LOST Theories - DarkUFO

Season 1. Ep. 3 "Tabula Rasa"

Tabula Rasa is possibly the most over used episode title in the history of television. There was an episode of Buffy that used that same title where the Scooby gang suffered from temporary amnesia. Then there was a Battlestar Galactica episode, a Law and Order episode, Criminal Minds, Justice League, Stargate, and even Heroes. I’m sure there are more, I just didn't look that hard.

Why this fondness for the title? Is it because it sounds cool? Well, I think it is particularly apt in the case of Lost. Tabula Rasa means ‘Blank Slate.’ As far back as the fourth century Aristotle wrote of the unscribed tablet, or blank slate with regard to the human mind in his De Anima. However, it wasn’t until, no surprise here, John Locke’s "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding" in the 17th century, that the idea became popular in modern philosophy. Simply put, the theory states that at infancy we are a blank slate. Our personality, behavior, and intelligence are products of the many experiences that we absorb and make part of ourselves over the course of our lives. Basically he believed that from birth we have all the potential in the world, we just need to strive to do better and be better.

Interestingly, over on good old Wiki, I was reading about the Roman tabulas, which were made of wax. After use, these tablets were heated and wiped clean so they could be used again and again. Is this more applicable to our castaways? Were they wiped clean by the fires of their ordeal? I think they were. Like human etch-a-sketches, their sins were shaken away by the turbulence and crash.

The focus of the flashbacks in Tabula Rasa is Kate. Kate desperately wants a go at a new life. She can’t have that blank slate though. There are two loose ends that tie her to her past, Agent Mars and a WANTED flyer in his pocket. She is so close to her fresh start when Mars opens his eyes and starts talking to Jack, that it must be infuriating!

When she returns to camp, as a viewer you start to wonder which side of “Right” Kate is going to fall on. The one man who can spoil her chance is at death’s door.

Kate goes to Jack and asks him “Can you put him out of his misery?”

Just the suggestion gets Jack’s goat! He stomps right up in her face and taunts her.

“I saw your mug shot Kate! I’m not a murderer!”

Has Kate Lost Jack’s trust?

The episode progresses to the last few minutes, where Kate talks to Mars alone. She wants to make sure that Ray, the man who turned her in, got his reward. Through this moment, we see the redemptive qualities of her character. She’s done something horrific. Something so bad that it caused her to run all the way to Australia, and for someone to go after her! Still, she still has the capacity for caring, love, and understanding. She can’t be THAT bad. Can she?

But then Mars asks if he is going to die?

Kate, tears appearing a little, replies “Yes” while nodding.

With the question “Well are you going to do it?” Mars establishes what he thinks of Kate’s capabilities. He thinks a mercy kill should be easy based on whatever she’s done.

The climax comes when Jack realizes that Kate is in with Mars, and she has a gun. He suddenly thinks the worst. He thinks that she’ll do anything to protect her secret. Running to the tent, he sees her casually exit. Relief washes over until…. BLAM. A shot rings out and Sawyer exits the tent declaring that he’s done what Jack couldn’t while territorially peeing all over the camp. He claims that Mars “Wanted it, and hell, he asked me.”

What’s that? They hear a gurgle from inside the tent.

Mars is still alive.


Jack enters the tent and does what needs to be done. He euthanizes Mars with his bare hands. Jack once again proves that he will always do what it takes, even if it eventually leads to horrible beards and too many pills to dull the atrocities he will commit in the name of doing the right thing.

In a cathartic moment the next morning Kate offers to tell Jack what she did. She wants to come clean. Jack stops her, saying “I don’t want to know. It doesn’t matter Kate. Who we were… What we did before this…Three days ago we all died. We should all be able to start over.” So, their tabulas are rasa’d.

I’d like to take the musical montage at the end and break down the just visuals for a moment. The song is ‘Wash Away’ by Joe Purdy.

Watch it here:

Lyrics here:

I got troubles oh, but not today
Cause they’re gonna wash away
They’re gonna wash away

And I have sins Lord, but not today
Cause they’re gonna wash away
They’re gonna wash away

And I had friends oh, but not today
Cause they’re done washed away
They’re done washed away

And oh, I’ve been cryin’
And oh, I’ve been cryin’
And oh, no more cryin’
No, no more cryin’ here

We get along Lord, but not today
Cause we gonna wash away
We gonna wash away

And I got troubles oh, but not today
Cause they gonna wash away
This old heart gonna take them away

The lyrics are a pretty perfect fit with the tabula rasa motif.

We start with Hurley. He is literally washing something, pouring the sand from his shoe. He is serving a dual purpose here. Hurley is listening to the music in this scene which makes it diegetic, meaning that it is within the narrative and not external to the story. So, by listening to the song, he seems to have control of the environment, like he will in the END…. really big stretch I know, but who’s to say they didn’t have the basics to the end figured out right in the beginning.

Cut to a nice tracking shot of Jin.

Jin walks up to a sleeping Sun and shows unconditional love for the first time. Why can’t he do this in front of others, or even in front of her? The relationship is so strained, but you see a slim chance for happiness for the first time. Are Jin’s troubles rasa’d and washing away?

Cut to Shannon in a medium shot sitting on the beach.

Boone gives his sister a pair of sunglasses the he repaired for her. They too have a chance at happiness. What would make them happy? I don’t know. But it seems that there could have been a chance.

Cut To Sayid walking.

Sayid throws Sawyer an apple as he walks past. They might hate each other, but there is a respect that Sayid has for a person that does what needs doing. He respects Sawyer’s willingness to act.

Cut to.

Charley changes his writing on his fingers from “Fate” to “Late.” What is late? His self-respect? Him getting to California? Is he late for a date? I know he’ll be late for his destiny… or at least put it off for a bit.

The camera pans down to Claire. Maybe he feels that he was meeting her too late?

Cut to.

A beautiful family reuniting. Michael walks up with Vincent the dog on a leash. Walt is ecstatic! They frolic for a moment in the island sun and everyone is happy! BUT, this is a tainted reunion. Michael has established something about his character. He is weak. He has taken credit for this ‘miracle’ of finding the dog. He is willing to live a lie as long as it gets him what he wants. In this case, it is the love and respect of Walt, but later it will be a lot more, and it will cost other characters A LOT more… and someone notices this.

Cut over to and track around a pensive Locke. Locke orchestrated this beautiful family moment, and he doesn’t seem to care for it. He seems to see what his meddling has done. He sees that Michael might be useful to him… He might even know at this point that Walt is special. After all, the island talks to John.

Side note: As I watched this episode I kept feeling Deja-Vu. I finally figured out what it was after a bit of brainstorming… It reminded me of the Gilligan’s Island episode “Not Guilty” when a crate washed up in the Lagoon that had old Honolulu newspapers as wrapping for coconuts. On one of the pages was a story stating that each of the castaways is wanted for questioning in relation to a murder that took place the day that they left! I wonder if the writers’ room talked about the parallels while they were brainstorming? That would be funny.

This was a bit of a ramble I'll aspire to be more coherent next time.

More at http://ialwayshaveaplan.wordpress.com/

We welcome relevant, respectful comments.
blog comments powered by Disqus