Maggie Grace on <EM>Lost</EM> Maggie Grace on Lost

Nearly three weeks after her tragic death, many fans of ABC's Lost (Wednesdays at 9 pm/ET) still mourn Shannon Rutherford. Sure, Shannon (played by Maggie Grace) was spoiled, emotionally stunted and preoccupied with parading around in bikinis and giving herself pedicures. And yes, she showed questionable judgment when she indulged in an icky precrash hookup with ill-fated stepbrother Boone (Ian Somerhalder). But boy, the girl sure knew how to make an exit.

In Lost's Nov. 9 episode, just as viewers started to get a little insight into what made the rich bitch tick  her daddy died, leaving her with an evil stepmom and (the horror!) no trust fund  she was killed by trigger-happy "tailie" Ana Lucia (Michelle Rodriguez). In one explosive instant, it was bye-bye, Shannon, hello, conflict!

"We didn't want the integration of the tailies and the fuselage survivors to be easy," explains executive producer Carlton Cuse, referring to the show's two groups of Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 survivors, who, following an episode recapping the newfound castaways' first weeks of eerie island existence, started to deal with the shooting's fallout in the Nov. 23 episode. Now, says cocreator and executive producer Damon Lindelof, "It's a really complicated and messy situation."

We'll say. Deciding which character would be next to perish, however, proved relatively painless. After Boone's death in April, producers realized that "the story avenues for Shannon felt limited," Cuse explains. He adds that Grace took the news, well, gracefully. The 22-year-old Ohio native, who recently starred in the horror flick The Fog with Smallville's Tom Welling, was eager to try her luck at a full-time film career. "I think it was sort of a win-win," Cuse says.

As it seems to be for viewers as well consider the slew of juicy plot developments the offing offered. Just last week a grieving Sayid (Naveen Andrews) pondered avenging his girlfriend's death by turning a gun on Ana Lucia, and dared to take on the imposing Mr. Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Meanwhile, the other survivors struggled to determine whether or not Shannon's death was actually accidental.

Looking ahead, don't rule out a reappearance by Grace. "Characters on Lost stay dead," Cuse maintains. But there is "the possibility that she could cross in [another character's] backstory," just as Jack (Matthew Fox) passed through Shannon's own Nov. 9 flashback.

And when she does, she'll probably have the perfect pedicure.