With all of the hype and hoopla surrounding the end of the "Lost" saga, it's only natural that some of the uninitiated might want to watch tonight's finale to see what all of the fuss is about.
But the "Lost" story has been a complex one. It won't be easy to appreciate tonight's episode if you haven't followed the series the past six years.
Nonetheless, the following is an ultra-simplified summary of the story so far.
This is just the bare-bones story; it doesn't get into topics such as faith, destiny, redemption, salvation and mythology that have been raised during the series' run.
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The beginning: Some passengers of Oceanic Flight 815 survive a plane crash and find themselves on a mysterious island. They encounter a whoosh of black smoke known only as the monster and a secretive sect of island natives known as the Others.
The middle: As they seek ways to get off the island, their back stories are revealed. Most have had hardships in life that have left them emotionally vulnerable, bitter, lonely and, in the case of the character Locke, physically crippled. He's a paraplegic whose spine is healed by the island, leading him to believe that he and his fellow survivors were always meant to be there.
Over time, the castaways learn that the island has an unusual electromagnetic source that, among other things, may have caused the plane crash and resulted in some of the island inhabitants traveling through time.
Although some of the castaways do escape the island, they feel compelled to return, in part to try to save the ones who were left behind, and in part because they are pulled by a mysterious force.
The end: It's ultimately revealed that the island's longtime caretaker, Jacob, has summoned the castaways with the hope of finding his eventual replacement. The smoke monster, a shape-shifting entity that can impersonate dead bodies, is his enemy. The monster, who was Jacob's brother but was killed by him, appears to be a source of evil that must not be allowed to leave the island, as he so desperately desires. It appears that he can't leave until Jacob and the candidates to replace Jacob are all dead.
Tonight: The monster, who assumed Locke's identity after Locke was murdered, fooled a character named Ben — the leader of The Others — into killing Jacob. Jacob, however, was able from beyond the grave to enlist Jack — the castaways' leader — to take over his role as island protector. That is where the action picks up tonight —a battle between Locke/Smoke Monster and Jack and his followers.
Oh, and a very important character named Desmond is trying to help the island inhabitants, while simultaneously bringing them together back in Los Angeles, where they are living in a "sideways" universe apparently created when Jack and company detonated a nuclear bomb on the island with the hope of "undoing" the airplane crash.
Tonight's finale hopefully will resolve not only what happens to the island and its inhabitants but also to those in this sideways universe.