Tuesday, May 18, 2010

LOST's Top 10 Minor Characters

Minor characters are remarkably important and LOST is populated with tons of excellent ones. In this top 10 list, I want to focus on the characters over the course of the show's history that have meant something, not just to the show, but to me.

10. Rose Nadler (First appearance: Pilot, season 1)

My favorite memory of Rose is from season 1, when she is sitting on the beach, waiting for Bernard to return. It’s also my first memory. For me, she was always the loyal wife, faithful and true. There are not a lot of people in the world like Rose Nadler, whose trials have truly strengthened her as opposed to having broken her. Most of the characters in LOST are wounded because of their lives off the Island, but Rose found comfort in knowing that she would die of cancer. It meant she could focus on what was most important in life to her – her husband. When Bernard returned, Rose’s story was complete, and since she has been pushed into the background, appearing every now and again as a reminder of what true faith and love look like in a dark and scary world.

9. Tom Friendly (First appearance: Exodus Pt. 2, season 1)

When we first met Mr. Friendly, he did a not so friendly thing – he kidnapped Walt. As season 2 and 3 unfolded, though, Tom became revealed as both a symbol of mirth and menace. On one side, he could rebuff Kate’s sex appeal (Tale of Two Cities, season 3), and on the other he could threaten the castaways safety by the campfire light (The Hunting Party, season 2). Later we discovered that he was homosexual (Meet Kevin Johnson, season 4), making him LOST’s first – and only – gay character. Mr. Friendly was a complex guy, but unfortunately he could never get out from under the shadow of the decision to kidnap Walt, which led Sawyer to shoot him point blank, execution-style (Through the Looking Glass, season 3).

8. Martin Keamy (First appearance: The Constant, season 4)

One of LOST’s most notable characteristics is that its characters live in shades of gray. There are no wholly good or wholly bad characters. Except Martin Keamy. This bastard mercenary was hired by Charles Widmore to capture Ben Linus and kill everyone on the Island. He had no problem killing anyone that got in his way, including Captain Gault or the freighter’s doctor, Ray. But his biggest claim to fame – and easily his greatest scene – was when he executed Alex right in front of Ben in an attempt to get Ben to surrender. His plan failed, and he forever made me hate him. Seeing him in the Sideways world as a greasy goon was a fitting for him because that’s what he was – a charismatic goon, and holder of the title: Most Evil Lost Character Ever.

7. Carmen Reyes (First appearance: Numbers, season 1)

I think most of us want a mom like Carmen Reyes. She’s passionate, caring, overbearing and often says the craziest things. “I have needs,” she tells Hurley when she allows his disappearing act father back into her life much to Hurley’s horror. But, in the end, she’s one of the few parents that came through for her kid. In “The Lie” (season 4), Hurley finally tells her everything that happened on the Island because he can’t hold it in anymore, and Carmen does the one thing we all want our parents to do when we’re hurting: she holds him.

6. Ethan Rom (First appearance: Solitary, season 1)

“Jack! One of them isn’t in the manifest. He wasn’t on the plane!” Cut to: Ethan Rom, staring at Claire from the jungle, a knowing smile on his face. One of LOST’s great early reveals introduced us to this mysterious character. He was incredibly strong, sneaky, and scary. Turns out he was just a doctor trying to protect Claire to make sure she successfully gave birth to Aaron on the Island. Since the first time we met him, we’ve learned that his birth name was Goodspeed, and that he was the child of one of the Dharma Initiative’s Island leaders. When Ben Linus turned against Dharma, Ethan joined him only to later become one of Ben’s tools in his scheme to protect the Island. Despite having a more sympathetic understanding of this character now, just seeing Ethan’s face is still enough to send chills. This was especially true during the best moment of season six’s “What Kate Does,” when Ethan turns out to be Claire’s doctor in the Sideways World and sticks her with yet another needle. (Shudder.)

5. Charles Widmore (First appearance: Live Together, Die Alone, season 2)

Another “bad” guy. We first met Charles Widmore in season two’s finale, “Live Together, Die Alone,” as he dissed Desmond over a drink of MacCutcheon whiskey. Widmore’s contempt for Desmond was enough to make most of us hate him. Later we discovered that he and Ben Linus were at war because of a power struggle they had over leadership on the Island. This led to Widmore, upon learning where the Island is again, to send a group of mercenaries to capture/kill Ben. Along the way he managed to alienate his daughter, Penny and his ex-wife, Eloise. Widmore’s story is tied to both Ben and Desmond, but my favorite moment with him takes place during season six, in “The Package,” when he shares Sun’s found camera with Jin, giving Jin an opportunity to lay eyes on his daughter for the first time. Despite Widmore’s machinations and power plays, he is still a father and understands a man’s need to be close to his children.

4. Anthony Cooper (First appearance: Deus Ex Machina, season 1)

Okay, I take it back. Keamy is not LOST’s only pure bad guy. Before him there was this guy, Anthony Cooper. Cooper fucked up the lives of two of our favorite castaways: Sawyer and Locke. As the original “Sawyer,” Cooper seduced James’ mom as part of his con. This led James’ dad to kill both her and himself. With Locke, we discovered Cooper was his father. This led Locke, who very badly wanted a dad, to get suckered out of his kidney. Later, in an attempt to hold Cooper accountable, Locke threatens to turn Cooper into the police, but gets pushed out of an 8-story window instead, crippling him until he gets to the Island. Cooper was definitely a douche, but he was slick and interesting, and the scene in which he is murdered (The Brig, season 3) stands as one of the best death scenes in LOST history.

3. Danielle Rousseau (First appearance: Solitary, season 1)

The crazy French chick has long been one of my favorite characters. I completely sympathized with her desire to find her long-lost daughter, Alex, taken from her at birth by Ben Linus. The poor woman came to the Island as part of a research team and found herself stranded, pregnant, and surrounded by men infected by the Smoke Monster. She became hardened by the Island, but managed to be re-softened by her experience with the castaways, especially with Sayid, who fixed her prized music box.

2. Mr. Eko (First appearance: Adrift, season 2)

I don’t know if Eko should be here on this list because he was always meant for bigger and better things, but since Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje asked to leave the series, Eko became demoted to minor character status. Nonetheless, Mr. Eko proved to be one of the series’ most compelling characters. He was a Nigerian drug lord who chose this way of life by saving his brother Yemi from having to shoot a man in cold blood. Eko struggled with his choices, wrestling with the concept of forgiveness. Much like Sayid, Eko tortured himself for his past crimes, but unlike Sayid, Eko ultimately decided that it wasn’t his fault for the choices he made. “A small boy once asked me if I was a bad man. If I could answer him now, I would tell him that...when I was a young boy, I killed a man to save my brother's life. I am not sorry for this. I am proud of this! I did not ask for the life that I was given. But it was given, nonetheless. And with it...I did my best.” For me, this makes Eko’s death a noble one, even if a bit anti-climatic.

1. Christian Shephard (First appearance: Walkabout, season 1)

Christian has served two roles on LOST, as both a fucked-up parent in Jack’s (and Claire’s) flashbacks and as a disguise for the Man-in-Black. It’s his capacity in both of these roles that has fueled much of LOST’s story over the seasons, making him a pivotal character, albeit a minor one. Before the crash, he was a messed up father, mired in his own alcoholism, yet somehow still loving (I love the scene, for example, when Christian talks to Jack the night before his wedding to Sarah). On the Island, he's a complete mystery. We now know that he's a manifestation of the Smoke Monster, but I think his spirit is still around. After all, before John Locke left the Island to become Jeremy Bentham, Christian says, "Tell my son..." Maybe it's just the Smoke Monster playing yet another game, but I'd like to think that, like Darth Vader, there is still a litle man inside the monster.

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