforced stereo-types. And Paulo the latino guy who got buried alive in Season 3. Now we have Sayid as a serial killer, Hurley in a mental home…

    Only Jin and Sun are allowed to develop into balanced characters from the non-white crowd.

    But yeah, with black characters it’s very apparent there’s an issue. I can forget the minor roles but the two main cast members of Michael and Eko have been dealt with very dodgily. I hear the actor for Michael, Harold Perrineau, was also dis-chuffed at how they developed his character.

    I agree…it was frankly not believable. When Michael first shot those two I thought he had been hypnotised by Ben in some way. I couldn’t fathom he had done it out of his own accord. One could argue the show went downhill from that storyline.

    I also agree with one of the posters here…they should have killed more main cast members. All that fuss about just one dying, Charlie…Jesus wept…they killed off the entire Others crew, half of the Tailies…and we get a massive song and dance about Charlie!

    Ah well…I have to admit the show is getting good again this season, Season 3 was the worst.

    Annoyingly, cast members will start dying soon, as there’s no time left to develop new black characters.

    Let’s hope future shows are more balanced.

  20. Darren February 24, 2009 at 12:14 pm Reply

    Ok, to be fair to the writers regarding Mr Eko…here’s an interesting piece:

    http://lostfan.today.com/2008/11/16/do-the-lost-writers-know-where-they%E2%80%99re-going-redux/

    That would have been an excellent story twist: Mr Eko vs Locke for leadership of the island!

  21. Kenny February 26, 2009 at 10:44 am Reply

    another Black character dead. 😦

  22. Darren February 27, 2009 at 6:45 pm Reply

    SPOILERS!

    Well, the very next episode directly after I write my post on this blog the two remaining black characters are written out:

    – Abaddon is shot and killed, just as we thought we were going to get to know him a little better. Turned out he was just a henchman for Widmore and Locke’s driver.

    – Walt is written out. Ok, so they kind of explain why he wasn’t on the plane back but that scene was like 20 seconds long and it didn’t look like to me we’ll be seeing him on the show again.

    —-

    As we’ve already been introduced two new characters for Season 5 (the two Greek plants on flight 136) I’m not sure what blackness we’ll get.

    At least we’ve got Rose!

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