LOST Rewatch: Season 1, Episode 6 “House of the Rising Sun”

The mummified remains of 'Eve' found in the caves.

Sayid: “If we tell them what we know, we take away their hope.”


WHILE Jack leads the survivors in a move to the caves, this episode’s flashback centers around Sun and Jin. Deception is at the heart of this couple: Jin’s secret family background (the son of a peasant fisherman) and Sun’s infidelity and ability to speak English.

Before we delve into the meat of the episode, let’s explore the title: “House of the Rising Sun”. The ‘Rising Sun’ is a reference to the far East (the house from which the sun arises each morning). But if you’re my age, then you probably remember that Eric Burden and the Animals had a major hit record in 1964 with a song by the same name. Curiously, the song itself has a deep history of conflict and claim-staking. Burden asserts that the song comes from a 16th century English ballad about a Soho brothel and that English settlers brought the music to the new colony in America. American folksingers insist that the song has younger roots, going back only forty or fifty years before 1964 to the Eastern Kentucky region with the first known recording by Clarence Ashley and Gwen Foster in 1933.

This parallels nicely with ‘Adam and Eve’, the two, long dead bodies discovered inside the cave and aptly ‘nicknamed’ by Locke.  The nearly mummifed couple is unknown at this point on first view, but we who are ‘rewatching’ have the secret knowledge that this couple is indeed Jacob’s ‘adoptive’ mother and Jacob’s brother.  Jack determines that the state of the couple’s clothing indicates that the bodies date back only 40-50 years. We know better. The bodies go back to at least to before 1867, with Ricardo’s (Richard, aka ‘guyliner’) story as seen in Ab Aeterno (Season 6, Episode 9). More than likely, they date back much further, since the MIB killed his ‘mother’ while the ‘others’ (survivors of the shipwreck that brought the twins’ REAL mother to the island) still lived. Their attire in Season 6 (Greek style dress for ‘the mother’) may indicate an ancient timeline, so the bodies of ‘Adam and Eve’ are most likely centuries old, if not millennia.

Meanwhile, Locke leads Charlie on a ‘faith’ quest. Two points here: 1) Locke is once again demonstrating ‘insider’ knowledge about the island in this episode (calmly noting that Charlie is standing on a bee hive as if Locke knew it before even seeing it), and 2) Locke notices before anyone that Charlie is a junkie. Locke is looking into the souls of his fellow passengers, and even at this early point, he uses this to engender their affection and loyalty. Is Locke getting ‘messages’ from the Man in Black, or is he, in fact, directly under his control? This quest is all about temptation under the guise of assistance. If Charlie ‘quits’, then he’ll be forever grateful to Locke. If he doesn’t, then Locke (MIB?) can control him all the more through the drug.

The ‘control’ theme is echoed in Sun and Jin’s backstory. Jin marries Sun because he loves her deeply, but he must control her to keep her from knowing the truth about her gangster father.  Behind Jin’s agonizing bargain allows us to gain sympathy for him even at this point, but in our ‘rewatch’, we know even more, and Jin’s character is all the more tragic. We know ‘the truth’. We see the characters and their past/future choices as if observing from a divine viewpoint. Their choices have led to this very place, this very moment. ‘Truth versus Lies’ is the heart of the island: a place where people lie, cheat, fight, and kill.

Sayid’s line, “If we tell them the truth, we will take away their hope,” is profound in its simplicity and its depth. If the castaways knew ‘the truth’ about the island, about ‘Adam and Eve’, about Locke’s ‘secrets’, about the very reason their plane crashed, then they would indeed ‘lose all hope’. If their eyes were opened, if….

The closing song of the episode is one recorded by Willie Nelson, and its lyrics tell a tragic tale of a woman whose choices have led her to a tragic life, just like the fallen woman (the narrator’s ‘mother’) in the song “House of the Rising Sun”. This episode is all about choices: Charlie’s choice to quit his addiction. Kate’s choice to stay on the beach or become the new ‘Eve’ to Jack’s ‘Adam’ in the caves. Sun’s choice to remain silent or speak English and explain her husband’s rage.

But if the castaways knew the ‘truth’, all hope would fade. If their eyes were opened….then what?

Pay close attention then to the lyrics of the final song:

Willie Nelson’s “Are You Sure?”

Oh, look around you

Look down the bar from you

The lonely faces that you see

Are you sure that this is where you want to be?
These are your friends

But are they real friends?

Do they love you the same as me?

Are you sure that this is where you want to be?
You seem in such a hurry to live this kind of life

You’ve caused so many tears and misery
Look around you, take a good look

And tell me what you see

Are you sure that this is where you want to be?
Don’t let my tears persuade you, I had hoped I wouldn’t cry

But lately, teardrops seem a part of me
Oh, look around you, take a good look

At all the lonely used-to-be’s

Are you sure that this is where you want to be?

Next time, Episode 7: “The Moth”