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Michael Dawson is a construction worker who was in Australia to take custody of his son, Walt, who he hadn't seen for nine years. He is one of the Oceanic 815 crash survivors on the mysterious island, and is played by Harold Perrineau, Jr., and appeared in forty eight episodes.
Michael lived in New York City with his girlfriend, Susan Lloyd. He had intentions of becoming an artist, but he put those dreams on hold and found work as a construction worker to help support the two of them and their son, Walt, while Susan finished law school. After graduating and passing the bar, Susan was offered a lucrative job in international law at a legal clinic in Amsterdam. Michael had been out of work for months and had troubles in his relationship with Susan, but didn't want her to leave with his son. As she was Walt's mother and steadily employed, Susan believed no court would side against her. She claimed she needed some time and wouldn't be gone forever, so Michael relented.
But many months passed and Michael eventually learned Susan had begun a relationship with Brian Porter, the man who had hired her. Incensed, Michael was resolved to go to Amsterdam and get his son back, but he was struck by a car immediately after ending his call to Susan. After she hadn't heard from Michael in over two months, Susan learned what happened to Michael through his friend and came to visit him in the hospital. He needed a year of physical therapy to recover from his injuries, but Susan revealed to him that she was covering all his medical expenses. Michael learned she was moving to Italy with Walt and Brian, was getting married to Brian and Brian wanted to adopt Walt.
Michael was vehemently opposed to relinquishing his rights as Walt's father and losing him again. Despite having little money to go up against someone as powerful as the law firm representing Susan and Brian, Michael hired an attorney and had an injunction filed to prevent her from leaving the city with his son. Michael and Susan met with their respective attorneys, but the meeting didn't fare well for Michael as he couldn't name Walt's favorite foods or his first words; he barely knew his own son. Despite this blunder, Susan met with Michael and expressed her doubt that she would win in court. She pleaded with Michael to let Walt go for Walt's sake. She would be a senior partner in the Rome office and could provide for Walt, while Michael was out of work, about to be evicted from his apartment and needed to get healthy. Michael once again relented to Susan and met with Walt one last time before they left for Rome.
About seven years later, Michael continued sending letters to his son. Susan and Walt left Rome and ended up Australia. Shortly thereafter, Brian suddenly showed up at Michael's small apartment with news of Susan's death. She had a blood disorder and had only been sick for a week before she passed away. Brian claimed Susan wanted Michael to have custody of Walt, that he never wanted to adopt Walt in the first place if it wasn't for Susan. Michael realized Susan never made any request and Brian was just trying to get rid of Walt. Brian was confronted with that accusation but he claimed it wasn't just that; Walt was "different somehow." Michael received a ticket to Sydney and money for travel expenses. At Brian's house in Sydney, Michael learned Susan had kept all the letters he sent to Walt; they never got to Walt, but Susan never destroyed them either. He met his estranged son and told him that it was his idea, not Brian's, to take him to New York City. He also took Brian's dog, Vincent, with them for Walt. They ended up on Oceanic flight 815.
As Michael and Walt were basically strangers to one another, their relationship started out rocky. Michael was concerned for Walt's well-being immediately after the crash, but Walt was more concerned with finding Vincent. Michael tried to find the lost dog for his son, but was unable to do so. John Locke found Vincent, tied him up in the jungle and told Michael the location so Michael could be the one to bring Vincent to Walt.
Michael found an expensive, but broken, wristwatch in the wreckage and decided to wear it. He didn't realize the watch was originally in Jin-Soo Kwon's safekeeping and was attacked by the man. Jin was handcuffed to some wreckage while Michael was left perplexed as to Jin's motive. Jin's wife, Sun-Hwa Kwon, revealed to Michael that she spoke English and explained why Jin had attacked him. Michael freed Jin with an axe and gave the watch back, but he still didn't like the man.
Michael became jealous of his son's relationship with Locke, culminating in his discovery of Locke teaching Walt how to throw a knife. He decided it was time to stop waiting for a rescue and to start building a raft to get off the island with his son, but Walt was more interested in spending time with Locke than helping gather material for the raft. Michael discovered his son sneaking out, became angry and threw a comic book Walt found into a fire. Upset, Walt ran off into the jungle. Locke helped Michael track him down and rescue him from a polar bear. Locke's help eased the tension between the two men, and Michael's relationship with his son grew.
The raft began to take shape, but it was mysterious set ablaze one night. As Michael had gotten into an argument earlier in the day with Jin over how he treated Sun, Michael suspected Jin was the culprit. James "Sawyer" Ford tracked Jin down and brought him back to the camp where Michael started beating him. Sun intervened, revealing to everyone that she spoke English, and told Michael that Jin wasn't responsible. Jin had tried to put the fire out. Locke also intervened, reminding everyone there were Others on the island who have murdered them and sabotaged them. Jin realized his wife had lied to him and left the caves to help Michael construct a second raft.
The second raft neared completion, and Leslie Arzt recommended the raft be launched immediately before monsoon season, so questions as to who would be on it began to surface. Michael and his son had spots, as did Jin, which left only one last spot available. Sawyer "purchased" the spot by giving Michael material he needed for the raft. But Michael fell ill after drinking from a spiked water bottle. Michael came to the conclusion that Sawyer was responsible, but Sawyer revealed to everyone that Kate Austen was a fugitive and laid the blame on her as she needed to be off the island before the people rescuing her knew she was wanted. Michael let Sawyer back onto the raft. Walt later confessed to Michael that he was the one who burned down the raft because he didn't want to leave the island. Michael offered to stay on the island with Walt, but Walt said they had to leave.
The raft was launched and Michael discovered Sawyer was carrying a gun. Night fell and Sayid Jarrah's improvised radar picked up a blip. Michael fired a flare gun and a small boat approached. A man aboard the boat, Mr. Friendly, insisted that Walt had to come with them. There was a brief struggled as two men took Walt, Sawyer was shot in the shoulder and the raft was destroyed by an improvised explosive device.
After Walt was taken by the Others, Michael was hysterical and almost drowned. He was saved by James "Sawyer" Ford, but Michael was angry at himself for taking Walt from the relative safety of the camp and lashed out at Sawyer, blaming him for attracting the Others to them with the flare. The two men argued, but were accosted by a shark. Michael shot the shark as it went after Sawyer, and then told Sawyer that he blamed himself for Walt's kidnapping. He swore that he'd get Walt back. The two drifted back to the island and found Jin-Soo Kwon. The three were taken prisoner by the tail-section survivors of Oceanic flight 815. The tail survivors eventually realized the men were on Oceanic 815 as well, freed and taken to the Arrow. The tail survivors decided to travel across the island to the mid section camp. While gathering supplies, Libby told Michael that "they", the Others, came from inland and Michael set off into the jungle to find his son. Jin and Eko caught up with him and convinced him to come back.
The group traveled across the island, eventually having to carry Sawyer on an improvised stretcher as his bullet wound knocked him unconscious. Cindy vanished as they climbed an embankment, they heard whispers in the jungle around them and, in the confusion, Ana-Lucia Cortez shot and killed Shannon Rutherford. Ana-Lucia believed she could no longer live at the mid section camp because of what she did and sent Michael to get supplies for her. Michael found Sun-Hwa Kwon and told her her husband was fine. She led him to the Swan and to Jack Shephard. After the situation defused, Michael returned to the beach camp.
Michael went to the Swan and, while looking around, saw a message for him on the computer terminal. Michael came to the conclusion that the person on the other end was his son. After his secret conversation through the computer, Michael began taking shooting lessons with Locke. He eventually received a final set of instructions over the computer terminal, locked Jack and Locke inside the armory as he insisted on going out for his son alone. As he traveled across the island, Michael came across one of the Others, Pickett, but he was ambushed from behind by Tom. Jack, Locke and Sawyer went after Michael, but they too were ambushed by the Others in the middle of the night. Their weapons were taken and they were sent back, then the Others took Michael with them to a small village by the Door. Michael was interrogated by Ms. Klugh and Juliet Burke. He was eventually given an offer: free their man, Benjamin Linus, and bring them Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hugo "Hurley" Reyes in exchange for his and his son's freedom. Michael agreed on the condition that he be given a boat.
Twelve days after Michael took off into the jungle, he emerged and collapsed in front of an astonished Jack and Kate. He was brought back to the Swan and told the survivors how he found the Other's tent village, that they were in pretty bad shape and no match for them, and were guarding a new hatch. Once he regained his strength, he promised to take them to the village to get his son back. Michael was left alone with Ana Lucia while the group got the guns back from Sawyer. Ana-Lucia told Michael that she couldn't bring herself to kill Henry Gale (Benjamin Linus), so Michael offered to do it for her. He was given the gun and combination to the armory. After apologizing to Ana Lucia, Michael shot her in the chest, killing her. Libby heard the noise and came into the room, startling Michael, who reflexively shot her twice. Michael released Ben and shot himself in the arm.
Michael stumbled out of the entrance to the Swan just as Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Locke were returning. He told them that Henry Gale had escaped and shot them. Michael told Jack that only the two of them, Sawyer, Kate and Hurley must go to get Walt. But Sawyer invited Sayid to come with them and Michael tried to persuade Sayid not to go. Hurley didn't want to go either, but changed his mind at the funeral for Libby and Ana-Lucia. Unbeknownst to Michael, Sayid believed Michael was lying and hatched a plan with Jack. He would take Desmond Hume's sailboat to scout out the Others' village and then light a fire to show them where to meet up.
In the jungle, a large bird startled the group and Michael tried to shoot it, but discovered his gun wasn't loaded. Jack said that he must have forgotten to load it and gave Michael a full clip, but Michael started to worry that Jack might suspect him. After Sawyer shot one of the Others who were following them, the group wanted to turn back, fearing the second one would warn the rest. Jack said that they'd already been warned and confronted Michael. Intimidated by Jack's anger, Michael confessed to letting Henry Gale out and to the murders of Ana-Lucia and Libby. He said that he did it because he thought it was the only way to get his son back. Some wanted to turn back, but Jack told them they had to continue onward as the Others knew where they were. Michael led them to a clearing where tubes from the Pearl were deposited. Jack saw Sayid's signal smoke and realized they were not where they should be. The Others ambushed and captured them, and they were taken to the Pala Ferry dock. Henry Gale arrived and told Michael that he wasn't happy with the deal his people made, but they got more than they bargained for when they got Walt, so he would abide by the terms of the deal. He gave Michael the boat and told him to follow the heading 325 to find rescue. Michael asked Henry how he knew he wouldn't tell anyone about the island. Henry said that it was irrelevant since he doubted that anyone would be able to find the island. He also noted that because of what Michael did to get his son back, he was unlikely to tell anyone. Michael found Walt on the boat, and they left the island.
Michael and Walt made it off the island and back to civilization, ending up in New York City. Unable to carry the guilt of what he did to Ana-Lucia and Libby, Michael revealed what he did to his son. Walt resented Michael for his actions and left to stay with his grandmother. Michael took up residence in a tiny, meager apartment and contemplated suicide. He wrote a suicide note and then crashed his car headlong into a shipping container, but survived. At the hospital, Michael saw an apparition of Libby. He was later discharged and tried to see his son, but his mother wouldn't let him near Walt. She was upset with Michael for how Walt would wake up with horrible nightmares, and that they wouldn't tell her what happened to them or where they've been.
Still suicidal, Michael pawned the watch Jin-Soo Kwon had given him for a handgun and bullets. In an empty alleyway, Michael loaded the gun and prepared to the pull the trigger when he was interrupted by Tom. A short scuffle ensued. Tom told Michael that the island wouldn't let him die and, once he realized that, to come find him at the penthouse of a local hotel. Michael went back to his apartment and tried to shoot himself, but the gun failed to fire. He met with Tom and learned a dangerous man, Charles Widmore, had gone to great expense and lengths to place a fake Oceanic 815, bodies and all, at the bottom of an ocean trench where it would be too deep to positively identify the remains. Widmore was trying to find the island and would kill everyone, including Michael's friends, once he found it. Tom offered Michael the chance of redemption by getting onto Widmore's freighter and killing everyone on it.
Michael was placed aboard the freighter as a deckhand named "Kevin Johnson". He had second thoughts about his mission, but then witnessed a group of men firing submachineguns off the side of the freighter. The men refused to tell him why they'd need weapons for a rescue mission. Retrieving a package the Others had sent to him before the freighter left, Michael headed to the engine room and activated the package's contents - a bomb. Another apparition of Libby appeared, telling him not to do it, but Michael set the bomb off. However, the bomb wasn't real and a message popped up telling him "not yet". Michael received a private call from Benjamin Linus. Ben told him there were innocent people on the freighter, people who didn't know how evil Charles Widmore truly was, and he wasn't going to kill them. He assigned Michael the task of compiling a list of names of those on the freighter and, once he gave it to him, to destroy the communications equipment and the engines.
Michael completed the tasks Benjamin Linus assigned to him, but people from the freighter had managed to get onto the island. Naomi Dorrit was killed, but their other pilot, Frank Lapidus, returned with Sayid Jarrah and Desmond Hume. Desmond was experiencing problems and was locked in the sick bay with Sayid, but they were secretly freed by Michael. The two were later returned to the sick bay and Michael slipped them a note telling them to not trust the captain, Gault. Sayid and Desmond were given a cabin and they finally met Michael. Sayid decided to find out what Michael was doing on the freighter and confronted him in the engine room. Michael told his story of how he came to be on the freighter, but was then forcefully taken to Gault's cabin. There Sayid revealed to Gault that Michael was one of the passengers on Oceanic flight 815 and a traitor.
- Information is shown in chronological order. Episodes in bold are flashback episodes.
Before the Crash
- 1x14 - Special: Michael and Susan split up.
- 1x14 - Special: Michael gets hit by a car, and agrees to let Brian adopt Walt in exchange for medical care.
- 2x02 - Adrift: Michael changes his mind and tries to get custody of Walt, but later relents.
- 1x14 - Special: Michael is unexpectedly asked to take custody of Walt by his stepfather, Brian.
On the Island
- 1x01 - Pilot (1): Michael survives the plane crash.
- 1x06 - House of the Rising Sun: Michael is attacked by Jin.
- 1x14 - Special: Michael and Walt's relationship gets stormy.
- 1x22 - Born to Run: As the raft nears completion, Michael falls mysteriously ill.
- 1x23 - Exodus (1): Michael and Walt leave on the raft.
- 1x24 - Exodus (2): Michael's raft is destroyed when the Others take Walt.
- 2x02 - Adrift: Michael and Sawyer bicker as the shattered raft drifts on the current.
- 2x09 - What Kate Did: Michael begins exchanging messages with a mystery person using the Swan Bunker's computer.
- 2x11 - The Hunting Party: Michael attacks Locke, takes a gun and charges into the jungle looking for Walt.
- 2x22 - Three Minutes: Michael is captured and taken to the Others camp. He is held there for 8 days, at the end of which he gets to see Walt for 3 minutes. He then agrees to free the prisoner, and bring back four people the Others want.
- 2x19 - S.O.S.: Michael reappears.
- 2x20 - Two for the Road: Michael murders Ana-Lucia and Libby, releases Henry Gale, and shoots himself in the arm to make himself seem like a victim.
- 2x22 - Three Minutes: Michael gets everyone on his list to agree to go back with him to rescue Walt.
- 2x23 - Live Together, Die Alone: Michael confesses to killing Ana-Lucia and Libby, and letting Henry Gale out. He and Walt leave the island.
- 4x08 - Meet Kevin Johnson: Reveals how he came to be on the freighter just off-shore of the island.
- 1x06 - House of the Rising Sun: Michael talks to Jin and gives him his watch before setting him free.
- 1x14 - Special: Michael threatens Locke about the time he's spending with Walt.
- 2x11 - The Hunting Party: Michael tells Jack that he is going after Walt alone, and he is going right now.
- 2x20 - Two for the Road: Michael murders Ana-Lucia and Libby, releases Henry Gale, then shoots himself in the arm.
2x02 - Adrift - "They took my son!"