Harold Perrineau as <EM>Lost</EM>'s Michael Harold Perrineau as Lost's Michael
Our favorite castaways thus far have been on the island a few months, but for Lost fans, it's been more than 260 days since Jack's super-freaky flash-forward. As the Jan. 31 season premiere (finally) draws closer, TVGuide.com is offering daily profiles — "refreshers," if you will — of the key players in ABC's island-based odyssey.

Michael, By the "Numbers": When we first meet Michael (played by Harold Perrineau), almost 10 years before the timeframe of the series, he's an aspiring artist living with his pregnant girlfriend, Susan, in New York. She gives birth to their son, Walt, but Michael's life falls apart shortly thereafter: He's struck by a car and forced to spend almost a year recovering from the accident, while Susan gets a job in Europe and eventually falls in love with and marries another man. Michael is devastated by Susan's request that he give up custody of Walt so that her new husband can legally adopt him, but he finally relents in order to give Walt a chance at a normal life instead of hopping back and forth between countries to visit his two parents. Time passes, Michael makes his living in construction work, and then Susan suddenly dies of a rare blood disease. For reasons that have yet to be fully explained, Susan's husband is scared to have Walt around and asks Michael to take him instead. Michael travels to Australia to meet his now 10-year-old son for the first time and take him back home, but their journey is cut short when Oceanic 815 crashes en route back to America.

Things Got Interesting When...: From the very beginning, Michael has been defined by the very responsibility that he's avoided: acting as a father to son Walt. It's a responsibility that sometimes puts him at odds with everyone else, since he's more concerned with protecting his boy than doing what's best for the group. That conflict comes to a head when Walt is kidnapped by the Others at the end of the first season and a distraught Michael charges into the jungle to save him and quickly gets captured himself. The Others offer Michael a deal: If he manages to rescue their leader, Benjamin Linus, from the castaways' camp and lead Jack, Sawyer, Kate and Hurley into their clutches, they'll allow him and his son to leave the island. Michael fatally shoots Ana Lucia in order to rescue Ben, but he's forced to kill Libby as well when she accidentally witnesses the murder. Michael blames the bloodbath on the Others and offers to lead a retaliatory strike against them. Jack realizes too late that Michael has betrayed them all, and the whole party is taken prisoner by the Others. Jack, Sawyer, Kate and Hurley watch helplessly as Michael and Walt sail away from the island in a boat.

'Tis Better to Have Loved and Gotten Lost?: Michael hasn't had any time for an on-island romance; he's too busy worrying about taking care of Walt to form any other significant relationships.

Six Degrees of Serialization: If Michael has a mysterious connection to one of the island's other inhabitants, it hasn't been revealed yet.

Michael's Season 3 Story: Unless you count a blink-and-you'll-miss-him appearance in one of Nikki and Paulo's flashbacks in "Exposé," Michael wasn't seen at all during the third season. However, the producers of Lost have confirmed that (spoiler alert) not only will Michael return this coming season, he'll also be a regular character once again.

How Michael Has Us Puzzled: Did Michael tell the authorities the truth about the plane crash and try to mount a rescue mission? Or did he, as Benjamin Linus predicted, keep quiet, consumed by his shame over having committed murder in order to leave the island? And what happens when the other castaways who made it home come face-to-face with the man who betrayed them?

Our Wild Prediction: We're guessing that Michael stayed quiet about the plane crash and is laying low with Walt in order to keep people from asking too many questions about how he survived. Since Naomi told Hurley that the rest of the world thinks that everyone onboard Oceanic 815 was killed, Michael's survival wouldn't be common knowledge.

Read our Lost character profile for Sun Kwon. Catch up with Lost clips in our Online Video Guide.

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