Key Points from "Exposé"
Season 3, Episode 14
Episode Air Date: 03/28/07
I know the audience hates Nikki and Paulo, but I had no idea the writers hate them, too.
"Lost's" most reviled characters have been -- up until this episode -- an exercise in uselessness. Now, I'm not saying "Exposé" wipes the slate clean of past Paulikki indiscretions, but when you die that way, I think you earn a little slack.
And yes, Nikki and Paulo die ... in one of the most nightmarish "Twilight Zone" ends you could imagine.
So let's get to it.
The off-island backstory of Nikki and Paulo isn't all that interesting save for their involvement in the murder of an affluent Aaron-Spelling-esque television producer. Nikki gains access to the producer -- a guy named Howie -- because she's one of those semi-anonymous hot actresses who pop up in syndicated fluff like "Baywatch" or "VIP" or, in this case, the fictional stripper-mystery "Exposé" (yes, it''s a "fictional stripper mystery" -- why didn't I think of that?). The show is filmed in Sydney, which explains Nikki's eventual presence on Oceanic 815 and also gives the "Lost" crew another opportunity to whip out the Sydney Opera House backdrop.
Nikki develops a creepy May-December (late December) romance with Howie. Her partner in crime, Paulo, secures a job as Howie's new chef. One day, over breakfast, Howie takes a bite of Paulo's exquisite frittata and promptly dies of heart failure (damn you, Egg Beaters!). Nikki and Paulo -- who have clearly been planning Howie's demise for some time -- quickly access Howie's safe and steal a Matryoshka doll filled with $8 million in diamonds.
The diabolical duo get away with their chicanery because Howie was super old and his "heart failure" doesn't raise the suspicions of the police or the press or the heartbroken "Exposé" fan base. Paulikki scamper off to the Sydney airport and, while waiting for Oceanic 815 to board, we learn that Paulo has traded cigarettes for nicotine gum. It's an off-hand detail that doesn't seem relevant, but in true "Murder She Wrote" fashion it pops up in the climactic third act.
This airport scene also shows Boone and Shannon arguing. The reintroduction of departed characters is initially interesting, but the technique grows a little weary as the episode rolls on. If you'll indulge me a sidenote ...
From a technical perspective, "Exposé" has some lovely acting and production and editing, but from a storytelling standpoint I couldn't shake the sense I was watching one of those Very Special episodes where dead characters miraculously reappear for one last hurrah (the "X-Files" finale pulled this same maneuver when Krycek reappeared as a ghost -- wha?). In this episode's backstory we see Boone, Shannon, Arzt and Ethan all milling around (apparently, Michelle Rodriguez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Cynthia Watros were unavailable). The editors did a bang-up job working new footage of these returning characters into original footage from the series, but -- beyond Arzt, who we'll get to in a moment -- there wasn't much point for these characters to reappear. It's George Lucas syndrome: Just because you can superimpose wamprats and banthas and Boba Fett over original footage doesn't mean you should.
Moving on ...
So, Nikki and Paulo survive the plane crash, but Nikki's revelry is short lived because the bag containing the $8 million Matryoshka doll has disappeared.
The majority of Paulikki's remaining backstory involves them searching the island for their Matryoshka McGuffin. To the writers' credit, they use this "journey" storytelling device to put a new spin on old locales. Over the course of the episode, Paulikki visit:
And so Paulikki move on without informing any of their fellow castaways that an airplane is perched in a tree and another hatch is ready to be explored. Like everyone else on this show, communication isn't their forte.
Sometime later, Nikki finds out that Kate recently recovered a metal gun case from the bottom of a nearby lagoon, so Nikki rounds up Paulo and drags him inland. They reach the lagoon/waterfall (it's the same spot where Kate and Sawyer stripped to their underwear in "Whatever the Case May Be") and Paulo dives in and sifts through plankton and decomposing Oceanic castaways. He spots a bag and works to free it, but when he returns to the surface he tells Nikki there's nothing down there except coach passengers and tadpoles. Disappointed, Nikki walks back toward the beach camp, which gives Paulo all the time he needs to dive back down and grab that bag -- and it's not just "a" bag, it's the bag. He lied!
While munching on freshly recovered nicotine gum (it, too, was in the bag), Paulo initially tries to hide the Matryoshka doll in a hole on the beach. But Locke stumbles upon Paulo and instructs him in Obi-Locke tones to make sure he hides his "secret" in a place that won't be eroded by the tides (Locke doesn't bother asking Paulo why he's digging a hole or what he's trying to hide, but there's no use complaining because we know that's how Locke rolls).
Paulo hatches upon an idea ... literally. He revisits the Pearl station and hides the Matryoshka doll in the station's bathroom (ah-ha!). And this is where things get interesting. While inside the bathroom, Juliet and Ben enter the Pearl station wearing their Other hobo clothes (Juliet, oddly, is also wearing makeup). Ben flicks a switch on one of the Pearl's television monitors and the screen shows Jack sitting in a chair in the original hatch.
Paulo watches as Juliet and Ben talk. Juliet, looking at the TV screen, notes that Jack is "cute" but the comment doesn't phase Ben. She opts for a more direct form of razzing, asking Ben how he intends to get Jack to do emergency surgery on Ben's spinal tumor. "I can convince him to do it," Ben says, his eyes bulging with evil. "I find out what he's emotionally invested in and I exploit it."
In a "Scooby-Doo" exchange, Juliet and Ben discuss the abduction plan that eventually unfolds in "Live Together, Die Alone." They note that Michael is a key component, they reveal that Jack needs to be lured toward them, and they say that Kate and Sawyer are also part of the plan. It's the whole enchilada! And Paulo hears every bit of it!
AND HE DOES NOTHING!
Juliet and Ben leave the station and Paulo quietly exits the bathroom after listening in on their scheming.
Let's pause a moment to play a little "What If?"
Paulo and Nikki eventually tag along with Desmond, Locke and Sayid during their Pearl Station excursion ("The Cost of Living"). Upon arriving, Paulo makes a beeline for the bathroom so he can retrieve the diamonds from the Matryoshka doll. He smashes the figurine and hides the small bag of diamonds in his crotch (classy). Paulo then stages his most notable "Lost" moment by flushing the toilet and exiting the commode as the assembled castaways offer silent prayers to the patron saint of bathroom ventilation.
Paulo's diamond double-cross is now in full effect, but Paulo isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer and it's only a matter of time before he slips up.
That slip up occurs days later as Nikki and Paulo sit together on the beach. Paulo, who's feeling reflective (must be all that fiber), says their inability to find the bag/doll/diamonds could be a blessing. After all, the diamonds could have ripped them apart. Nikki agrees and the two share a touchy-feely moment. Paulo then shuffles off to get Nikki breakfast, and that's when Nikki looks down ...
Nicotine gum. A package of nicotine gum is sitting in the sand.
Nikki realizes she's been had -- the gum was in the bag ... the diamonds were in the bag ... gum + diamonds = that Brazilian Tom Cruise is a son of a bitch.
So Nikki puts on her best flirty face and lures Paulo out into the jungle. She finds a nice secluded spot and her demeanor quickly changes (she is an actress, after all). She confronts Paulo about the diamonds and he feigns ignorance, but Nikki has none of it. She grabs a plastic canister from her bag, unscrews the top and chucks the contents at Paulo.
A big, black spider attaches to Paulo's neck. He swats at it and turns the arachnid to goo, but he's too late. The spider sank its fangs into Paulo's skin and unleashed its toxin.
Nikki delights in telling Paulo all about the spider (those lessons with Dr. Arzt pay off). The spider's bite causes paralysis and a reduced heart rate. The effects only last a few hours, but to the untrained observer the victim appears quite dead.
Paulo falls to the ground and Nikki finds the diamonds crammed in his Speedo. With paralysis looming and his pants around his knees, Paulo seizes the opportunity to apologize for his double-cross. He admits he was scared Nikki would leave him if she found the diamonds.
Nikki is moved ... but it's for naught.
In the distance, the tell-tale sound of the smoke monster slings through the trees.
Uh ... oh.
Paulo sees a black spider crawling over Nikki's shoe. The paralysis has spread to his throat -- he can't warn her! The spider chomps into Nikki's ankle.
Nikki -- to her credit -- realizes paralysis is imminent. She quickly hides the diamonds in a shallow hole then sprints back to the beach. Stumbling from the treeline, she sees Hurley and Sawyer playing ping-pong. They rush to her side as she collapses in the sand.
Nikki gasps a final word.
And that brings us to ...
... the search for Paulikki's killer.
You see, Hurley and Sawyer don't understand Nikki's last word. Sawyer thinks he heard "power lines," but Hurley believes she said "Paulo lies."
And moments later, when Nikki falls into a deep paralysis coma, Hurley and Sawyer believe she's dead.
They don't know she's still alive.
This sets in motion a series of events that eventually leads to a horror-film ending for Nikki and Paulo.
So here's what happens:
The ballad of Paulikki didn't add much to the series' overall progress, but their death did bring about one significant revelation.
Early on, all signs point toward the Others as Paulikki's killer, but Hurley pokes holes in this conclusion by noting that the Others are way on the opposite side of the island. It wouldn't make sense for them to trek through the brush just to kill two marginal characters.
But Sun counters this argument -- the Others tried to kidnap her mere weeks ago, so what would stop them from another incursion?
Yeah, Sun, about that kidnapping thing ...
Later in the episode, guilt wells up in Charlie's throat and, during a quiet moment with Sun, he reveals that he and Sawyer were the masterminds behind Sun's abduction. Charlie blames his actions on the "humiliation" Locke inflicted upon him in "Fire + Water." (Nice buck-passing, Chuckie.)
Sun walks away.
In the closing moments, Sun confronts Sawyer. He immediately admits involvement, but Sawyer seems more concerned that Sun is going to tell Jin. Sun says she'll keep it quiet "because then we'd have to dig another grave." (She's right ... Jin would destroy Sawyer).
Sun slings Paulikki's diamonds back at Sawyer, claiming they're worthless on the island and completely out of style. Sawyer thinks he's off the hook ...
Sun slaps her mighty palm across Sawyer's cheek. She walks off as Sawyer rubs his wounded flesh.
This all seems like a tidy ending to a dangling plotline, but I don't think this is over ...
A few closing questions and observations:
That's all I've got!
Be sure to drop by our "Lost" Forum for stimulating conversation and conjecture.
|"Left Behind" -- A handful of castaways float into heaven as ... crap, that's not right. Uh ... Kate and Juliet hack through the jungle. Airs Wednesday, April 4, 2007 at 10 p.m. on ABC.|
Review by Mac Slocum. All photos and episode descriptions © ABC Inc.