Pedantic Semantics

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Archive for the ‘Lost’ Category

1.03 Tabula Rasa

Posted by Paul on July 12, 2010

“Three days ago we all died. We should all be able to start over”

“I got troubles Lord, but not today.”

Favorite track: Wash Away

In talking about the Pilot, I didn’t mention one of the most important aspects of Lost: The Flashback/forward/after. That is mainly because the Pilot’s flashbacks were based around the crash itself. It wasn’t until this episode that we started getting the off-island stories of these people, accompanied by that now familiar whoosh.

This episode’s focus is telling. Rather than focus on Jack, who is quickly becoming the leader of this group, whether he wants to or not, we get an aspect of Kate’s story. The most obvious reason is because the episode demanded it, but also it was because there was no main character. Sure, Jack was the lead character, so to speak, but he was not the main focus of the story. Imagine Lost’s (I’m going to stop italicizing it now, because you can only hit Ctrl-I so many times) cast as a triangle. At its point, you have Jack, and then Kate, Sawyer and Locke, and on back to the extras. The tip of the triangle points where it’s ultimately headed, but the entire thing has to move together for the thing to get where it’s going. That metaphor may work for you, or it may not, but what I’m saying is that though it’s Jack’s eye that opens and closes the story, that story is not just about him.

As evidenced by this episode. We are focusing on Kate, revealed in the Pilot to be a fugitive. We wouldn’t find out for another season why she was on the run. This episode was about how she ended up on the plane, and what kind of person she was. The fact that she was loyal to Ray Mullen even after he sold her out is something very important to remember when watching this show. Like so many characters both in Lost and in real life, what she is does not define who she is.

Another character who got some big time development in this episode was Sawyer. I said in an earlier post that I would mention when he became my favorite, and this was it right here. Throughout the episode, we see Sawyer’s roguish personality, and perhaps more importantly his realism vs. Jack’s idealism. Jack is going to use as many antibiotics as it takes to save the life of Edward Mars. Sawyer asks, “How many you got?”. It is a perfect scene to illustrate why these two will end up at odds for so much of the series. At the same time, it never lands on one side or the other. Both end up vindicated on several occasions, and many times they end up very, very wrong. In fact, the show brings the judgment hammer down on very few characters. Even the Man in Black’s murderous ways come with a qualifier.

But the scene that made Sawyer number one for me was also the scene that made me realize this show was going to be something very special for me. Once again, Sawyer plays no-nonsense, telling Kate the person with the gun is going to have to do something about the dying marshal. In the end, Kate gives the gun to Sawyer, and he carries out the deed. Unfortunately, he aims for the heart instead of the head (subtext, maybe?), and misses. Sawyer is a badass, but not quite as much of one as he’d like to think he is. The look of horror on his face when he realizes his mistake, and his frustration at making an innocent man suffer, that was the moment. Sure, Sawyer became my favorite character, but more importantly, Lost became my favorite show.

At this point the group seems to be coming together. The key word is “seems”. Anyone who reads a newspaper knows how easily a society can be fractured. One would have originally expected Sawyer to be the biggest problem, but as we’ve seen already here, his line from the Pilot, “I’m a complex guy, sweetheart!” has proven true. Everyone on the beach gets a chance at the goat horns and soon, they’ll have even bigger problems. Over the course of six years, we watched this group schism, reconcile, face other people bent on their destruction. It wasn’t until the very end that we finally had a group united.

There are a couple more things to address here. First the notion that Lost suddenly became “mystical” during the final season. A line in this very episode, so early in the series, puts the lie to that, when Michael says to Walt, “A miracle happened to all of us, Walt. We survived the crash.”. Even then, miracles and mysticism were at play. Foundations were being laid but unfortunately, there was one problem. Overall, the dialogue was extremely well written and acted. However, it being a new show, and so reliant on knowing what had happened in previous weeks, the writers felt the need to have expository dialogue where characters would basically “recap” previous happenings. It was clunky and unnatural, and I’m so glad in subsequent seasons the writers realized if “Previously on Lost” didn’t catch you up, you maybe should start from the beginning or watch something else.

This episode was one of the very few to end on an unequivocally high note. Jack and Kate are hangin’ out, Jin loves Sun, Charlie and Claire are lounging peacefully (along with the changing from FATE to LATE), Sayid tosses Sawyer an apple as a peace offering, and Michael brings his son’s dog back to him. This is all to the tune of Joe Purdy’s wonderful tune “Wash Away”, my favorite non-Giachinno track in the series. It’s such a great scene: for a moment everyone is happy, andĀ even though we know the horrible things that lay in store for all of them, it’s nice to see them have peace, if only for a moment. Because really, isn’t that all we have is this moment?

And if you were expecting me to mention how “Tabula Rasa” is a term coined by the real life John Locke about how we all start out as blank slates, well… I kinda just did!

Speaking of Locke, why is he watching Michael and Walt like that? He sure is strange! If only we had a chance to find out more about him…

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