Thursday, July 16, 2009

1:3 Tabula Rasa

"Tabula Rasa" is the first true character-centric episode of LOST, where the storyline alternates between happenings on the Island and flashbacks pre-Island. It's the first episode to begin with "previously on LOST" (Lostpedia says that no one knows who does the "previously on LOST" voiceovers, but I'm convinced it's Carlton Cuse.) It's also the first episode that uses the "whoosh" sound to indicate flashbacks.

The title of the episode is a Latin phrase that literally means "blank slate." The idea is that humans are born completely unformed and we're shaped by our experiences. John Locke (the philosopher, not the character) developed the concept further and arrived at the conclusion that as human beings we all have the power to choose our destiny. The episode gets its title from an exchange between Jack and Kate, soon after Jack has discovered that Kate is a fugitive:

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.

Kate desperately wants to start over, and the Island seems to provide the perfect opportunity to do so. Her flashback shows that she's a good person at heart - even though she's evidently done some bad things, she was unable to let either Ray or the marshal just die. It was in trying to save Ray that the marshal was able to catch her. Can she start over? While surviving the plane crash seems to be a fresh start for the survivors, most of them aren't truly able to overcome who they were before, as the flashbacks continually remind us. In fact, their past mistakes and traumas seem inextricably connected with what they're experiencing on the Island. This is a question that has yet to be answered on LOST: can we ever really change? Can we choose our own destiny? Or are we doomed to repeat our mistakes?

The episode ends with one of my favorite sequences of the entire show. Small moments of redemption between characters, hope in spite of troubles (it's not FATE that they crashed, they were just LATE!), the return of Vincent the dog, and a perfect little bit of creepiness at the end with Locke (oh, how I miss creepy/mysterious Locke!)


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