After waiting three weeks for the payoff, Wednesday night brought at least a handful of answers on "Lost," and a smidgen of closure to a show that revels in loose ends.
Shannon, we hardly knew ye. And maybe we really didn't need to.
The bratty blonde met her demise Wednesday night while chasing Walt (or was it an apparition of Walt?) through the jungle as Sayid followed her.
Even if you hadn't heard the about Shannon's imminent death — and it was hard not to, given the sheer volume of spoilers bouncing around the Internet — it wasn't until the last second viewers were able to see who pulled the trigger: Ana-Lucia, perhaps the only one on the island with a worse attitude than Shannon.
At least the "Lost" writers softened Shannon's edges with a few touching flashbacks before she went to that great rescue ship in the sky. We saw her as a hopeful young ballet teacher, and her moment of glee on receiving a Martha Graham Dance Company fellowship ... only to have that dream crushed by a heartless stepmother who kept Shannon from receiving a cent of her father's fortune. (Point taken on Shannon's motives, but really: an evil stepmother?)
Though we saw Shannon was close to her father, the details of his death remain fuzzy, and now she's not around to clarify them. Astute viewers remember that Adam Rutherford was not only her dad but the man Jack let die so he could save his future fiancée, Sarah. Shannon's death leaves unanswered whether she knew Dr. Jack made that fateful choice.
Obviously, it wasn't possible for Shannon to die without us seeing how abandoned she felt by the men in her life, perhaps as an explanation why she was portrayed as a selfish seductress.
As the episode opened, Sayid presented her with a tent of her own. Yet no sooner had the two bedded down together than Walt appeared to Shannon, speaking backwards again. And Sayid wouldn't believe her: "It was a dream, Shannon."
He changed his tune after seeing Walt himself in the episode's final moments — only to watch Shannon chase the prescient young boy into the woods and wind up tangling with the business end of Ana-Lucia's gun.
Not much responsibilityShannon's sudden show of humanity was all the more shocking because her role as a castaway never amounted to much.
Walt gets credit for Shannon's biggest responsibility on the place she came to call Craphole Island when he asked her to take care of his dog, Vincent. Her repeated visions of Walt speaking gibberish (more precisely, speaking backwards) hinted that she might have had a larger role to play in unraveling the island's mysteries.
Otherwise, her character was stunted. She reluctantly was coaxed into translation duty, helping Sayid to not-quite-decipher Rousseau's maps. That blossomed into a friendship, and ultimately a romance — a situation helped by Boone's rather timely death.
The "Lost" writers' attempts to give Shannon that heart of gold were never fully realized. As we saw last season, she had a raw deal with her Australian boyfriend — and presumably every other man with whom she got involved. Even Boone, who had always been there to rescue Shannon, carried his own troublesome torch for his stepsister. It didn't exactly help things when the two slept together before boarding that fateful flight.
None of this was helped by Shannon's main efforts on the island: working on that tan, bemoaning her plight and criticizing anyone in whining radius. And of course, briefly trying to seek revenge on Locke, whom she blamed for Boone's death.
In her final moments, she finally won the trust of one man. "I know as soon as we get out of here you're just going to leave me!" she shouted to Sayid.
"I will never leave you," replied the ex-Iraqi soldier, who knows a thing or two about love and loss himself. "I love you and I believe you."
Their belated connection almost made up for her reporting "some Arab guy" to Sydney airport security after Sayid asked her to watch his bag — simply to prove to Boone how well she could work her wiles.
But it wasn't quite enough. There may be a few tears shed for Shannon in coming weeks, but with all that buzz about the hatch and the Dharma Project, and of course the Others, who have a fondness for thinning out the tail-enders' ranks, no one's been shedding too many tears for Boone.
Maybe Shannon's best trait was her Sawyeresque penchant for cynicism. We shall never see the castaways' new digs without thinking of them as the Shannon-dubbed Rape Caves.
Or maybe her demise was about the simple reality of numbers. Not — but the sheer size of the "Lost" cast. As season two progresses, it's becoming clearer which Lostees will have major plot lines and which are fading into the background. With the addition of Ana-Lucia, Mr. Eko and the other tail-enders, there's a whole new posse of castaways to keep tabs on. (How many do they expect us to keep track of? 23? 42? 108?)
Ana-Lucia being Shannon's killer, albeit unintentionally, opens up a lot more plot doors than anything Shannon had accomplished. And starry-eyed lover Sayid is sure to prove a fierce match for the tough-talking tail-ender.
Seeking focusIt stands to reason that characters whose plot arcs had been fading — and Shannon was clearly even higher on that list than Rose — would be put on the chopping block. Bummer for Sayid, though.
Though ABC won't discuss how long the show might continue beyond this season, its stellar ratings mean "Lost" is likely to stick around a while, which makes it even more important to trim characters whose stories have sputtered out. Given his ever-worsening wound, you'd think Sawyer would top the list before long — though he's too valuable as the third leg of the love triangle with Jack and Kate. (Or is Jack the third leg?)
Shannon's death revives a bit of that mystery, certainly more so than her brother's death last season. As actor Dominic Monaghan (Charlie) told USA Today this summer, "The Season 2 cliffhanger ... sets it up so that all of us could conceivably die."
Now it's time to step up the pace, explain what happened to the tail-enders (and the children they keep talking about, and the teddy bear we saw one of the Others carrying) and go back inside the hatch.
Too bad Shannon didn't grow a little more before she went. As Locke told her last season, "Everyone gets a new life on the island. Perhaps it's time to start yours."
She took his advice and hooked up with Sayid, yet that new life ended up being regrettably short. Perhaps after another year or two, Sayid would have helped Shannon grow some humility.
But as we saw Boone tell Shannon at her father's funeral: "Death sucks, doesn't it?"
Especially when the Others are around.
MSNBC.com lifestyle editor Jon Bonné wants to know if tail-ender Libby being a clinical psychologist will help when the Dharma plot unfolds.