So I've been thinking a lot about all the people on the island who happen to be responsible for someone else's death. The number is high. One point of the show seems to be that nobody is perfect, with the complementary point that nobody is beyond redemption. Most of the people have done horrible things, some for better reasons than others. I think it's unfair to paint the Others as such villains when we don't know most of their story, yet we do know so much of the vices of the survivors. Ultimately the island is freaky enough on its own that everybody, regardless of their background, should be helping each other to survive it. As was pretty much the case is season one. The arrival of the Others shot that all to sunshine...
Anyway, here, just for the sake of wrapping my head around it, is a list of survivors and their apparent culpability. I'm sure I'll miss something, and I don't really know the purpose of this exercise, but indulge me. In no particular order...
Kate - Murdered her father by setting her house on fire. Motivation: Protecting her mother from his abuse. Unintentionally got her childhood sweetheart killed by involving him in her plans and refusing to comply with the cops who were chasing her. Her restless spirit gets her into trouble, but she's done a lot on the island to make amends, always helping people and rarely initiating harm.
Jack - He hasn't been able to save every patient on his operating table. No surgeon can, but I imagine it weighs on him; he finds it especially difficult to lose a patient. Also, good intentions mixed with a lack of faith in Boone led Jack to rescue him when he didn't need it, probably leading to the girl's drowning, and I'm pretty sure there are more instances as well. All completely indirect; despite his threats toward Ben, I'm not sure Jack is capable of willfully causing someone's death, aside from the Marshall, whose life he ended early out of a sense of compassion, and very reluctantly at that. His pride has deadly consequences on this island, but the survivors owe a great deal to his surgical and leadership skills; Charlie, among others, owes him his life.
Sawyer - He killed the guy who turned out not to be the real Sawyer at all. Way to go, Daddy Shepard. This guy seemed pretty decent too, more a victim than a villain, and I think Sawyer is even more haunted, having conversed with him. It was like Joseph setting out to kill Mr. Christie in Far and Away and finding, most frustratingly, that he liked the guy. Point: It's a lot harder to kill someone once you've gotten to know them. Most of the intentional killings have happened in a flash, before there was time to think. Sawyer thought. He made the wrong choice. He also killed a polar bear, but since this presumably saved several lives, or at least limbs, I'm inclined to overlook it. He tried to put the Marshall out of his misery but only made things worse; this was actually a considerate action on some level, though I don't think it was his place to take matters into his own hands. And he did kill that random Other. Sawyer is brash and aggressive, and he needs to check his temper. I'm a little surprised he hasn't wreaked more havoc on the island than he has. But of all the castaways, he was one of the most in need of redemption at the time of the crash, and mostly it seems he's been climbing toward a clearer conscience, though he does backslide now and then.
Sayid - Came close to killing several people, including Ben, with his torture. Probably feels responsible for his friend's death by suicide bomb, and perhaps for Shannon's death as well, thinking that if he had believed her in the first place things might have turned out differently. Her death happened so quickly, though, he was completely helpless to stop it. Sayid has a lot to answer for, but he usually stops short of killing, and he feels great remorse for his torture.
Jin - He, too, has inflicted great physical pain on others but as far as we know hasn't actually killed anyone, though it at first appeared as though he had. Failing to kill the people Sun's father orders dead takes integrity and courage; Jin hasn't the strength to defy him completely, but our resect for him goes way up when we realize what he was up against.
Sun - She's interesting, because while Jin becomes more sympathetic as the show progresses, she becomes less. Partly because Jin comes across as so harsh in the beginning, and because she is so sweet-natured. But partly because when it comes down to it she is more capable of murder than her husband, who agonizes over what he's been told is his duty and ultimately makes the right call. Sun bears considerable responsibility in her boyfriend's death, since it was her decision to commit adultery that put this guy on her father's radar. She does feel guilty about cheating on her husband, however, and presumably it's the thought that Jin has been killed that fuels her self-preserving rage in killing Colleen. Still, that caught me way off-guard, and I hope she at least feels badly about it afterwards.
Charlie - He kills Ethan in cold blood when there are clearly enough people in Jack's party to subdue him. This is understandable since this guy tried to kill him and abducted Claire, and protecting Claire from any possibility of future abduction seems to be his aim. Never mind that he's not the only Other, and that questioning him and getting information might ultimately have proved more beneficial. Charlie's a hot-head, and while his motivations are usually somewhat altruistic, he's done some really crummy stuff. He could have wiped out half the island when he set that fire; luckily, no one was injured as a result. Moreover, there was nothing pure in his motives for abducting Sun. While I don't consider this an unforgiveable offense, especially since he had no intention of inflicting any real lasting harm on her, it was a dirty trick, and getting even with Locke certainly wasn't sufficient reason for doing it. Charlie's still got a lot of growing up to do.
Claire - As far as I can tell, she hasn't done anything so far that has endangered any lives. Her role on the island seems to be almost a Marian one, this virtuous young woman responsible for raising an extraordinary child, though we know her to not only be not particularly religious, but to look askance at religious devotion in others. We know her to have a saintly soul, if the psychic's words and our own impressions are to be believed. Aside from putting together the memorial for the fallen passengers, her contributions on the island have been minimal, but her purpose seems to lie in the raising of this baby. We may yet learn more about Claire that casts her in a more unfavorable light, but so far she doesn't have a great deal to feel guilty about.
Hurley - Poor guy. He's cursed. He feels responsible for the deaths of the people on that porch, and probably for his grandfather's death as well, since it was the first in a string of unlucky events that followed his winning the lottery. His forgetfulness directly results in Libby's being in the hatch at the same time as Michael, so perhaps more than in the other cases, he does bear responsibility for Libby's death, but only to the extent that he will feel guilty about that too. It was just colossally bad timing that led to Libby's death. He even unwittingly leads Sawyer to the frog and is distressed when Sawyer kills it. Bad things seem to happen all around Hurley, but all he ever wants is the best for everyone. His pacifism and consideration make him beloved by all on the island. I can't see that he has much to truly repent of; if anything, it seems that his tenure on the island may teach him to stop blaming himself for everything that goes wrong. It's very telling that when he finds out what Michael did, he doesn't try to kill him or even beat him up. His response to his circumstances is admirable, and if everyone followed his lead, there would probably be a lot less turmoil on the island.
John - He killed a boar or two. Murderer! No, I won't hold that against him. John's our Davy Crockett, the wild frontiersman once he's given the chance to be. He hasn't killed any people intentionally either; I was relieved to see him spare the young cop who shattered the only sense of family he'd ever known by betraying John's trust. However, he must be implicated in Boone's death; his statements that the island demanded a sacrifice cast him in an even worse light because it seems he knew he was leading Boone toward certain death. Oh, he was upset when the plane fell, and I think he's beaten himself up about it a lot, but his sometimes twisted spirituality has led to problems. His obsession with the hatch can also be considered a major factor in Arzt's death, since he was so eager to blow that sucker open, while his desire to see the best in people led him to ill-advisedly arm Michael. Of all the characters, Locke seems to have the deepest sense of connection with the island and the strongest sense of consequences and the need for repentance. He sees the island as a second chance, and he wants to help everyone embrace their better natures. But he's clearly far from perfect himself.
Walt - The bird flying into the window and the general creepiness surrounding the kid strike me as indications that somehow he may have had something to do with his mother's death, but if that's the case it was some sort of unconcscious physical connection. Anyway, I'm not at all sure on that count. There's something very strange about Walt, but aside from appearing to Shannon just before she got shot, he hasn't had the opportunity to cause much trouble on the island. That we know about, anyway; who knows what he was up to with the Others? I hope we haven't seen the last of him because I really want to know what his deal is. I think there's more to him than just being the motivation behind all of Michael's actions.
Michael - Sheesh, what a mess. He got a raw deal in the past to be sure, and he wants to make things right with his son. In fact, he's about the only decent dad on the show. Too bad he's a psychopath. In his desperation to retrieve Walt, he takes leave of his senses, completely losing any inner system of checks and balances he might have had. Wanting to protect his son is admirable, of course, but does that give him the right to use everyone else on the island as pawns in his game? He mows down Ana Lucia and Libby, the latter out of sheer panic, and while he feels remorse over both of their deaths, that doesn't stop him from being willing to deliver Jack, Sawyer, Kate and Hurley to the Others. His time with the Others probably messed with his mind, but the craziness started before he went. Michael's end does not justify any means, and in his quest to become a good father, he managed to commit some of the most greivous offenses on the island. If he and Walt really are headed for civilization, maybe deliverance from the island will come from Michael soliciting help. He saved his son, but he's not off the hook...
Boone and Shannon - I'll just lump them together because neither did anything too terrible while on the island, and whatever offenses they may have committed, it's too late to make up for it now, except in directing the actions of the survivors through creepy visions. This seems to be Boone's territory and probably stems from his unquenchable desire, even beyond the grave, to do something that makes a difference. Or he's just a byproduct of John's muddled mind, or the island's way of getting to him. Whatever. Both were fairly useless to begin with, though Boone tried not to be. He certainly had a few things to repent of in his former life, mainly his dubious tactics in deflecting Shannon's suitors, and maybe he figured this was his chance, though his treatment of her throughout most of their stay on the island wasn't too admirable. Shannon didn't much care about making a contribution, but Boone's sniveling spurred her into action, and I think she grew throughout the first season. With Boone gone, though, I guess it sort of made sense that she soon followed, since they're sort of a package deal.
Bernard and Rose - We've seen too little of them to get a real sense of who they are, but Rose's virtues seem to exceed even Claire's, and Bernard is a deeply devoted husband, if a little neurotic. I can't imagine that Rose has killed anyone or will; Bernard might in the interest of protecting Rose, but I hope it doesn't come to that. Ultimately I think Rose and Hurley are probably the strongest moral compasses on the show.
Eko - He's such a cool guy, I didn't relish seeing his back story detailing a long, sordid history of killing and maiming others in his quest for survival, starting with his first murder as a teen that spared Yemi from becoming a killer. There were solid reasons behind many of his killings, but that doesn't make them right, and it certainly doesn't make them something his shouldn't repent of. He seemed deeply disturbed by the fact that he killed two Others, which would seem to indicate that he has reformed, renounced his former life as a violent drug runner and embraced a life grounded in spirituality and virtue. But his death was all wrong. He regressed, refusing to apologize for any of his sins, and he paid for it with his life. The island, it seems, wants its inhabitants to feel remorse. That Eko renounced any need for forgiveness is most unfortunate and seems to go against his character. But I don't think we've quite seen the last of him.
Ana Lucia - Trigger-happy. Soooo trigger-happy... John sees the best in people; she sees the worst. She's aggressive and abrasive. She doesn't think before she acts. Shoot first, ask questions later. She kills the guy responsible for her unborn child's death, taking a vigilante approach instead of trusting in the justice system of which she is a part. She kills Goodwin because she finds out he's an Other. She kills Shannon because she's jumpy and figures she's an Other. I think she's shaken up by it, seeing that she has killed a completely innocent bystander. I don't think she feels any remorse for her attacker or for Goodwin, but in the aftermath of Shannon's death, she learns to check her aggression just enough that she is unable to kill Ben when she has the chance. I'm glad we got this detail before she died because she needed redemption more than most.
Libby - Ana Lucia's voice of reason, she seems to be as much of a pacifist as Hurley, and I'm not aware that she's responsible for any major calamities, though her past is full of mystery and she may have committed some major indiscretions in her past. I think we're still going to learn more about her. Still, unless you go so far as to blame the plane crash on her since she lent Dezzy the boat and he's ultimately the one who brought the plane down by failing to press the button in time - and probably if he hadn't shown up when he did his partner would have fallen asleep on the job at some point anyway and brought the island down with him - Libby seems to be in the clear.
Desmond - He killed Kelvin, but he didn't mean to. He did initiate an attack, but he certainly didn't intend it to result in his death and was horrified when it did. It was an unhappy accident, exacerbated by the fact that it led to the plane crash, which killed many people. So Dezzy has a lot of blood on his hands, but none of it is really his fault. And after this week's episode, we see just how incapable Dez seems to be of escaping destiny. His job is to save the world, whether he wants it or not. It seems pretty clear that he doesn't, but that won't stop him from doing what he feels he has to do. He's also bent on saving Charlie but doesn't think it will make any difference. Mostly I think Dez is a victim of dreadful circumstances, caught up in events that are much bigger than him.
Danielle - Killed everybody in her party, apparently because they were sick, though maybe she was just nuts. Hard to tell with her. But it seems she probably felt her actions were necessary and is trying to assuage her guilt now by helping the castaways. She's not all there, I don't think, but she's probably thrilled that there are now people besides the Others on the island so her isolation needn't be so complete. She knows more than she's telling, and will hopefully prove useful once more in the future.
Vincent - Yeah, I don't think he has too much to feel guilty about. But add that to Michael's list; just abandon your dog in the woods again, already...
That everybody? I'm not even going to bother with Paolo and Nikki and the other survivors who disappeared early or who haven't been given much to do yet. I'm saving the Others for another day because I already have spent close to three hours on this, and now I feel like I've wasted my morning. Hmph. But the point is that almost everyone who's washed ashore here has major sins to repent of, and while I want the island to be about them finding redemption, some of the worst offenses have occurred after the crash. I really don't want this to turn into Lord of the Flies. The situation has worsened, but there is still plenty of hope. Think virtuous thoughts, people...