I wasn't sure where to post my thoughts on this so I decided to blog them instead... I have a theory about death, burial, and the island.
- The case of the reappearing dad
We've seen a lot more of Christian Shepard to think that he's just your run-of-the-mill apparition. There is a definite island link to this guy, dead or undead... or smoke monster. While he seemed to have a Locke-like reincarnation when 815 crashed, he doesn't seem quite as alive as Locke is after 316's crash.
We know he died, but yet here he is popping up to talk to all kinds of people, time and time again, long after the crash. While some people consider him nothing more than a manifestation of the smoke monster, I think there's more to it than that - even if he is the smoke monster. I think, as many others have said, that the reason he is so actively involved in the story after death is the fact that he was never buried. Well, that and the fact that he was brought to the island in a coffin. But perhaps the two are equally influential - if a person dies on the island but remains unburied, or if a person is brought to the island dead, there seem to be unexpected consequences. For Locke it was reincarnation. For Christian it seems to be repeated apparition. For Yemi it was apparently smoke-monster personification.
- What are you talking about? The doctor is fine.
The exception to the rule about coming to the island dead seems to be the doctor from the freighter. He didn't reincarnate or reappear to anyone. He just washed ashore with his throat slit. But maybe that's because he didn't come in on any secret bearing or something. Who knows...
- Things don't stay buried long here
Locke said sometime way back when that things don't stay buried long on the island. That does seem to be true, at least with regard to secrets. You can't hide who you are for long. Sooner or later it will come out. Whether you're a killer, torturer, con-man, drug-addict, or control-freak (see Jack), the island will out you before long and your secret will be public knowledge.
But I have a suspicion that this also applies to dead people. I'm thinking that people don't stay buried on the island for very long either. The others don't even bury their people at all, but send them off on boats into the ocean, presumably to send them away from the island. Now why would they do that? I'm guessing because they know that it is impossible to keep people buried forever on the island.
- Old Smokey
One theory I have is that if the smoke monster finds a dead person, it will bring them back to the temple and then use their bodies/apparitions to wreak havoc on unsuspecting (living) people. It seemed to do that with Yemi to Mr. Echo. It also seems to be using Christian's body, though there's no definitive proof that it's the smoke monster and not Christian himself.
- We have to bury them
Amy is very concerned with burying the two hostiles who Sawyer and Juliet shot in LaFleur, a little more than I would expect considering they had just killed her husband. While the obvious reason is that their deaths would be evidence that Dharma had broken the truce, I think there's also a little more behind it.
After Rousseau and Karl are killed, Sawyer, Claire and Miles find them in a very shallow grave, but buried none-the-less. We know Keamy's team killed them, but why would they bother to bury them, especially if they weren't even going to do a good job? I'm guessing it's not out of respect for the dead. And I just don't buy that they were trying to hide the bodies, as they were trampsing about the jungle killing indiscriminately, and didn't seem to worry about anyone finding them. In fact, at that point they had Alex as their hostage and were marching straight toward the Barracks to confront Ben. So why would they bury Danielle and Karl? I think it was because they knew that if they didn't bury them, unpredictable things might happen.
- You flick the switch, light goes off, and then you drown.
Charlie is the only deceased Lostie who was never actually buried. But I think him dying down in the Looking Glass, deep down in the ocean might count as a kind of burial at sea. He certainly is not accessible to the smoke monster down there. And he wasn't technically on the island when he died, though admittedly, he was inside the event radius.
We do know of two people, however, who died on-island, and were never (in our knowledge) buried - Charlotte and Alex. While these were not main-main characters, they were very important to some of our main characters, Faraday and Ben respectively. Faraday seemingly succumbs to madness after losing Charlotte and in his grief tries, despite his adamant protest that whatever happened happened, to change the past and prevent her death. Ben seems to be confident that Alex will not die and is clearly shocked and devastated when Keamy executes her so readily. And then he mumbles something vague about Widmore changing "the rules".
So why do I bring these two up? Because I'm beginning to wonder if them not being buried might have unexpected consequences... like maybe that they may show up again. Perhaps that their pasts may even be changed. The reason I say this is because Ben's confidence that Alex would be ok seems overstated for just an agreement between Widmore and himself. And strangely, when he goes to confront Widmore after moving the island, Widmore's words are strange.
WIDMORE: Have you come here to kill me, Benjamin?
BEN: We both know I can't do that.
WIDMORE: Then why are you here?
BEN: I'm here, Charles, because you murdered my daughter.
WIDMORE: Don't stand there, looking at me with those horrible eyes of yours and lay the blame for the death of that poor girl on me, when we both know very well I didn't murder her at all, Benjamin. You did.
BEN: No, that's not true.
WIDOMRE: Yes, Benjamin, it is. You creep into my bedroom in the dead of night--like a rat--and have the audacity to pretend that you're the victim?
WIDMORE: I know who you are, boy. What you are. I know that everything you have you took from me. So... Once again I ask you: Why are you here?
BEN: I'm here, Charles, to tell you that I'm going to kill your daughter. Penelope, is it? And once she's gone... once she's dead... then you'll understand how I feel. And you'll wish you hadn't changed the rules.
This is a very strange conversation. We know that the island won't let people die sometimes. I'm guessing it's because the island has been to a future time in which they are living and have some important job to do. So presumably Ben and Widmore are both present in the future of the island. But Widmore claiming that it wasn't him but Ben who murdered Alex, and that Ben is no victim seem a bit harsh, even for Widmore. Of course I don't know him personally, but he seems not just to ignore, but really not to even comprehend Ben's grief.
The only way I can make sense of this conversation is by focusing on the last bit, about changing the rules. I think this statement is evidence that Ben and Widmore have been playing this game and that Ben has lived this time loop before. That's why I believe he was so sure that Alex would be fine and why he was so shocked when Keamy killed her.
- We're going to make a pitstop.
So who else hasn't been buried? The whole DI. They've all been dumped in a pit, left uncovered. Except Roger Workman, of course, who's hangin' with the old VW full of Dharma beer out in the jungle. Do these guys have a hope? Maybe. We've already encountered Horace in Locke's dream pointing the way to the cabin, so to speak.