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Lost

Lost is a drama about a group of plane crash survivors. They land on an unknown Pacific island and have to learn to live together. ABC 2004-2010

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Episode 3 - Tabula Rasa

30 March 2012

Present: Sayid tells the trekkers that they shouldn’t tell the other survivors about the distress signal they heard. He doesn’t want to take away their hope. He begins to organise them to start surviving on the island. Meanwhile Jack is trying to keep the Marshall alive but his cries of pain are disturbing the other survivors. Jack and Hurley discover that Kate was his prisoner. Eventually Sawyer shoots the Marshall but it is Jack who has to finish him off. Locke helps Michael find Walt’s dog Vincent.

Flashback: Kate is trespassing on an Australian farm. The farmer Ray offers her a job. When she decides to leave he hands her in for the reward money. The Marshall drives up behind them in his car but Kate manages to force a collision. She is arrested because she took the time to rescue Ray from the wreck.

The Good: After the pilot, full of drama and dead bodies, this episode is Lost’s chance to establish what format the show will take from now on. The answer is clearly a character based drama using flashbacks to reveal a little piece of each survivors past. This is good news for those who enjoy character drama. There is no monster here, no polar bear, no action, just an exploration of the survivors plight and Kate’s past.

The producers must be given credit for treating the show like a marathon and not a sprint. For the glimpse we see of Kate’s life tells us nothing about her crimes or her childhood or anything so revealing. Instead they show us how she behaved immediately before being arrested and taken on the plane. Interestingly this supposed hardened criminal behaved just as morally and pleasantly as we saw in the pilot. Just as she helped the Marshall with his oxygen, she drags Ray out of his car when she could have run.

It’s good intrigue from the writers because we want to know more about Kate and what she did. Her relationship with the Marshall seems particularly interesting. He seems to know her well and his line to Jack could be very telling, when he warns him to ignore “how she makes you feel.” So far Kate has behaved admirably and her affection for Jack seems genuine. She certainly rushes straight to him to inform him of the distress signal. Could it be part of an attempt to gain Jack’s confidence? We shall see.

The sound of a dying man creates the dilemma we have seen before in movies (or books) like The Beach where a group of people find it very disconcerting to have someone suffering in their midst. Sawyer seems to be the man adapting most quickly to the idea that the survivors won’t be rescued. Not only does he tell Jack that civilisation is gone but he convinces Kate to let him kill the Marshall. Again could that have been part of a plan by Kate?

Again Boone (as with the pens in the pilot) tries to be helpful, (by stealing the gun from Sawyer) but does it an unhelpful way, by creating panic and mistrust in the group. And Locke begins to be fleshed out too, as he helps Michael in a kind way. The final shot of the episode seems to move the focus from Kate to Locke and doubtless we will see his back story soon. It’s a clever way to finish the episode, making you wander what his story is.

The Bad: The lack of action may affect some who are hooked on 24’s style of relentless developments and tension. The Lost producers are aiming to hook people on their characters and that is a very different type of show.  Hurley walks a fine line between comedy and stupidity in his confrontation with Kate, but I think he got away with it. The flashback to the scene on the plane (which we saw in full during the pilot) seemed unnecessary.

The show seems in a bit of a hurry to start the characters new lives as survivors. After a couple of days on the island their minds would surely still be fixed firmly on rescue. Yet the title of the episode (meaning blank slate) matches with Jack’s speech at the end implying that they all have a new life on the island. That is the sort of idea you would expect to come out once all hope had been lost, maybe after a month without rescue. But to say that it doesn’t matter what we were, that “three days ago we all died” is a sentiment completely at odds with their predicament. It is followed by a music montage of the survivors. Again a montage is surely something which reflects a state of change that needs summing up and this isn’t it. We barely know the survivors, we don’t yet understand what their interactions really mean and so the montage seems completely out of place.

The Unknown: Jack’s claim that they all died three days ago could have another meaning. Perhaps they did and the island is purgatory or some other after life or plane of existence. And speaking of crazy theories, Hurley suggests that the monster might have been a dinosaur. Jack’s dismissal of that suggestion proves nothing. If this island is uninhabited, then perhaps dinosaurs have survived here. What did Kate do?

Best Moment: Difficult to choose. Nothing seems to stand out as exceptional. During the montage Sayid throws an apple to Sawyer. After nothing but hostility between them it is the first sign of a friendship. More intriguingly it could be Sayid’s way of acknowledging Sawyer’s decision to kill the Marshall. Perhaps as a soldier Sayid respects the decision he made as necessary.

The Bottom Line: This is a patient episode from the writers. Instead of throwing more monsters and action at us they take a step back and allow the characters and their situation to do the talking. I think it’s a wise move as the drama will mean more if each development is given time to sink in. But the tone of Jack’s speech sends out a confused message. The writers haven’t quite got the reality of the crash sorted out yet. It is far too soon to be concluding that the island is the survivors’ new home, even if that turns out to be the case.

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