Lost is so confusing! But not that confusing. Here I will try to write, from memory without using any wikis, fan sites or Google, everything important that's happened on the show up to tonight's final-season premiere. Wish me luck.
A guy named Jack wakes up in the middle of the jungle wearing a suit and doesn't know where he is. So he gets up and follows some noises and there on a beach is a plane wreck, with survivors running around screaming and people getting sucked into the still-running engines and stuff. They were all on Oceanic Flight 815, headed from Sydney to Los Angeles. Jack helps rescue some people, so we know right away that he is the Hero, and he meets a girl name Kate who stitches him up even though she is scared to. Jack tells her that he is a spinal surgeon and she doesn't say who she is and then we go meet other people who survived the crash.
There's a bratty brother and sister named Boone and Shannon. There's a pregnant Australian young woman named Claire. A heroin-addicted fading rocker named Charlie. A mysterious, knife-throwing bald man named Locke. There's Michael and his sullen son Walt. A Korean couple with a stern husband named Jin and a timid wife named Sun. Neither of them speak English (or so we thiiiiink at the time...) There is a great big fat person named Hurley who makes a lot of jokes but is also sort of a sadsack. There is a highly capable Middle Easterner named Sayid who, it turns out, was an interrogator for the Iraqi National Guard. Finally there is Sawyer, a long-haired Southern guy who is aggressive and immediately takes a disliking to Jack's authoritativeness. The feeling is mutual.
So whatever, everyone gets to know each other and we get to know their back stories. Kate is a fugitive who killed her mean step-daddy and then fled to Australia. Oh, she also got her childhood boyfriend killed while she was fleeing from the police. So she feels really bad, but is still happy to be free — the US Marshal who found her in Australia and was bringing her home died shortly after the plane crash. Jack had an alcoholic dad, also a doctor, who drank himself to death in Australia. Claire wants to give the baby up for adoption, and is creeped out about something a psychic told her about her baby (basically that she can't let anyone else raise it.) Charlie wants sweet sweet drugs and to do sex to Claire once she is no longer pregnant. Michael, whose ex-wife recently died, wants to have a good relationship with his son. Sayid wants off the island (he's looking for his long-lost love) and Sawyer just wants some peace and quiet. Boone, a step-brother as it turns out, is sort of pathetic and in love with his step-sister. Step-sister Shannon is just sort of a whiny bitch and doesn't do a lot. Oh, but she does speak French! Which comes in handy when...
...On a little hiking mission to see what else is on this island, they pick up a radio signal. It's a recorded broadcast of a woman saying something about how the rest of her friends are dead, that they got sick or something, and that she'd really like some help. Sayid does math magic and figures that the thing has been playing on a loop for sixteen years. A confused Charlie then gives the show's most iconic line to date, "Guys... where are we?" Chills abound!
Even more chills are caused by a big loud thing in the jungle that makes trees thrash around and sounds like some sort of old timey mechanical dinosaur. Nobody knows what the tree monster looks like, but Jack and Kate are fairly concerned because on a little trip (this show is all about various trips and missions to things) to the detached cockpit, they watched as the barely-alive pilot was sucked out of the window and horribly killed by that very same loud noise thing. So everyone is scared! And people are hungry and all that. Someone, I forget who, finds a series of caves that will sustain the people for a while if they want to live there. Some folks don't want to leave the beach though, still hoping to get rescued, so the crew divides in two. At the caves they find two old dessicated skeletons. They do not know who they are, but they know people have been here. Jack and Kate sort of start to fall in love, but Sawyer's got the hots for her too and thinks get complicated.
Meanwhile: Sayid is still trying to get the fuck off this damn rock so he can go find Nadia. In his travails he gets, after hearing creepy whispering in the trees (a common phenomenon), captured by... the French lady from the recording! She is crazy and feral and lives in a shack. She says her name is Danielle and that she was on a science-boat that crashed on the island 16 years ago. They'd heard a broadcast of a sequence of numbers repeated over and over again, and they'd followed it and boom. Then everyone "got sick" and "the Others" took her daughter. So there are others! This makes Sayid very nervous.
For further proof of these Others, the crazy bald guy named Locke is digging in the jungle, frantically. Why? Well because he found this metal hatch thing hidden under some vines and now he wants in. Locke has a special relationship with the island. See, before he got there he was paralyzed from the waist down from an accident. (Much much later we find out that a con man pushed him out of a window.) But now that he's on the island? Lt. Dan's got magic legs. (Much like a lady we don't know much about, Rose, had cancer in off-island life, but now is fit as a fiddle. Mysterious.) So yeah, Locke is obsessed with destiny and symbolism and all that, so he really thinks he's supposed to be on the island. Dig dig dig he goes, with Boone's help. One day he and Boone are doing some exploring and they find the wreckage of a small airplane, laden with a few long-dead priests and a bunch of ceramic Virgin Mary statues. Except! The statues? They're full of heroin. Watch out Charlie! But anyway, the heroin is sort of a red herring. This isn't a drug-running island. This is a Mystery Island. So Boone's in the airplane and he's fiddling with a radio. Suddenly he hears a very faint voice and he starts yelling "We're survivors of Oceanic flight 815!!" etc. You hear "815" back and then the signal cuts out. Boone has disrupted the plane and it topples over a cliff. Despite Jack's efforts to save Boone, he dies. His is the first real character-casualty of the show. He is not the last.
Eventually everyone finds out about the Others and the Hatch and by this point we've seen traces of a weird black mist or smoke every time the monster is nearby. So his name changes from Tree Monster to Smoke Monster. Smoke Monster it will stay until... well, he's still the Smoke Monster. Claire has had her baby and Danielle the crazy Frenchwoman has made the acquaintance of the camp, and starts staring creepily at the baby. This unnerves Claire, who has been having night terrors about people trying to steal her baby. Well, she was right to be scared because she ends up getting kidnapped by a guy named Ethan who was pretending to be a fellow survivor, but was really an Other! Oh it's all very scary and Claire is gone for a few episodes, but eventually she comes back, dazed and drugged, and can't remember a thing. But now we're pretty sure that Others = bad, so we are wary of them.
At the end of the season, Danielle shows up and says the Others are coming and everyone panics, but really it was just a ruse to get Claire's baby. It doesn't work and she weeps and runs away Into the Woods. Meanwhile a group of folks — Sawyer, Michael & Walt, and Jin (who has made up with his secretly English-speaking wife, who was planning on leaving him because he was doing wicked things for her gangster father) — have built a raft and go pushing out into the sea, to swelling music, to go find help. As they set out away from the island, Jack, Kate and others head deeper into the island to find dynamite. Why? To blow up the hatch door and see what's inside. And where would one expect to find dynamite on Mystery Island than in the belly of an old slave ship that's somehow made its way all the way to the interior of the island. So they get dynamite and, after a minor character gets blowed up by said dynamite, they bring it to the Hatch.
Back at sea, something terrible has happened. A creepy fishing boat has attacked the raft and snatched Michael's son Walt, and then torched the USS Freedom. So Jin, Sawyer, and Michael are just floating in the water, missing the kid, and seriously screwed.
In the jungle, they're about to let it blow when Hurley says "No no!" See, he's seen numbers on the side of the hatch door and they are bad numbers. Numbers he played in the lottery back home and won, only to be followed by some kind of curse. Hurley is bad luck and seeing those numbers — the same sequence heard by the French ship 16 years ago, one assumes — makes him think that only bad things lie within the Hatch. But it is too late. The fuse is already lit and the thing blows and everyone pokes their head over the edge to see what's inside. That's how season one ends.
Season two gets into yet more mysterious territory. Everyone on the boat turns out to be OK, they wash up on shore basically. The Hatch is investigated and... there's a Scottish guy living down there! His name is Desmond and, oddly enough, he and Jack once met briefly on the mainland. (There are all sorts of weird, incidental connections like that.) Desmond tells them that he got shipwrecked a few years ago while trying to sail solo around the world, and that there was another dude there when he got there. Their job was enter a code of numbers — that code of numbers — into an old-timey computer every 108 minutes or... the world would explode. This was serious business! The good news is that there's a ton of shit in the Hatch, food and supplies and stuff. Desmond quickly disappears, not to be seen for a while, and the Oceanic kids take over the Hatch, and the button-pressing duty. Locke, of course, becomes particularly obsessed with the whole thing.
MEANWHILE, something very interesting has happened: When the plane was crashing, it split in three pieces. The cockpit was besieged by monster attacks, as I mentioned. The middle section contained all of our heroes. And the tail... well, the tail contained the Tailies, a second group of castaways whose first 48 days on the island we see in a single episode. As bad as Jack & Co. had it, the Tailies had it much worse. They were nightly attacked by Others, and even had all the children they were with stolen. They too had a sleeper agent, who ended up getting killed by a tough LAPD cop named Ana-Lucia. Jack and Ana-Lucia had met at the airport bar before taking off, so again, incidental connection. Joining Ana-Lucia are a glass-eyed psychiatrist named Libby, a tall stoic Nigerian fellow named Mr. Eko, a man named Bernard, and a stewardess named Cindy. You find out that that voice Boone heard in the little heroin plane? It wasn't rescuers, it was just Libby and friends. D'oh.
Eventually the two teams meet up, but with sort of disastrous results. Shannon, who had begun to form a bizarre romance with Sayid of all people, is running through the jungle on a rainy day and Ana-Lucia, approaching the mid-section people's camp, thinks she's an Other and shoots her dead. So both step-bro and step-sis are now dead, and Ana-Lucia hasn't made the best first impression. The man Bernard turns out to be married to mid-sectioner Rose, so that's a cute little old-people romantic story that continues on through the series. The stewardess Cindy mysteriously disappears right before Ana-Lucia shoots Shannon, and we've only seen her one other time since. Hurley meets Libby and gets a crush on her, while Jack kind of digs Ana-Lucia. Kate is still trapped in triangleville, as is Sawyer. Complicating everyone's business further is a man named Henry Gale, captured by Danielle the crazy Frenchwoman and brought to the Jack for safekeeping. This man is a master manipulator. He seems innocent and good at first, even though Danielle is convinced he's a terrible Other. Well, eventually it turns out she's right. Henry Gale is long dead and this man is named Benjamin Linus, a real sonuvabitch who, like, *runs* the Others. He starts whispering bad things to everyone and everyone goes a little nuts and eventually Michael, trying desperately to get his son back, shoots and kills both Ana-Lucia and Libby so he can free Ben and get Walt. Everyone is pissed at Michael, but especially Hurley, who had a boner for Libby somethin' fierce. We are also upset because we may never find out why, in a flashback, Libby was a patient at the same mental clinic where bad-luck-maddened Hurley was. We still haven't found out!
Phew. This is where it starts to get blurry for me. So basically everyone sets off across the island to find Michael and confront Ben and the Others and stuff. Meanwhile a small contingent has gone a little numbers-nuts, and they want to see what happens if they *don't* push the button. Will the world end? Yes, probably. Locke has discovered signs of other Hatch-like stations, and a narrative about some mysterious American scientific group called the Dharma Initiative begins to emerge. Are they the Others? Were they killed by the Others? It's unclear. Anyway, there's a whole big fight thing with Mr. Eko and then Mr. Eko gets killed by the Smoke Monster and Desmond comes back and is all "Wait, you gotta push the button!" but Locke doesn't want to push the button because he's lost (Lossst) all his faith again or something. The people looking for Michael have found Walt but have been captured by Others and while they're waiting down by the docks with bags over their heads, there's a loud noise and the sky turns purple, because the button didn't get pushed and a strange magnetic reaction is happening in the Hatch. Desmond reaches for an emergency turn-off valve or explodey button or something and he gets to it and the season ends. Jack, Kate, and Sawyer are in captivity and everyone in the Hatch may have been blown the hell up. Oh, and Michael and Walt are gone, home to safety. Michael will later come back and die on the island, trying to rescue everyone else to atone for his sins.
For some mysterious reason, though the Hatch is now smithereens, the people inside it are alive. They don't really remember getting out of the Hatch, but they know they're alive, so what's to worry. Not faring so well are the captured three, who are being kept in weird zoo-like cages. Ben has brought Jack there because he has a big bad tumor on his spine and he needs Jack to fix it. While Locke and Rose (the lady with cancer) seem to be cured by the island, Ben can still get sick. It is a mystery. In his captivity, Jack meets an ethereal blonde Other named Juliet, a fellow doctor who persuades Jack to do the surgery. If he doesn't they're probably going to kill Sawyer and Kate. Sawyer and Kate who are put to work building some kind of something outdoors (people seem to think it was a landing strip.) Juliet reveals that she is a fertility doctor and that all the pregnant women on the island die in the third trimester. But Claire gave birth on the island! Exactly, this is why they snatched her. For creeeepy medical studies.
This is also troubling because we have learned that Sun is pregnant, though it might not be Jin's baby. She had an affair before getting on the plane and it might be that dudes. But it doesn't really matter, because they're still in love. ANYWAY. Locke is still like crazy and doesn't know his purpose or whatever. He ends up sort of siding with the Others or something? Well, however it happens, we end up learning a lot more about these mysterious people. We see more buildings. We see that Jack and friends are actually on a second, smaller island (that kinda gets forgotten about). We learn about the Dharma Initiative, that something very bad called The Incident happened that wiped a lot of them out. We learn that some people, like the teary-eyed Juliet, are basically being held there against their will. Ben is bad, Ben is connected to some old, sinister stuff. He convinces Locke that Locke is some sort of Chosen One and takes him on a vision quest to go meet the Others' big bad leader, name'a Jacob. Jacob lives in a creepy old cabin with a picture of a creepy old dog and... well, he's invisible. He's a ghost maybe? Locke can see a dim flicker of a figure in a chair when the whole cabin starts to shake and everyone runs the heck outta there because it's scary.
So all this mystical stuff is going down while everyone else is still trying to get off the damn island. One night someone parachutes onto the island and says she's from a rescue boat that's a few miles offshore. Everyone is happy and, of course, everyone is suspicious. See they've started to learn about something called the Widmore Corporation, some sort of shadowy conglomerate with ties to the island that is, conveniently enough, run by the father of Desmond's long lost love. Desmond doesn't know where the heck he stands in all this because he's been having a terrible case of temporal displasia. He's sorta maybe been time traveling and chatting with a weird white-haired woman, who has told him that he can't change a single thing or else the world will basically end. This is all very confusing to the audience.
The girl who parachuted in has a satellite phone, but it's being jammed. They figure out, with the help of the now-defected Juilet, that there's a Dharma station under the water that's been jamming frequencies. Desmond, in his weird time skipping, has visions of the future. And he sees one thing: Charlie, our Claire-obsessed nice hobbit rocker, has to die. But he dies saving everyone! Charlie accepts his fate and takes a suicide mission down to the water hatch to unjam the satellite phone. He succeeds and he dies and though Ben warns that the people on the boat are very bad (they're having a big showdown near a radio tower) Jack calls the ship and tells them to send in the cavalry.
We see a flashFORWARD, instead of the show's usual character-developing flashbacks, and it's a drunken miserable Jack who is yelling at Kate that they need to go back to the island, that they never should have left. Bad things happen once people get off the island and it was all a terrible mistake. That's how season three ends, with rescue hanging in the balance.
Seasons four and five get wayyyy more complicated and I can't remember everything. Basically the island becomes a big time machine and while the six folks who end up making it off the island — Jack, Kate, Sayid, Hurley, Claire's baby, and Sun — are trying to get back to the island, everyone left on it is jumping around in time. We find out that Locke has gone into the past and visited with old island people (the original Others?) to make sure that certain things in the future happen. Mostly he talks to a guy named Richard, who never seems to age. In fact, Richard once visited Locke in foster care when Locke was a boy. Circles!
The crew from the boat turns out to be mysterious indeed but not all that bad. Basically they are working for the bad Widmore guy, trying to get Ben, but they're also scientifically curious about the island. A scientist named Daniel Farraday knows all about the time travel and teaches everyone a lesson about having a Constant — something in the present to cling to in case you get stuck traveling in time. If you don't have a Constant you die of time sickness, which may or may not be the disease thing that the crazy Danielle lady said killed all her friends.
Danielle finds her daughter, now a teen being raised by Ben, only to get killed. Then Alex gets killed by bad soldiers from the boat and Ben is super mad. Locke has also been having weird meetings with this mysterious Jacob, who's now taken on the form of... Jack's dead dad! What's going on?? Nobody knows. Basically lots of forces are all vying for control of the island and our castaways are stuck in the middle. After many hijinx, Jack gets the original six (minus the baby) to come back to the island with him. The only strange snag? In the future, Locke is dead. Ben goes off island and kills him, making it look like a suicide. The island is traveling wonkily in time because in order to get off the island, Ben went down into a mine shaft or something and turned a giant donkey wheel, which made the whole island disappear. Disappear into the past, that is.
Sawyer and Juliet have carved out a nice little life in the '70s for themselves, working for the Dharma Initiative and increasingly letting go of their off-island lives. All that is disrupted when the five folks come back to the island and start mucking things up. Jack is determined to prevent that big Dharma-killing thing called The Incident, convinced that that will correct the whole course of history and thus prevent Oceanic 815 from ever crashing on the stupid island in the first place. All this weird time-loop theory abounds, and season five ended last May with Juliet maybe blowing up a nuclear bomb while lying near-death at the bottom of a well and we don't know if it was successful in correcting the time warp or not.
We also see a wayyyy long ago flashback of a man named Jacob and a mysterious other fellow talking about things. The man dressed in black, who goes unnamed, says he wants to kill Jacob. And he succeeds! In a weird way. Basically Locke's corpse was brought back to the island with Jack and crew, and ended up in the island in the present day. A crew of mysterious people who were on the same plane that brought Jack back, but who weren't sent back to the '70s like Jack and Kate and Hurley were, take the corpse while also being led around by... Locke. So Locke is both dead and alive! Or is he? Turns out that Locke really *is* dead, it's just the man in black's spirit pretending to be Locke. The fake Locke gets Ben to kill the real Jacob in the base of a giant and crumbled Egyptian-esque statue and so we don't really know what any of that means.
Claire has disappeared for an entire season, we suspect her to be dead, but we're told she's coming back. She too may be an island ghost. We don't know if all the different timelines are going to meet up, but I suspect they will. We still have to figure out the true nature of the island and why the castaways are so important to it. Couples have still to be reunited (Jin & Sun, especially) and many questions remain unanswered. The time-travel savvy Faraday has been killed — by his own mom, in the island past, who is dating a younger version of the bad Widmore guy — so we can't ask him. Desmond the Scottish Odysseus has reunited with his Penelope, but has decided to go back to the island to help. I don't remember if he made it back yet or not.
AND THAT IS WHAT I REMEMBER. Are you intrigued? Or just confused.