Lance Reddick Made the Best Sci-Fi Show Even Better — Until He Didn’t
Remembering Matthew Abaddon.
When Lance Reddick shows up, you know things are about to get good. At least, that’s what Lost fans assumed when the actor (then best known as The Wire’s by-the-book Lieutenant Cedric Daniels) made his debut in the show’s Season 4 premiere roughly 15 years ago in the winter of 2008. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be.
After just four episodes spread across two seasons, Reddick’s character (the enigmatic Matthew Abaddon) was unceremoniously killed off — allegedly over some backroom Hollywood politics. But even in this smaller role, the actor, who died unexpectedly last week, had an outsized influence on Lost and its addicting, unwieldy mythology.
Matthew Abaddon first appeared in the Lost Season 4 premiere, “The Beginning of the End” in an inconspicuous role. In the episode’s flash-forward plotline, Reddick’s character briefly pays Hurley (Jorge Garcia) a visit at the clinic where he’s staying after escaping the island but succumbing to his mental health issues. Abaddon claims to represent Oceanic Airlines and subtly fishes for information on whether anyone else on the infamous flight might still be alive.
That alone wasn’t enough to make audiences suspicious, but the plot thickened in Lost Season 4 Episode 2, “Confirmed Dead” when a flashback revealed that Abaddon was responsible for hiring the group of mercenaries who arrived on the island at the end of Season 3. However, the depths of Reddick’s character aren’t fully revealed until later that season in Episode 11, “Cabin Fever.”
The episode, which reveals the origin story of John Locke (Terry O'Quinn), shows how both Matthew Abaddon and Richard Alpert (remember him?) influenced Locke’s life. But the biggest twist comes at the of the episode. We see Locke in a hospital recovering from the injury that landed him in a wheelchair. His orderly is none other than Lance Reddick, who subtly suggests Locke should embark on an Australian walkabout.
That’s right, it was Reddick’s Abaddon who convinced John Locke to take the flight that would get him stuck on the island! 🤯 (Sorry to resort to an emoji, but in this case, it’s accurate.)
Lost fans got one more Lance Reddick moment, and again, it revolved around Locke. In Season 5 Episode 7, “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham,” we find out what happened to John after he left the island at the end of Season 4. The short version of this story is that Charles Widmore (remember him?) assigned his employee, Abaddon, to help Locke on his quest. That is until Ben Linus (remember him?!) showed up and shot Abaddon in cold blood. (When confronted about it later, Ben claims Reddick’s character was a "dangerous person.”)
Was Ben telling the truth? Given his own character’s history, the answer is probably no, but Matthew Abaddon was clearly up to something on Lost. He appears to be working for the (mostly) nefarious Charles Widmore, who once described Abaddon’s job as “helping people get to where they're supposed to be.”
In a sense, he seems to be a foil for Richard Alpert. But where Richard occasionally stepped in to guide everyone else along a path set by the island’s protector, Abaddon did the same to serve the whims of his wealthy industrialist benefactor. It’s unclear how else Lance Reddick’s shady operator may have influenced the plot, however, because while Lost originally had big plans for the character, those plans were suddenly cut short.
Lance Reddick’s Lost role was a long time in the making. The ABC series originally tried to cast him as Mr. Eko in an earlier season, but he was too busy with The Wire to even audition. Eventually, he landed the role of Matthew Abaddon. He was supposed to be a “series regular” in Season 5 and an important piece of Lost’s puzzle. But it wasn’t meant to be.
Soon after, Reddick was also cast in Fringe, another mysterious sci-fi series also created by J.J. Abrams. At the time, Reddick was told he could juggle both roles. Then, without warning, Lost killed him off.
“What the f*ck, guys?”
“If I think about it too much, I’ll get pissed off,” Reddick told The Hollywood Reporter years later in 2019. “When I was cast on Fringe, I was told that I’d be able to continue recurring on Lost. And then, the very first episode that I did on Lost in the middle of Fringe season one — they killed me. So, that was annoying. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great episode … But, it was like, ‘What the fuck, guys?’”
It’s sad to think that we were robbed of what could have been the definitive Lance Reddick performance. Sure, he went on to star in the John Wick movies, but that might have paled in comparison to Lost’s original plans for Matthew Abaddon. Maybe Reddick’s involvement could have even fixed the many issues that plagued the show’s final season.
Unfortunately, we’ll never know, but at least we can be thankful that Lance Reddick still managed to give Lost one of its greatest and most mind-bending reveals.