Saturday, March 18, 2017

LOST S1 E3: Tabula Rasa

"Me? I'm in the wild."

In LOST, Season One, Episode 3, Tabula Rasa J.J. Abrams handed the reins of the series over to an assortment of directorial and writing talents. You will note these fine contributors at the bottom of each entry with highlights including their contributions to various science fiction enterprises.

Tabula Rasa is a Latin term that translates as blank slate and the suggestion is that these survivors, whatever their history, are essentially given a chance to begin anew, start fresh. There is a sense that rescue and going back home is becoming increasingly unlikely.

This blank slate may also have been an inside wink by writer Damon Lindelof to fellow writers to get this series rolling from scratch. One can imagine the writer's room: Where are we taking the series from Abrams' Pilot?

The blank slate concept is also attributable to English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke who believed humans were essentially a blank slate (see Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding) or empty cabinet to be filled by human experience. Appropriately concerned with self, identity and individualism, this philosopher's ideas are aptly applied to one of the series' main characters played as a profound puzzle by Terry O'Quinn (Millennium) who connects with the island like a blank slate, a new beginning. More on LOST's John Locke in Episode 4, Walkabout.

The concept of the tabula rasa is magnified here by Kate's own back story and the fact most are now a mystery on the island to be discovered or in truth rediscovered. The exchange between Jack and Kate regarding a new start on the island despite whatever history they may each have speaks to the episode's title. It's a great idea in theory, but always like life, the pasts of these survivors follow and haunt them on their respective journeys. The culmination of our experiences simply cannot be erased.

"Three days ago we all died. We should all be able to start over." There is that operative word being should.

Arguably Season One may be the least convoluted of the six season series, keeping its head well above the fray of confusing questions yet establishing the series as a thinking person's show. This weave of mystery and intrigue makes for an effectively streamlined, efficient and taut batch of episodic television. It works the mind of the viewer throughout Season One without overtaxing it and like Tabula Rasa delivers high entertainment value.

Highlight: Small moments with Sawyer tend to shine for me in this episode. His character steps out of the shadows a bit with some great lines. It may be here it became apparent he would resonate with me throughout the series as one of my personal favorites, the playful, rogue, anti-hero.

This coupled with some of the dramatic work on display here by Canadian actress Evangeline Lilly opposite actor Nick Tate in the Kate back story makes for a solid entry penned by Lindelof.

Flashback: Kate.

Guest: Fredric Lane (Firefly, The X-Files, Babylon 5).

Notable Guest: Nick Tate. Tabula Rasa is graced with none other than pilot Alan Carter of Space:1999 (1975-1977) acclaim. Tate graces the entirety of the Kate flashback story featuring Lilly. So if the series appears relatively light on science fiction at times at least we have Aussie Nick Tate from the land down under to fill the spirit of those science fiction shoes. Tate has also appeared in The X-Files, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Farscape.

Writer: Damon Lindelof (The Leftovers).
Director: Jack Bender.

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