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House of the Rising Sun

January 24, 2010

Even though neither Sun nor Jin are in my own top 5 characters on LOST, their episodes always seem to be the most consistent. Their flashbacks are never stellar, but they are always above average, with this first one bordering on great. I’ve mentioned previously that Sun’s unbuttoning the top button of her blouse in the pilot is one of my top ten scenes in the series, and this episode solidifies my thought that Sun is the most quietly expressive character in the show. It’s a major testament to Yunjin Kim’s acting that Sun and Jin’s entire span of their relationship from courtship until crashing on the island can be convincingly shown within probably less than 20 minutes. From the opening of this episode, where Sun looks out at the rest of the newly-formed community, and we can sense a tinge of regret and resentment, to the first flashback, where she has a barely reserved happiness, it’s apparent to me that she is the deepest and most conflicted of the main female characters on the show.

There are quite a few times in this episode where just a look on her face speaks volumes about the status of her relationship with Jin. Granted, makeup and lighting helps to pull this off (from the blushing happiness in the first flashback to the drawn, older face in the flashback in her apartment), but her expressiveness (along with the slight smile Jin gives at the airport while holding the flower) never fails to open the tearducts a bit.

This episode, on first viewing, again made me realize that I was watching a show destined for greatness, a show unafraid of taking chances. Never before had I seen an hour of network television where over a third but not quite a half of the entire episode was subtitled and spoken in a foreign language. Again, this is a testament to both actors, but in my mind, especially Yunjin Kim.

On island, it’s not quite the revelation. There’s a gratuitous removing of clothing, some awkward flirting between Jack and Kate, and a shmaltzy montage at the end. It does lead nicely into the superior on-island material in the next episode, however, and sets up the conflict between Locke and Charlie. In addition, light alliances are made with the choice of moving to the cave or staying on the beach. Sawyer’s pessimists/optimists comment puts his philosophy (black or white) against Jack’s, who is really only thinking about survival. It’s not that Jack is defeatist, but instead that he’s a realist. This is yet another indication of Jack’s “man of reason” mindset which will continually conflict with Locke’s “man of faith” one in later episodes.

I also love that it’s not until probably at least 20 more episodes where Jin finally has the handcuff removed. And when Jin is handcuffed, it’s the first very slight foreshadowing of Sayid’s former career as an interrogator. There’s also a barely perceptible first indication that Sayid will eventually go off on his own a few episodes down the line. So, yes, there ARE some pretty decent on-island moments, but as a whole, this is a lesser episode.

And I always have loved the scene right near the beginning on the trek to the cave where right in a row, Evangeline Lilly is shown on screen along with her name, followed by Dominic Monaghan and his name, and finally Terry O’Quinn and his. Clever little bit of editing.

Island mythology: 2.5 out of 10. The Adam and Eve skeletons are really the only reveal this episode, and as those really have no direct bearing on the island’s mystique as a whole, and are almost never mentioned again, this was a lesser episode in this regard. I’m still of the mindset that the skeletons are Rose and Bernard’s, which is hinted at slightly with the black and white stones in the pouch.

Character development: 6.75 out of 10. Sun is exemplary in this episode, with Jin by necessity having less character growth. However, in all of the previous episodes, there are small moments with other characters besides the “main” one for that particular episode that have resonance or show some facet that had yet to be shown, or deepen something that has already been shown. Jack’s pragmatism, and Charlie’s giving up his drugs both set up future episodes nicely, but did not really further any major development. The one shining spot was the furthering of the relationship between Michael and Walt. Michael’s frustration is borne out perfectly with the birthday discussion. But other than these, this episode is a bit lacking in this regard as well.

Importance of episode to series: 3 out of 10. This is a bit of a filler episode. Not much really happens besides setting up some conflicts that will pay off in later episodes. There is the revelation that Sun speaks English, but this is hardly a major factor in the series as a whole. The only real future plotline touched upon in this episode is Charlie’s drug addiction, which will come into play again later with the Nigerian plane and Charlie’s relationship with both Eko and Locke. But that plotline is minor at best relative to the overarching story. Michael and Jin have a rocky start to their eventual later friendship, but again, this is hardly major.

Personal enjoyment of episode: 7 out of 10. For myself, I can look past all the flaws and filler of this episode and just enjoy the Sun/Jin flashback. Again, this is one of the few episodes that makes me a bit teary every time (the airport flashback really gets me), so on my own personal scale, I’m rating it a bit higher than it probably deserves to be.

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