Absentia season 3, episode 1 recap – what happened in “Tabula Rasa”?

By Daniel Hart
Published: July 17, 2020 (Last updated: 2 weeks ago)
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Amazon original series Absentia season 3, episode 1 - Tabula Rasa


This is a thrilling opening episode of the third season that makes sure the viewer is in safe hands. The new family dynamic and intriguing investigation on the organ harvesting ring makes for good viewing very early on.

This recap of Amazon original series Absentia season 3, episode 1, “Tabula Rasa” contains spoilers.

Access all the episode recaps.

How does Absentia season 3, episode 1, “Tabula Rasa” open?

It opens with Julianne seemingly shooting Emily point-blank in the chest. The camera then moves upstairs with Nick asking, “Did you sleep okay?”. Then Flynn speaks and suddenly the house blows up. It was a bad dream and Emily wakes up.

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new life

As Emily gets up for breakfast, Nick asks if she slept okay. Emily reminds Flynn that he has swim practice. It seems that Emily lives with them and a lot has changed since Alice’s death. It provides a strange opening to see them as an alternative nuclear family — such a contrast to Season 1. As Emily drops off Flynn, she researches the new swim teacher Mr. Rizzo to make sure Flynn is not in danger. As Flynn jumps in the pool, she experiences flashbacks of Flynn being trapped in a tank. Despite time passing, Emily still suffers from PTSD

Do you miss her?

Nick is alerted to a car dumping yard by the police — a body has been found. When he gets home, Flynn tells Nick that he misses mom (Alice) and wonders why he never talks about her. He asks his father if he’s doing okay. When Nick leaves the room, Emily tells him that Flynn deserves the whole truth. Nick is worried that too much information would mean too much trauma. Nick changes the conversation and mentions that Flynn wants to go to a swimming summer camp in Colorado.

It’s evident early on that keeping Flynn away from the truth is not going to work and will likely cause problems later.

Late-night drunken investigation

While drunk, Emily checks out Mr. Rizzo’s apartment but then the swim coach returns home so she needs to hide. She manages to sneak out. This scene, if anything, highlights that Emily is not coping since the events of Season 2. She’s still broken and paranoid.

Julianne checks in

At work the next day, Julianne wants a word with Nick to “check-in” as he hasn’t attended his mandated counseling sessions.

Jack is struggling // Emily finds out the truth

At the halfway point of Absentia season 3, episode 1, “Tabula Rasa”, when Jack heads over to Emily and Nick’s place, he’s clearly not handling the death of Alice well. He heads into the cloakroom and smells Alice’s stuff and cries — a little creepy may we add. Emily catches him and it looks like it dawns on her what has happened — she asks Jack if it’s true (that they had an affair). Emily slaps him — “Flynn has been through enough”. Jack vows to never say anything. Episode 1 shows how volatile the family is with secrets and unspoken words — like always.

“The spy outside”

Outside of the house, someone is spying on them and Emily asks who she is. Nick says it’s his source — it’s about the bodies that Nick is looking into. The girl who is spying says it’s “happening tonight”. Nick says if it “checks out” he will give the girl protection. Nick has to go and Emily joins him.

Midnight mission

Nick and Emily head to what looks like a car garage and they find more dead bodies. They see a medical procedure getting pulled off by what looks like surgeons but Nick is attacked. Emily manages to lunge onto a moving car with one of the attackers and forces the driver to crash. When she looks at the vehicle, the driver has run away. Nick tells Emily it looks like an “organ harvesting ring”.

At work the next day as Nick briefs the team, Julianne has a word with Nick — she tells him Emily is suspended and cannot be involved in operations. Julianne then tells Nick that Emily has been spying on her and asks him to tell her that “this ends now”. It’s Season 3 and Emily is still on the wrong side of the FBI — you’d think she’d be fired by now.

How does Absentia season 3, episode 1, “Tabula Rasa” end?

Nick asks Emily if it’s true (about the spying). She tells Nick he wasn’t on that rooftop (the night Julianne shot Alice) but Nick reminds her that if this carries on, her suspension won’t be lifted. Emily states she doesn’t want to go back (to the FBI). When she heads down to the basement, she has mapping and information linked to Julianne. Emily clearly feels that Julianne is linked to what Alice was up to which deepens the story somewhat.

The girl informant meets Nick in a bar and says she needs to flee as there’s no time left. She runs off as she thinks she’s in danger. Meanwhile, Emily is hitting a boxing bag. Nick rings Emily and explains his informant was spooked but then he’s attacked at the house. Emily rings Cal and asks for help. Emily returns to the house and she’s also attacked. She manages to wrestle the attacker to the ground but she’s stabbed and the attacker walks off.

This is a thrilling opening episode of the third season that makes sure the viewer is in safe hands. The new family dynamic and intriguing investigation on the organ harvesting ring makes for good viewing very early on.

Additional points
  • Emily participates in meditation and yoga. She’s also participating in boxing with Cal to blow off steam.
  • Emily tells her father that she and Nick are platonic so that Flynn can have a normal home to grow up in.

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