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Lost: Thoughts on crime & punishment

Just spec. No spoilers.

What happens when they all find out about Michael's betrayal? They haven't really faced this situation before. I've always wondered what kind of justice they would mete out on the island, assuming they get the chance. It seems to me that, plotwise, Michael can't be allowed to get away with it. The writers could always take the route they do in so many Disney movies, with the villain (and yes, Michael is a villain now, isn't he?) simply falling to his death so that no one is actually responsible for his death.

I don't hate Michael. My reaction to him has always ranged from mild indifference to boredom to intense dislike. I did kind of hate him when he blamed Sawyer for Walt's kidnapping and refused to acknowledge Sawyer a) getting shot trying to save Walt, b) Sawyer saving Michael's life and c) his own bad parenting. But that's how I judge everyone: Are they mistreating Sawyer? If so, grrr! Of course that's not real world ethics or even ideal Craphole Island ethics.

But given what Michael has done, I don't see how he can live. Assuming he doesn't die in the finale (and I've heard nothing to indicate that he will), how will they treat him once they know? Mere shunning won't do it this time. There would have to be an island death penalty. He could strike out on his own, like Danielle. But the way I see it, the only way this can end is with Michael's death. I've wished more fervently for other characters' deaths (mostly for the crimes of being boring or very bad actors), but his seems inevitable.

Here's a list of how they've handled justice on the island previously. Aside from some shunning, no one's had to answer for any of their misdeeds.

1. Crime: Boone steals the water
Outcome: The makings of an ugly mob scene until Jack arrives in the nick of time and delivers his "stick together" speech. Boone is snubbed for a while, as Sawyer points out he's now "at the top of the most hated list."

2. Crime: Sawyer withholds Shannon's asthma medicine
Outcome: After talking to him doesn't work, Jack tells Sayid to go ahead and torture him. When it comes out that Sawyer is innocent, Kate is sympathetic, but everyone still considers Sawyer the island pariah.

3. Crime: Sayid stabs Sawyer
Outcome: Sayid exiles himself temporarily. No one ever calls him on what he did and eventually Sawyer forgives him.

4. Crime: Locke knocks Sayid out and ruins the transceiver
Outcome: Sayid is upset when he finds out much later, but chooses to do nothing

5. Crime: Charlie shoots Ethan, killing him before he can tell them anything
Outcome: People's opinions of Charlie dip a little lower

6. Crime: Locke deliberately leads Boone to his death
Outcome: Shannon and Jack both blame Locke. After Sayid won't kill Locke for her, Shannon tries to shoot Locke herself but misses. Jack is visibly disappointed, LOL. Jack never fully forgives Locke, but they mostly put aside their differences on a day to day basis

7. Crime: Jin is blamed for the boat being torched
Outcome: Sawyer tracks him down and brings him back to face Michael. Jack wants to stop Michael from beating Jin up, but Sawyer and Sayid hold him back and everyone just watches as Michael beats Jin. When Jin is revealed to be innocent, he and Michael team up to build a new boat and become unlikely friends.

8. Danielle steals Aaron. Later, Charlie steals Aaron
Both are shunned and shamed. Locke beats up Charlie.

9. Crime: Ana accidentally shoots and kills Shannon, then freaks out and takes Sayid hostage, after also deciding to leave Sawyer to die
Outcome: The other Tailies turn against Ana, leaving her alone with Sayid. He declines to shoot her. When she comes back to camp, she is quickly welcomed as one of them and becomes a trusted leader/soldier. The only ones who keep their distance are Sayid, who is still in mourning, and Kate, her rival for Jack, and Sawyer, who understandably doesn't like her for her continued abuse. Sayid ends up teaming up with her(!) to find The Others, and tells her he blames them, not her. Sawyer also doesn't hold a grudge for long either.

10. Crime: Michael K.O.s Locke and steals the guns to go look for Walt
Outcome: No one blames him and they rush to bring him back

10. Crime: Henry Gale is thought to be one of The Others
Outcome: He is tortured until he admits the truth

And I've left out Kate manipulating Jack to get the suitcase (outcome: some yelling, some disappointed looks, temporary shunning), and Sawyer stealing the guns (same outcome, really) and countless other stuff, probably.

So all these "crimes" have been overlooked or forgiven or forgotten. But what Michael did, once revealed, cannot be forgiven. Regardless of how you feel about Ana and Libby -- I want to applaud him, myself -- cold-blooded murder can't be shrugged off.

Whether you like Michael or not (and he's actually finally gotten interesting to me now that he's gone over to the dark side), is there any way he can live freely among them after this gets out? I just don't see how. I know that forgiveness and spirituality are huge on the show, but in this case?


( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 20th, 2006 05:12 am (UTC)
They really are in kind of a bind, if Michael doesn't die.

Based on the existing pattern, what would happen would be that Sawyer would drag him back, there'd be some yelling and posturing by the group, possibly an attempt to kill Michael or some torture, and then they would get distracted by something shiny and wander away and forget all about it. And I have no trouble imagining the writers actually doing that, because I think little of them.

If done well, the darkest thing that could happen would be if Michael did live among them without forgiveness and they all had to live with that. The alternatives are darker but easier to live with in that they'd end quickly: exile, or they kill him.
May. 20th, 2006 05:28 am (UTC)
LOL. The writers really lack conviction, don't they? I think the forgiving and forgetting would work better with a RL timeline. But given this has all happened in a very compressed timeframe, mere days apart, it really makes no sense. *sighs*

I'm not bloodthirsty but if they just shrug this off, I won't be the only pissed off fan. Given that ABC/Disney called for the dismissal of two actresses for driving drunk and (possibly) the two characters who had committed faux!incest, I can't see them letting a murderer get off scott free. I can see fic exploring all the ramifications of having a murderer live among them, but I don't see the show doing it justice, given their, as you put it so well, inclination to go chase after shiny things.
(no subject) - eponine119 - May. 20th, 2006 05:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - halfdutch - May. 20th, 2006 06:05 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 20th, 2006 05:15 am (UTC)
Something that's always bothered me about the castaways is the "forgive and forget" attitude. Forgetting the bad things people have done just because you don't have an established government or system of dealing with people who do stupid crap, and in some cases commit murder, is no way to deal with or discourage behavior. I don't feel like Michael or Charlie killed because they knew they could get away with it. I think they did it in the heat of the moment when they thought it was their only option (though I teeter on the edge with Michael because he didn't have to kill Libby and Ana). But that doesn't excuse it or make it better.

But to be honest, I don't see them doing anything about Michael. I think they'll do what they've always done and forget about it, assuming that Michael lives to see next season. Their on a freaking island in the middle of nowhere and I don't think they're actually going to form any set kind of government, what with Locke's "Who are we to tell anyone what to do?" attitude and Sawyer with his irritation with anything resembling authority. I can't see them doing anything but what they're doing right now. Is it right or good for them? No. But I just don't think they're going to change.

:/ Is that overly pessimistic?
May. 20th, 2006 05:34 am (UTC)
Oh, that's bugged me immensely! Not just because I'm a champion grudge holder myself, but because those are some serious grievances that no real person would let go that easily -- especially since these have supposedly happened just a few weeks or days apart. It's TV reality, to be sure, but once you stop believing in it, your emotional investment in the show is in jeopardy.

They have to do SOMETHING. Killing Michael off, at the hands of The Others or accidentally, like everyone else, would solve that problem. If they don't take that route, and Michael lives and there are no consequences, I think everyone watching the show will cry foul.

I've had my faith completely shaken in the show and the writers' visions ... but can they really just cop out like that? I have to hope that's not the case. I could be letting myself in for a lot more disappointment. We'll see!
(no subject) - isis2015 - May. 20th, 2006 05:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - halfdutch - May. 20th, 2006 05:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - isis2015 - May. 20th, 2006 06:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - halfdutch - May. 20th, 2006 06:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - isis2015 - May. 20th, 2006 06:21 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 20th, 2006 05:24 am (UTC)
Are they mistreating Sawyer? If so, grrr!

Uh huh, high five.

I'm always reactionary at the get-go when he's involved. Like, for instance, I haven't even finished reading this post.

May. 20th, 2006 05:37 am (UTC)
LOL! ;-) I did get long and rambly! I didn't really need to list all the "crimes" but it is kind of shocking to see how they do forgive and forget at the drop of a hat. As a friend used to say, "TV logic!" Except on a show with life and death stakes, it would be nice to not have to roll your eyes and ignore farfetched stuff, like you do on a thrillride kind of show like 24.
(no subject) - alliecat8 - May. 20th, 2006 05:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - halfdutch - May. 20th, 2006 05:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alliecat8 - May. 20th, 2006 06:40 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 20th, 2006 06:21 am (UTC)
One change: You have Ana takes Sawyer hostage, but I know you mean Sayid ;)

I don't know. I mean, Sayid has clued Jack in that Michael is 'compromised', but I'm feeling that in the finale it won't really be 'known' that he caused whatever happens, or addressed. Either a> He'll get away with it (but magnet energy will draw the boat back later) or B. he'll get shot and no one will ever know or c. THEY (someone) gets captured (most likely) and he's with them and...I'm just drunk and making scenarios and not adding to the covo at all. SORRY!
May. 20th, 2006 06:45 am (UTC)
LOL, oops! It really is all about Sawyer here! ;-)

Hmm, I hadn't thought about that. Leaving it as a cliffhanger? Or maybe some other scenario, where Michaell's betrayal actually isn't even discovered? Hmmm. *ponders* that would be interesting. Although I think fans will want justice!
May. 20th, 2006 06:24 am (UTC)
I honestly don't know what they'll do. Hadn't really thought about it further than "let's hope he's eaten by a polar bear" which, wasn't a serious thought, lol. (Though fun!)

I see him getting a "redemption" storyline, that ends in his death "heroic" death. Whatevercakes.

If not that, honestly, I kinda think he'll just get away with it. The Losties have short attention spans, and by "Losties" I mean "The Writers" of course. If they have MDK locked in, and back, for next season, I think they'll want to traipse through that storyline more than worry about what's "fitting" for what Michael did.

I don't know anymore. I've learned I can't predict anything these yayhoos anymore. Like my Dad likes to bitch about, EVERY SINGLE WEEK, "They're still just moving sideways!" Which, I do agree with, though, I'd really like to not hear about it anymore, lmfao. They're pulling new things out left and right, never answering anything big, and I'll never be convinced they have any fucking clue what the endgame is, no matter what they say. In the beginning, I didn't think I was signing up to watch a show about hatches and an evil company and Others that put on grand stage productions with fake-ass beards. But I'd deal with it, and even be totally on board, if they wouldn't cast all the current on island character development aside to keeping pulling "tricks" out of their endless hat.

I'm really not as bitter as that sounds, lmfao. I'm more ambivalent. Though, I'd give a lot to go back to when it was a kickass, character driven drama.

That's the show I fell in love with, and I kinda, really, totally want it back whenever they're done fucking around.
May. 20th, 2006 06:49 am (UTC)
I don't think even their short attention spans can overlook THIS. But then again, the writers and I clearly don't see eye to eye, LOL! Not this season anyway!

I didn't think I was signing up to watch a show about hatches and an evil company and Others that put on grand stage productions with fake-ass beards.

And that is why S2 has sucked so damn hard. This isn't the show any of us fell in love with. Take back your damn hatches and orientation videos, kthx!

I'd give a lot to go back to when it was a kickass, character driven drama.


May. 20th, 2006 01:09 pm (UTC)
I have HEARD (and this very well could be untrue) that HP will only be a guest star next season. Maybe the tribal council decides to vote him off the island/exile him?
May. 20th, 2006 06:34 pm (UTC)
Could be exile or he could flee into the jungle, like Desmond or Danielle. Except i don't see him surviving on his wits because he doesn't have any!

May. 20th, 2006 04:21 pm (UTC)
One of the things that has bugged me most about the show is the lack of accountability. It is simply not in the least believable. I know it's done just to serve the purposes on the series, to keep everything moving forward, but to me it's just bullshit. As if.

I don't know what they could do in that situation, not like they could lock people up, but I'm sure they wouldn't all be welcomed back into the group with open arms after committing some heinous crime.

And if they do that w/Michael... I just hope they don't, it's gonna strain my ability to just roll with the show too much. They would probably go w/some "it's for Walt's sake" thing. I think they have to kill him off, either that or he goes to live w/the Others, now that he's become as bad as they are.

At any rate, it would be a relief to me if something happened to him, and we don't have to put up with him anymore.
May. 20th, 2006 06:38 pm (UTC)
Word, word, word. Accountabiity is definitely lacking. On the one hand, what are they going to do, set up a tribunal and render legal judgments? Actually execute someone? But on the other hand, just shrugging things off isn't working either. Even if the characters don't remember or choose to let stuff go, the audience doesn't. And all that ends up undermining our faith in the show. The circumstances might be far out but there has to be a degree of realism and some kind of internal logic. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- the writers have ADD. And they don't trust their audience, apparently.

The "for Walt's sake" thing could be an interesting angle. I won't miss Michael if he leaves. I haven't missed him this whole time he was away. The only time I ever liked him is when his storyline wasn't exclusively about Walt -- when he was building the boat. That's why Claire is so dull too: she only exists to be Aaron's mom. I would have loved to see these characters have at least one other dimension to them.
(no subject) - zelda_zee - May. 20th, 2006 06:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 20th, 2006 05:33 pm (UTC)
I think Michael will die sooner or later, getting chased over a cliff or something. That would be OK. I cant see him living among them if they knew what he had done. It would be exile to the "Other" group, or killed by accident.

However, if they start with death-penalties on the island, then there is the end of the show for me. I wouldnt be able to stand anyone of them if they turned all Governor Devlin on me.
I could see a lynchmob though, someone who takes the law in his/hers own hands and revenges the killings, like Shannon tried to do with Locke?
May. 20th, 2006 06:41 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking death-by-cliff or fleeing into the jungle are the most likely options. They can't really start executing people. But it irks me no end that no one is ever to blame for anything. Locke was guilty. Ana should not have been made as welcome as she was, accident or not. Real people hold grudges over these things! I could see some mob justice, like when they almost went after Boone for the water and Jin for (supposedly) burning the boat, except that those were both stopped before any real damage was done.

If Shannon had shot Locke, I don't think anyone would have blamed her. Same with Sayid, if he'd shot Ana. And I would have been OK with that. I guess I have a vigilante streak in me.
May. 20th, 2006 08:59 pm (UTC)
The show might take the easy way out and either have him killed off, join the Others, or just wander into the jungle of his own accord.

Realistically, however, I see only a few ways this can go down with any success. No, Michael definitely shouldn't be forgiven for this, but even if they attempt some sort of organized group justice, I don't know if they'll kill him. I'm sure most of the group would just call for his head, but there will probably be at least some anti-death penalty folks or aomeone who makes the "making us no better than him" speech (*cough*Jack*cough*).
I think "group justice" (ie that select Tribal Council makes their own call on what's best for everyone) would either sentence him to be their new hatch prisoner, or exile him. If it's the first, it won't be for long: someone will eventually go vigilante and sneak in there to finish him off. The people in charge might even look the other way. If it's the second one, it could be interesting, because Michael would probably come into conflicts with the group, either stealing supplies from camp or maybe trying to capture or kill them if they cross paths in the jungle.

Of course, there's always that chance that he'll "accidentally" be killed when they try to drag him back for justce in the first place.
May. 21st, 2006 04:47 am (UTC)
Very good points.

Do you think Jack would forgive him? He has forgiven Kate several times but he really didn't want to forgive Locke. He looked very disappointed when Shannon missed, as I recall! And this is the man who authorized torture and condoned keeping Henry Gale a prisoner, although he stopped both from going too far. Jack walks a fine line there. I think it would be Kate doing the protesting, at least harking back to her behavior in Confidence Man.

I could see Michael being the scary island outcast. I wonder if Walt would go with him or stay in the camp.

If anyone does kill Michael, accidentally or otherwise, I think they'll get a free pass. His only hope for redemption is to sacrifice himself saving someone else. There really is no other way, given his complete lack of remorse so far. He's always been an incredibly selfish ass, hasn't he? It's just this time other lives are at stake and that's a price he's perfectly willing to pay.
(no subject) - demonqueen666 - May. 21st, 2006 10:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 20th, 2006 11:08 pm (UTC)
The big, big thing that got me about Michael's and Eko's scene in "Three Minutes" was the lack of remorse that Michael felt. As Eko said in "?", you can't be forgiven unless you're actually repentent. Michael is the boy who beat his dog, not truly sorry and realizing that he did a wrong thing, but only worried that he might be caught. He's upset by what he had to do, but he still thinks that it's a worthy sacrifice. That's the big thing that keeps me from forgiving him, frankly. I've had a lot of murderers on my list of fannish favs, Sawyer included, but they all reached a point where they realized that what they were doing was wrong independently of whether or not they were caught. That's my big reason for thinking that, yes, he's going to have to die at the end of the season. Without actual remorse, there's no guarantee that he won't turn on them again the very moment that an opportunity presents itself.

I could see an exile situation happening. A tropical island gives a lot in the way of resources, but there's a reason that exile was equated with deal in prehistoric societies. Humans just aren't very good at dealing with harsh nature unless we run around in packs. An organized, unified decision to cast Michael out-without Walt-would be that final push towards actually developing a system of laws that I've been waiting for. However, I agree with you, I think they'll go for the death scene. More dramatic.
May. 20th, 2006 11:08 pm (UTC)
Equated with death. Exile was equated with death. Sometimes I should not be allowed near keyboards.
(no subject) - halfdutch - May. 21st, 2006 04:40 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 21st, 2006 12:28 am (UTC)
Well, according to the trend as you've mapped out, I'm pretty sure that if Michael gets Walt back, everyone will eventually understand and go on with their lives.

May. 21st, 2006 04:28 am (UTC)
Urgh. There would have be some extreme fan backlash if that happened. Not that anyone is really missing Ana or Libby but he can't just be allowed to skate!
May. 21st, 2006 10:08 pm (UTC)
You missed out a crime - Sawyer and Charlie fake kidnap Sun in order to get petty revenge on Jack and Locke. So far the punishment has been some vague temporary shunning for Sawyer and everyone forgetting about Sun getting hurt. I think it will be interesting to see if that particular storyline is ever returned to (for example someone actually gets a clue and realises that Sun's injury was actually part of Sawyer's plan and finds out who did it) as it was one of the most selfish "crimes" to have been commited by any of the castaways and can't really be explained away that easily. For example, IMO it is way worse than Michael knocking out Locke and stealing a gun in order to go look for Walt. *shrugs*

I think it is interesting that I seem to be the only person who thinks that Michael is feeling some kind of regret for his actions - directly after Eko's speech in the hatch, Michael was outside in the jungle throwing up... to me that seemed like him reacting to both what Eko had said and to what he (Michael) had done. I do think he is aware of just how bad a thing he has done and is about to do but I think he is so blinded by his need to protect his child that he feels forced to go thru with it. I'm not defending him, I agree that he has gone way beyond any form of rational and/or acceptable behaviour, I just think it is interesting that no one else interpreted his behaviour in the way I did.

Personally I don't think he will die, I think that would be too simple (even for Lost) I think he will end up joining the Others - not necessarily by choice but more because I don't think he will feel he can return to the scene of his crimes. He asked the Others to give him their boat when he made the deal to get Walt back and I think that his plan all along has been to do what the Others have asked of him and then attempt to leave the island with Walt. I assume that the Others will double cross him in some way and that will lead to people finding out what he has done and thus him being cast out from the group and having to stay with the Others or strike out on his own.
May. 21st, 2006 10:21 pm (UTC)
I didn't include the attack on Sun because as far as I know, everyone still believes that was The Others. I was looking at known crimes that were being judged by the rest of the group, so everyone's pre-island rap sheet is also not relevant here. I'm not saying it wasn't deeply wrong of Sawyer and Charlie, just that no one knows it *was* them and so they've never had to decide how to punish them for it. But since no one ever holds a grudge, if it ever does come out, I don't see them doing much about it, honestly. It would probably play out like Sayid finding out much later about Locke bonking him on the head. :-/

If Michael joins The Others, I guess we won't be seeing much more of him, although if he's not leaving the show he'd still be around in some episodes, I suppose. Would they have a whole separate Others episode then? I'm not really anxious to have more screentime for them. They really are scarier the less we see and know about them.

I could see Michael striking out on his own, but with or without Walt? It would be interesting if Walt found out about what Michael had done and refused to go with him. Or if *he* killed Michael! That would be a helluva twist!

I think Michael is feeling some guilt, but clearly not enough for him to stop his plan to hand over 4 or 5 people for their probable death. So the audience sympathy for him is pretty much hovering around zero.

(no subject) - themoononastick - May. 21st, 2006 11:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - halfdutch - May. 21st, 2006 11:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
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