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07 July 2007 @ 11:08 pm
HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN  
Original Airdate: 10/27/2004
Written By: Javier Grillo-Marxuach
Directed By: Michael Zinberg
Character: Sun
Day Seven

To begin this review, I'm going to pick the most obscure, throwaway part of the episode: when Kate and Jack find the black and white stones in the cave. I'm starting at this seemingly random point because, aside from their obvious good and evil symbolism and possible future plot use, those stones are indicative of a major theme in this episode, or at least a major technique used to illuminate other themes. Let me clarify: this episode is about opposites. Contrasts.

The episode opens with a close-up on Sun's eye (need I say any more about that?) indicating that the forty-three odd minutes we're about to witness will be told from her perspective. However, because we know so little about Sun at this point, we automatically associate her with her husband and thus it becomes obvious what we won't be getting in this episode: Jin's point of view. This may seem like a moronically obvious statement to make but considering what we've seen of Sun and Jin so far, it's pretty important. Until now, Sun has been the repressed wife, domineered over by her controlling husband and cut off from the rest of the Losties. We've seen her only in contrast to the others, most notably Kate, whose bare body and freedom
in the pilot contrasted starkly to Sun's lack of cleanliness and ability to move freely within the group. We've also seen Sun express a desire to mingle with the other Losties. She, like Jack, thinks of everyone being in the same boat. And finally, we witnessed her and Michael having some strange moments together, i.e. her caring for Walt and Michael accidentally finding her bathing in the jungle. He seems to be the only person she's made any sort of connection with on the island mostly due to language barrier and otherwise to Jin's controlling hand. Jin, on the other hand, expresses no desire to mingle. He only seems to care to stay to himself and keep his wife with him. In fact, we as the audience even begin to wonder why Sun, whom we are inclined to like, is even with this man. They seem to be complete opposites. In this episode, all of this is brought to a head.

In the opening shots, Sun is gardening. She is gentle and kind, we can see this just by looking at her. She is also looking longingly at the other Losties, yearning to join in. We can see it on her face. And of course, as we learn later, she can speak English so her sense of longing must be that much more, knowing what's going on but being unable to do anything about it. Then there is Jin who attacks Michael violently and seemingly at random. We are given no indication (other than a possible jealousy factor, which doesn't really make sense) of his motives. He is harsh and violent and when he is handcuffed to the wreckage, we are relieved. Cut to the first flashback. We see Sun, radiant in a pink silk dress, and Jin, serving the party guests. Surprisingly, he is gentle and kind and when he presents her with a flower, telling her he wishes it was a diamond, and we begin to understand why the two of them were married. But what happened between then and now? How is it that his personality and behavior could change so drastically? He seems the very opposite of himself. Of course we can't know the whole story as this is Sun's episode and even she doesn't understand all of it. Not yet, anyway.

The turning point is obviously the day that Jin sold his soul to Sun's father for the chance to spend his life with her. Sun, so obviously rich where Jin was so poor (opposites again) is naively sheltered from the world that her father inhabits. Jin, a hard-working, honor-bound man, is naturally inclined to work determinedly at whatever job he is employed in. It makes sense that he should do this for their marriage. He too, as an honest and hard-working man, is naive. When he tells Sun that his arrangement with her father is only temporary, he seems hopelessly wrong. We know, because we can see what he has become in the future, that something goes wrong. His belief in the temporary nature of his arrangement is hopelessly full of dramatic irony. We then see glimpses of the gradual fading of their relationship, of how his work came between them, of how they both changed, and finally, how Sun learned English and planned her escape.

And this is where it becomes complicated. By marrying Jin, isn't Sun in a way responsible for the way that things turned out? This idea is connected to the title of the episode.
The House of the Rising Sun is a famous folk song in the U.S. about a brothel in New Orleans, the Rising Sun. More importantly, it's about corruption. Here are the lyrics to the most famous version of the song by a group called The Animals:

There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God I know I'm one

My mother was a tailor
She sewed my new bluejeans
My father was a gamblin' man
Down in New Orleans

Now the only thing a gambler needs
Is a suitcase and trunk
And the only time he's satisfied
Is when he's on a drunk

Oh mother tell your children
Not to do what I have done
Spend your lives in sin and misery
In the House of the Rising Sun

Well, I got one foot on the platform
The other foot on the train
I'm goin' back to New Orleans
To wear that ball and chain

Well, there is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God I know I'm one

The obvious implication here when you stop to think about it is that Jin's behavior towards Sun, while deplorable, is not without cause. By bringing him into her life, she ruined him, corrupted his innocent nature. The very things she loved about him were taken away by the steps he took to procure their marriage. One might even surmise that she loved Jin because he represented the qualities that her father lacked: compassion, kindness, etc. and that by bringing him into her life those qualities were erased and he became the very thing that she despised. This is complicated, because Sun certainly is a victim, Jin was not without choice. He could have chosen to communicate with his wife, but he did not. Instead he chose to trade his happiness for money and security. But Sun is not entirely innocent, either. Her life, like the Rising Sun brothel in the song, is full of the corruption of wealth and power. Jin, so poor and unwordly, was innocent and free. So can't there be a happy medium between the two? Isn't it possible to be well-off and decent at the same time? Those black and white stones suggest differently. In fact, what those stones suggest is that the island may be the only place in the world where Sun and Jin can find reconciliation.

On the island it doesn't matter how wealthy you are or how powerful. On the island it doesn't matter what race you are, not really. Even though the characters still fixate on these societal issues (Michael telling the others that where he comes from Koreans don't like black people, Hurley calling Sun and Jin Chinese), most of them have failed to realize that living on this island is like living in a brand new society, a society in which the old rules and regulations don't apply. That $20,000 watch that Jin was so angry about on principle has no worth (as Michael points out hilariously) on the island. The island is the perfect place for Sun and Jin, two people who come from very different worlds, to finally live in harmony the way they wanted to in the first place. They have the chance to focus on their relationship instead of honor, duty, and obligation to unkind people and discriminatory rules. Isn't it unfair that Jin had to sell his soul in the first place? That's why in the end, when Sun has a chance to run, she doesn't. Of course, she loves him and she remembers the good times. But I also think that a part of her realizes that Jin isn't completely bad, that he is acting out of circumstance, and that he might be just as lost as she is.

Which brings me to Jack and Kate, Adam and Eve, and the great island chism of 2004. Jack is one of those few people who understands the implications of their situation, of living in a place without rules. When Sayid accuses him of attempting to start a new civilization, he's not wrong. That's exactly what Jack's trying to do. Jack has abandoned the false hope of rescue for the unflinching pragmatism of survival. And the island is split in two: those who follow him, and those who still hold on to that false hope, Sayid and Kate among them. I must confess that Sayid's motives seem unclear to me. He's a smart guy, surely he'd see the sense in Jack's ideas. But I think that there is something in the outside world that he wants very badly, enough not to see reason, and also, I still think that he's conflicting with Jack over those important decisions. Kate is much easier to read, however. Settling in the cave, "digging in", is completely against her nature. And while she is safe and free from criminal prosecution on the island, she is not free to roam as she wishes. The beach is a place of permanent instability, a strange stasis that appeals to Kate. When she says that she doesn't want to be Eve, she's rejecting the sense of belonging that comes with staking out territory. She's rejecting Jack and all that he represents.

Speaking of old Adam, his actions make you wonder what exactly is tying him to the island. Here, I think that Jack is very similar to Jin. His sense of purpose, of duty and honor to the well-being of the other survivors, is tying him to the island, if nothing else but from sheer necessity. I've said on numerous occasions that Jack is a selfless being, his own needs and desires are buried deep. Nowhere is this more obvious than where Kate is concerned. I said above that Kate rejects Jack, but Jack also rejects Kate. In the jungle when Kate thinks he's checking her out, he's really just thinking strategy, and when Hurley confronts him about playing Adam and Eve with Kate, we realize that Jack's mind is elsewhere. He has an obligation to the Losties, they are his priority, and not his wiener. This selfless inaction costs him Kate's heart in the third season; his absence and preoccupations leave the way well open for Sawyer. But once again, I'm getting ahead of myself.

But while I'm at it, let's hit that Adam and Eve metaphor real quick. Adam, Eve, and the Garden of Eden. Jack, Kate, and an island paradise. The parallels are almost too much. It's the ultimate new beginning. But it also smacks of sinister intentions...Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden because they sinned. What happened to these two people, why did they die? Will Kate and Jack share a similar fate? Third season finale, anyone? And that's as far as I'm taking that one for now.

Finally, we come to Charlie and Locke. The simplicity and wisdom of Locke's actions and words (when he's not acting like a crazy person) appeals to me very much. He intrinsically senses in Charlie deception, a secret, and reaches out to help him. He uses logic, common sense, and kindness to persuade Charlie of his situation. He talks of choices, but what he's really talking about is honor. Charlie's supply of heroin is finite (for now) and he will run out. So isn't it better, Locke argues, to choose willingly to do the right thing and grow as a person rather than be forced into a situation? To quote Harry Potter, "It was, he thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high."* Locke is asking Charlie to walk into this battle with his head held high, and Charlie accepts because the reward means too much to him. Drugs give him physical satisfaction, but his guitar and his music represent much more. And when Locke tells him to look up, and his guitar is hanging there, we see that once again the island has worked its creepy magic through Locke.

Some quick, final thoughts. I love Sun with long hair, she's so graceful and elegant. Charlie really was on top of it this episode, the writers really had some fun with his wit and inappropriate sense of humor. Everything he was saying I wanted to write down and stick in the Lines of the Week. Jin is CRAZY. Why didn't he just ASK for the damn watch back instead of punch first, ask questions later? (Okay, okay I know he couldn't ask...but you know what I mean.) Charlie's amusement and mystification with Locke is one of my favorite parts of the show: "the great white hunter", "you old git". Jack calling finding the cave "luck" cracks me up. That guy just loves his coincidences, his rational explanations. I totally sympathize with Charlie and his irrational fear of bees. Jack wears tightie whiteys; that seems very fitting to me. He's a very no-nonsense, plain white underwear kind of guy. I can't help feeling that the bees were just an excuse to get Jack and Kate to take their shirts off. That puppy is so dang cute. Adam and Eve, 40-50 years dead, are too old to be the French woman's people. Did the casket that Jack broke in
White Rabbit belong to Adam or Eve? Sun's situation is a reminder of the simultaneous freedom and hindrance that is language. Sawyer doesn't give a damn about where he stays, he made his decision because of Kate. He lurrrvves her.


*Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic, Inc. New York, NY: 2005.

Questions Raised

1. What' s up with Jack's tattoos?
2. Who are Adam and Eve?
3. What exactly does Jin do for Sun's father (why did he have blood on his hands)?
4. Why couldn't Sun and Jin be together before he sold himself to her father?
5. What was the business trip Jin was on that brought them on Flight 815?

Questions Answered

1. Sun was on the plane because she was accompanying Jin on a business trip but she was supposed to leave him in Australia while he boarded a plane for LA. She couldn't do it, however, and boarded the plane with him.

Mythology

1. There have been people on the island for at least fifty years according to Jack's estimation of Adam and Eve, which is longer than the French woman's transmission, meaning there have been other groups of people.

Motifs/Themes

1. Race, the Melting Pot.
2. Wealth and Corruption vs. Simplicity
3. Freedom
4. Obligation and Duty
5. Honor
6. Pragmatism vs. False Hope
7. Redemption
8. Communication and Language

Death Count

n/a

Sawyerisms

1. To Sayid: "A little louder, Omar. Maybe then she'll understand you."
2. To Kate: "Well, well, well. If it ain't the belle of the ball."
3. About Jack and Sayid: "So what's it like having both the doctor and Captain Falafel fighting over you?"
4. To Kate: "Just call 'em like I see 'em, Freckles." (recurring nickname use #3)

Character Connections

1. Sun's 11:15 deadline came when Jack was pleading with the ticket agent to let him have his father's casket on the plane.

Songs

1. "Are You Sure", Willie Nelson: This song is just way too appropriate for me not to post the lyrics.

Oh, look around you
Look down the bar from you  (as the camera shows jack and others drinking)
The lonely faces that you see
Are you sure that this is where you want to be  (the cave or the beach?)

These are your friends
But are they real friends (who can the Losties trust?)
Do they love you the same as me
Are you sure that this is where you want to be

You seem in such a hurry to live this kind of life (can apply to Kate)
You've caused so many tears and misery

Look around you, take a good look
And tell me what you see
Are you sure that this is where you want to be

Don't let my tears persuade you, I had hoped I wouldn't cry
But lately, teardrops seem a part of me

Oh, look around you, take a good look
At all the lonely used-to-be's
Are you sure that this is where you want to be



Seriously, I am almost wet myself when I saw that this episode opened with yet another eyeball.


Do you think Jin would let her wear this now?



All she can see now is love.



Creepy dead guy in the cave, in much the same vein as the creepy doll from last week. Did I mention I really like the creepy aesthetics of the cave?



Remember Locke holding up the backgammon pieces in the Pilot? Yeah, it's like that.


Big man, little man. "You don't know anything about me!"



"Whatever your father tells me."


I'm sorry, I love Sawyer. How Kate waited until the third season to jump his bones, I'll never know.


"I want you to look up."


Lines of the Week

"If you guys are done verbally copulating, we should get a move on. There's a whole beach of people waiting for us to get some drinking water for them. And the great white hunter's getting restless." Charlie, in top verbal form, with some amusing observations about Jack, Kate, and Locke.

"It wouldn't be an irrational fear of bees if I could just pull myself together, would it?" Charlie, with a very valid point.

"It's temporary." Jin to Sun, being very wrong about the extent of his commitment to her father.

"Where would they come from?"
"Didn't you guys shoot a polar bear last week?"
"Yeah."
"Where'd that come from?" Jack's catching on pretty quick, even if he doesn't want to admit it.

"It was, uh, it was full of bees."
"I'd have thought C's, actually." Charlie in response to Kate, being a perverted smart-ass.

"You'll see it again."
"Oh yeah? What makes you say that?"
"Because I have faith, Charlie." The Great White Hunter, and his mysterious dialogue, to the Drug Addict.

"Is there a reason you didn't consult us when you decided to form your own civilization?" Sayid, with a revealing question for Jack.

"Remember when all you had to give me was a flower?" Sun, realizing that she liked it better when Jin was poor.

"We don't need to bring the water to the people, we need to bring the people to the water." Jack to Kate, who doesn't look very enthused.

"You don't know anything about me, do you?"
"You don't know anything about me!" Michael and Walt, finally saying the awkwardness out loud.

"So, what's up with you and Kate? You guys going to move into the cave together?"
"Sorry, am I in high school?" Hurley and Jack, playing with the Adam and Eve metaphor.

"I do it for us." Jin, laying the guilt on.

"You speak English!?" Michael to Sun, with something we're all thinking.

"What I know is that this island just might give you what you're looking for, but you have to give the island something." Locke to Charlie with his thoughts on the creepiness of the island's tests.

"And I figured, hey, why let a $20,000 watch go to waste? Which is ridiculous because time doesn't matter on a damn island!" Michael, trying to knock some sense into Jin and being pretty funny in the process.


A Note to My Readers: I am in the process of collecting icons for all the characters and I still haven't found the right ones for everyone. I still need icons for Ana Lucia, Ben, Rose and Bernard, Mr. Eko, Hurley ( no one makes good Hurley icons!!!), Jin, Michael, Walt, and Sayid. I've found acceptable icons for these characters, or none at all, but I want beautiful ones, ones that I fall in love with. For example, this Sun icon is beautiful. And my Charlie icon by
royal_iicons makes me want to cry. If you guys could help me out, that would be awesome!
 
 
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Glenn: Colonel Locke is fed upglenniebun on July 8th, 2007 07:06 am (UTC)
Gods did I love Locke as he was portrayed in the first season. He was always Johnny-on-the-spot with the absolution for everyone, because he was the only one who understood what was going on, who had seen the forces at play. The second season was a tough time, in contrast.
Mistress of Lostie Islandprojectlost on July 8th, 2007 07:08 am (UTC)
LOL, nice icon ;) Very fitting.
Glenn: Colonel Locke is fed upglenniebun on July 8th, 2007 07:11 am (UTC)
Thanks! It's often appropriate.
SAMMEH!: Sayidblackannis238 on July 8th, 2007 07:51 pm (UTC)
I must confess that Sayid's motives seem unclear to me. He's a smart guy, surely he'd see the sense in Jack's ideas. But I think that there is something in the outside world that he wants very badly, enough not to see reason, and also, I still think that he's conflicting with Jack over those important decisions.

I could be wrong, but I've always felt that Sayid at this particular point in the story feels exceptionally out of place on the island (just like Jin and Sun). He's already been accused of crashing the plane by Sawyer, and when he reveals to Hurley he's ex-Republican Guard, although he doesn't hide it, Hurley's reaction isn't exactly "whoa, cool dude!"

I think he's very conflicted. It's obvious he wants to help, as seen when he organises the different groups to collect equipment, find food etc, he really feels the need to get away too, fixing the transceiver, trying to triangulate the signal and so on. He's still on a mission to leave right up until the end of Season 3, as he says rather exasperatedly - "And I am trying to get us off this Island, Jack!" in 'Greatest Hits'.

Sayid isn't one to give up so easily, and I think that, like Kate, he sees digging in as giving up hope. "Hope is a very dangerous thing to lose." He truly believes this.

On top of that (sorry, I'm going on a bit here!), having probably taken orders most of his life, I would think he's sick of it now, so being told to move to the caves by Jack probably doesn't settle well with him at all. I think his experience with Danielle in 'Solitary' make him come to terms with the fact he can't be the person he once was; the one clinging to Nadia, making him pull away from all around him. That's a turning point for him. But of course, that's a little further down the line.

I find Sayid a fascinating character, and he kicks so much arse it's amazing. But on top of that deep down he really is a good man.

Oh, and I put forth my icon for Sayid. It was made by marylou_gr if you feel like using and crediting! :)
Mistress of Lostie Islandprojectlost on July 8th, 2007 11:51 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I have a reader who understands Sayid because I find him challenging, much harder to empathize with than some of the others. This is probably because I've never been a soldier or lived in a war-torn country or been in love with a woman who was tortured by my government.
Glennglenniebun on July 9th, 2007 01:54 am (UTC)
I think that, like Kate, he sees digging in as giving up hope.

I think it's also worth pointing out that Sayid has someone he's trying to find--in fact, as we learn later, the fateful plane trip was supposedly on the way to see her directly--while Kate was trying to keep people from finding her. Sayid has a much more personal investment in getting off the island.