#Nikita essay/rant: why the show screwed up with Sean's character this season @dilloncasey
I didn't love Sean or the Alex/Sean pairing - even "like" is a bit of a stretch. Both were okay, but not properly fleshed out (Sean since "Clean Sweep", A/S since the beginning of this season). That being said, I'm really disappointed by how Sean went out. It's not solely or even mainly the death itself, but more so the way it cements what an epic FAIL the writing of Sean's character has been this season. It was such a mess that it's practically on par with Jaden's character or the Cassandra/Max storyline in terms of series lows.
Sean had nothing to do this season except A) be Alex's boyfriend and B) play backup on the occasional mission. Nothing. His own feelings and motivations as a character were never addressed. His wanting to stay in Division or not was all about Alex. He was never allowed to develop a relationship with any character but Alex - I think he and Michael shared a total of 7-8 minutes on screen together this year (not counting "group scenes"), and it's still the closest thing to a meaningful dynamic he had with any non-Alex character. He got one episode dedicated to him, and then barely half a scene in the next episode to actually react to losing everything in his life. That's it. This particular problem was frankly true in the back half of Season 2 as well - ever since Oversight was taken down, Sean just didn't have an autonomous role on the show.
But, the fail doesn't end there. Even as a love interest, Sean was done zero favors by the writers this season.
- He asks Alex to leave Division for him - which is HUGE, you have to admit - with almost no build-up beforehand. There's one scene (3x03) where he brings up the issue for the first time, another scene where he makes a pointed snarky comment on it (the double date in 3x04), and then he gives her his ultimatum and walks out. Where did that come from? Shouldn't we have seen some gradual development before Sean went all "my way or the highway"? We didn't even see them as a couple beforehand, no clarification on the status of their relationship. It just sprang up immediately in the beginning of the season.
- Alex and Sean get back together after a fairly short conversation hashing out their issues. Okay. Then we don't see Sean in the next episode, and we hear that they were supposed to meet Sean's sister. Huh? How did we got from first-time sex to Meet The Family in five seconds?
- After "Black Badge" and Sean losing his entire life, the two barely discuss this at all, then we see Sean being jealous over Alex and Owen and confronting Owen about it. There are certainly ways to explain WHY he feels that way - being hurt that Alex is confiding in someone else and not her boyfriend, feeling needy/dependent since Alex is the only thing he has left - but the writers never bother to explore these. Nor does he ever discuss it with Alex, nor are we ever told if he got over his jealousy... nothing.
- The next few episodes are spent on Sean trying to figure out what's wrong with Alex after South Ossetia - okay, but that's plot-driven and doesn't tell us anything about them as a couple.
- Sean dies. Alex doesn't even get to tell him "I love you" before he goes, like he's told her on two occasions, including in this episode.
Seriously, it's hard to understand what the hell was the POINT of any of this. Last season did such a nice job of gradually developing Alex and Sean's feelings for each other until they were set to become a couple at the end. This season, we just jumped from one plot point to another without any context or insight into the relationship. I don't know what I'm supposed to take from any of it.
Finally, and this has also been stated before - if Sean had to go, "Black Badge" just seems so redundant. Fake-kill a character and then kill him for real 7 episodes later? If Sean was to be written off the show, there are several ways it could've been done better, in my mind:
- Have Nikita and Alex fail to save him in BB, instead of having his death successfully faked just for him to die for real so quickly afterwards.
- Scrap BB and then have Sean die in "Broken Home".
- The option I would have picked: scrap BB, have Alex and Sean realize their relationship isn't working and break up, and have Sean leave Division (which he never wanted to belong to anyway) and rejoin the Navy. Personally, I don't believe in the "characters can only leave a show like this by dying" mantra, and would've preferred to save Alex further pain and loss.
So when it comes down to it, why did they kill Sean, after so spectacularly wasting his character this season? For two reasons, I think:
1. Because they wanted a "shocking" death of one of the good guys to show that the stakes are high.
2. To torture Alex's character some more and make her pay for starting the mutiny.
In both cases, that's treating Sean as a pawn and not his own character, throwing him under a bus to facilitate a plot point. And that second reason, in particular, is so stupid in my opinion. I could fill a book with my rants about how Alex doesn't deserve any more punishment considering the guilt she'll feel over shooting Ryan and the way her friends will surely resent her for what she did; and how she shouldn't be punished in the first place because she was trying to do the right thing and Amanda messed with her brain; and how I don't see Alex believably recovering from losing yet ANOTHER person she loves... etc. This is turning into Supernatural-style emotional torture porn. And the emotional torture porn was a big reason I stopped watching Supernatural.
My final comment: I've seen characters have great arcs and then die poignant, powerful deaths. I was sad to see them go but I respected the storyline. This is not what happened with Sean. His character was wasted and treated as an afterthought all season, then disposed of unceremoniously (some people say he was irrelevant anyway - but whose fault is that? The writers' of course!). So even as someone who wasn't a big fan of Sean, I'm just pissed off by all of this. Honestly, I don't even blame some people for wanting to quit the show now because it's not the mere fact that Sean is gone, it's HOW it was done.