Originally aired February 23, 2005
Sun’s flashback in “House of the Rising Sun“ paints a very scary portrait of Jin. In fact, her flashback suggests he might even be a killer. Jin comes home one night, covered in blood, and cryptically tells Sun that he does what her father asks him to do, and Sun knows very well the kinds of things her father asks people to do. Couple this with Jin’s white-hot temper and jealous behavior on the island and an image begins to emerge of Jin as this murderous, controlling bully. But is he? Is he really?
Jin stands before Mr. Paik in his very impressive office, a nervous wreck. He’s there to ask for Sun’s hand in marriage, but the problem is, Sun comes from a wealthy, powerful family, whereas Jin? He comes from a fishing village. But he’s got that ambition, baby, look in his eyes! This week he’s moppin’ floors, next week it’s the fries. And one day? He’s planning on owning a restaurant and hotel. So what does your father think of the marriage, Jin? Not much, since he’s dead. Iiiinteresting. So. What would you be willing to do for Sun? Would you go so far as to work for Mr. Paik? No doubt! Well, if that’s the case, why on earth should Mr. Paik allow his daughter to marry someone who would give up his dream so easily? I mean, what about the restaurant and the hotel and the whatnot? Ah, but you see, Sun is Jin’s dream. And with that? Sun is sold to the highest bidder! I mean, Mr. Paik grants permission to Jin to marry his daughter.
And it’s such a happy wedding! Sun is gorgeous, Jin is handsome, and both are blissful. But there’s no honeymoon in store for them. Sorry! Have to work for Daddy! Maybe in 6 months or so. He places a white flower in her hair, and all is forgiven.
Lost note: Kate and Kevin had to postpone their honeymoon, too. Sadly, for them, they never had the chance to go anywhere. Of course, it was because they were on their honeymoon in Australia that Rose and Bernard crashed onto the island, so maybe going on a honeymoon isn’t necessarily good news either.
Lost note 2: The white flower: remember that Jin gave Sun a white flower when they were dating, and then later, when she’s on the verge of leaving him, he presents her with another flower. It’s a symbol of their love and the non-material simplicity of it. But you knew that already. Interestingly, flowers are laden with symbolism, representing everything from purity, to love, to wisdom, to rebirth …
Lost note 3: I’m channeling commenter Jane here, but the mirror: this happiness will be reversed soon. Sun will be duplicitous. We’ll discuss this later.
So, Mr. Paik? Not the easiest dude to work for. But he hands out promotions pretty willy-nilly. In fact, he promotes Jin to “message-deliverer,” in no time at all. First message? To Byung Han, the Secretary of Environmental Safety. Message: Mr. Paik’s very displeased. Easy enough! Can do!
Jin heads over to Byung Han’s house, where Mr. Han is watching television programs about Hurley with his daughter and their Shar-Pei. Jin explains who he works for, and Mr. Han is clearly freaked out. But much less so, when Jin explains that he’s only there to deliver the above message. He’s so happy, in fact, that Jin didn’t just shoot him on the spot, that he grabs his daughter’s dog and gives it to Jin as a gesture of his gratitude. DON’T TELL ELLEN. [Ed. Note from the Future: I literally have no idea what this means.]
Lost note: What up with all the giving away of dogs that aren’t yours? Michael gives Brian’s dog to Walt in “Special.” Prolly doesn’t mean anything, but it’s entertaining.
Lost note 2: Yes, that’s Hurley on the television. Very cute. We don’t know yet that he has won the lottery, but if you knew Korean, you would have learned it in this episode:
WOMAN’S VOICE ON TV: Tomorrow …
MAN’S VOICE ON TV: Someone is going to get rich … He was living an ordinary life up till now … But everything is going to change now. Most people dream the numbers …
WOMAN’S VOICE: Tonight …
TV SUBTITLES: Lucky Winner … Los Angeles, California
Right, but this wasn’t exactly what Mr. Paik had in mind. Which he explains to Jin just as Jin attempts to sit down to a romantic dinner with his poor, lonely wife. Seems that Jin didn’t deliver his message forcefully enough, and Mr. Paik’s factory has been shut down. NOT COOL. So what’s going to happen is Jin will drive this other dude back to Mr. Han’s home where this other dude will properly “deliver a message.” Jin is to watch and learn.
And in case we missed the point that “delivering a message” is a euphemism for “killing,” as Jin drives this other dude back to Mr. Han’s house, he snaps on some gloves and loads his gun. Jin, being no dummy, sees what’s coming. So before this other dude can march into Mr. Han’s home and kill him in front of his wife and daughter, Jin leaps out of the car and runs into the house where he grabs Mr. Han and yells that the factory will open tomorrow, and then begins beating him up quite badly. And as Jin smashes this man’s face, he leans in and whispers to Mr. Han that he just saved his life. Message received! Loud and clear!
Lost note: The name “Byung,” as in Byung Han, may be related to (but, listen, I’m no Asian expert so feel free to jump in here and correct me) a form of Tibetan astrology called “Byung-rtsis.”
The Byung-rtsis or Elemental system uses no mathematical calculations yet is considered to be the best way to forecast one’s future happiness or misfortune. The elements of Iron, Water, Fire, Earth and Wood are characterized by the- function of cutting, wetness, heat, solidity and movement respectively.
When the elements are undisturbed, one experiences happiness. When they are in a state of disequilibrium one suffers and experiences illness or even death. A newborn child’s horoscope is cast according to the elemental system based on the year, month, day and time of birth. In addition the child’s respective element, animal sign, birth Parkha, birth Mewa and the parent’s elements and signs are considered. These are coordinated with the five elements to create simple or complex calculations resulting in a chart marked with an “O” mark or white stone, denoting auspicious combinations; or an “X” or black stone to denote inauspicious combinations.
White stones and black stones, huh? (Hey … wasn’t that in Sun’s flashback episode?) It’s interesting especially in regard to the fact that the choice that Jin makes here, to not allow real harm to come to Byung, has a reverberating effect on his life in the form of his relationship with Sun. Had Jin just stayed in the car that night, he wouldn’t have come home with blood on his hands, and perhaps things would have been different. White stone? Or Black stone? Man in the white suit, or the man in the black suit? Careful, your choice has consequences for the rest of your life …
Returning home having completed this ultimately heroic act, Jin is confronted by Sun in the scene that we first visited in “House of the Rising Sun,” wherein, Jin, hands bloodied, rushes into the bathroom to cleanse himself. Sun follows, and demands to know what he has done, what he does for her father. Things become heated, Jin pushes her away, Sun slaps him in return. But when all is said and done, Jin just can’t bring himself to tell Sun the whole truth, so he tells her the partial truth: he does what her father tells him to do. He does it for them. And then when she leaves, he faces himself in the mirror and cries.
Lost note: What does it mean that both Sawyer and Jin beat up government officials? Byung Han is the Secretary of Environmental Safety, and Sawyer gets himself kicked out of Australia for getting into a fight with Warren Truss, the for-reals Minister of Trade in Australia. Mean anything? Probably not, but lord knows I could spin off a whole thing about the significance of it.
Lost note 2: Pay attention to the mirror. Jin comes face-to-face with what he has become, and he needs to make a reversal in his life.
Where does he go from here? Why, back to his roots … back to his father, who, as it turns out, is not dead. Jin, now clad in the flashy clothes of a businessman, heads down a rickety pier, toward his father’s modest fishing boat. Reunited, his father is delighted to see his son. And Jin asks his father’s forgiveness — which his father gives without hesitation.
As Jin helps his father on the boat, the two talk things over. Jin tells him a little about Sun, and then reveals that they’re having problems. Seems they don’t talk anymore — because he can’t tell her about her father. And there are things that Jin has done … but Mr. Kwon assures him that he is his son — it doesn’t matter what he has done. Jin just wants to start over, but can’t leave his responsibilities. He then mentions that he is supposed to deliver some watches to Mr. Paik’s associates in Sydney and Los Angeles, and his father urges him to go, and let it be the last thing he does for Mr. Paik — go to America and save your marriage.
*sniff* I love Mr. Kwon.
On the island, things between Sayid and Shannon appear to be moving right along. The two are busy tying knots as a means of helping Michael with his the raft he’s building (Excuse me, I have a question? Where’d they get the twine? Is twine something that is readily available on airplanes? Did they make the twine? Was someone traveling with a bunch of twine? WHEREFORE THE TWINE?), and flirting shamelessly. Shannon suggests that they get together on a Saturday night with some rope and see what happens.
Lost note: So Sayid expresses amazement at Shannon’s ability to tie knots, which happens in “Greatest Hits” with Rose and Bernard. Rose, like Shannon, turns out to know her way around knot-tying. Knots, unsurprisingly, are symbols of union, fixation, or in a negative sense, can represent blockage. They also represent infinity or longevity, in that they are an unbroken line of sorts. But, here I think, we’re going to have to go with the union symbolism: Shannon and Sayid are “tying the knot” so to speak.
And, because Sayid is a traditional sort of guy, he approaches Shannon’s one male relative to explain his intentions toward Boone’s sister, as an act of respect. Boone, however, lashes out at him and explains that Shannon likes the older dudes — the ones that can take care of her. You know, like Sayid. And as soon as she gets what it is she needs from him, she’ll leave him and that’ll be that.
Sayid, for some reason, takes this to heart and promptly goes marching over to Shannon who is struggling to put up her tent, and tells her that perhaps she should make another friend to “help her put up her tent,” if you know what I mean. And Shannon immediately knows what her meddling brother has been up to.
Furious, she heads into the jungle looking for Boone, only to find Locke being creepy and Lockey and skinning a rat. EWW, GROSS! shouts Shannon. WORD, shouts Therese. Anyway, Boone isn’t with Locke, so Shannon asks Locke to give Boone a message: to stay out of her business and blah blah blah has something to say blah say it to her face and blah.
Locke stops her ranting with his whole old creepy man eating rats on the mountain shtick and asks her if she likes Sayid. Because if she does, what does that have to do with Boone. And anyway, yelling at Boone only gives him what her wants: her attention. See, the thing is, Locke explains, everyone gets a new life on this island — maybe it’s time Shannon starts hers. Which she does later that night when she finds Sayid on the beach and plants a big ol’ kiss on him. She’s starting her new life right now. Go get ’em, Tiger! Rrowwr!
But not everyone is finding romantic harmony on the island. Sun and Jin? Have A LOT of issues to deal with. For instance, Sun is on a tropical island and she figures, well, I’m at the beach, might as well enjoy it. Where’d I leave my bikini? And as she frolics in the sand, Jin sees her and is displeased. He rushes over to cover up her not-nakedness, which, unsurprisingly starts a fight between the two of them. Jin gets a little too pushy, so Michael intervenes. And for his trouble, Sun slaps him squarely across the face. Yeowch!
Jin accuses Sun of having something going on with Michael. Bah.
Sun later approaches Michael who is busy at work on his raft and apologizes for slapping him. The thing is, she was actually saving Michael by doing so — he doesn’t know what her husband is capable of. WHATEVS, says Michael.
Sun leaves and Michael continues working on his raft, and he tries to get Walt all excited about going to New York and seeing the Flatiron Building, which, granted, is a lovely building, but maybe isn’t the stuff of dreams for a 10-year-old. Walt? Less than enthused. Jack stops by and informs Michael that folks are starting to stress out about who will be going on the raft with him. Michael explains that there’s only room for 4 people, and there’s only one opening left, now that Sawyer’s taken the third spot. “Feelin’ left out, Doc?” snarks Sawyer who then explains that he bought his way on the raft with the stuff from his stash. So who’ll be #4?
Jin, in the meantime, takes his anger out on the golf course (or rather on some rocks on the golf course), where Hurley finds him. Thinking that perhaps Jin would like to take his mind off things, Hurley has brought some fishing rods. Interested? But Jin ignores him, so Hurley leaves in a snit: Jin wants to be an outsider? Fine.
That evening, Kate confronts Sun about Jin’s behavior — she just doesn’t understand how she can let Jin treat her this way … Sun explains that he wasn’t always this way, he used to make her feel beautiful. Kate asks what changed him, and before Sun can answer, OH NOES! FIRE! THE RAFT! IT BURNS! HELP!
As Kate and Sun rush to the fire, they are met by Michael who demands to know where Jin is, because he knows, HE JUST KNOWS that Jin set the raft on fire! WHERE IS HE?
Well, as it turns out, Jin is at the caves, trying to get into the medical supplies, because he’s burnt his hands. And this is where Sun finds him. She asks if he burnt the raft, and then believing that he did, yells at him that Michael was trying to get them off the island. “Michael,” Jin spits as he storms off into the jungle where he sleeps for the night. And that’s where Sawyer discovers him and drags him back to the beach.
Where he’s very warily received as you can imagine. Michael and Sawyer in particular are pretty convinced that Jin is their arsonist, but Jack urges caution and restraint. Michael points to Jin’s burnt hands as evidence, and as the survivors argue amongst themselves, their voices become an unintelligible cacophony to Jin, who turns to Sun and says something in Korean (“You don’t believe me either,” specifically).
Michael demands from Sun to know what he said, but Sun is still maintaining the illusion that she doesn’t know English, so she doesn’t respond. Jin keeps talking to her in Korean (“I didn’t do it … I didn’t do it, I didn’t start the fire, do you understand?”) which only infuriates Michael since he can’t understand him. So Michael punches him. Poor Jin falls, gets back up, and continues speaking to Sun (“I tried to stop the fire, that’s what happened to my hands.”) which makes Michael punch him again, and Jin gets up AGAIN, and Michael gets ready to punch Jin AGAIN, when Sun! In English! Yells, “STOP IT!”
SHOCK AMONGST THE SURVIVORS! And Sun tells them all that he didn’t burn the raft. In fact, his hands are burnt because he tried to put out the fire. Jin may be many things, but he’s not a liar, Sun explains. But Sawyer points out that Sun, what with the lying about speaking English and all, may not be the most reliable source.
And that’s when Locke appears out of nowhere to proclaim that Sun isn’t lying — Jin is innocent. See, here’s the thing: Jin and Michael may not get along, but why would Jin go so far as to destroy their one chance of getting off this island? The survivors have been so busy blaming each other for everything that goes wrong, that they are ignoring the obvious culprits: the Others. Who, lest they forget, have attacked them, sabotaged them, abducted them, and, oh yeah, murdered them. So, why wouldn’t they burn a raft? Seems right up their alley.
With irrefutable logic like that, everyone disperses, leaving Jin and Sun alone. But not for long, as Jin walks off, leaving her behind as well.
And where’d he go? He’s in the caves, packing his things when she arrives. She begs him to tell her why he didn’t just tell her he didn’t burn the raft … why they don’t talk anymore? But Jin won’t respond. And as he turns his back on her, she tries a new tack: she speaks to him in English: “I was going to leave you. I was going to get away. But you made me change my mind. You made me think that you still loved me. … I want to go back to the beginning. Can’t we — just start all over?” And somehow, Jin finally understands her and tells her in English that it’s too late …
And then he leaves. Sad. But not that sad, because, you know, where is he going to go? To the beach? Big whoop.
Now that the raft has been burnt, Michael is going to have to start over. But, the good news is Walt and Michael bond over rebuilding the raft. Yay!
And later that night, Michael has left Walt behind in the caves as he continues to work on his project. And that’s where Locke finds him, alone with the backgammon board. Apparently, Hurley owes Walt some $83,000 at this point. Locke is bemused, and agrees to play with Walt, even though he doesn’t have that kind of cash. They begin to play, and Walt rolls what he’s looking for (surprise.) and Locke takes the opportunity to ask Walt why he burnt down the raft. WHAT??!??
After assuring Walt that he’s not going to tell on him, Walt confesses to Locke that he spent his life moving around, and he’s tired of it. He likes it here on the island. (And, can I just say as a military brat: TRUE THAT, WALT. True. That.) Hey Walt? Locke likes it here, too.
And on the beach? Michael is struggling to rebuild when Jin approaches with an armload of bamboo: Boat. he pronounces. And then he helps Michael. And that’s how Jin and Michael became BFFs!!
We wrap up this episode with yet another cheeseball montage sequence to yet another Damien Rice song, except that it isn’t at all. It’s actually perhaps one of the best visual jokes of the episode: the music? In Hurley’s CD player. And his batteries die mid-song leaving us with just the ambient sounds of the island. How meta!
Alright, where to begin? How about with the heart of the episode: Jin and Sun’s relationship, and it’s dissolution. We begin with Jin asking Sun’s father for her hand in marriage, establishing a very traditional relationship between Jin, Sun, and her father. And by that, I mean, the act of asking a man for permission to marry his daughter is (and pardon me as I step on my feminist high horse here) equating the daughter, the woman with property that is exchanged between the men. I know, I know, it’s tradition and about respect and all that, but I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that the scene of Jin asking Mr. Paik for Sun’s hand is juxtaposed with Jin freaking out because Sun’s wearing a bikini on the beach.
Additionally, I think it’s interesting that we have the minor theme of Sayid and Shannon’s relationship. Sayid, of course, approaches Boone to tell him that he is interested in dating Shannon, as a courtesy, he explains. Again, we have men talking about the fate of a woman who isn’t present at the time. She’s an object that they are discussing. And Boone uses this as a chance to undermine Sayid and Shannon’s relationship by filling Sayid’s head with information about her. Even though Sayid was merely approaching Boone as a “courtesy,” Boone, like Mr. Paik, pulls the strings (or at least comes close to doing so) on the future of their relationship.
And then — related, but not in this episode — you have Desmond in “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” asking Mr. Widmore for his daughter’s hand in marriage as well. Widmore does not give his permission, and indeed, Desmond does not go forward with the proposal. By seeking permission for or acceptance of a relationship from a third party, the couple gives that third party power over their relationship.
It’s Shannon who regains power by making the first move and kissing Sayid, shutting Boone out of the relationship. Sun and Jin are involved in a similar struggle to eliminate Mr. Paik from their relationship, but it’s much much trickier. Mr. Paik becomes a bigger force in their relationship because of a complicated situation: Sun approaches her father for money to pay off Jin’s mother, a prostitute, to prevent her from revealing Jin’s parentage. In exchange for the money, Jin works as one of Mr. Paik’s henchmen. His work frightens Sun, who pulls away and decides to leave him and takes English lessons in preparation. It’s during these lessons that she has the affair with Jae Lee, which Jin knows about, even if he doesn’t know for certain, and whom he’s supposed to kill (but doesn’t) on Mr. Paik’s orders (in a bit of a replay of the events with Mr. Han in this episode). And it is the fact of this affair that haunts the relationship on the island. We will learn later, in “The Glass Ballerina,” that Jin isn’t just being a stereotype of the domineering Asian husband in this episode — he has cause to not trust Sun.
And thus we’re back to that scene in which Jin is freaking out about Sun wearing a bikini. We aren’t yet armed with the fact that Sun has been unfaithful to Jin, and instead his actions come off as overly possessive. Which is interesting because in one of the flashback moments, the one that takes place shortly before their wedding reception, Sun is getting dressed in front of a mirror, and she asks Jin, “Will you button me up?” His response? “Do I have to?” Now, yes, there is the flirty suggestion that this newlywed husband doesn’t want his wife dressed for obvious reasons, but there is also a hint there that Jin is originally not so inclined to button Sun up. That he’s not the kind of man who would order his wife to button up her sweater while on a tropical island, and maybe not the kind of man that would be upset at seeing his wife in a bikini in public. The lies (pardon the pun I’m about to make here) closed and clothed them off from one another. On their wedding day, she stood before him unclothed, and he didn’t want to cover her up; but this is reversed later, after all the lies and all the miscommunication between the two of them, he can’t bare to see her so … well, bare.
Their problems don’t stem from her lack of modesty or his possessiveness. Their problems stem from their inability to communicate. This episode is riddled with references to talking, to communicating, and Jin and Sun’s inability to do so. When Jin returns home from Han’s home, covered in blood, Sun’s first words to him are: “Please talk to me.” When Jin packs his things in the caves, Sun pleads with him: “What are you doing? Please answer me. So you’re going where — to the beach? Is that how you’ve chosen to deal with me? Why didn’t you just tell me you didn’t burn the raft? Why won’t you speak to me, Jin? What have I done to deserve this? When did we stop talking?” And in Jin’s flashback, during his visit with his father, Jin explains that his relationship with Sun is suffering because they don’t talk anymore. There are so many lies between them: the status of his father; that she knows the identity of his mother; what is that he does for her father; that it is him not her that is infertile; that she has learned English; that she’s had an affair; that he may know she had an affair… the lies have choked any communication between the two of them.
Which, of course, is ironic since she’s the only one with whom he can communicate on the island. And I think this is the whole point of the “Sun not-so-secretly knows English” story line — it dramatizes the lack of communication between Sun and Jin. She speaks his language, she’s the only one that can save him, who can speak for him when the rest have set upon him, and yet, she doesn’t understand him or know him as well as she thinks she does. She assumes the worst about him both on the island — believing that he is capable of setting the fire, and off the island when she assumes he is capable of killing.
The idea that a woman speaks a man’s “language,” and yet doesn’t really know him is interesting because in “Outlaws,” Kate assures Jack that she will get the missing gun back from Sawyer because she “speaks his language.” In fact, language and the inability to communicate, plays a huge role on the show. There are a number of instances wherein people on the island need the aid of a translator, for instance: the survivors with Danielle’s transmission, Sayid with Danielle’s maps, Walt with Hurley’s comic books, Jin any number of times so far. And the irony is that there has always been someone there that could provide that translation, had they just asked. The ability to communicate exists, they just need to utilize it. And this doesn’t just extend to different languages, even those who speak the same language have a nasty tendency to not listen to one another and leap to the wrong conclusions. Just look at Walt and Michael …
The full title of this episode, of course, is really “Lost in Translation,” which is an allusion to the expression “the meaning was lost in translation,” and to the 2003 film about two Americans who create an unlikely friendship while in Tokyo together. They’re drawn together because they discover their similarities once they’re thrown into this foreign culture, foreign language, foreign world. Not unlike Sun and Jin on the island. Jin cleaves to Sun on the island, determined to keep them separated from the rest of the survivors: and their shared language, the giant barrier that keeps the others away, is what keeps the two of them together. Thus it’s ironic that Sun’s ability to speak English — the ability that would allow them to join the survivors and be a part of the group is what drives a wedge between Sun and Jin. And it’s even MORE IRONIC Sun’s ability to speak English, and Jin’s inability to, is the incentive that drives Jin to join the group, and to make nice with the one man with whom he was so incapable of getting along.
There are a number of references to solitude in this episode. Sayid teases Shannon that he worried she might end up a spinster, and she adds the bit about spending her Saturday nights alone tying knots. Sawyer teases Jack about feeling “left out” in regard to the raft, and Hurley, grumpy that Jin has rebuffed his efforts to hang out, huffs “Okay, you want to be an outsider? It’s your business.” Add to this little things like, oh, I don’t know, an episode entitled “Solitary,” or the comment Sayid made to Charlie in last week’s episode about how Charlie needs to remember that he’s not alone, and quit pretending to be, and you begin to see that the theme of solitude and its detrimental effects on the community is a bit of a theme here. Jack’s “live together, die alone,” versus Sawyer’s “every man for himself.” It all comes back around.
And it is a particularly important issue on an island populated with another group of people who seem fairly determined to attack our survivors. The survivors need to begin to see themselves as a unit, as a community and stop attacking one another. This episode, in which Jin enters the fold finally, is something of a turning point, what with Locke’s big “we’re not the only ones on this island, and we all know it,” speech. Sawyer, even, is cooperating. For now. What’s interesting to me, going back to the first part of this discussion, is that Jin turns his back on his wife, and rejoins the male fold. He makes amends with Michael. Which, for those of you keeping score at home, mirrors Jin making amends with his father, about whom he lied out of shame.
Which brings us to the obligatory discussion of the Hero’s Journey. We have three of the major events in the Hero’s Journey being represented here, and they all are from the “Initiation” phase: The Marriage, The Temptress, and the Atonement with the Father. Before we get to the Atonement of the Father bidness — Marriage and Temptress:
The ultimate trial is often represented as a marriage between the hero and a queenlike, or mother-like figure. This represents the hero’s mastery of life (represented by the feminine) as well as the totality of what can be known. When the hero is female, this becomes a male figure.
Woman as Temptress
His awareness expanded, the hero may fixate on the disunity between truth and his subjective outlook, inherently tainted by the flesh. This is often represented with revulsion or rejection of a female figure.
What’s fascinating is that in this episode, we have Sun representing both the wife/queen figure, which represents the “mastery of life,” or the feminine, and the temptress. Jin believes that he has control over his wife (sorta — he knows more than he’s letting on) and when he learns for certain that he doesn’t he rejects her. Of course, careful observers would have noted this perhaps, and noted it when the issue of whether or not Sun had an affair came up. I, unfortunately, was not a careful observer.
But! Back to Atonement with the Father. This is a wonderful example of it, wherein Jin returns to his father and seeks forgiveness. And because this is actually the parable of the prodigal son, forgiveness is granted unconditionally. You might remember that I discussed the parable of the lost sheep in “Tabula Rasa.” It is one of three parables regarding lost items that Jesus shares in Luke 15; which include the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. In the parable of the lost son, or the prodigal son, a man’s younger son leaves his father’s home and goes out partying for a while until he runs out of cash and finds himself herding swine (which of course is the lowest of the low, as pigs are treyf –verboten — unclean). And after a while he looks at himself, and is like, WHAT HAVE I BECOME?! And he rushes home to his father, who welcomes him with open arms. His older brother, who had been good and stayed home helping his parents out, is like YO! WHAT. UP? I forgo the boozing and the chicks and NOTHING. Bubba, here, parties it up, wastes all his money, and you are thrilled to see him? UN. COOL. But his father, famously, says: “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.” Jin, who has rejected his father, left home and made his fortune, only to stop, look at himself and wonder what he has become, goes home again, where he is accepted with joy and love instead of recrimination. In fact, his father is the one who urges Jin to go even further away — to leave him even further behind, so as to start over with his wife and make a new life.
I Looooove Mr. Kwon. Have I mentioned that?
Jin tells his father that he wants to start over, which brings us to redemption issues, rebirth, etc. In the Hero’s Journey, so much of the monomyth is about moving from one state of existence: for instance, from childhood/adolescence to another state: adulthood, or from a non-spiritual existence to a spiritual existence. To become an adult, one must journey away from the familiar, the childhood home, and into the unfamiliar, the world of grown-ups which at first blush is scary and terrifying. Jin, we learn, left his childhood home, and left his father to join the ranks of adulthood. But it was something of a false start for him because he essentially traded in one father, Mr. Kwon for another father-figure, Mr. Paik. He never sets out on his own for real. Thus, Mr. Kwon urges Jin to leave his father-in-law behind, because he knows that this is the only way that Jin can salvage his marriage: his grown-up life. And the island, so far from anywhere, and apparently pretty inaccessible even to someone as powerful as Mr. Paik (presumably — we still don’t know who it is on their way to the island next season), is as good a place as any for Jin and Sun to start anew.
It’s a good place for everyone to start a new life, as Locke points out to Shannon. And, we need to be clear here, “starting over” is different from “going back.” Sun tells Jin that she wants to “go back to the beginning,” a sentiment that Shannon expresses in “Hearts and Minds” after she and Boone sleep together. “Going back” is regressive by nature, it’s retreating instead of embracing the new state. But “starting over” indicates moving ahead, moving on to the next stage. It’s something of a fine distinction, I know, but there’s a difference. There’s a reason the expression “you can never go home again,” is such a lasting cliche: you can’t expect to be able to return to childhood and have it be the same, and the survivors can’t return home. They can only move forward. But first, we have to burn away the past, because we can’t go back. Burn, raft, burn!
One last note: I think it’s curious that both Jin and Sun choose to hurt someone as a means of protecting them. Jin beats Mr. Han to prevent him from being killed, and Sun slaps Michael to prevent Jin from attacking him. What does this mean? Could it be important? Was something being done on the island for the greater good of all humanity at the cost of some human lives? In The Lost Experience, The Hanso Foundation unleashes a virus on a village, with the expectation that it would kill off 33% of the population, with the intention of (perhaps) saving the world. Is this something that is important, or merely a little repeated motif for kicks?
Alright, kids, I’m going to be taking a week off to celebrate Halloween with Little T 1 and Little T 2. Have a great Halloween, and I’ll meet you back here on November 7th.
Lost originally aired on ABC and is now available to stream on Hulu and IMDb.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.