Sun and Jin are clumped together as characters so often in later seasons of the show, viewers often forget that they both have distinct story arcs. This episode belongs solely to Sun’s point of view, while “…In Translation,” later in the season, tells the same events from Jin’s perspective. It is necessary to view both characters and their journeys separately, considering why Jacob brought each of them for a life on the island.
Knowing the fate of their relationship, it is surprising to me how mean Jin comes off in this episode. We see him try to kill Michael with no hesitation, order Sun around on the beach, and witness from Sun’s perspective his violent jobs in the Paik Corporation. Solely considered from this standpoint, Jin seems like a pretty terrible guy. But we now know that Jin is just loyal and hard-working, even if it makes him a little stubborn.
It's easy to see why Sun could have been one of Jacob’s candidates; it seems like his only criterion was that the person be lonely, and Sun certainly fits this bill. In flashbacks, she and Jin build a relationship together just as quickly as that relationship begins to deteriorate. Jin spends more and more time at work, becoming less attentive to Sun’s feelings and their relationship. When communication between the two became almost completely irreconcilable, Sun learned English and literally began to speak a different language.
Sun makes plans to leave Jin, eventually using her knowledge of English so that she can move to America. Her planner tells her that she will not be able to bring any possessions with her and that, after awhile, her family will begin to suspect that she is dead. Oddly enough, these circumstances are very similar to the situation Sun faces once she arrives on the island.
Most of the episode is a commentary on how people from differing backgrounds and perspectives are able to live together. The most obvious example is Sun and Jin, who come from vastly different financial situations. Jin’s insecurity about his family’s modest background and Sun’s selfishness provide the main obstacles to their life together.
Michael and Jin are another source of conflict in the episode, as an intense hatred between the two develops. Michael shrugs off the conflict as simply black vs. Korean, but it isn’t that simple. Both men feel the need to protect loved ones on the island, Walt and Sun. This duty coupled with their similar sense of pride fuels a bitter rivalry. Jin and Michael will eventually develop a strong loyalty to one another, but only after this period of frustration and hatred.
The conflict between caves and beach gets its start in this episode, as Jack encourages everyone to move inland on the island for protection and easy access to the water. The rift this creates between the survivors is striking, displaying the differing goals among the survivors. Jack doesn’t realize it, but he’s instinctively drawn to remaining on the island from the beginning, with his choice of the caves as a place to live. His first priority is always to protect the other survivors, and he feels that this can best be accomplished at the caves. The whole question of caves or beach is really ridiculous anyway, as everyone has moved back onto the beach by the end of season 2.
Sun and Jin provide a good comparison against Jacob and his brother. Both are pairs of individuals who love each other greatly, but often find themselves in conflict. Just like Sun and Jin, Jacob and his brother grew up in completely different circumstances for much of their lives, but the two found some common ground as adults. Yet Sun and Jin end their relationship in loving embrace, while Jacob is ultimately murdered by his brother. The difference arose from the fact that Allison Janney only needed one candidate, and was forced to choose between the two boys as to whom she would trust with the island. If Jacob had been forced to choose between Sun and Jin as candidates, their destinies may also have ended in bitterness.
In the final flashback of the episode, Sun makes a conscious decision not to leave Jin, as she had originally planned. Even though he provides gifts of increasing grandeur throughout the episode to her, it is a simple flower which provokes her to remain loyal to him. My interpretation of this scene is that Jacob may not have considered the great love between these two individuals (or any two individuals) as an obstacle to someone fulfilling the role of island protector. Neither is able to take Jacob's place because both of their lives are completely defined by their love for one another.