I feel for Harold Perrineau. I really do. The Lost bosses unveiled Perrineau at last summer’s San Diego Comic-Con as the big off-season surprise. Michael was returning to Lost. When the dust settled on season 4, Michael’s death was the culmination of a fairly lackluster story arc for the character. Besides the one Michael flashback episode, “Meet Kevin Johnson” (which many fans, including myself, found somewhat disappointing), Perrineau had very little to do in his fourth season return. His sacrificial death in the waning moments of Thursday’s finale was an abrupt ending for the Michael character, though it was a nice way for the character to make up for the murders of Libby and Ana-Lucia. However, Michael’s death was a sore spot for Perrineau himself, as evidenced by a TV Guide interview conducted after the finale aired. Among other things, Perrineau accused the Lost writers of pointlessly bringing Michael back and for furthering stereotypes regarding fatherless African-American children.
Here are some of the more explosive quotes from Perrineau:
On Michael’s death: “I’m disappointed, mostly because I wanted Michael and Walt to have a happy ending. I was hoping Michael would get it together and actually want to be a father to his kid and try to figure out a way to get back [home]. But this is [the producers’] story. If I were writing it, I would write it differently.”
On hearing the news Michael was going to die: “I thought it was disappointing and a waste to come back, only to get beat up a few times and then killed. I felt like it was sort of pandering to some fans who wanted to see Michael punished because he betrayed people.”
On Michael and Walt never reconnecting: “Listen, if I’m being really candid, there are all these questions about how they respond to black people on the show. Sayid gets to meet Nadia again, and Desmond and Penny hook up again, but a little black boy and his father hooking up, that wasn’t interesting? Instead, Walt just winds up being another fatherless child. It plays into a really big, weird stereotype and, being a black person myself, that wasn’t so interesting.”
The tendency, I think, is for fans to see something like this and accuse Perrineau of simply being bitter and unnecessarily using the race card. I’d like to be a little more reasonable. Put yourself in Harold’s shoes: the writers made a big hullabaloo about bringing Michael back tot he show, only to stow him away on the freighter, have him get beat up a bunch and then killed in an episode filled with emotional reunions. It can’t feel good to have your character killed off on a major TV show. If I was Harold, I too would be pissed that my off. There was a lot more story that could have been told with Michael and Walt.
Still, I have to disagree with Perrineau’s issues of race. Lost has always been an incredibly diverse show. While two of the major black characters (Mr. Eko and Michael) have been killed off when their characters did have more story to tell, this has happened to a wide range of characters. As for furthering major stereotypes, there would be some truth to it if Walt was the only character with an absent father. But, come on, almost every Lost character has major daddy issues.
I hope Harold hasn’t burned all his Lost bridges here, because I suspect that Michael could return to Lost eventually, as dead characters are wont to do.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
Source: TV Guide
(Image Courtesy of ABC)