Because we haven't been able, for the most part, to understand anything the Korean couple--- who are identified as Jin and Sun by this episode--- have been saying, I had begun to wonder how the writers were possibly going to integrate into the show. 'This episode gives a very visual demonstration, tells us some of their backstory, and reveals a couple of big secrets in the process.
Until now, we've assumed that Jin was the powerful one in the relationship. In fact, Jin was actually marrying up when he won Sun. Jin was a basically a warm man who ended up working for the wrong person. Even more unfortunately, that person was Sun's father. Though we never see him in this episode, the implication is that Sun's father had some kind of involvement in organized crime. The cost of Sun's hand was to work for her father, and that led to long hours, a gradual distance, and finally, a night when he came home spattered with blood. Sun was never supposed to be on Oceanic Flight 815--- she had planned to slip away from him at the airport, and fake her own death. But at the last moment, she couldn't leave him. The obvious response was battered wife syndrome, but based on what we see, it's clear that Sun still loves her husband. And, though we don't know it yet, a big part of this series, will be about Jin and Sun falling in love again.
All of this is reflected on the beach in the beginning of the episode, when Jin attacks Michael, and basically tries to kill him. He is only stopped when Sawyer and Sayid pull them apart, and Jin is handcuffed to the fuselage. It seems impossible figuring out why, and there is a moment of ugliness where Michael tells them that Asians and blacks just don't get along. This is a pretty low point for Michael, no matter how he tries to soothe Walt's unease.
We don't understand why until an unlikely source talks to him---- Sun. Learning that she speaks English isn't as big a shock as, say, Locke's secret, but it gives you a hell of a turn anyway It certainly unsettles Michael, but he has enough good sense to keep her secret. However, he still bears Jin a lot of ill will when he finds out why. While sorting through the wreckage, Michael found a very expensive watch, and took it for himself. He didn't know it belonged to Sun's father, which made a token of honor in Jin's eye. Michael returns the watch, but he's major pissed, and he demonstrates when he uses an ax to cut Jin free. (In a nice bit of continuity, one of the cuffs will remain on Jin's wrist for the rest of the season, not getting removed until… well, we'll get to that later)
All of this is interesting, if a little primitive. Then again, we are on an island. A far more pressing story is going on concurrently. As he promised in the last episode, he leads a party to get water, and explore the caves. This party consists of Kate, Locke and Charlie. We're not sure why Charlie is so eager, and he's not in a great mood--- he calls Kate and Jack's open flirting 'verbal copulating', and Locke as the "Great White Hunter". His mood is not improved when while exploring the caves, he accidentally stands on a beehive. Despite their best efforts, the bees end up breaking loose, causing a general panic. While trying to escape, Kate and Jack find something far more interesting--- two skeletons with withered clothes hanging from their bones. And just by the app0earance, they could've been there for half a century. (I'm still not sure who exactly these people are, maybe we'll get some answers now.)
Jack then raises the issue that the survivors should move to the caves--- it has access to fresh water, jungle canopy providing shade, the cave protecting them against predators. The fact that it would put them right in the middle of whatever that 'monster' is doesn't cross his mind, but then again, no one's really safe from that. However, Jack doesn't get a unanimous consent for this. Sayid, for example is openly hostile to the idea, refusing to give up the idea of rescue. Michael agrees--- getting Walt off this island is his first priority. The bigger surprise is Kate. Given everything that rescue probably means, one would think she'd prefer to stay, but for some reason, she can not dig in. From now on, there is going to be a break between the survivors, though we don't know it.
While Kate and Jack bring the water back, Locke stays behind with Charlie, presumably to get to know him, but really to help. First, he surprises him by telling him that he recognizes Charlie from Drive Shaft. Even in his frazzled state, Charlie still gets pleasure out of this, and admits he's just as upset that he's missing his guitar, which he assumes he got lost in the wreckage. Finally, he confronts Charlie openly, telling him to hand over the drugs. Clearly he recognizes withdrawal when he sees it. Then he tells Charlie that the island might help him, but only if he gives something up. Again, we're inclined to dismiss this--- except moments after Charlie hands over his stash, he looks up and finds his guitar. Charlie's not out of the woods by a long shot, but this is his first step to freedom, after a fashion.
Considering that they're balancing several important stories, it's pretty impressive the way this episode manages to juggle them all. True, there's no sign of Claire (Emilie De Ravin's name isn't even in the credits) or Boone or Shannon, and Hurley's role is little more than a cameo. But there are good performance from almost everyone, particularly Yunjun Kim as Sun. I had never heard of her before this series (she was a major star in the Korean film industry), but her work is a revelation in the series. Sun is one of the most layered characters on the series, and considering that for most of the first season, we don't know what she's saying to anyone, this is a tough challenge, which she more than surpasses. I was more familiar with Daniel Dae Kim (he appeared on 24 and Angel prior to this series), but none of his previous work prepared me for this. To try and establish a character when dialogue is practically non existent is astonishing, ye he manages to do so, particularly in the earlier episodes. The two of them have a real chemistry and one wants them to find some kind of happiness, even if its stranded on this island
There are few things really wrong with the episode, save that it's getting a little tiresome for every 'Lost' to end with a musical montage. (This was an early flaw that has pretty much been fixed by the end of the first season) But at it's center is the fact the survivors, despite Jack's call for unity at the end of the last episode, are starting to fracture. And given what we found in the caves, maybe it's more than two groups on the island.