Lost Exegesis (House of the Rising Sun) — Part 1
It’s been a while since we had one of these LOST Exegesis posts! So sorry for the delay. It couldn’t be helped. And not just the nearly two months since the last one of these — I had trouble accessing Eruditorum Press last night. Anwyays, enough excuses. It’s been a while. As such, please remember that Part 1 of the essay is spoiler-free. For those who’ve seen the entire series, the second part of the essay, titled “Through the Looking Glass” (and appearing next week in the second part of this massive post), applies foreknowledge to the episode at hand.
So, on to the episode at hand. House of the Rising Sun is complex. Not to say that it’s difficult to understand; on the contrary, it’s rather straightforward, at first glance. It’s here we discover that whatever preconceptions we had about Sun and Jin, they were a bit wrong – these characters are not crass stereotypes – she’s the spoiled rich girl, he’s the poor nice boy corrupted by her father, who would have guessed that? It may have been Walkabout when I fell in love with the show, but it’s House of the Rising Sun that first earned my respect.
As we’d correctly surmise from the Opening Eye of the episode, this episode is Sun-centric. But there’s a lot more this episode’s plate. While Sun’s Flashbacks and her husband’s current predicament on the Island form the primary threads of the episode, there’s also the trip to the Caves, which also ends up split in two, with Jack and Kate’s early friendship tested by differing philosophies regarding the camp’s next big decision, while Locke takes an interest in Charlie. There’s even a thread breaded in that’s devoted to Michael. So there’s a balance of five stories, and even more characters to juggle, all in forty-five minutes on a network budget. On top of that, we get another piece of mythology with the skeletons found at the Caves, some new takes on previously invoked symbols, continued thematic concerns, and several more cultural references to untangle.
It’s three episodes in a row now where we’ve started with an Opening Eye. This time it’s Sun’s. And this time it’s a Left Eye, as opposed to the Right Eyes of Jack and Locke. So from the outset, we’d anticipate an episode that’s Sun-centric, and we’d be correct; at the same time, however, the switch from right to left should harken something different, symbolically, than what we’ve seen before, given the dichotomy. And this is definitely an episode about dichotomy.
Previously we’ve identified the Opening Eye with some kind of enlightenment, and I’m happy to continue doing so. But let’s also consider that the Eye itself is often used as a way of describing certain celestial bodies. In Egyptian mythology, for example, the Right Eye represents the Sun, and the Left Eye represents the Moon. The sun shines during the day, making everything visible; the Moon shines at night, and still leaves much in darkness. And then there’s the matter of these two bodies being gendered – the Sun is typically male, the Moon typically female (though not always, obviously).…