WARNING: The content of this blog is based entirely on Seasons 1-5 of ABC’s LOST. If you have not watched all 103 episodes and don’t want your fun spoiled,then please do not read this blog until you’ve caught up!
With a title like “Tabula Rasa” one might have thought that this episode would center on John Locke, after all this was a popular notion of the character’s philosopher namesake. However,the episode centers on Kate Austen and, in fact, features the first major pre-Oceanic flashbacks. Different people count the flashbacks differently including the small ones from the pilot in the tallies. For me it seems that this episode is the bona fide beginning of the flashbacks. Is there significance to the fact that Kate’s character is the first to have one? Dunno.
The title “Tabula Rasa” means blank slate and refers to a belief by certain philosophers (like John Locke) that everyone is born with a brain like a blank slate with no knowledge. All mental content is then built from experiences and what is percieved through the 5 senses. What is the significance of this title for the show? Perhaps that our survivors are starting over here on the Island. They have a blank slate. Their previous life makes little difference in this mysterious and dangerous jungle, the rules of life are new. No one knows who you are, or in Kate’s case what you did and you can build a new identity and life on the Island. Or can you? The survivors will be wrestling with this notion for years. But, of all of them Kate seems to have the most reason to forget the past and carry on with the new blank slate, building a new identity and future.
A fresh start
In one flashback Kate the fugitive is offered a fresh start by Ray the farmer in Australia, but it ends up being a dead-end as he turns her over to Marshall Edward Mars for $23,000. Towards the end of the episode Jake and Kate sit on the beach and have the following exchange in which Jack refuses Kates’ offer to tell whha she did to become a fugitive, offering her another fresh start (episode transcript here):
[Shot of Jack looking out to sea. Kate joins him.]
KATE: I want to tell you what I did – why he was after me.
JACK: I don’t want to know. It doesn’t matter, Kate, who we were – what we did before this, before the crash. It doesn’t really—3 days ago we all died. We should all be able to start over.
3 days ago we all died. This sparked a lot of speculation the first time around, spawning theories that the survivors were actually in the afterlife. Inever really bought that. It seemed that Jack was simply saying that we should have been dead, but we’re not, so life essentially is starting over for all of us. But this time around these few words stuck in my mind more. Iam vry curious now about who has died, how and why. Charlie’s random comment in episode 1 echoes this when he said to Kate, “we were dead. And then Jack pulled me up.” This was when they were being chased by the Smoke monster. I’m not trying to say anything more than these statements are now intriguing to me in light of the rest of the series. Time will tell if they are truly significant or not.
Amusing yet significant comment from Sawyer
While on an expedition to try out the transcevier Sawyer and Sayid get into it about the gun that Sawyer had been carrying, but Boone had swiped. Sawyer says sarcastically (in reference to Sayid), “Yeah, give it to Al-Jazeera, he’ll protect us.” Charlie comments off-hand that Al-Jazeera is a television network. Literally “Al-Jazeera” means “The Island” (I should know, I’m studying Arabic right now). OK, I’m sure Sawyer was just being Sawyer and throwing around nicknames, but I’ve got to believe the writers knew the double meaning of this phrase. A bit of foreshadowing? I would say that the survivors would trust the Island to protect them about as much as Sawyer trusts Sayid right now. But is the Island really out to get them, or not?
A couple of key scenes this episode. He carves a whistle and calls Vincent out of the forest. After this he ties up the dog and tells Michael where he’s put him so that Michael can get the credit for finding and returning the dog to Walt. John seems geniunely warm and concerned in these scenes. But the episode ends with an intriguing scene. While some light music plays in the background scenes of happiness and reconciliation play out – Charlie taping his fingers, Claire on the beach, Jin sitting with Sun, Sayid giving Sawyer an apple, Boone handing Shannon some sunglasses, and Michael and Walt laughing over his playful reunion with Vincent. John Locke watches the father and sun from a distance and the camera pans around to show his face. At best pensive, at worst downright ominous considering he worked hard to reunite boy and dog and cheerfully gave Michael the credit. You can’t help but wonder what’s going through his mind. And . . . . if you listen carefully you can hear the tell-tale clicking noise that usually accompanies Smokey . . . I never noticed it the first time I watched, but Oooo – I got goosebumps when I heard that on the re-watch!
This post written while listening to:
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, and San Quentin by Johnny Cash, among others.