Open main menu

"Tabula Rasa" (Latin for blank slate) is the third episode of the first season of Lost. It was directed by Jack Bender and written by Damon Lindelof. It first aired on October 6, 2004, on ABC.

"Tabula Rasa"
Lost episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 3
Directed byJack Bender
Written byDamon Lindelof
Featured music"Wash Away (Reprise)" by Joe Purdy[1]
"Leavin' on Your Mind" by Patsy Cline[2]
Production code101
Original air dateOctober 6, 2004
Running time43 minutes[3]
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
Next →
Lost (season 1)
List of Lost episodes

The character of Kate Austen (Evangeline Lilly) is featured in the episode's flashbacks, showing how she got captured in Australia by the US Marshal Edward Mars (Fredric Lane). In the present day events, Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox) and Hugo "Hurley" Reyes (Jorge Garcia) learn that Kate is a convict and fugitive while Jack is trying to save the marshal from the injuries he sustained during the Oceanic Flight 815 plane crash.

The episode when broadcast in the United States was viewed by 16.54 million people and received mixed reviews from critics. It is the first episode to feature a 'Previously on Lost' segment, a clip shown at the beginning of each episode summarizing the recent events of the show. The episode receives its name from the philosophical idea of tabula rasa, meaning blank slate, a concept which is brought in one of the episode's final lines, when Jack tells Kate that all of the Flight 815 survivors should be allowed to restart with a new life.




Kate (Evangeline Lilly) is awakened by an Australian farmer, Ray Mullen (Nick Tate), as she sleeps in his barn. She introduces herself as Annie, a backpacking graduate, and Mullen offers her a job on the farm. When she later leaves the farm, Ray offers to give her a ride to the train station. On the way Kate notices a black car following them, and Ray reveals he learned Kate was a fugitive, and decided to deliver her to the authorities for the reward money. As soon as they are approached by the tailgating car, driven by US Marshal Edward Mars (Fredric Lane), Kate jerks the wheel and causes Ray's vehicle to crash off the road. As Kate is pulling Ray from the burning vehicle, Marshall Mars captures her at gunpoint.

On the IslandEdit

Kate, Sayid Jarrah (Naveen Andrews), Charlie Pace (Dominic Monaghan), James "Sawyer" Ford (Josh Holloway), Boone Carlyle (Ian Somerhalder) and Shannon Rutherford (Maggie Grace) are returning from the mountains and make camp as soon as it gets dark. They decide not to tell the other survivors about the French transmission received on the transceiver, fearing that the message will cause panic among the other survivors. When a fight breaks out over who should keep the gun brought by Sawyer, the group agrees to give it to Kate. Meanwhile, at the beach, Hugo "Hurley" Reyes (Jorge Garcia) sees Kate's mugshot which Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox) retrieved from the wounded marshal.

The next day, the hiking party returns, Kate secretly tells Jack about the distress signal, and the marshal's condition worsens. As Jack searches the fuselage for antibiotics, Kate visits the marshall on the makeshift medical tent. He awakens and grabs her by the throat, being stopped by a returning Jack before going into shock. Kate later asks Jack to euthanize the marshal, but Jack refuses, saying that he saw her mug shot and that he "is not a murderer." Elsewhere, Michael Dawson (Harold Perrineau) gets bothered by his son Walt Lloyd (Malcolm David Kelley) talking with the mysterious John Locke (Terry O'Quinn), and instructs his son to stay away from Locke.

The marshall's moans of pain get worse, disturbing the other survivors. Eventually he asks to see Kate alone, and when she enters the tent, the marshal asks what Kate wanted to ask him before he was knocked unconscious during the crash. Kate tells him she wants to make sure Ray gets his reward. The marshal laughs, telling Kate that she is one of a kind, and then asks if he is going to die. Kate nods, and he asks if she is going to do it. As Kate leaves, Sawyer enters with the gun, and a gunshot is heard. Jack becomes angry but Sawyer claims that the marshal asked to be killed. Muffled coughs are then heard, and it is revealed that Sawyer's shot missed the marshal's heart and pierced his lung, causing him more pain. Jack then euthanizes the marshal, presumably by suffocating him.

The next day, Locke finds Walt's lost dog Vincent (Madison) using a makeshift dog whistle, and gives him to Michael, saying that he thinks Walt's father should be the one to return the dog. Kate offers to tell Jack what her crime was. However, he declines, stating that their past lives are not important right now and all of the survivors should be allowed to start, again.


During production of the pilot episode of Lost, creators J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof got along with a team of four writers—Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Paul Dini, Jennifer M. Johnson and Christian Taylor—to elaborate ideas on how the show could continue. The resulting "Writer's Guide" plus a positive reaction to the pilot made ABC pick up the show. The season one writing begun on May 2004, with the first episode being centered on Kate and following the guidelines of a self-contained script grounded in reality.[5] The script, credited to Lindelof, was finished by June.[6] It was the first episode directed by Jack Bender, who came to the show following an invitation by Abrams.[7] The episode is named "Tabula Rasa" after the Latin term meaning "blank slate", a concept attributed to the philosopher John Locke regarding how he believed humans are born without built-in mental content, then filled through their life experiences. Said concept is echoed by the final line of the episode, where Jack suggests the crash made the survivors into blank slates that could restart.[8]

Both Joe Purdy's "Wash Away (Reprise)" and Patsy Cline's "Leavin' on Your Mind" are featured in this episode.[1][2] Josh Holloway, who portrays Sawyer, asked showrunner 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".[9] This is the first episode of Lost to feature a "Previously on Lost..." introduction, which is a short recap of the most recent episodes to refresh the viewer's memory. The voice of the introduction was provided by Lloyd Braun, the ABC president who created the Lost pitch and had been fired during the pilot's production.[10]


16.54 million people tuned into this episode, ranking Lost as the ninth highest rating of the week.[11]

Chris Carabott of IGN gave the episode a 7.7, praising the performances by the actors and how well characters were contrasted.[12] The TV Critic gave the episode a rating of 63/100, saying that its "good intrigue from the writers because we want to know more about Kate and what she did", while also stating that the "lack of action may affect some who are hooked on 24's style of relentless developments and tension."[13] Josh Wolk rated "Tabula Rasa" a B+, saying that "Kate's story is intriguing, though she's still not quite believable as a fugitive badass."[14]

Robert Dougherty, author of Lost Episode Guide for Others: An Unofficial Anthology, said that the episode is "important in establishing Kate's past life", but that "it isn't that important in the grand scheme of the Lost design."[15] Ryan Mcgee of Zap2it called the episode a "slight letdown in comparison to the pilot episode", but arguing that "most episodes fall short of the pilot's brilliance" and that the use of flashbacks "demonstrated [Lost] would be a character-based drama, a move that solidified its audience and let [its viewers] gradually know the many people that crash landed on the Island."[16] Dan Kawa of Television Without Pity gave the episode a C+.[17]


  1. ^ a b Bahr, Jon (1 October 2005). "LOST AND FOUND-Joe Purdy". American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b Porter & Robson 2009, pp. 126–127.
  3. ^ "Lost - Netflix". Netflix. Retrieved 24 November 2017.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ a b "ABC Medianet". American Broadcasting Company Medianet. 27 May 2005. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  5. ^ Lussier, Germain (September 20, 2013). "Exclusive: Damon Lindelof Explains the Truth Behind Leaked Early 'Lost' Document". /Film.
  6. ^ Landau, Neil. "An Interview with Damon Lindelof". MasteringFilm (Focal Press). Retrieved 2014-03-21.
  7. ^ Phegley, Kiel (2007-03-27). "TV Q&A: 'LOST'—JACK BENDER". Wizard. Archived from the original on 2007-09-22.
  8. ^ Spangler 2006.
  9. ^ Season 3 DVD - commentary for I Do, season 3, episode 6
  10. ^ Rosen, Christopher (2010-02-01). "Former ABC Exec Lloyd Braun, the Voice of 'Previously, on Lost,' Says, 'I Know What the Smoke Monster Was ...'". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2014-03-20.
  11. ^ "Weekly Program Rankings" (Press release). ABC Medianet. October 12, 2004. Retrieved July 30, 2008.
  12. ^ Carabott, Chris (27 June 2008). "Lost Flashback: "Tabula Rasa" Review". IGN. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  13. ^ "Lost, Season 1, Episode 3: Tabula Rasa review". The TV Critic. 30 March 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  14. ^ Wolk, Josh. "'Lost': Season 1 Episode Guide". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  15. ^ Dougherty 2008, p. 14.
  16. ^ McGee, Ryan (19 June 2008). "'Lost': Tabula Rasa". Zap2it. Archived from the original on 16 March 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  17. ^ Kawa, Dan. "Baby, Let Me Clean Your Slate (Until It Can't Get Any Cleaner)". Television Without Pity. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
Works cited

External linksEdit