JAN / FEB 2017: BY CAROL STARKEY
While not a main character, Michael Dawson from ABC’s Lost was a complex man, not easily described or put in a box. When Michael and his girlfriend Susan discover they’re going to have a baby, they’re overjoyed. Michael puts his career on hold, working construction to support Susan and little Walt. Over the following months, Michael and Susan drift apart, and Susan takes a job in Amsterdam, taking Walt with her against Michael’s wishes. While overseas, she marries her boss and coerces Michael into giving up custody of his son.
Years later, Susan dies and Walt’s adoptive father doesn’t want the boy anymore. Michael has no choice but to take his son back. Before boarding his flight, Michael begs his mother to take the child, but she refuses. Walt overhears this conversation and it makes their relationship even worse. Once on the island, Michael tries to be a good dad, but having missed most of his son’s life, he doesn’t know how. He becomes jealous of Walt’s closeness to another passenger, John Locke, and threatens him if he doesn’t leave his son alone.
As time passes, though, Walt and Michael gradually learn to trust each other, and Michael proves his worth to the other passengers by building a raft. When that one is destroyed, he builds another, better raft. Michael, Walt, and two other passengers escape the island on the raft. Unfortunately, the Others, other inhabitants on the island, have plans of their own. They kidnap Walt and destroy the raft.
Before Walt is kidnapped, Michael has a temper. He’s not always the best dad, either, usually hiding the truth from his son or having faith that the boy can take care of himself. After Walt is taken, Michael breaks. He does everything he can to find his son, which culminates in the murder of two defenseless women. Michael takes the prisoner the people on his side of the island have captured and trades him for the chance to get Walt back and get off the island.
After Michael return to the US, he confesses the murders to Walt. The guilt is too much, and then he leaves his son with his mother. She won’t let Michael see his son anymore, and he ends up wandering the streets, looking for a way to kill himself. He can’t do it, and ends up headed back to the island, working for the Others. In the end, he almost redeems himself by saving the good guys and killing himself in the process. During the course of the show, Michael goes from a loving father to one who has his son taken from him. In the end, his life revolved around his son, but though he spent the whole show worried about his son, he rarely showed true love.
Love is kind, it thinks of others before itself, and it doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. Often, Michael was harsh and angry, he rarely thought of anyone besides himself or Walt, and he rarely forgot those who hurt him or his son. On the other hand, he built two rafts to get the survivors of the plan crash off the island, he befriended a Korean passenger who spoke no English, and when he had a chance to bring down Walt’s mother, he instead emphasized how much she loved Walt.
No person on Lost was with flaws, and Michael was no different. But he tried, and in the end, he almost redeemed himself.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol Starkley lives in New England with her husband, three daughters, and numerous pets. She likes to read, write, bake, and dabble with the clarinet. She also infrequently blogs.