"Tabula Rasa" is the third episode of Season 1 of Lost. Tensions begin to rise among the signal party as they return from the mountains. At the beach, Jack becomes increasingly suspicious of Kate, the fugitive being escorted back to America by the marshal. Flashbacks center on Kate's time in Australia prior to the crash, when she lived with a farmer named Ray Mullen.
Previously on Lost
- Oceanic Flight 815 crashes on an island in the South Pacific, with 48 survivors making camp on the beach. ("Pilot, Part 1")
- Jack examines a man with a shrapnel wound in his chest. Kate asks whether he will survive, and explains that they were seated together on the plane. ("Pilot, Part 1")
- Some of the survivors build a signal fire when night falls. Sayid expresses surprise that nobody has come for them yet. ("Pilot, Part 1")
- Walt approaches John Locke and the two play a game of backgammon. Locke asks Walt if he wants to know a secret. ♪ ("Pilot, Part 2")
Kate is caught trying to leave Ray's farm.
Kate is awakened by a farmer, who has discovered her sleeping in his sheep pen. She tells him that her name is "Annie" and that she is a recent college graduate visiting Australia to "see the world." The farmer, Ray Mullen, offers to let her stay for a while and do some work around the farm for which he will pay her, and Kate accepts.
When Kate is in the pantry of the farmhouse one night, retrieving her earnings from a tin can behind a piece of weak molding, Ray enters the room and turns on the light. Kate seems upset he knew where she had been hiding her money. Ray asks her to stay one more night and in the morning he will give her a ride to the train station. Kate agrees.
Kate and Ray in the truck.
Kate and Ray ride silently to the train station in Ray's beat-up truck. ♪ Ray asks if she's hungry as he nervously looks in the rear view mirror at the black SUV behind him; Kate notices this and asks him what's going on. He reveals that he had known she was a fugitive for a few days, since he saw her mug shot in the post office. He expresses his sincere apology for turning her in and claims it was a hard decision, but he needs the reward of 23,000 dollars to pay his mortgage. The black SUV pulls up beside them, the window rolls down, and behind the wheel is Edward Mars, the marshal.
As the two cars roll down the dusty old highway, a passing car honks its horn because the SUV is in its lane. The marshal slows down and pulls behind Ray's pickup. When the marshal's SUV pulls next to them again, Kate grabs the wheel away from Ray and makes a sharp turn in front the SUV. The pickup swerves and goes into a series of rolls, landing off the road. The truck comes to a stop and the engine catches fire. Ray is unconscious and appears to be injured from the accident. Kate climbs out of the truck and pulls Ray out with her. As she pulls him up a hill by his arms, his prosthetic arm comes free, further slowing her progress. Ray regains consciousness as they get to the top. Safety is short-lived, however, when the marshal, armed with a gun, confronts Kate.
On the Island
Jack tending to Edward Mars.
In a makeshift medical tent, Jack is tending to the critically wounded marshal, who mutters the same thing over and over through his pain: "Don't trust her. She's dangerous." When Jack asks him who "she" is, the marshal tells him to look in his jacket pocket. Reaching into his pocket, Jack pulls out a mug shot of Kate.
The signal party (Sayid, Kate, Sawyer, Boone, Shannon, and Charlie) are working their way back down the mountain. It's getting dark and some of the group wants to make camp for the night. Sawyer wants to continue through the jungle at night, but others in the party convince him otherwise. Sitting around the fire, they discuss what they should tell the beach camp about the distress signal they heard on the transceiver. They decide as a whole to not reveal what they heard, in order to keep the group's morale up.
Back in the medical tent, Jack is still trying to keep the marshal alive. Hurley enters, asking if he can help; but stumbles across Kate's mug shot and asks, disturbed, "What do you think she did?"
Signal party camp fire.
At the signal party's camp, Boone lifts the gun from Sawyer and the magazine from Sayid as they sleep. They wake and an argument ensues over who should have the gun, but they cannot agree on a trustworthy candidate--until they agree on Kate. She reluctantly agrees to keep it.
The next day, Hurley comes to the medical tent to tell Jack that the signal party has returned. Before Jack can get to the group, Kate pulls him aside and says that she has something to say to him; she explains what was heard on the transceiver. He asks if there is anything else she would like to tell him. Kate asks if the marshal had regained consciousness while she was gone with the signal party. Jack lets her know that he did, but only briefly. Kate asks if he had said anything to Jack; Jack lies and says the marshal didn't say anything.
Jack telling Kate he's "not a murderer."
While they talk, the marshal's condition takes a turn for the worse. Jack knows that without proper tools and stronger antibiotics, the marshal will not make it through the night. Hurley tells Jack that he's searched everywhere for more medicine, except the fuselage, but he'd rather not go in there. Jack enters the fuselage and picks his way around the corpses inside it. He hears some rustling behind him; it's Sawyer. He's going through the fuselage for things he could use, such as liquor and Playboy magazines. Jack berates him for disrespecting the dead and being self-absorbed, and Sawyer replies that they're no longer in civilization; they're in the wild.
Locke whittles a dog whistle.
Hurley comes bolting out of the medical tent to get more water. In the process he runs into Kate and she introduces herself, saying they haven't met yet. When she asks where Jack is, Hurley points behind her at the fuselage. When she turns around to look, Hurley spots the gun tucked into her belt and becomes visibly uncomfortable. He stammers for a moment and then runs off to fetch some water.
As Kate leans over the marshal's body, he regains consciousness and grabs her by the throat. Jack returns and pushes the marshal back to the ground. While Kate gasps for air, the marshal goes into shock. Jack gives him water as Kate denies provoking him in any way. Jack leaves the tent saying that the marshal needs water. Kate wants him to euthanize the marshal but Jack refuses, saying that he saw her mug shot and he "is not a murderer."
As another rainstorm ensues, Michael approaches Walt and asks who the "bald guy" was that Walt was seen with. Michael is concerned about his son's safety while spending time with Locke, but Walt insists that he is a friend. Michael sits closer to Walt and reminds him that he's his friend too. Walt disagrees, because a true friend would find his dog Vincent. Michael says that he will look for the dog when it stops raining. At that moment, the rain ceases. Michael heads into the forest, angrily mumbling about what he had said to Walt. There is a loud rustling sound from the bushes near him and Michael stops cautiously. He calls for Vincent, but all he hears is the sound growing louder, and then a distinctly non-canine roar. He runs through the jungle in fear, and comes across Sun, topless, bathing in the jungle. Michael walks away with both of them uncomfortable. ♪
In the tent, the marshal is screaming in anguish and the sound has many of the survivors on edge. Charlie sits next to Locke as he whittles a type of whistle. Charlie takes this opportunity to once again mention that, in the real world, he was in a band. Across camp, Shannon wishes out loud that the marshal would just die so there would be silence, to which Boone says, "Real humane, Shannon." Sayid approaches Jack, offering assistance. Sayid reports that the rest of the camp wants to know what is happening in the tent and Jack tells him that they are trying to save the man's life. ♪♪
The Marshal talks with Kate.
Kate is attempting to start a fire down by the beach, but she is out of matches. Sawyer appears with a lighter and thanks Kate for taking the gun away from him. He says he would hate to be the one with the gun at the moment because everyone in camp knows what has to be done to the dying marshal.
While Jack tries to treat the Marshal in the tent, he tells Jack not to trust Kate, saying that she'll do anything to get away, and tells Jack he wants to talk to Kate alone. Jack responds by asking what Kate did, but the marshal refuses to tell him. When Kate enters the tent, the marshal asks Kate what the favor she asked him for on the plane was. Kate tells him she wants to make sure Ray gets his $23,000. The marshal laughs and tells Kate that she is one of a kind. He then asks if he is going to die. Kate nods, and he asks if she is going to do it.
Jack, after making the yelling cease.
Hurley shows up behind Jack, asking where the "fugitive" is. Jack says that she's in the medical tent. Hurley is confused as to why Jack would leave Kate alone in the tent with the marshal while she has a gun on her. Jack sprints to the tent and witnesses Kate leaving out the back. He starts to ask what she had done but suddenly there's a loud gunshot. Sawyer exits the tent, gun in hand. Jack becomes angry but Sawyer claims that the marshal asked to be killed. Muffled coughs come from the tent again, to the horror of Sawyer. He had aimed for the marshal's heart but instead just punctured one of his lungs; it would now take several hours for the marshal to die. Jack yells at Sawyer to leave. Appearing quite shaken, Sawyer attempts to light a cigarette as the marshal's screams grow louder. The screaming finally stops and Jack leaves the tent in a cold sweat.
Michael brings back Vincent.
The next day, Locke sits on the beach, blowing his newly whittled dog whistle, and Vincent soon comes running out of the jungle. ♪ Locke heads back to camp without the dog. He quietly approaches the sleeping Michael and wakes him. Locke tells Michael that he found the dog and has him tied to a nearby tree. Locke thinks it would be best if Michael were the one to bring the dog back to his son. Michael thanks him.
Jack is sitting silently, staring at the surf alone as Kate sits down next to him. She wants to tell him how she became a fugitive but Jack says that he doesn't want to know. Now that they're on this island, far away from home, he believes that everyone should be allowed to start over. ♪
The final moments of the episode are a montage of different characters interacting with each other on the beach, concluding with Michael bringing Vincent to an overjoyed Walt, and Locke looking on with a furtive expression. ♪
- This is the first time the show uses its conventional flashbacks; the pilot episodes had brief, multi-centric flashes. However, the "whoosh" sound effect does not accompany every transition.
- This is also the first time the show has a flashback off of the Island or the plane.
- If "Pilot, Part 1" and "Pilot, Part 2" are counted as Jack-centric and Charlie & Kate-centric, respectively, this is the first time that a character has a second centric episode. If they are not, this distinction belongs to "All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues".
- This episode is the first of three to have its name derived from a Latin phrase, the other two being "Deus Ex Machina" and "Ab Aeterno".
- Kate uses a version of her middle name (Anne) "Annie" when she meets Ray Mullen. This is also the name of the young girl whom Ben meets when he arrives on the island as a boy. ("The Man Behind the Curtain")
- Kate was held prisoner in Harrison Valley, Pennsylvania.
- The name of this episode - Tabula Rasa - shares titles with the 108th episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Kate, who is from Iowa, lies to Ray, saying she's Canadian. Evangeline Lilly, who plays Kate, is Canadian.
- This Episode is rated TV-14-V.
- On the Season 3 DVD commentary for "I Do", Josh Holloway asks Carlton Cuse how Sawyer could have possibly missed in his attempt to euthanize the Marshal. Cuse notes that the writers thought this to be unlikely as well and discussed the concept of making Sawyer hyperopic, leading to him receiving a pair of glasses in "Deus Ex Machina". (Lost: The Complete Third Season (DVD))
- This is the lowest rated episode of Lost's season 1 on ABC, with a total of 16.64 million viewers.
- This is the first episode of the series to feature a Previously on Lost segment.
- Kate's alias named Annie is from Canada, a possible reference to actress Evangeline Lilly being from Canada.
Kate's flashback started with the crash.
- The episode was scripted to open on the Marshal's eye.
- The episode's first flashback would have shown Kate dragging Ray's bloodied body. This would have immediately followed Jack learning that Kate was the fugitive, and it would have implied that she had killed the man and ripped off his his actual arm.
- It's For Vincent: Walt would have slipped into the jungle with an airline meal, hoping to attract Vincent. Jin, carrying a roll of toilet paper, would have stumbled upon him, embarrassed.
- Before the scene with Charlie, Claire and the wheelchair, Michael and Shannon would have briefly interacted. Shannon, sunbathing in a bikini once again, would have lied to Michael about failing to pick up a signal before discovering he was asking about Vincent, not the mission. She also would have discovered her sunglasses had broken. This would have added significance to her and Boone's scene during the closing montage - instead of just finding her sunglasses, Boone would have mended them with a paperclip. 
- Finding the Tell: Locke talks to Walt about poker. Locke's first line, "it's a lie," would have immediately followed Charlie's hesitation at lying to Claire about the distress signal. The rest of his narration would have played over shots of Charlie, Shannon and Boone, Sayid, Sawyer and Kate, whom the script dubbed "the Knowers," further developing the subplot of their deception.
- Rather than appearing right after Hurley's suggestion, Jack and Sawyer's scene would have appeared later in the episode, right before Kate wakes up the Marshal. 
- Walt and Michael's scene during the rain would have been affected by Walt and Locke's earlier conversation. Walt would have used Locke's advice to to discern that Michael was "bluffing" about his concern for Vincent.
- Jack and Kate's final conversation was to have ended with Jack asking how Sawyer obtained her gun. Kate would have smiled mysteriously and walked away. 
Bloopers and continuity errors
- Sawyer's hair is several inches longer in Tabula Rasa than it was in "Pilot, Part 2" even though both episodes take place on the same day. This is because the episodes were shot months apart.
- While moving luggage with Charlie, Claire's mouth continues to move even though she has already finished talking.
The way Walt is facing changes.
- When Locke returns Vincent to Michael, Walt's head changes the way it is facing, even though he is asleep.
- Ray tells Kate that he saw her photo in the post office, and that her capture would result in a $23,000 reward. Australian post offices never have wanted posters. They are usually found in police stations, and normally do not specify rewards.
- In the car-chase flashback, the red car flips over, off the hill and the hatch on the back of the car breaks off. The next scene shows the car in upright position, with the hatch still on.
- The bandage on the marshal's head moves between cuts as Jack pushed him back on the ground.
- Kate and Ray talk about Patsy Cline's "Leavin' On Your Mind" while Kate realizes she's being pursued. The marshal approaches their car and the song is still playing. The scene cuts and we go back to the island. Her next flashback points exactly to where the previous scene cuts: the marshal making a sign with his fingers, showing to Kate he got her, but the song is no longer playing on the car's radio.
The musical score for "Tabula Rasa" introduces ten themes and motifs. Some major themes introduced include two suspense motifs and a gentle series of three notes often used for the relationship between Walt and Michael. This latter theme is heard on the Season 4 soundtrack during the cue for "Meet Kevin Johnson" entitled "Michael's Right to Remain Wrong".
The season 1 soundtrack features two tracks from the episode. "Just Die Already" includes the music from scenes featuring the suffering air marshal and is a variation on the main theme. "Me and My Big Mouth" covers Michael's search for Vincent and discovery of Sun bathing and features the mystery theme.
|Animals • Black and white • Character connections • Children • Coincidence • Death • Deceptions and cons • Dreams • Economics • Electromagnetism • Eyes • Fate versus free will • Games • Good and bad people • Imprisonment • Isolation • Leadership • Life and death • Literary works • Mirrors • Missing body parts • Nicknames • The Numbers • Pairings • Parapsychology • Parent issues • Pregnancies • Psychology • Rain • Redemption • Relationships • Religion • Revenge • Salvation • Secrets|
- Kate lies to Ray Mullen, telling him her name is "Annie" and that she is from Canada. (Deceptions and cons) (Secrets)
- Ray Mullen tricked Kate into taking a ride with him so he could turn her over to the police. (Deceptions and cons)
- The team that heard the French transmission decides to lie to rest of the survivors, in order not to cause a panic. (Deceptions and cons)
- When asked about what happened up in the mountains by Claire, Charlie denies that anything took place. (Deceptions and cons) (Secrets)
- Sawyer calls Kate "Freckles," Sayid "Abdul" and "Al Jazeera," and Jack "Doc" and "the hero." Hurley calls Mars "Johnny Fever." Boone calls Sawyer a "hick." (Nicknames)
- Michael promises Walt that he will look for Vincent as soon as it stops raining; the rain then ends. (Rain)
- Sawyer tries to euthanize Edward Mars, but fails; Jack does it instead. (Life and Death)
- Ray Mullen has a prosthetic arm. (Missing body parts)
- The reward for Kate's capture was $23,000. (The Numbers)
- Ray Mullen's wife died eight months ago. (Life and Death) (The Numbers)
- Ray says the nearest town is 15 kilometers away. (The Numbers)
- The backgammon table is shown with five dice over it. One of them is white and numeric and the number 16 is displayed on top. The other two are white, with the numbers 6 and 4 displayed. The other two are black with the numbers 4 and 2 displayed. (The Numbers) (Black and white)
- Walt tells Michael that Locke is his friend, implying that Michael isn't. (Parent issues)
- When Kate looks in on Edward Mars as he tries to kill her, it is raining. (Rain)
- Ray Mullen tells Kate that "everyone deserves a fresh start", something that is echoed by Jack at the end of the episode. (Redemption)
- The ending scene shows redemption for four characters. (Redemption)
- Jin strokes Sun's hair after he told her she looked dirty.
- Boone finds sunglasses for Shannon.
- Sayid tosses Sawyer an apple after their fight over who should have the gun.
- Michael brings Vincent back to Walt after their fight over Locke.
- Locke finds Vincent and lets Michael give him to Walt. (Animals)
| Cultural references|
(direct references only)
|Art • Automobiles • Games • History • Literary works • Movies and TV • Music • Philosophy • Religion and ideologies • Science|
- Tabula rasa: The episode title is a reference to a philosophical thesis developed by the 17th century philosopher John Locke. Locke meant that the mind of the individual was born "blank" (a clean slate), and emphasized the individual's freedom to author his or her own soul. Philosopher David Hume also contemplated the topic in his works. (Philosophy)
- Al Jazeera: Sayid is called "Al Jazeera" by Sawyer, a reference to the television network headquartered in Doha, Qatar. It translates to "The Island." (Movies and TV)
- WKRP in Cincinnati: Hurley calls Edward "Johnny Fever," a character from this sitcom that aired from 1978 to 1982. (Movies and TV)
- The Fugitive: Hurley walks up to Jack and, referring to Kate, asks, "So. Where's The Fugitive?" The Fugitive is an American television series that aired on ABC from 1963-1967. (Movies and TV)
- "Leavin' On Your Mind": This song, sung by Patsy Cline, who died in a plane crash, is playing on the radio when Kate is in Ray Mullen's truck. (Music)
- "Wash Away (Reprise)": This song, sung by Joe Purdy, is playing on Hurley's CD player in the closing scenes. (Music)
|Comparative: Irony • Juxtaposition • Foreshadowing Plotting: Cliffhanger • Plot twist Stock characters: Archetype • Redshirt • Unseen character|
Story: Flashbacks • Flash-forwards • Flash sideways • Framing device • Regularly spoken phrases • Symbolism • Unreliable narrator
- Her fugitive status as yet unknown, Kate is voted to carry the gun because she is the most trustworthy. (Irony)
- When Sawyer and Kate are discussing the gun, he says, "Hell, there's only one bullet left. Be damn near poetic." In "The End", Kate shoots MIB with the one bullet left in the weapon. (Foreshadowing)
- Both Ray Mullen and Jack offer Kate a chance to "start over": while she tried to escape from Ray, she took Jack up on the offer. Heeding the title of the episode, Tabula Rasa, Kate has chosen to become a "blank slate." (Juxtaposition)
- Sweet Kate is revealed to be a dangerous fugitive. (Plot twist)
- Charlie tells Claire that the former owner of the wheelchair found in the wreckage was "better off than they are," when its owner, John Locke, is alive. (Irony)
|A-Missions • Crimes • Economics • Leadership • O-Missions • Relationships • F-Missions • Rivalries • S-Missions|
- Sayid takes charge in organizing the Losties into groups in order to keep their spirits up and ration food. (Leadership)
- When Jack goes into the plane to look for medicine, Sawyer is looting it. He claims Jack isn't looking at "the big picture." (Economics)
- The signal party talk about the distress signal they heard. ("Pilot, Part 2")
- Charlie retapes the finger that had the letter 'F' and writes the letter 'L', spelling L A T E. ("Pilot, Part 1")
- Kate is caught by the marshal, and we saw her in his captivity on the plane. ("Pilot, Part 2")
- ↑ SpoilerTV.co.uk Tabula Rasa Script, Scene 1
- ↑ SpoilerTV.co.uk Tabula Rasa Script, Scene 2
- ↑ SpoilerTV.co.uk Tabula Rasa Script, Scene 13
- ↑ SpoilerTV.co.uk Tabula Rasa Script, Scene 14
- ↑ SpoilerTV.co.uk Tabula Rasa Script, Scene 18
- ↑ SpoilerTV.co.uk Tabula Rasa Script, Scene 22
- ↑ SpoilerTV.co.uk Tabula Rasa Script, Scene 41