Episode Re-watch: Season 1, Episode 3: “Tabula Rasa”

15 04 2008

We continue on our re-watch of the series from the beginning, and our thoughts and comments on the look back.

“Tabula Rasa”

The title for this episode is about as straightforward as you’re going to get.  It’s driven home with Kate, but all of the other survivors of Flight 815 have the same situation: they all have a clean slate on the island.  With rescue uncertain, they all have a new life on the island.  One little additional piece of info, that you may or may not have been aware of: although Aristotle is credited with first using the term “tabula rasa”, the idea was fleshed out into its current state by philosopher John Locke.

The Nicknames begin

Although Sawyer had a few choice words for some characters in the pilot episodes, this episode marks the first time he uses a nickname in the true sense of the word.  And of course, it’s when he calls Kate “Freckles” for the first time.

Character building

What strikes me the most after the first 2 episodes of Season 1 is how much attention is paid to the characters and their backstory.  Obviously, we needed to get to know these characters early on, and feel an emotional connection to them.  Plus, as we look back now, we know that the plan all along was to have the first season be all about the characters.  But it amazes me to see how much different the show was back in Season 1.  Absolutely zero mythology in this episode, and the plot advancement was all about the characters: getting to know more about Kate, Jack, and Sawyer, and seeing the marshall die. 

It’s so different now, with so much happening with plot advancement, and seemingly so little in the way of character exposition.  Although I love the structure of the show, especially how it’s evolved and re-invented itself each season, the change is probably a large part of why the viewership has declined.  The show as it is now is not as it was in Season 1.

Closing Montage

In fact, one of the big things that gave LOST that JJ Abrams touch was the closing montage.  Calming, positive, upbeat music in the background with characters in slow motion interacting happily with one another…it’ll give you the warm fuzzies if you let it.  But no more.  That style of storytelling died way early in Season 1.  Maybe we’ll get one more at the end of the series, but I can’t remember the last time we saw it (if at all) since Season 1.

Overall, despite the lack of any island mythology, the episode is great at further introducing us to the characters we’ll come to know and love, and is a satisfying follow-up to the pilot episode.




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