All your friends are obsessed with Lost, now that the show is its final month. It can be hard to keep up, especially if you've only seen a few episodes. But fear not: Here's our guide to faking Lost expertise.

For the purposes of this guide, we're going to assume you know the basics about Lost: Plane crash, mysterious island, hot neurotic doctor, sexy con-man, weird mysteries and ghosts. And jumpsuited hippies versus survivalist hippies. Probably, you're one of the 20-odd million people who watched bits of the first season and the start of the second, and bits and pieces here and there.

Disclaimer: We love Lost, and encourage everyone to go watch the whole thing, for real. This is just a handy substitute, in case that goal proves unattainable in the short term.


So how can you pretend to be steeped in Lost lore? Well, you could always go and rent the first five seasons on DVD — but let's get real. You've only got a few weeks left before the show ends, and you want to appear all-knowing right away. You could also go read one of the Lost wikis for a few hours, or memorize an episode guide or something. But that's too much cramming. All you want is to be able to navigate a tricky conversation about the show.

So don't worry. We're here to help.


First of all, pretend you know who all these new people are. You'll hear your friends talking about Frank and Miles, among others. It's just like the final season of Buffy when every episode was about Spike or Andrew, and if you'd only seen the first two seasons, you'd be fucked. But you don't need to know who these new characters are. Except for four exceptions, which I'll get into below.

Faker's Rule #1: If someone brings up a character you've never heard of, give them a knowing look and say, "Yeah, but he/she's not a Candidate, remember?" That'll shut your friend up.

What if they ask you what a Candidate is? They won't, don't worry. Plus we'll cover that below.


So who are the four newer characters you actually need to know about? They're Desmond, Ben, Jacob and the Man In Black. Desmond isn't that new — he was introduced back in season two, and you might have seen him then. All you need to know about Desmond is he's a star-crossed lover, who's always being kept apart from his beloved Penny, and he's so soulful that he gets unstuck in time on occasion. His girlfriend is Penny, the evil rich guy's daughter.

Faker's Rule #2: If someone brings up Desmond, just memorize that phrase: "Star-crossed lover who gets unstuck in time."


Ben is a Machiavellian schemer, who has done a bunch of bad stuff but seems to be just exhausted now. He hasn't done much this season, so really all you need to know is that he has a Past.

As for Jacob and the Man In Black, they're the two main supernatural forces on the island, and they're like God and the Devil. The Man In Black wants to leave the island, and Jacob is keeping him trapped there. Because the Man In Black is also the Smoke Monster that's been killing people since the first season, and Jacob doesn't want his smokey nastiness polluting the rest of the world. Even though Jacob is dead, he's still around a lot. And now the Man In Black/Smoke Monster looks like John Locke, the bald explorer guy.


There are hints that the God/Devil thing isn't as clear-cut as it seems, and maybe Jacob's really the devil. Also, there's a lot of Egyptian stuff, including a goddess statue.

Faker's rule #3: If people bring up Jacob and the Man In Black, say, "Don't forget: Tawaret was both the jailer and the concubine of Set, god of chaos and storms." No, you don't have to know what this means. It'll shut your friends up.

By now, you've almost maxed out your attention span, and there are still a million things yet to learn. But don't worry, we've got you covered.


What about all the big mysteries? Like Hurley's lottery numbers. Or why Walt, the little kid, was special. Or exactly what the hippies in jumpsuits were trying to accomplish. And why the Island has such amazing healing powers. Or what's the deal with the evil rich guy, and his weird ex-girlfriend who sometimes works at a jewelry store. And so on. The good news is, a few of these mysteries are still going to be addressed, but most of them have been answered or swept away by this point.

Faker's rule #4: If your coworkers start talking about one of the show's longstanding mysteries, just give them a condescending/pitying look and say, "That was answered in the episode with the lighthouse. I can't believe you missed it." If they ask you how it was answered, say something about Philip K. Dick and Flannery O'Connor.


Now we're getting to the stuff that you actually do need to know about to understand the current run of episodes. We'll try and make this as painless as possible.

Ready? Here we go.


The "Flash Sideways." So remember in the first few seasons, when we had flashbacks to before the characters were on the island? These were replaced by "flash-forwards" to a future after six of the castaways had gotten off the island. But you don't need to know about that. What matters is that this year, we're getting "flash-sideways," to a world where the plane never crashed. These are designed to be similar to the season one flashbacks, but with random differences, like Sawyer's a cop. Except now, people are starting to "remember" the island world.

Faker's Rule #5: All you need to know about the "flash sideways" world is that true love and near-death experiences are the keys to people remembering their island lives. Just memorize "true love and near-death experiences," and you're golden.


The "Candidates" thing. Okay, so we mentioned that the whole show is now about Jacob vs. the Smoke Monster. All of the characters you remember from season one are "candidates" to be the new Jacob, which means being elusive and occasionally touching people in a slightly creepy way. The Smoke Monster, meanwhile, needs these "candidates" to come with him, so they can all leave the island together — in which case, something really bad will happen.

Faker's Rule #6: Nobody knows what any of this means. You're safe.

And then there are a couple of other things that are going on right now:

Sayid and Claire have gone bonkers. So Sayid, the sexy former torturer who still tortures occasionally, died and came back as a weird zombie who's working for the Smoke Monster. And Claire, the hot mom, has gone nuts and is working for the Smoke Monster too. But they both showed signs of breaking free of his smoky, mentholated control recently.


Faker's Rule #7: Claire has replaced her real baby with a squirrel baby. Any conversation about Sayid or Claire will eventually circle around to the squirrel baby, so make sure you're the first one to bring it up.

There are lots of schemes within schemes. This is the last thing, promise. So one group of people is trying to blow up the airplane which the Smoke Monster wants to fly off the island. Another group of people is trying to use electro-magnetic whatsis to do something to the Smoke Monster. And Sawyer, the hot con-man, is trying to double-cross everybody at once, with so-so results.


Faker's Rule #8: See Faker's Rule #1, except for the part about Sawyer.