It was said and proved many times throughout The Brothers Sun that Eileen was the real brain behind the gang’s ascent to power. Even Big Sun acknowledges that Eileen is capable of thinking two steps ahead of everyone, and that is what makes her so formidable.
What was Eileen’s past?
The audience is not told much about Eileen’s past with her family, but we have been able to piece together a lot from the hints being dropped and the fact that, at the end of the day, this story is based on family dynamics. Big Sun says that Eileen has always been a ‘spoiled brat.’ He also calls himself a ‘country boy.’ That means that Eileen came from money, while Big Sun was poorer. Charles mentions at one point that their gang or organization had been present for centuries. Perhaps it was from Eileen’s side and not their father’s. That would explain why she was ‘spoiled’ because she had access to money and power. But Eileen was in the unique situation of being a woman. That meant that the world was eager to put her in a box. They just wanted to see her as her husband’s ‘support’ and not an individual in her own right. The prejudices did not change just because she was with the mafia.
Eileen was extraordinarily intelligent, and her husband recognized this. It is likely that he married her to get a step up in the mafia world, and using her wealth and connections, she helped him solidify his position with her intelligence. While we must consider that it could have been a union of love, it is undeniable that at some point, it became business for Big Sun. His exact words are that ‘he convinced her that her value existed only through him and her marriage.’ When Big Sun and Eileen meet after a long time, he goes to the bathroom with the door open. That is a classic sign of disrespect and a way to show that he can do whatever he wants to that person without any repercussions.
The thing about conditioning is that it is the result of a system. We live in a world where women’s value is judged by their relationship to men. The mafia was particularly strict with this hierarchy because they may hire women as soldiers, but while making critical decisions, they considered the presence of a woman to be an insult. Maybe Eileen questioned these rules as a child, or maybe she did not. But we know for a fact that she was told by anyone who could talk that she had to find her purpose in her marriage.
After Eileen got married to Big Sun, she made plans, organized meetings, and made sure, with her intellect and perseverance, that her husband became the most powerful mob boss. She dedicated her dream to him, and Big Sun took advantage of that. It was an open secret that it was her brains that were getting him these accolades, yet she did not enjoy any real power. When Eileen had children, Big Sun was already very powerful, and our guess is that after a point, he decided that he did not need her anymore. He had become capable of managing the gang by himself, and that is when he showed his true colors, which resulted in Eileen being neglected. Eileen mentions again and again that she left Taiwan because she had to save at least one son. That means that when Eileen and Big Sun were together, he was disregarding her plans and wishes for their children, and Eileen had no power over that. She did not want Charles to go through that test, but she was powerless to stop it. That was when she came up with a plan to save what she could.
How did Eileen become the Rolodex?
Being the most powerful also meant having the most enemies. All the gangs operated with codenames, and their real identities were not known to anyone. Eileen found that out, and she now possessed the biggest secret of all, which made Big Sun the most powerful boss and gave Eileen some freedom in her capacity as his ‘insurance policy.’ Her nickname, ‘Rolodex’, came from the information and brains she possessed. When Eileen left Taiwan, she knew her marriage was over. She had long given up on her ambitions, and this move was simply aimed at protecting at least one of her children. If she had stayed in Taiwan, both her children would have been lost to the mob life.
Eileen never let Bruce know what her reality was. It is true that children rarely see their parents as complex individuals who have a life outside of the house. Eileen knew this and used it to her advantage. That is why Bruce never realized that Eileen wanted to be the Dragon Head. But Charles knew because he had closely worked with her. He understood that she was tough, smart, and more ambitious than any of them had realized. He had already made the mistake of underestimating her, only to realize that he depended on her more than he could ever understand.
When Eileen left Taiwan, it was so that she could protect her family in the little capacity she had. She was leaving behind a life of comfort, riches, and power just so that her children could have love and freedom. The only thing she wanted from Big Sun was that he protect her loved ones and let her know what happened. But Eileen’s sister got cancer and died alone, and she was not told anything because that would once again risk the entire operation, one that only benefited Big Sun. Eileen already knew that the man did not love her, but he could not even respect her sacrifice enough to inform her of such a critical thing in her sister’s life. That was the final straw for Eileen, and she decided to think only of herself. She knew that Big Sun was nothing without her. She also knew that she was more intelligent and capable than him. He may be holding the power at the moment, but Eileen had never been helpless. A part of being the Rolodex meant that she did not just have people’s names but knew what made them tick and how they worked. Once the straw broke the camel’s back, she ditched her housewife persona and became the boss she had always been. It was simply a case of a woman deciding that the man she had shed blood, sweat, and tears for was simply not worth it, and therefore, she directed her energies to herself. Family, duty, and honor were the working foundations of the gang, and once Eileen decided that Big Sun wasn’t worth it, she stepped in to take charge of something that should have always been hers.
Will Rolodex Be Able To Control The Triads?
Eileen is representative of so many women who dedicate their lives to their husbands and children, only to realize later that they were just taken for granted and have nothing to show for their labors at the end of the day. At least Eileen was one of the few who had the chance and the privilege to take back her life and realize her dreams. There is a huge battle ahead of her, but knowing Eileen, she is already prepared for it, and we will see that in The Brothers Sun season 2. Eileen’s greatest strength is her ability to plan and manage, taking into account all variables. Everyone agrees that she has never been wrong and that is because she already knows how people will react and who will say what and to which provocation. Essentially, she knows how to play people. Eileen knows that she is up against a lot of sexism. That is going to be her main hurdle in controlling the triads. But Eileen has a lifetime of experience in dealing with it and also using it to her advantage when required. She will be just fine in controlling the triads.