SEPTEMBER 26, 2010
AIRDATE: OCTOBER 20, 2004
At the point it aired, “House Of The Rising Sun” was the weakest episode of Lost in my opinion (which is kind of funny when you consider the episode begins with Kate asking Jack about his tattoos – a question that will be answered in the ABSOLUTE worst episode of the show’s entire run). It’s technically fine, and the island stuff is good, but the flashbacks are just kind of dull, whereas the previous ones were just as if not more compelling than the island activity.
The problem is that Jin and Sun weren’t as interesting in their pre-crash life as they eventually became. The other back-stories were sort of unique or at least presented a compelling mystery, but Jin and Sun... had a troubled marriage due to his job. And even though they hide the nature of what he does for her father, it’s pretty obvious, so when they get around to spelling it out it’s hardly a big revelation. And the flashbacks come down to whether or not Sun will take the plane or escape. Spoiler: she takes the plane. Duh. And this would continue to be an issue for me; very few of the Jin and/or Sun-centric episodes ever felt as strong as the others. The one about their pregnancy struggle was one exception, but most were at least a hair or two below average.
Like I said, the island stuff works on this one. We start to get glimpses of something that will be a major element of the show – the idea of “two” camps. Jack wants everyone to move to the cave, Sayid (and Kate) want to stay on the beach so that any possible rescue chance will not be missed. Due to the fact that this is a TV show and thus conflict is needed, no one bothers to suggest rotating shifts where a few folks will go to the beach to keep the fire going and look for a ship or plane, but that’s OK. What makes it work is that neither man is “wrong”, and that will also continue to be a major theme when it comes to the group splitting over an issue – you’re always able to see each side’s point, without anyone ever being completely wrong or right.
We also get yet another beach fight, with Jin going apeshit and beating up Michael, only to be broken up by Sayid (who tackles Jin in spectacular fashion) and Sawyer, for some reason (he seems like the kind of guy who’d let them fight, especially since he doesn’t like anyone at this point). So far every episode has featured two characters coming to blows, which I think Hurley makes a joke about in one of the next couple episodes. It’s sort of contrived that Sun doesn’t explain what’s going on to Michael sooner though; I guess she wanted to wait until her flashbacks were done.
It’s also the first episode where a main character doesn’t appear, in this case Claire. So far the show had done a good job of giving everyone a moment or two to themselves, even if they weren’t significant to that episode’s story. But she’s MIA, and as the show proceeded, you’d have episodes like the ones at the beginning of Season 3, where you don’t see anyone besides the three captured by the Others. In fact we might have already passed the point where you’d see every character in a regular episode (meaning, not counting season finale/premieres), as we have characters in the caves and some on the beach, not to mention a steadily growing storyline of what else is on the island.
And you can tell the show is getting more complicated, because even though this is only the 6th episode (5th if you count the pilot as 1), the “previously, on Lost” thing at the top of the show runs a full minute and a half! That has to be a record; even shows that were MORE convoluted (Prison Break) never topped 45 seconds. But there’s some irony about that – the show was still at a stage where someone could jump on board and the “previously” thing would actually be enough for them to know what was going on. By season 5, they didn’t even really need to bother – the only ones still watching were the die hard fans (even the finale didn’t set any ratings records, rare for a show of this stature).
Oh, and this one introduces Adam and Eve, a mystery that would be solved in the most annoying way possible in a very (too) late season six episode. On the other hand, this is the 2nd episode in a row without any lingering mysteries that Darlton never bothered to explain, so that’s good. And hey, even a sub-par Lost episode (at least, for the first 3 seasons) was still better than anything else on network TV at the time.
Where are we?