Dear Wayward Lost Fans, Ex-Lost Fans and Those Who Never Watched,

You’re in luck. Oh man, what I wouldn’t give to be in your shoes. For those former Lost fans who gave up after Charlie bit it; for those who jumped ship after the four-toed statue; for those who tested the waters for a trial episode, saw Sawyer shoot a polar bear, and bailed; your time has come.

I won’t mince words – I find your lack of faith disturbing – but I truly envy you prodigal fans who have two, three, or four seasons to catch up on before the series finale (!!) on Sunday, May 23. You may have missed out on the camaraderie of six years of water cooler postulation, the agonizing (and increasingly frequent) commercial breaks or the long dark hibernation between seasons, but now is the time to steal those season DVDs gathering dust on your friends’ bookshelves and delve into the wonder that is five years of Lost. You’ve got three weeks, team: get to it!

Don’t worry, new Losties: I won’t abandon you to your time-crunched, butt-numbing five-season endeavor. Here’s a handy checklist of Island randomness (in seasonal order) for you to tick off triumphantly as you go (and for those still sneering at my invitation – get bent):

Jack’s eye (notice how many episodes cold-open this way?). Forest whispers. Dinosaur noises (rad). Dead fathers (or are they???). Polar bears and Southern con men. Crazy Frenchwoman. You Are Everybody. Backgammon = not-so-subtle metaphor. THE HATCH. Desmond Hume (thank god for this beautiful Scotsman) and Ana Lucia (the price we pay for Desmond and the sweet African shaman-badass Mr. Eko). DHARMA SHARK. Hello, creepy Henry Gale/Benjamin Linus/Benry. Ohnoes Libby and Ana Lucia, goodbye Michael and crazy telepath Walt. Paolo lies? Heyyyy cages for those polar bears! Mikhail for the win! Hello, boat full of crazies! Not Penny’s Boat? Who’s your Constant? Time Wheel! Jack’s Beard! Little Ben goes in to the temple, Crazy ben comes out. Then, the puppeteers: Jacob and the Man in Black. “It’s good to see you out of those chains, Richard.” Schrödinger’s Locke. And, of course, Everybody Loves Hugo.

There you go! Five and change seasons wrapped up in a lengthy paragraph of references. What’s that, you say? Not enough buttered rhetoric to whet your eyegasmic desire?

Since 2004, this series has given us such a breadth of awesome and random that other productions just can’t compare. For the faithful, the storyline is convoluted and never dull. For the scornful, Lost jumps the Dharma-labeled shark every few episodes to maintain the manic excitement to keep ‘em wondering what the hell they could possibly do next.

Still not convinced? Well, haters gonna hate. I can lead you to shimmering waters of divine rhapsody, but I can’t make you drink. Don’t let these assholes dissuade you, cautious converts: if they’d rather watch Desperate Housewives or Glee than the eminent work of our generation, they can suck on our references until JJ Abrams gives us another slice of fried gold to worship.

I’ll give you a sentence to finish up those straggling episodes from this season you need to catch on sketchy websites once they’re off ABC.com.
Done? EXCELLENT. Your life has more value. You won’t be left out of those giddy Wednesday morning chats in morning lecture as the True Believers gush over an insane combination of time travel, nuclear bombs, black smoke and the flash-sideways. We’ve got three episodes left on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. before the mind-shattering two-hour event on Sunday, May 23.

Why watch the last four episodes of Lost? Because it’s the greatest television series outside HBO. Because you need to find out what the f*** that Hurleybird is. Because of Jack’s Beard. Because Ben Linus is a PIMP. Because you can’t hear “SonuvaBITCH” without thinking of Sawyer. Because you now address everyone as “Brotha.” Or, in the words of the immortal Charles “Double Dees” Hicks, “Because you’re not an idiot.” QED, haters.