Friday, June 15, 2007

Lost Rewind - "Tabula Rasa"

Episode Review: It’s a solid episode, but nothing spectacular. “Tabula Rasa” serves as the first “true” episode of Lost, in that it has a character-centricity – Kate. It’s not surprising that Kate would be the first flashback told, since the original thought was that Jack would die in the Pilot episode, leaving Kate to be the de facto “leader” of the Survivors. This would have made the twist about Kate being a fugitive all the more surprising – as the leader of the good guys turns out to be a wanted criminal. But, with Jack alive and well, this merely adds some layers of intrigue to the character of Kate.

Deeper Meaning Explanation: “Tabula rasa” is Latin for “scraped tablet” or “clean slate”, and refers to the idea that individual human beings are born with no innate or built-in mental content, in a word, "blank", and that their entire resource of knowledge is built up gradually from their experiences and sensory perceptions of the outside world (thank you wikipedia!). Everyone starts out fresh, and is changed by life experiences – making them the person that they are.

In this episode, no one embodies this idea more than Kate, who (along with a lot of the other Survivors) is given a “fresh start” on the Island. Jack even verbalizes this thought at the end of the episode when he tells her that he doesn’t care what her previous crimes were. Everyone gets a new beginning on the Island.

Original Thoughts: Once again, there were none! I was still young and naïve, not realizing the depths of over-analysis waiting for me inside each episode. But after the drama-filled, heart-pumping series premiere, this episode calmed things down a bit and showed that Lost would be more of a character-focused show than an action-adventure one. I think without this episode, Lost would have lost (punny!) a lot more viewers turned off by the “fantasy” elements of the pilot. However, this roped them in, started building the love triangle, and fleshed out a number of characters – namely Kate, Jack, Sawyer, and Sayid.

New Thoughts: Or in this case, first time thoughts…

Charlie. His comment about the wheelchair really stuck with me. “Whoever’s this was is probably better off than we are”. Turns out Charlie was right after all. I was also puzzled by his changing of “FATE” on the tape on his fingers to “LATE”, after meeting Claire. I would have thought he would view his chance meeting with the lovely Claire as fate – I’m not really sure what is late about it… that he met her too late? That she’s overdue to pop out a baby?

Claire. Speaking of Claire, I was shocked at how likeable her character was in these early episodes. She’s smiling, laughing, and generally charming – not the whiny, one-track, over-dramatic Claire that we have nowadays. I miss old Claire.

Storm. Although it’s awfully convenient how the storm stops right after Michael tells Walt he’ll look for Vincent once the rain stops – I also noticed that you actually see the storm rolling in earlier in the episode, as opposed to the freak rain storms that come out of nowhere and disappeared instantly in other episodes.

Flashbacks. It’s funny how quick the flashbacks are in these early episodes. You’re lucky if each flashback scene lasts more than a minute or two. It seems that as time went on, more and more time of each episode began being devoted to the flashbacks, which sometimes served as a detriment to the episode, where the on-Island action was far more interesting. But I really enjoy the quick flashes of these early episodes. They get the point across, but still keep the action where it should be – on the Island.

Kate. The Marshal told Jack to never trust Kate, that she would do anything to get away. I wonder if we can apply this comment to the flashforward at the end of the third season. Perhaps Kate did do “anything” to get away and start a new life, even if it meant making some sacrifices that Jack was not as willing to make – such as lying about the Island and their experiences there, or even leaving others behind in return for their rescue. Food for thought…

Locke. This episode also showed the first instance of Locke “fixing” other people. He fixed the relationship between Michael and Walt by bringing back Vincent, the Island God. I had totally forgotten to chalk this “fix” up to him, but it means Locke had a hand in helping a large portion of the Survivors overcome their issues.

Music. Lastly, this episode began the Season One Lost Tradition of ending each episode with a slow musical montage, this time featuring characters reconciling. Sun and Jin. Michael and Walt. Sawyer and Sayid. It’s heart-warming! It also started one of my favorite segue traditions, of ending each episode with a close-up on the character who would take center stage next week. In this case… the currently mysterious John Locke.

Discuss! Up next is the episode that took Lost from good to great…


Joe d. said...

I loved Tabula Rasa very much. I loved how in Pilot part two it was revealed that Kate was the fugitive. Tabula Rasa did a great job of introducing us to Kate's life on the run, Marshal Mars, and started making us wonder, "What did Kate do?"

As for Charlie writing LATE on his fingers.....I think late was referring to the rescue effort.....They were "late". That's how I interpreted it anyway. I very much agree with your thoughts on "early Claire". She was a very loveable character back in the day. Now she's all whiny and spastic.

Watching this episode reminded me (like it did you) on how Locke was helping everyone out in season 1. He helped Michael by finding Vincent. He helped Jack in White Rabbit with the talk they had while Jack was chasing his father. He helped Charlie kick Heroin. He helped Boone get over his infatuation with Shannon. He helped Sawyer in Outlaws by having the talk with him about his dead sister. There are probably others that I can't think of. Was it Locke's encounter with Smokey that gave him all this wisdom, or was it some kind of rebirth after crashing on the island that not only allowed him to walk again but also made him some kind of all knowing sage. I tend to think that it was the encounter with Smokey...ahhh Season one Locke... He kicked so much ass!! My favorite character during season 1 was John Locke....season 2 was Mr. Eko...and season 3 was a tie between Sawyer and Ben.

Back to Tabula Rasa....
This episode also started the trend of kick ass episode endings in addition to the musical montages that you mentioned. Jack gave Kate some time alone with the Marshal per his request. Hurley and Jack are talking and Hurley tells Jack that Kate had that gun. Jack runs toward the tent and then sees Kate walking away.....then....POP!!! SAwyer shot him instead.....then Jack has to finish him off to spare him from suffering. Awesome stuff.

One more thing....about Walt. It's indeed funny to rewatch these earlier episodes equipped with our current knowledge. Originally, I thought it was just really strange how the rain just all of a sudden stopped when Michael said that he would look for Vincent as soon as it stopped raining. Now, we know that something is up with Walt...although we STILL do not know what exactly that is. We know that he is special somehow. Was it just happenstance that it stopped raining, or did Walt make it stop? We still don't really know the answer to that question.

I love the rewinds, Brian....Keep them up!!

P.S....that Evangeline Lilly is so, so f'n hot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

i like this lost rewind idea

Matt Payne said...

Can't wait for the next re-wind, Episode four is still my favourite.

Rebecca said...

Locke shared a secret with Walt- which Walt reported back as having being told "that a miracle happened." Do you think Locke told Walt about his paralysis? Or just that everyone was lucky to be alive?

joe d. said...


It had to be that Locke told Walt about his paralysis. What else could it be? When Locke said to Walt, "Do you wanna know a secret?" That was foreshadowing for the audience for the following episode Walkabout where we find out just what that secret was.....that he was paralyzed.

Stef said...

This was a really good episode, and I agree with Brian that it really feels like the "start" of Lost as we know it. So many things are starting to emerge, some of which I only pick up on now after watching for 3 years:

- The start of the love triangle. Kate's dependence on Sawyer to do the dirty work (no innuendo intended) that Jack won't do, but sometimes Jack still has to jump in at the end. And Jack and Kate definitely lie to each other... is Sawyer the only one honest about his feelings in this little dysfunctional triad?

- The Jin and Sun relationship with all its twists and turns. Back then, I hated Jin, but now we know so much more.

- The start of the friendship between Sun and Michael. That's a key story of season 1, as it's what helps us finally learn that Sun speaks English and more of the dynamics of their marriage. And I think it's Michael's best storyline, cuz it gets him away from all that possessive fathering.

- Locke as shaman. I also agree with Joe D - Locke was my favorite character in season 1, and he's still up there in the top 3, pretty much tied with Ben and Sawyer.

It really is interesting to be watching now, when the characters know so little about the Island and each other, but we know so much more. The saddest moment of this episode, for me, was when the little hiking party was sitting around the campfire, and we know that 1/2 of them - Boone, Shannon, and Charlie - are now dead.

Anonymous said...

can i view past episodes on the ABC Lost website?

Joe d. said...


The only episodes that you can view at are the last 3.....The Man Behind The Curtain: Greatest Hits: and Through The Looking Glass.

Anonymous said...

thanks Joe d. -- so i guess the only way to view the older episodes is to purchase the DVD set, huh?

joe d. said...

Either that or you can buy individual episodes at itunes for $1.99 each.

Anonymous said...

excellent. thanks much!

Steve said...

Great analysis.
Keep up the good work!
Though some of us may not respond, we ARE reading. It's just sort of hard to comment on what might happen... when we know.
We will comment on when we think you missed something, but it's still early. The NEXT epsisode may start the discussion!

Rebecca said...

Go to
to see the videos.

Jennifer said...

I still need to get my hands on the season 1 DVD set, so for now I'm reading but not watching along. That will change soon, and I'll catch up! In the meantime I'm enjoying the discussion. Thanks.

joe d. said...

Ok, everybody...this is probably the coolest thing ever. I came across a site that allows one to watch any episode of Lost....all 69 episodes...for free!! I just finished watching Man Of Science, Man of Faith....just to check it out. I watched the entire episode without commercial interruption. Very cool. Here's the link for those interested:

Web Buffy said...

I forgot how Sayid was the one getting everyone organized to get rain water and ration the food after he returned from the recon. I also like the way he throws the apple to Sawyer.

Kate is shown as someone who is considered as a natural leader like Jack and Sayid. When Boone steals the gun everyone decides Kate should have it. Kate is shown as genuinely compassionate to even the Marshall as she puts an oxegen mask on his face in the plane and worries whether he is suffering.

The intensity of Kate, Jack and the other Losties during these first episodes are palpable and show our characters have deep emotions.

I do not miss Shannon or Boone although they were great when we had them.

Anonymous said...

hey Joe D...did you have any problems downloading software at this website? I did and can't seem to rectify it.

thnks much

DCrowley said...

They've got more than one link to a given episode - you just need to scroll down lower.

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