1. BECAUSE YOU LEFT
THE NUTSHELL: The Left Behinders (including Sawyer, Juliet, Locke, Faraday, Miles, and Charlotte) begin skipping through time; Shirtless Sawyer grieves the presumed death of Kate. In 2007, as Jack and Ben (and Locke’s dead body) begin Operation: Island Return, the rest of the Oceanic 6 (Sayid, Hurley, Sun, and Kate) are threatened by kidnapper-assassins, Charles Widmore, and (spooky!) paternity lawyers.
KEY MOMENT: Faraday sends a message to 2007 Desmond via the Scot’s in-the-past Hatch-trapped self.
BEST MOMENT: Richard Alpert mends Time-Traveling Locke’s gunshot wound, gives him a compass, tells him he needs to die to save his friends.
2. THE LIE
THE NUTSHELL: In 2007, Hurley — wanted on suspicion of murder and still seeing dead castaways — hauls Sayid’s tranquilized body around town before finding safe harbor with his parents. When Ben shows up to offer help, Hurley surrenders to police just to get away from his old foe. On the Island, the time-skippers are scattered by flaming arrows — presumably flung by the Others, clad in old U.S. Army fatigues. RIP: Neil Frogurt.
KEY MOMENT: Charlotte begins suffering nosebleeds.
BEST MOMENT: Hurley confesses to his mother what really happened on the Island.
THE NUTSHELL: In 1954, the Left Behinders are captured by Richard Alpert and his Others, who have a leaking H-bomb named Jughead. In 2007, Desmond learns Charles Widmore had been financing Faraday’s time-travel experiments.
KEY MOMENT: Faraday tells the Others — including a 17-year-old later revealed to be his mother, Eloise Hawking — to bury the bomb in cement.
BEST MOMENT: A tie: 1. Locke’s grin upon meeting young Charles Widmore. 2. The emotional moment between Penelope and Desmond in which we learn they named their son Charlie.
4. THE LITTLE PRINCE
THE NUTSHELL: Time-flashes intensify for the Left Behinders — and the time-travel sickness spreads to Juliet and Miles. In 2007, the Oceanic 6 (minus Hurley) meet at the Long Beach Marina to hear Jack’s pitch about returning to The Island, but are dismayed to learn that Ben coached him on the plan.
KEY MOMENT: Jin is found alive — in the past, at sea, by Young Rousseau and her French science team.
BEST MOMENT: Sawyer bares his heart about Kate to Juliet during a nighttime chat on the beach.
5. THIS PLACE IS DEATH
THE NUTSHELL: After an adventure with Rousseau and Co., Jin hooks up with the Left Behinders, who hope the Orchid holds the key to ending their quantum-leaping. In 2007, Kate and Sayid pass on returning to the Island, but Ben wins Sun over by promising a reunion with Jin.
KEY MOMENT: Convinced that the O6 were not meant to leave, Locke turns the frozen donkey wheel and leaves the Island to bring them back.
BEST MOMENT: A tie: 1. Smokey rips Montand’s arm off; 2. A dying Charlotte says she was born on the Island during the Dharma Initiative era — and that she remembers meeting a scary-looking Faraday.
THE NUTSHELL: Jack, Ben, Sun, and Desmond meet Eloise Hawking at a church above the Lamp-Post, a secret Dharma station that can pinpoint the Island’s location. Hawking reveals that everyone who left the Island must return via Ajira flight 316. Everyone except Desmond does, including a distraught Kate and a handcuffed Sayid. Your pilot: Frank Lapidus.
KEY MOMENT: Jack is converted from Man of Science to Man of Faith after reading John Locke’s suicide note: ”I wish you had believed me.”
BEST MOMENT: Jack retrieves his father’s old shoes from his grandfather, then puts them on Corpse Locke so Locke can play Christian Shephard’s proxy on Ajira 316.
7. THE LIFE AND DEATH OF JEREMY BENTHAM
THE NUTSHELL: After turning the frozen donkey wheel, Locke is transported to 2007 Tunisia. Charles Widmore finds him, rechristens him ”Jeremy Bentham,” and funds his bid to recruit the O6 back to the Island. They all refuse Locke’s offer. Distraught, Locke tries to kill himself, but is talked out of it by Ben…who promptly kills him after John drops Eloise Hawking’s name.
KEY MOMENT: Widmore tells Locke that there is ”a war coming,” and that he needs Locke to get back on the Island before it arrives.
BEST MOMENT: Ben’s strangulation of Locke, one of the best Lost scenes ever.
THE NUTSHELL: Turning the frozen donkey wheel leaves the rest of the Left Behinders stuck in 1974. Led by Sawyer, who renames himself ”James LaFleur,” they integrate into the Dharma Initiative by posing as shipwreck victims. Three years later, the castaways are still living in Dharmaville — quite happily, too (Sawyer and Juliet are now a couple!) — when Jack, Kate, and Hurley show up via the miracle of time-travel magic.
KEY MOMENT: Before their final time-jump, the Left Behinders spy the backside of what is presumably the completed Four-Toed Statue, an animal-eared Egyptian deity.
BEST MOMENT: Revelation of the Sawyer-Juliet co-habitation.
THE NUTSHELL: Sawyer/LaFleur hustles to get Jack, Kate, and Hurley integrated into Dharma. Then, after Sayid is discovered in the jungle and accused of being a ”Hostile,” Sawyer/LaFleur has to keep paranoid Dharma scientist Radzinsky from killing him. In 2007, it’s revealed that the rest of the Ajira 316 (Ben, Sun, and Lapidus) had successfully landed on an airstrip on Hydra Island.
KEY MOMENT: We spy a glimpse of Radzinsky working on a model of the Swan — the first hint of season 5’s endgame.
BEST MOMENT: The climactic beat, when a young Ben Linus visits Sayid in his cell.
10. HE'S OUR YOU
THE NUTSHELL: Flashbacks reveal that during the O6’s off-Island days, Ben exploited Sayid’s skill for killing, his grief over Nadia’s murder, and his weakness for revenge — then dumped him. Sayid winds up on Ajira 316 after being captured by sexy bounty hunter Ilana, who claims to work for the family of a man Sayid killed. Back in Dharma ’77, Young Ben, bitter toward his father and yearning to join the Others, busts Sayid out of the Dharma clink, hoping he’ll take him to Alpert. Instead, Sayid shoots Ben in hopes of changing time.
KEY MOMENT: That shooting thing.
BEST MOMENT: Under torture, Sayid spills the beans about his previous Island experience — and the Dharma people think he’s crazy.
11. WHATEVER HAPPENED, HAPPENED
THE NUTSHELL: Flashbacks reveal how Kate fulfilled Sawyer’s request that she take care of his daughter, and that she gave up Baby Aaron to Claire’s mother so that Kate could go back to the Island and rescue Claire. Back in Dharma ’77, the time-travelers argue over whether to save Young Ben. Kate and Sawyer bring their future enemy to Alpert for help.
KEY MOMENT: Alpert agrees to help Young Ben, but warns Sawyer and Kate that he will have no memory of their heroism.
BEST MOMENT: Miles and Hurley debate: Are the time-traveling castaways changing history by being in the past?
12. DEAD IS DEAD
THE NUTSHELL: Flashbacks reveal that as a young man, Ben was told by Charles Widmore to kill Rousseau. He didn’t — but abducted her baby, Alex. Later, Ben booted Widmore off the Island. Back on Hydra Island in ’07, Ben discovers Locke has been revived, and claims he has returned to be judged by the Monster. He lives, but must follow Locke’s every command.
KEY MOMENTS: 1. Ilana and a group of armed Ajira castaways take control. Their mysterious riddle: ”What lies in the shadow of the statue?” 2. Right before boarding Ajira 316, Ben shot Desmond and tried to kill Penelope, but can’t because she is a mother.
BEST MOMENT: Any scene in which Locke and Ben appear together.
13. SOME LIKE IT HOTH
THE NUTSHELL: Miles picks up a body from the Swan site and takes it to Dr. Pierre Chang, who is revealed to be the psychic hustler’s father. Along the way, he endures Hurley, who bummed a ride to deliver lunch to The Orchid crew. Hurley learns the secret of Miles’ parentage — and Miles discovers that Hurley is rewriting The Empire Strikes Back in his journal. Meanwhile, Roger Linus learns his son is missing and grows suspicious of Kate and Jack. And then Daniel Faraday returns.
KEY MOMENT: Hurley sees the Numbers pounded into the Hatch door.
BEST MOMENT: Among many LOL exchanges between the squabbling stars, this Miles line is an all-time classic: ”That douche is my dad.”
14. THE VARIABLE
THE NUTSHELL: Flashbacks reveal Eloise Hawking pushed her son to become a physicist in hopes of averting their shared fate. Oh, and Charles Widmore is allegedly Dan’s father, too. Back in 1977, Faraday returns from Dharma HQ convinced that an electromagnetic cataclysm is about to occur and that the castaways can get back ”home”…if they blow up the Swan, creating a time-negating paradox. But Faraday blows the castaways’ cover — and is blown away by his Other Mother. Desmond is treated for his gunshot wound.
KEY MOMENT: Faraday tips Chang off that Miles is his son.
BEST MOMENT: Faraday’s shocking death.
15. FOLLOW THE LEADER
THE NUTSHELL: Jack takes up the Jughead quest, and while he gets an ally in Sayid, he loses Kate, who believes her would-be lover’s gambit will destroy the redemption stories of so many castaways — or just kill lots of people. Locke makes sure his old time-traveling self gets hooked up with the compass, then demands that Alpert take him to Jacob. Sawyer rats out the location of Young Ben and the Others in exchange for passage off the Island for himself and Juliet, but their getaway sub becomes awkwardly crowded when Kate is captured and plopped in with them.
KEY MOMENT: Locke telling Locke he wants to kill Jacob.
BEST MOMENT: Locke making Alpert interact with time-traveling Locke — and making Ben watch.