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Roadmap to ‘Lost’

Get caught up with the plane-crash drama. By Kim Reed
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

Since it premiered in September, viewers have become addicted to ABC's “Lost,” the saga of a group of strangers stranded on an island after a plane crash. But missing one or more episodes in this serial drama can be confusing. “Lost” returns to ABC with a new episode on Wednesday. To get you caught up, here is a summary of the first 11 episodes, a description of the major characters, and some speculation on what exactly is going on.

Crash landingAfter a spectacular plane crash, Dr. Jack Shepard (Matthew Fox) emerges as a leader and bonds with fellow survivor, Kate (Evangeline Lilly). On their first night on the island, the 48 survivors hear a metallic clanking and growling sound, and rustling trees indicate a gigantic something moving around in the jungle.

The next day, Jack looks for the plane's transceiver, along with Kate and Charlie (Dominic Monaghan), a drug-addicted musician. They find the cockpit, and a surviving pilot, who tells them that the plane's radio stopped working, so he made an unscheduled turn for Fiji before they crashed. No one back in civilization knows about the crash, making a rescue improbable. The metallic growling starts up again, and the pilot is killed in a grisly fashion by the still unseen monster.

Jack gives the broken transceiver to Sayid (Naveen Andrews), a former member of the Iraqi Republican Guard. Meanwhile, Jack performs surgery on a U.S. Marshal (Fredric Lehne), who was escorting Kate, a fugitive. Sayid fixes the transceiver and a group heads to higher ground to try for a signal. On the way, a polar bear appears and Sawyer (Josh Holloway), a shady Texan, shoots and kills it. After recovering from the shock of finding a polar bear on a tropical island, the group picks up an SOS call, and determines that a French woman recorded it 16 years earlier. Boone (Ian Somerhalder), an eager young man, urges Shannon (Maggie Grace), his spoiled sister, to translate and she says that the French woman is saying that “it” killed everyone. Jack can't save the marshal, so Sawyer tries to euthanize him with a bullet, but fails, and Jack reluctantly finishes the job.

Boars and bodies
The survivors discover wild boars among the corpses in the fuselage, and Jack suggests they burn the bodies. Jack begins to regret taking on a leadership role. Claire (Emilie de Ravin), a very pregnant Australian, holds a memorial service for the dead. Kate heads out to hunt boar with Locke (Terry O'Quinn), a slightly creepy older man, and Michael (Harold Perrineau Jr.), estranged father to his young son Walt (Malcolm David Kelley). When Michael is gored, he and Kate leave Locke alone. Locke sees the monster and lives, but doesn't tell anyone what he saw.

Jack starts seeing his dead father, and follows him into the jungle. Jack falls off a cliff, and is saved by Locke, who tells Jack that the island is magic. Jack stumbles onto his father's coffin, which is empty. He returns to the group, ready to be a leader.

Jin and his wife Sun (Daniel Dae Kim and Yoon-jin Kim), a married Korean couple, don't speak English. Jin nearly kills Michael for wearing Sun's father's watch. While Jin is locked up, Sun explains everything to Michael, including the fact that her husband doesn't know she can speak English. The group discovers a cave with fresh water and two human skeletons. Jack proposes that they move to the cave. Some join him, but others stay on the beach, afraid they might miss a rescue plane or ship.

Locke convinces Charlie to kick drugs. Jack is trapped in a cave-in and Michael's construction skills and Charlie's slight stature come in handy in his rescue. Meanwhile, an unseen assailant attacks Sayid while he is trying to discern the source of the SOS recording, and breaks the transceiver.

Rousseau, Locke and other philosophersShannon starts to suffer from asthma attacks, and Boone can't find her medicine. Everyone suspects Sawyer has it, since he's been hoarding. After bargaining doesn't work, Sayid and Jack torture Sawyer. Later, Sawyer admits to Kate that he never had the medicine. Sun mixes a plant concoction to help Shannon. Sayid is disgusted by his actions and leaves to map out the island.

Rousseau, the French woman, captures Sayid. She tortures him and explains that she was part of a science expedition whose ship crashed on the island; she claims that all of her shipmates caught a disease and she had to kill them, and asks if he's seen her child, Alex. She also mentions something about a black rock. Ultimately, she lets Sayid go, but refuses to join the plane crash survivors.

The very pregnant Claire is attacked. Jack thinks it was just a nightmare. Claire angrily stomps off into the jungle, followed by Charlie. Hurley (Jorge Garcia), an oversized surfer dude, conducts a census using the passenger manifest, and discovers that a person named Ethan was never on the downed plane. Meanwhile, Claire goes into labor and she and Charlie are confronted by Ethan, who kidnaps them both.

Jack and Kate search for Claire and Charlie. They discover Charlie hanging from a tree, apparently dead. Jack performs CPR to no avail at first, but after a few agonizing minutes, Charlie is revived. Back in the cave, Charlie is in shock and can't remember anything, except that his captors just wanted Claire. Locke and Boone are also searching and they discover something large and metallic buried under the mud.

Back in the ‘real’ worldEach week, the island story moves forward, but in addition, one character's back story is partially revealed. To wit:

Jack's father was the chief of surgery, and always told Jack that he couldn't be a leader. Jack became a doctor and refused to cover it up when his father drunkenly botched a surgery and killed a pregnant woman. Later, Jack went to Australia to retrieve his father, who was on a bender. When Jack arrived, his father was already dead.

Kate crashed with a rancher in Australia. She tried to run away after a few months, but he persuaded her to stay. As he drove her into town the next day, Kate realized that the rancher knew she was a fugitive and had turned her in for the reward. Kate forced the truck off the road, but then missed her opportunity to escape the marshal when she stopped to save the rancher's life.

Locke worked for a bullying boss, and planned to fulfill a lifelong dream by going on a walkabout in Australia. The tour company turned him away when they found out that he was in a wheelchair. After the crash, Locke could walk, and no one on the island knows his secret.

Sawyer's father killed his mother after they fell prey to a con man. Sawyer vowed to find the con man and kill him. Instead, Sawyer became a con man himself, even taking on the original con man's name.

Sun and Jin fell in love although she was wealthy and he was poor. Her father agreed to let them marry as long as Jin came to work for him. Sun soon realized that Jin's work schedule kept them apart. When Jin came home covered in blood and refused to answer her questions, Sun started taking English lessons and made plans to run away. At the last minute, she changed her mind when she felt that perhaps Jin was still the man she fell in love with.

Charlie is the bass player for the band DriveShaft. His older brother and bandmate was more into the groupies and drugs than the music. Charlie eventually followed his brother's example, but his brother left the band and settled down. Charlie came to Australia to convince his brother to rejoin the band for a reunion tour, but his brother refused.

Sayid was an interrogation officer for the Iraqi Republican Guard. He was assigned to guard a female prisoner who turned out to be his childhood love. When ordered to execute her, Sayid helped her escape instead.

Claire got pregnant and her boyfriend left. Claire went to a psychic, who said that the baby was dangerous, and Claire had to raise him herself. Claire tried to give the baby up but ultimately went back to the psychic who put her on a flight to LA, where he promised there would be a couple waiting to adopt. Claire later realized that the psychic put her on the doomed flight, knowing what would happen.

Kim Reed is a freelance writer in Upstate New York.