Re-Lost: House of the Rising Sun

Michael and Sun

Sun and Michael share a moment, or something...

I commented before that it was pretty bold of Lost to have two of its main characters speak no English. It’s even bolder to put those two characters front and center in their own episode, knowing that most of it will have to be subtitled. Still, “House of the Rising Sun” is a strong episode, and aside from a couple of minor complaints, it continues the strong run that Lost enjoys well into its first season.

As in previous episodes, we get a character-centric flashback, this time revolving around Sun, whose husband Jin is now facing the wrath of the entire band of survivors. He has attacked Michael, and for the second week in a row, we get a character who does something that doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. This isn’t quite as derptiy-doo as Boone stealing the water from the survivors, but Jin’s attack on Michael seems absurdly over-the-top. I mean, look at him. He’s trying to KILL him, not take the watch back. I understand that this is a matter of honor and culture, and I’m fine with that excuse, but given what we discover on Jin’s character later on, it seems very violent. I understand that characters grow in ways the writers don’t expect, but this still feels a bit, you know, insane.

Of course, this leads to the moment when we discover that Sun can indeed speak English, after she explains the situation to Michael in private. This was a great move, because it really fleshed out one of the key aspects of Sun: she is a fighter. She does so subtly, often behind Jin’s back, but she will not be held down and told what to do. Because of that, we see that her growing isolation is beginning to wear on her. Jin insists they can live without interacting with the other survivors, but Sun actually understood Jack’s speech from “White Rabbit.” They can’t afford to isolate themselves, and besides that, she clearly doesn’t want to.

It’s disappointing to know that while Sun and Jin get three good seasons of story, they are ultimately the worst casualties of the shortened seasons that began in Season Four. It could be because their stories seem to exist somewhat separate from the rest of the survivors. The language barrier, though it is eventually overcome, makes them fundamentally different from everyone else, and as the series focused more and more on the plot and on resolution, those beautiful moments between them ultimately had to be sacrificed. It’s a loss that I continued to feel up until the very end of the show, but for now it’s good to see them as a couple, and in the early stages of the series.

The rest of the survivors are going through their own struggle. Jack thinks it would be good to move to the caves, but many of the others see this as a sign of surrender, an admission that they won’t be rescued. Obviously, Jack is right on the money, but it’s an interesting struggle for hope, one that I’d completely forgotten about. Also, Charlie begins to deal with his heroin addiction, thanks to the help of John Locke. More of that next week, but for now I noticed that we are beginning to see the early stages of Locke being the island’s prophet. Eventually, he will get more aggressive, but for how he simply tries to make people understand how special this place is.

So hey, “House of the Rising Sun” is a very good outing. I feel like some of the conflicts feel a little contrived (like Jin’s attack on Michael, and some of the comments made during the move to the cave), but there is a sense of forward momentum now, instead of just weekly struggles for survival. It feels like a turning point in the series, the first of many.

Grade: B+

Wreckage:

  • The first instance of Hurley speaking for the audience, when he asks Jack what’s going on between him and Kate. It would have been nice to resolve that question now, instead of six seasons from now.
  • Also, the first appearance (and last, for a long time) of “Adam and Eve.” We eventually do find out about them, and unlike a lot of people, I kind of like that resolution. More on that in six seasons though…
  • Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Park do a great job in this episode, and I think they are some of the more underrated actors on the show in general.
  • Nice character moment, where Kate refuses to go to the caves. Doesn’t want to be tied down.
  • The first inkling that Charlie is starting to resent his status as someone who is constantly marginalized. His response to Kate and Jack flirting amuses me, but points to some struggles he’ll go through.
  • Sorry this one was a little later today. Busy week, but no work today. Tune in on Tuesday for “The Moth.”
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One thought on “Re-Lost: House of the Rising Sun

  1. The violence of Jin in this episode only really feels out of place when I consider him in the later seasons – at this point he was always portrayed as having a short fuse. I’m not sure if the change is all character development, or if the writers decided to use a kinder, gentler Jin in later seasons.

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