Mistresses: With or without Savi?

Why not both?

Alyssa Milano on Mistresses
Photo credit: ABC

As I learn more about television I am surprised at the number of times I read something like this from a writer:

We left one of our main characters in a life-or-death cliffhanger at the end of the season. When we sat down to break the next year we looked at each other and said, “How are we going to get ourselves out of this one?” 

I always assumed shows let their character’s fates hang in the wind for viewers while knowing exactly how they would resolve it. It turns that isn’t always the case.

Enter the season finale of Mistresses. Savi wakes up in the hospital after a serious car accident to learn that her baby survived and her co-worker, Dom, is its father. As Dom confesses his love, she flatlines. Joss, Dom, Harry and April watch helplessly. Doctors rush in. She’s not responding. It does not look good.

Cut to black.

I criticized Revenge for teasing us about Emily getting shot in its season three promo. We all know main characters on primetime dramas don’t die. But watching the end of Mistresses I believed, just for a moment, that the cliffhanger would not be whether she lives or dies, but that she dies. Major.

I was wrong, we don’t know Savi’s fate. Odds overwhelmingly favor her survival. But what if…? How could a show, a surprise summer hit, no less, kill its main character, who is played by its biggest star, and go on?

Maybe like this…

Mistresses Season 2 Script

Or this…

These aren’t real of course, I wrote them and made them look like TV scripts. But they provide a way for Mistresses to let the Savi character die without booting Alyssa Milano from the show. In the first, we see the characters as they were three years ago before they ever made the mistakes they dealt with in season one. At first the jump back in time isn’t clear, but by the time we’re back in the hospital with Savi we know the story moved backwards. The rest of the season two premiere after this would hop back between then and now to show how they handle the immediate aftermath of their friend’s death and set up the story for the rest of the season.

The second one moves Savi’s fate to the end of the episode (you’ll notice how it skips from act one to act five). It could use the acts in between to show a time in their lives when they were all happier before crashing back to the present to see their friend die.

Each one keeps Alyssa Milano in the show, lets her character die and opens the door to new stories. It would be unconventional, but I think it would be fun.

Image credit: ABC

Finding their way after Lost

Not leaving, no. Moving on.

Where are we going?

Let’s go find out.

It’s been three years since Lost went off the air. It came along at the same time social media gave us a way to interact across the globe in real time and gave rise to what we now call second screening. The show’s sprawling mysteries and rich character development fed perfectly into these new platforms. Fans took online communities to more engaged levels than any show previously, debating theories and sharing background information on things mentioned in the latest episodes. In that way Lost was probably the first truly social television show. Its serendipitous timing helped it create some amazing bonds with its viewers.

That worked out marvelously for ABC and the show itself while it was on the air. How has it worked out for the show’s stars since May 23, 2010? Have their careers continued to grow or have they sunk like poor Michael’s raft? The answer is mixed.

Some found new lives with new characters. Michael Emerson is killing it as secretive computer genius Harold Finch on Person of Interest; Daniel Dae Kim is doing just fine on CBS’s remake of Hawaii Five-0. Emilie de Ravin floated for a while before landing on Once Upon a Time, which is led by former Lost writers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. Everyone’s favorite Scot, Henry Ian Cusick, found parts on Scandal, Fringe, The Mentalist and ABC’s recently canceled Body of Proof. Ian Somerhalder didn’t even make it to Exodus but will always be Boone, even though his star has risen on The Vampire Diaries.

Others (no pun intended) have roles in the works that could put them back on TV’s map. Naveen Andrews and Josh Holloway will be on CBS this fall. Holloway sans locks (again, no pun intended) as some kind of cyber cop in Intelligence, and Andrews opposite Stephen Lang in Reckless. Holloway improved as much as any of the actors who stayed with the show from start to finish so hopefully CBS is giving him something to work with. Andrews also has a huge role opposite Naomi Watts as Princess Diana’s lover, Dr. Hasnat Khan, in Diana, which will be released later this year.

Yunjin Kim, who doesn’t do much American work, co-stars with Alyssa Milano in ABC’s upcoming summer drama Mistresses. It’s hard to come to any conclusions about her post-Lost career because I simply don’t pay much attention to Korean entertainment.

A couple fan favorites landed roles on new shows that never made it beyond infancy. Jorge Garcia had a role in FOX’s Alcatraz in addition to three appearances on a Matthew Perry show you’ve never heard of. Terry O’Quinn starred in the short-lived 666 Park Avenue after appearing in 11 episodes of Hawaii Five-0 with Daniel Dae Kim. Elizabeth Mitchell did V and now co-stars in Revolution. Dominic Monaghan’s post-Lost career still hasn’t taken off after Flash Forward was unfairly canceled.

Matthew Fox tried his hand at a movie before Lost was even over. Since The End his most notable work has been the freakish way he transformed his body for the Alex Cross movie, not his role opposite Tommy Lee Jones in some World War II movie. He’s also in World War Z, a zombie movie. Yikes.

Evangeline Lilly is a face for L’Oreal Paris but her only acting work has been in The Hobbit, which she began just three months after giving birth.

This is surprising and probably disappointing to a lot of us who still want to see our favorite stars every week. I think the way we expect actors to move from one successful show right into another ignores how difficult it is to find success in Hollywood. Networks just finished announcing their fall lineups full of new shows that will most likely fail or sputter for a season or two before being put to sleep. Few will make it beyond that and fewer still will become legitimate hits. To expect this handful of actors to be in those few shows is asking lightning to strike twice.

I also have to wonder how much their strong identification with one character might hurt them. O’Quinn did well on 666 Park but will we ever see him as anyone other than John Locke? To his credit, Michael Emerson plays his character so well on Person of Interest that I rarely think of Ben Linus. (Much of that is probably due to his character’s limp.) It’s a sort of catastrophic success unique to Hollywood: Being so good at your job that no one can forget it. Time will tell if Josh Holloway can make us forget Sawyer or if Evangeline Lilly’s freckles will always make us think of Kate.

As Lost’s stars find new roles, on television or the big screen, they will find a dedicated portion of their new viewers who look quite familiar, thinking back and smiling at the show they shared together, with a simple message:

We’ve been waiting for you.