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LOST's The House of the Rising Sun Shines a Light on the Kwons

By Edited Nov 15, 2013 0 0

Until House of the Rising Sun, I had a difficult time really connecting with Sun and Jin. After this episode, the first in LOST to include a character's name in the title, they felt much more real to me. I still didn't get a complete picture of them, however; episodes with the Kwons are notorious for being misleading, and this one uses misdirection more effectively than any other, encouraging us to see Jin in a particular light without allowing his perspective. I'm especially impressed with Daniel Dae Kim here, since he is such an integral part of the episode and all of his dialogue is in Korean, of which Dae Kim is not a native speaker.

Sun's flashbacks establish her as well-to-do but not too proud to fall in love with a man from a humble background. We catch a glimpse of Jin's romantic nature in this episode but spend most of the flashbacks focusing on the breakdown of their marriage due to Jin's distant and sometimes disturbing behavior. On the Island and off, Jin's violent streak comes to light, while Michael is the first to learn an important secret about Sun. He's also the first of the castaways to tangle with Jin, but this antagonistic beginning to their relationship paves the way for friendship later on, and even in the midst of his frustration, Michael takes the time to correct Hurley regarding the Kwons' nationality.

Michael's tussle with Jin also offers an opportunity for him to understand Walt better. He begins to realize just how closely his son watches and listens to him. He needs to be careful about what he says in his presence, since Walt will take him very seriously. Just as the show explores racial prejudice through Sayid, particularly Sawyer's violent reaction to him, Michael surprises himself with a comment about Koreans and African-Americans not getting along, forcing him to evaluate his own biases, especially in light of the example that he is setting for his son. At the same time, he begins to learn about Walt's interests, and their exchange of birthdays is a definite step in the right direction for them. Meanwhile, we learn that Sun's father has made life difficult for her and her husband, adding yet another man to the list of LOST dads who haven't done so well by their children.

While this episode is largely concerned with the deep rifts in Sun and Jin's marriage that will take several seasons to fully repair, other characters unconnected to their story have an important role to play as well. Kate pursues Jack with flirtatious fixation, and though he's happy to have her company, his mind remains on practical matters of survival. Her frustration with him becomes increasingly apparent as he seems oblivious to her advances. Though Charlie has begun to bond with Claire, it seems as though he still has the hots for Kate, as evidenced by his jealousy over her banter with Jack and his juvenile quips about her chest size.

Charlie is fascinating to watch here because he's gearing up for his first, and probably most revelatory, centric episode. Because Charlie spends so much time trying to tell his fellow castaways about his rock star past, we go into his flashback with a better idea of what to expect than most, but elements of his past remain surprising. Mystical John seems to have a pretty good handle on what makes Charlie tick, and thanks to his intervention, we witness the powerful tug-of-war between music and drugs at work within this young rocker. Meanwhile, John's knowledge of the wild comes in handy during Charlie's terrifying brush with a swarm of angry bees; while I fervently hope I'm never in that situation, I'll be sure to remember John's advice if I ever am.

One of LOST's oldest mysteries, and one of the last to get a concrete resolution, emerges in this episode as Jack, Kate and John discover a pair of bodies buried in a cave. "Our very own Adam and Eve," John comments. Who are they? What significance do they have to the castaways? As it turns out, quite a lot, but that's one answer that fans had to await patiently. The answer took so long that it seems as though the producers suspected that we might forget about it; footage from this episode reappears, rather jarringly, in the third-to-last episode of the series, which finally reveals the identity of the corpses.

The discovery of a natural shelter with abundant water nearby introduces a fundamental debate that will play out throughout the season. Stay on the beach and hope for rescue or hunker down for the long haul? Though Jack is as anxious to get off the Island as anyone, he leads the charge to relocate, putting him at odds with Kate, even though her history as a fugitive means that a rescue will most likely lead to her arrest. While watching this episode for the first time, it's interesting to speculate about which characters will head for the jungle and which will prefer to take their chances on the beach. One man firmly in the beach crew is Sawyer, whose opportunism is on full display here, as well as his snark; one of my favorite of his nicknames - Captain Falafel for Sayid - comes from this episode.

Repeated elements in this episode include an opening eye and a black and white object, along with a closing montage to the tune of a song from Hurley's personal CD player. One interesting thing about LOST is that it only incorporates music that the characters themselves are listening to, but it cheats a bit throughout the first season by allowing us to duck under Hurley's headphones. My favorite of these musical montages, at least when it comes to song choice, is this one, which uses Willie Nelson's Are You Sure? As the episode comes to an end, we witness each of the castaways wondering if they are making the right decisions, both in terms of the immediate question of where to live and the grander question about how to live, which will continue to nag at each of them throughout the series.



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