Gettin' Lost 2: "Tabula Rasa" and "Walkabout"
"Gettin' Lost" is a regular series here where I (a Lost fan boy) discuss Lost with my partner Elizabeth (who has never seen it before) episode by episode. It's like reading a podcast! See all
Episode 3: Tabula Rasa
Logan: Welcome to the first normal-ish (non-pilot) episode of Lost! We’re introduced to a format that will become very familiar in the early seasons. Drama happens on the island along multiple lines, as the flashbacks start to provide details of people’s lives before the island. I couldn’t remember how much of Kate’s backstory was revealed in this first Kate-focused episode, and I was glad that we still have a lot to learn about her (and everyone else!). How did you feel about how the episode balanced it’s multiple plotlines and flashbacks?
Elizabeth: I liked the balance. But I was also interested in Kate’s story, so I could see being annoyed by the flashbacks if they’re about a character I don’t like. Level with me—are we going to find out what crime Kate committed at some point, and if so, will it be a satisfying reveal? I need to temper my expectations.
Logan: I don’t remember all the details of Kate’s backstory, but there is definitely a definitive answer and I remember being very satisfied with it. If I remember correctly, her flashbacks jump back even further and then build up to the crime that put her on the run. I think that was a very satisfying way to do it, because we see the whole story play out. But my memory may not be exactly right on that. I guess it depends on what you’re looking for in a “satisfying reveal” about why she’s on the run, but by my memory it was emotionally resonant.
I’ll be interested to see how you feel about the next episode, which is focused on John Locke (the guy with the scar who helped Michael find Walt’s dog). His backstory is a pretty well known one and it ties in to some mysteries on the island. So maybe even if you don’t like him, you’ll like how it ties in to some of the show’s bigger mysteries? That’s my hope. I like John as a character, but he’s been introduced so mysteriously at this point in the show and does come off kind of strange. What did you think about him and some of the other, smaller plot points of this episode?
Elizabeth: Well you keep trying to tell me he’s not evil, but he literally has the Scar from Lion King scratch over his eye and he’s super creepy. I’m with Michael—stay away from the kid, please. Seems like most of this episode was just establishing that everyone’s already keeping secrets. Seems like they shouldn’t be building a foundation of lies, but what do I know?
Logan: He’s not evil but maybe he’s complex???? And yeah, lies are not a great foundation but they’re still coming to terms with the fact that they’re going to be stuck with these people for a long time. Jack at least is noble and wants to move on from the Before Times and embrace a new life on the island. Maybe he has his own reasons for wanting to move on? (Maybe not, I only remember some parts of his back story.)
What do you think about the big plot points for this episode—dealing with Mr. Air Marshall?
Elizabeth: Don’t even get me started on Jack and him deciding he doesn’t need to know Kate’s story. I hate that trope—it’s so unnecessarily frustrating for the audience. Air Marshall/Bounty Hunter man sucks. He also wouldn’t tell Jack what Kate did, so he’s on my shit list. I do feel bad that the dumb racist shot him in the heart instead of the head… seems like a really dumb and painful mistake. Now the gun’s useless unless they somehow find more ammo.
Logan: Yeah, Jack’s philosophy is a bit cheesy, but the show can’t reveal all its secrets up front! Racist Sawyer is maybe a little less racist as he accepts an apple from Sayid? That’s how we should solve racism.
I don’t think I have too many other interesting thoughts that aren’t spoiler-y right now. Are there any other little points you want to bring up (I know you take great notes throughout) or should we jump into your episode summary?
Elizabeth: Feels like there’s a “just a bad apple” metaphor in there somewhere.
Oof, it’s been a few days since we watched the episode, so I’ll try my best:
The Air Marshall is still not doing well but is awake enough to start yelling about how Kate’s dangerous, and tells Jack and Hurley where find her mugshot in his pocket
Sayid tells the group from last episode that they shouldn’t tell everyone about the transmission, since it will make everyone lose hope and unleash chaos. So they just tell the larger group that they couldn’t get the transceiver to work. (Except Kate does tell Jack, since he’s become the de facto leader of the group. How large is this group of people, by the way? Is there like 30 of them?)
So Kate, Charlie, and Jack are the only ones who know all the info we do right now: they witnessed something kill the pilot and they know about the creepy transmission.
Kate checks on the Air Marshall and he tries to choke her, but Jack pulls them apart.
Through flashbacks, we find out that Kate was on the run in Australia. She slept in some farmer’s barn and he offered her room and board for her help with farm chores. She gives him a fake name, but they get along pretty well for a couple of months while she hides the money she earns around the house. One night, she plans to flee while the farmer is asleep, but he wakes up and offers to drive her to the airport in the morning. On the way to the airport, the Air Marshall pulls up behind them, and Kate realizes that the farmer turned her in—turns out there’s a $23,000 reward, and the farmer needed it for his mortgage. To avoid getting caught, Kate grabs the steering wheel and they roll off the road. The farmer seems pretty hurt, so Kate pulls him away from the car before it explodes. The Air Marshall catches her and presumably takes her to the plane that eventually crashes.
In the present, it’s pretty clear that the Air Marshall isn’t going to make it. Jack goes on the plane to look for antibiotics, and the racist guy is there to essentially tell him that they shouldn’t waste the medicine on someone who is definitely going to die and also be in a ton of pain. Jack’s a doctor so he refuses to give up.
Kate has the gun, since the group entrusted it to her after they took it from the racist man, which worries Hurley. She goes in to talk to the Air Marshall, and he asks what favor she was going to ask for on the plane just before they crashed. She wanted to make sure that the farmer got the reward.
Jack finds out that she has the gun (with only one bullet left) and is by herself with the Air Marshall, so he gets worried that she’s going to kill him. Instead, the racist man shoots him after Kate leaves the tent.
But, in a twist, the racist man is stupid and tries to shoot the Air Marshall in the heart instead of the head, and it didn’t aim well. Now the man is really suffering, and they’re out of ammo.
Throughout the episode, John Locke is whittling a whistle. Michael is skeptical of him and asks Walt to stop hanging out with the old man. Walt just wants to find his dog.
Michael looks for the dog but gets creeped out by something moving through the jungle toward him. He runs and accidentally runs into Sun, who is half naked, cleaning herself because her husband told her to. There’s an awkward interaction between them but honestly, I ship it.
Turns out the whistle was to call the dog, and it works! Instead of bringing the dog right to Walt, John Locke wakes up Michael so he can improve his relationship with his son.
There’s a weird montage at the end of everyone kind of being happy and working together that doesn’t match the tone of the rest of the episode at all but is probably supposed to indicate that they’re building a community.
Wow, that was much longer than I anticipated.
Episode 4: Walkabout
Upon completing the third episode write up, I realized it might make more sense to start each write up with the episode summary, so Elizabeth was nice enough to start us out for episode 4: Walkabout:
It’s been four days since the plane crash, and everyone’s trying to figure out what to do with the bodies. Jack suggests burning them along with the fuselage, but Sayid and some others want to do something more respectful, like a memorial and maybe burial.
At night, the islanders (that’s what I’m calling them now; it’s also what the contestants on Love Island are called) hear some creepy noises and find some wild boards rooting around in the supplies.
Sayid wants to try to find the power source that’s been keeping the French transmission going for so many years, so he builds a makeshift antenna. Most islanders still don’t know about the transmission, so he’s keeping it quiet.
Unsurprisingly, they’re out of food. Maybe I’m just a pessimist, but if my plane crashed on a creepy island, I would assume we were screwed and immediately start building a shelter and looking for food. These people do not think that way.
Turns out Locke has not one but many knives that he had checked on the plane, so he wants to go hunt some boars. Kate and Michael plan to go with him.
In a flashback, we see Locke working in a nondescript office with a jerk boss. He’s called “Colonel” by someone on a serious-sounding phone call, but his boss says he has no military history. Unless he’s like CIA or something, he might just be crazy. He gives off big Creed from The Office vibes.
Shannon and her brother argue a bit about how lazy she is, and she vows to catch a fish to prove she can take care of herself. She also calls her brother “Captain America,” which, in 2004, means she’s referencing the comics? Which seems out of character. Idk, I don’t remember a pre-MCU world.
Claire, the young pregnant woman, is going through anything she can find (luggage, IDs, etc.) to learn more about the people who died and plan for the memorial.
Shannon gets Charlie to try fishing, and Charlie asks Hurley for help. They try spear fishing and eventually catch a fish, but Shannon’s brother doesn’t think her flirting and asking other people to do the work counts as fending for herself.
Locke keeps looking meaningfully at his feet, and we find out that he had planned to participate in an Australian “walkabout,” sort of a survivalist hike/adventure, which is why he was in Australia.
Locke, Michael, and Kate find a boar, but it gores Michael in the leg and gets away. Locke seems a bit out of it and calls Kate “Helen,” then leaves to get the boar on his own. Lock has a real problem with people telling him what he can’t do.
Helen seems to be the name of a sex worker that Locke used to call pretty frequently, just to talk. He had asked her to come to Australia with him and got angry when she said no.
Rose, whose husband was in the bathroom when all the plane shit went down, is sitting away from everyone else and refusing to eat or speak.
Jack seems to be wary of being the leader of the group, but everyone still treats him like he is. He goes to talk to Rose and bring her water. He tells her “you’re in posttraumatic shock,” to which she astutely replies, “aren’t we all?”
Turns out she doesn’t think her husband is dead, and as unlikely as that seems, who knows with this show, man.
Kate climbs a tree to attach the antenna but the monster thing starts shaking trees and whatnot so she drops and breaks it. Kate and Michael get back to the beach. The monster seemed to be headed toward where Locke was, so they all think he’s dead.
Jack sees a guy in a suit off in the distance but when he runs after him he just finds Locke, who’s alive and successfully killed a boar.
They burn the fuselage and hold a memorial for the people who died.
Charlie’s running out of drugs.
We find out that Locke wasn’t able to go on the walkabout because… dun dun dun… he’s in a wheelchair! But he’s been walking ever since the plane crash.
MY theory is that this whole thing is just Locke’s dream, but that made you yell at me.
My recaps are getting so long.
Logan: Recaps are long because each episode of Lost is so dense with great storytelling and forward progress! The reveal of Locke’s former paralysis was one of the first big “holy shit” moments for me watching this show for the first time. I remember exactly where I was sitting during that moment, and it was a big part of what first got me hooked. The appearance of the strange man in the suit was also a big one, and a recurring story-element, and I didn’t remember those happening in the same episode! I know you were skeptical of Locke before this episode—has that changed for you at all?
Elizabeth: If anything, I’m more skeptical. He’s definitely got some mental health stuff going on, and he’s also just creepy. No way this man needed 20 knives to go on some walkabout, and he clearly did not respect Helen’s healthy work relationship boundaries. I don’t necessarily think he’s the bad guy of the show—I don’t think he’s secretly running things—but I don’t like him.
Logan: Yeah, I sort of feel like he is meant to be a somewhat adversarial character, both now and throughout the show. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that a big theme throughout many seasons is Jack as “the man of science” vs. Locke as “the man of faith,” they both have very different perspectives on leadership, on what to do on the island, and about the larger meaning of people’s lives. We’ve started to see some pieces of that “man of faith” stuff with his obsession with his “destiny” of going on a walkabout. Do you “like” him yet in the sense that he’s a compelling character (I’m thinking of a comparison to how some people feel about Snape in HP) or are you still just thinking he’s gross and annoying?
And, I just want to go on the record as saying it is not all Locke’s dream, nor is it anyone’s dream. It’s the most common bad take about the show, and it’s very very wrong.
Elizabeth: I’m very interested to see how everyone is wrong about the ending except for you.
If we’re getting into a Snape/Locke discussion, I’d say the difference is Snape is a pretty fun character even when he’s being adversarial and even though I don’t like where his character ends up. I care very little about Locke at this point, other than the fact that him regaining the use of his legs is interesting. And I guess he saw the monster and survived, so that gives him some more mystery. But he also doesn’t have the charm of Alan Rickman or a dope British accent, so that’s not totally his fault.
Speaking of Jack, it seems like he’s regretting stepping up into a leadership role a bit this episode. And he maybe didn’t even want to be a doctor that badly.
Logan: That’s fair about Locke. As I’ve said many times before, this is just the very very beginning of everyone’s story, so I’ll be interested to see how your views do or don’t change over time.
And it’s not just me that is right! The final episode literally, explicitly says “it wasn’t all a dream,” and the creators have said as much. It’s an interpretation that is fair (but would be dumb, story-wise) up until the last episode. Many people agree with me, but the mainstream consensus, for some reason, got hung up on the dream thing.
But yes, Jack got some interesting development (or hints at development) this episode, like you said. It made me think about how he’s ostensibly the main character but we haven’t gotten any flashbacks for him from before the plane yet. Any theories about why Jack seems to be the only one seeing this suit figure? Or about the suit figure in general?
Elizabeth: Yeah Jack seems very “basic white dude” so far. I could see it just being the pressure getting to him. Or maybe it’s his dad or something. Otherwise I have no clue. You never answered my earlier question about how many islanders there are. We don’t seem to be learning any more names yet, although there are definitely people in the background we haven’t met yet.
Logan: I know at some point they commit to how many people there are, I think that’s this season. They also try to keep an exact naming of everyone a little ambiguous so they can add characters later on if they need to. Your guess of 30ish doesn’t seem absurd to me, but it might be a bit higher. For some reason I want to say 66. We will see.
I also just want to acknowledge, before we wrap up, the continued hilarity of Boone and Shannon. Shannon’s “I caught a fish by flirting with Charlie and Charlie had Hurley help him out” move was hilarious and also such a different sort of conflict than the other characters have. Locke dealing with inferiority, Charlie with addiction, Jack with leadership (and maybe some other stuff coming up), Kate with running from the law, Sawyer with his own racism and selfishness (though he helped Claire out by giving her some wallets he had stolen this episode!), Sayid with Sawyer’s racism and the pressure of being a tech-wiz, Claire pregnant on an island, and then… Boone and Shannon just sort of bickering.
Elizabeth: To be fair, probably not a lot of use for money on the island.
Yeah, they have a very weird relationship. It honestly doesn’t seem like Boone’s doing all that much to help either, at least not that we’ve seen. Fishing seems all around safer than hunting, so I don’t see why they’re all not trying to make some poles. I think the episode description says the next ep deals with Claire being pregnant?