Lost, Found: House of the Rising Sun

Jin, fishes, willing to club a fish dead. He has no problem getting his food direct from the source, no shock to the system as the island must be for many other survivors. But Jin has his own traits standing in the way of harmony. What pieces make up the whole puzzle? Even Locke, who’s been harmonious up until now, who also can kill an animal, will prove not to have every piece yet.

In flashback, Sun wants to elope to America, but Jin feels they can’t. The pressure to not break from the family, from culture, from tradition is very strong in Jin. Ironic, since Jin has fled his own past as a poor fisherman’s son while Sun is the one who seems more obviously entrenched in her family’s status and traditions. Jin sees the grass greener on the other side, but Sun has seen the other side up close and knows that all is not rosy.

Jin tries to kiill Michael. Why? Because Michael saw Jin topless? That’s our only guess as the fight happens. But it will turn out to be because of the watch from Sun’s father, a person he doesn’t really care about, that he hates. A job he abhors. Wealth and hording and violence that we aren’t supposed to value. Not to mention that he’s not even likely to ever get the watch back to the father’s intended destination. Jin is still very caught up in the rat race, carrying it with him to the island, failing to truly adapt to current circumstances.

The group tries to figure out why Jin attacked. Communication — or lack thereof — is crucial here. The language barrier prevents a resolution. Sun tries to pantomime, pointing to her wrist. Sayid says, “The cuffs stay on.” He assumes she is asking them to remove the handcuffs from Jin, but only in hindsight do we realize she was trying to tell them it was the watch. Even without differences in language, assumptions can still prevent true communication from taking place.

Jin agrees to work for Sun’s father, and he finally buys her the diamond engagement ring he’d hoped to. “You can’t afford this.” “I can now.” But at what price? She seems so happy to have the diamond. But would she be as happy if she knew where things would lead, if she knew what non-monetary price she and Jin would have to pay for the income earned by Jin working for her father?

In the cave, Kate finds a dead body. Jack sees that someone laid this body to rest, and that 40-50 years must have passed for the clothing to degrade as it has. Kate wonders how the body got here, and the only answer is to rhetorically wonder how the polar bears came to this island. Charlie imagines that these are the people who were here before the survivors, but he has to cover up for his slip, because he’s supposed to deceive, to keep people from knowing about the distress signal that already alerted some of the survivors that the island was deserted. As time goes on, the island appears less and less deserted. Obviously full of non-human life, over time it becomes clearer that this apparently out of the way and hostile place has supported human lives more often than the survivors imagine.

In a sense, it parallels the Great Forgetting that Daniel Quinn discusses, in which civilized cultures forget their tribal past. It seems surprising to discover indigenous cultures here and there, and early on there was no sense whatsoever that civilized people themselves evolved from cultures like these. The survivors may not have evolved from the island’s previous inhabitants, but they will need to gradually come to grips with the truth of their presence and their survival just the same. And coming to grips with it will greatly inform how they think of themselves and their own survival on this same island.

Sun tries to care for Jin, whose skin is now raw because of handcuffs. But he recoils: “Be careful!” He seems unable to accept her care. What more can Sun do to make Jin feel loved in this moment? Or is it simply Jin who must alter his own thinking? Jin’s past thinking led him to accept a job, supposed for the benefit of he and Sun as a couple. But what has it led to? Work hours so long that he gets her a puppy to keep her company in his absence. An income that can purchase a beautiful apartment and many nice things with which to fill it, but none so personal as the flower that was all he had to give her before he could afford a diamond — she even asks him if he recalls when all they had was a flower, clearly wistful about the memory. Later, the job literally puts blood on his hands. He does it “for them,” and yet in doing so, he hurts the relationship. Even on the island, he continues to cling to his responsibilities to her father, fighting for the watch. The handcuffs are on him because of that clinging. To Jin, accepting her care for his wrists may seem like an admission that he was wrong all along, that what he has done has only hurt them and has now even come back to hurt himself. Sun’s attempt at healing him can only be accepted if he acknowledges the pain of the entire path. For now, it is too much for him.

Jack suggests that the crowd at the beach is still waiting for a rescue, not thinking about their own safety. Interesting, this parallels the way many people dwell on long-run salvation at the expense of what may be best for them and others in the present. Sayid feels their best chance of survival is being spotted on the beach, that digging in in the valley is suicide. Jack says staying on the beach without drinkable water is suicide. Curious why Sayid, who has already displayed some of the keenest survival skills out of the whole group, would reject out of hand the idea that the group could survive inland. Is this truly his belief? Or will we discover that he is one of the people who has something truly meaningful to want to return to off the island, and perhaps it is his emotions talking?

Michael: “I got one priority right now, and that’s getting my kid off this island.” This will remain his priority. And where will it get him? He will eventually murder, and then burden his son with his guilt over it. He will alienate his son and become suicidal — and he will have to return to the island to redeem himself. So many will be forced to question their priorities, but Michael is not doing so now. He assumes the island is an undesirable place. In light of what we’ve already seen of his parenting, Michael’s assumptions about what is good for Walt seem to need questioning.

Sawyer asks Kate if she wants to go with the pessimists into the valley or stay on the beach and await rescue. Who is more pessimistic, though, the ones who want to fight for their own survival and rise to the challenge, or those who have no faith in their own abilities and feel that someone else must come to rescue them? This has a compelling parallel with discussion of pessimism in light of ecological issues. Boosters for economic growth and globalization believe it is pessimistic to talk about ecological limits. Yet the principles of ecology are precisely the principles about how organisms can live, about how species can live for huge periods of time. Aren’t those boosters the pessimists for thinking that people can’t live without unnecessarily high levels of material wealth? They claim they are optimists for believing that one day people will create technological solutions to our ecological problems, but aren’t they actually pessimists for believing that they themselves cannot find a way to live in ecological balance, for believing that such knowledge can only come in the future from people smarter than themselves? In both debates, those who’d favor civilization pose themselves as optimists and say the pessimists are those who would deny civilization, yet in both cases the opposite seems true.

Sun is asked, “Are you sure you and your husband can’t reconcile?” She is not. She is willing to totally leave behind her old life, even to let others think her dead so that she would be “free to move around.” We have a great amount of sympathy for Sun. We’ve seen he be dominated by Jin on the island, and we’ve seen her hurt by his absences and what he’s willing to do for living. Yet, how sad is it that she is willing to learn a new language — English — and leave Jin, even though the things she wants to leave him for are things that he himself feels bad about, things he himself doesn’t like to do and only does for her, for their benefit as a couple. Can she not learn a new way of talking to Jin, to get underneath their feelings and discover that they have common ground after all in abhorring what he does and wanting more for each other, in wanting to get back to that place where they were happy with flowers in the absence of diamonds? Sun doesn’t have it in her to fight, but rather than choose resolution, reconciliation, she chooses to flee. That choice makes her, in a way, more responsible even than Jin for the weakening of the relationship.

On the island, Sun’s first line in English, to Michael: “I need to talk to you.” She uses her alternate language as a way to reach out, to truly communicate, to attempt to meet a powerful need and resolve a situation. In the next flashback, about to leave Jin at the airport, crying out of regret for the situation, she looks back to Jin who holds up a flower, reminding her of the earlier one. This is enough to give her some hope. She can see that underneath it all he really does care about her and also wants to retrieve what they had earlier in their relationship. Communication and resolution end up being truly about “speaking the same language,” whether literally or metaphorically. When there is belief in the possibility of common ground, there is the best chance it can be found.

In the jungle, Locke asks Charlie if he wants his guitar back, even more than his drugs. Charlie says, “More than you know.” There is a profound juxtaposition here. The guitar vs. the drugs. His talent vs. his addiction. His strengths vs. his fear. Charlie knows who he is and what he’s good at. The guitar is far more important to him than the drugs, even though he may desperately need a fix.

The group splits, Jack bringing people away from the beach to water inland. It is the first but not the last time there will be a division, a rift. Here, Locke and Jack are united. Later, Jack and Locke will themselves lead the divided parts of the group, with Jack remaining on the beach and Locke going farther inland to the barracks. Only as the ramifications of their decisions become apparent can we have any idea whose judgment was better. More importantly, only as people react to those ramifications can we discover who is willing to acknowledge that they may have had poor judgment and take a new course. The jury remains out on all counts.

Lost, Found archive – browse all posts
RSS feed iconLost, Found feed – subscribe via RSS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *