Sun’s words are very poignant when she says them to Jin, and they sum up the point of the flashbacks. The flashbacks themselves in this episode are actually very daring for a couple of reasons. First, they are entirely in Korean, which is a bold move for a primetime show to make. It works perfectly, though, and you really feel that you’re in South Korea. The other reason the flashbacks are a bit of a departure from previous ones is that they focus on a character that has not had a very prominent role up to this point. Most people were expecting a Sayid episode, or a Charlie episode, or maybe even a Sawyer flashback. The last thing anyone was waiting for was a trip into the past of Sun. That wasn’t the only thing we weren’t expecting, though.
This episode is a fine episode, but definitely not perfect. The attack on Michael seems forced, at best, as if the writers were just looking for a reason to flashback to Sun’s past. Obviously, they needed to reveal that Sun spoke English early on, so it didn’t seem too ridiculous, but Jin nearly killing Michael over a watch purely out of a sense of honor is still a little laughable, as Jin is clearly no samurai, with a code of bushido to follow. It’s also strange that Jin tries to murder Michael instead of just taking the watch back, maybe after punching him a little bit.
The flashbacks are also a little harder to follow than previous episodes’ as they take place over a period of several years, instead of events that happen relatively closely together. As Sun and Jin’s past is explored more in later episodes, the flashbacks will make more sense. They do seem a little jumbled together here, although the emotional content of them is certainly there. In flashback tradition, they also introduce a little mystery to keep us waiting for another episode. What exactly is Jin doing for Sun’s father? What kind of job would result in having your hands covered in someone else’s blood? Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim are both excellent in this episode. Daniel is just menacing enough to make you have a slight fear of Jin, but not overtly evil. Yunjin also plays Sun very well, especially when she reveals to Michael that she speaks English. It’s also good to know that both actors will only get better as the series goes on.
Sun telling Michael her secret leads to another one of my problems with this episode. For the first five episodes, we’ve seen Michael and Sun together almost as much as we’ve seen Michael and Walt. Their relationship obviously justifies why Sun goes to Michael with her secret, but their relationship doesn’t really go anywhere after this. Michael will go on to develop a closer relationship with Jin, while Sun basically drops out of the picture. After developing such a bond between Sun and Michael, it’s strange why they’re rarely involved with each other at all after this point.
The other plot of this episode is far more important to the ongoing story. Jack and Kate’s relationship (he was totally checking her out) is funny to watch, especially when Jack tries to worm his way out of what he was truly thinking. Conversely, Matthew Fox’s acting in the scene when he tells Kate that they should live in the caves is painful to watch. Sorry, Matthew! The “split” in the camp is also something new and unexpected, which is exactly what the show needed at this point. Watching a group of people stand around on a beach looking for boats and planes gets tiresome very quickly, and it’s smart of the producers to change that up relatively early. It’s also interesting to note who’s an “optimist” and who’s a “pessimist.” Jack, Charlie, Locke, Hurley, Jin, and Sun all go to the caves. Kate, Sayid, Sawyer, Michael and Walt all stay on the beach. Boone, Shannon, and Claire don’t make an appearance in this episode, although they all stay on the beach as well. The ideological split between Sayid and Jack is unexpected, as they have usually been allies up to this point. That, also, is a refreshing change of pace.
Locke’s faith shines very brightly in this episode. He even says so (“I have faith”) to Charlie at one point. Dom Monaghan, by the way, is hilarious again in this episode, especially with his “I’d have said C’s” line. While Locke’s attitude toward life is nothing new, Charlie swapping his drugs for his guitar is a huge step for him, virtually guaranteeing him the next flashback episode. Until the next episode, all we can do is speculate about what will happen, especially with the introduction of Adam and Eve, the skeletons in the cave. It’s the first time we’ve seen other people on the island, even though the viewer dismisses it just as Charlie does. How wrong we’ll be.
House of the Rising Sun is not a bad episode by any means. Michael Giacchino’s score is absolutely sensational, and the emotional content that the flashbacks generate, especially in Yunjin Kim’s face, is great. It has its faults, though, but they do not detract too much from the overall viewing.