Tabula Rasa is about a lot of things, but it's mostly about Kate. This is when we get the mug shot and we find out she was the one in handcuffs - about the same time as, some distance away from Jack and the marshal, Team Sayid opts to give sweet, innocent Kate the gun. Hurley, the second castaway to find out about her outlaw status, is especially jumpy around Kate, though he still shakes hands with her. He's polite enough, but it ought to be pretty obvious to her that something is up from his jittery eagerness to get away from her.
Interestingly, both of the names that come up in the flashback resurface later in the series. Do I think that's significant? Probably not. But Kate takes on the name Annie, which of course is the name of Ben's childhood sweetheart, and she works for a guy named Ray, which is also the name of Jack's grandpa. The significance is probably more that they were running out of names... I like Ray, despite the fact that he turns Kate in; maybe we should see his phony arm as foreshadowing of his deception. I guess she likes him, too; she's hurt by the betrayal, but that doesn't stop her from ensuring his safety and trying to make certain he gets the reward money (the numerically significant $23,000). I think he's a good guy for the most part. It's just a shame that Kate's trust issues had to be confirmed as valid in such a dramatic way.
No wonder she doesn't trust Jack with her secret, though once he finds out half the story, I'm not too surprised she wants to tell him exactly what happened. It might make her come off as more sympathetic. I was annoyed with him for insisting he didn't need to know; maybe he doesn't, but we do! But that's a story for another season... And his point about being able to start over is a good one - though I wonder how many "Island as Purgatory" rumors were fueled by Jack's "Three days ago we all died"! I like how we get a hint about Evangeline Lilly's nationality when Annie claims she's from Canada, and how in the flashback, Kate wears stripes, whereas in the present, she wears orange, both prisoner duds. The marshal tells her, "You don't look free to me"; the Island is a prison too. Also, this is the first time we hear Patsy Cline in a Kate flashback. Few of the characters have a musician so associated with them.
Sawyer and Kate are thrown into one another's company quite a bit here. Sawyer calls her Freckles for the first time, and there's lots of snarky interplay between them. The scene back at the beach is especially good, and you think that Sawyer is talking Kate into putting the marshal out of his misery, but she delegates the job to him. There's an interesting blend here of Sawyer's hostility and compassion, and foreshadowing of his own first flashback as we see that killing is not something that comes easy to him. He talks a big talk, but when it comes down to it he does it wrong, probably in part because he's conflicted to begin with, though he's horrified when he realizes that he's just made this poor guy suffer even more.
The marshal becomes the first character to have some degree of resolution of past issues and then die, and ironically, Jack the savior is responsible for the first death that occurs among the castaways after the immediacy of the crash. At least, I read it as Jack doing something to end the marshal's life, though it isn't clear what, and of course he was a goner by then. Still, back on the mainland, I doubt Jack would have agreed to assisted suicide; he certainly was reluctant here, and only did it because Sawyer inadvertently made the situation so much worse. That conversation between them in the fuselage revealed so much about their personalities, and Sawyer encouraging Jack to forget the rules of civilization oddly comes into play at the end of the episode. Also, that suitcase blow to the head that knocked the marshal out reminds me of the toolbox that Jack took to the head in The Incident; I hope the doc comes out of it a little better!
Hurley spends this episode hovering around Jack, trying his best to be helpful, though uncomfortable with the marshal's condition and the revelation about Kate. I think my favorite Hurley scene in this episode is his conversation with Jack in which he postulates that the Smoke Monster is a dinosaur. Jack says it couldn't be a dinosaur because they're extinct; turns out it isn't, but it just goes to show how closed-minded Jack is. At this point, Jack has no inkling that this Island has been inhabited by humans before; what makes him so sure dinosaurs couldn't have survived here, and nobody knew about it? And anyway, that bird that calls Hurley's name looks like it could be prehistoric. Their chat reminds me of Xeno Lovegood calling Hermione "limited," and it comes up again and again, as early as the next episode when Jack insists that Rose's husband is dead because he simply can't imagine how anyone from the tail section could have survived.
Jack's furious "What did you do?" to Sawyer after he shoots the marshal reminds me of his reaction to John blowing up the submarine. John gets the last shot of the episode, an indication that the next episode will focus on him. Here, he's nothing but helpful, making a whistle to find Vincent and then showing Michael where to find the dog so he can take credit for returning him to Walt. I saw that scene at the very end of the episode when it actually aired, and it made me quite inclined to like John. All this after Michael has demonstrated such instant dislike for him. It seems he's simply jealous because Walt would rather spend time with "Mr. Locke" than him. I love the revelation that a miracle happened to John - another hint at what's to come in the next episode - and Michael's response that a miracle happened to everyone who survived the plane crash. And apparently the Island wants Michael to keep his promises; I always get a big chuckle out of him pledging to look for Vincent when it stops raining, only to see the deluge suddenly stop seconds later.
Of course, this leads to Michael's encounter with the shirtless Sun. She's too startled to say anything, while he yammers on, making a fool of himself before finally stumbling away. This moment sets up hints of a potential romance between Michael and Sun that are very nearly acted upon in the mobisode Buried Secrets. In both cases, Michael is looking for Vincent and stumbles upon something he shouldn't see, but in the second, he and Sun are moving in for a kiss when Vincent suddenly shows up. Awfully good timing! Sun and Michael could have made a good couple, but not at the expense of the Kwons' marriage. Sun's indulged in more than enough adultery already, methinks. Jin doesn't come off great in this episode either, at least in the beginning; Sun is busy looking through luggage trying to find their bags, and Jin tells her she's filthy and to go clean up. It seems really rude, but in part, he's probably feeling bad that she's exhausted and overworked and wants her to take it easy. The cleaning up isn't just about modesty or pride, it's about feeling refreshed. And when we see them together at the end of the episode, with Sun asleep, Jin is undeniably tender as he brushes her hair across her face.
The ending of the episode is wonderfully tranquil, with Hurley's song about washing one's troubles away playing on his Walkman as castaways make amends with one another. There's the Jin and Sun moment; the reconciliation between Michael and Walt as the boy joyfully runs to greet his father and Vincent; Boone handing Shannon her sunglasses and her gratefully accepting them; Sayid cheerfully tossing Sawyer a piece of fruit, prompting confusion from the latter; Charlie smiling as he sits near Claire and changes "FATE" to "LATE". Does this mean he thought the plane was fated to crash, and they were stuck, but now he's hopeful that rescue is merely late in arriving but will come soon? This was the first episode in which we see Charlie and Claire interact; maybe that blossoming friendship has cheered him up. For all concerned, it's a wonderfully uplifting way to end the episode. Sayid - who is really proactive in this episode, dividing the beach folks into groups and generally taking charge, showing he's as much a leader as Jack - says at the beginning that hope is a dangerous thing to lose. As the episode ends, it's clear that hope has not been lost.