Lost – ‘Expose’ – 3.14

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I imagine, much like Nikki and Paulo’s sudden appearance, this episode divided viewers into the Love it or Hate it camps – or Front Section/Tail Section if you’re looking for a Lost-themed euphemism.

Me? I LOVED It. This was a clever stand-alone hour that worked on numerous levels.

First and foremost, it was Lost’s variation on the classic whodunit, with our resident beachcombers struggling to uncover the how and why of Nikki and Paulo’s untimely ‘demise’. To that end, it was also a classic morality play, with an ending ripped from the pages of Tales from the Crypt (I’ll dive into that in my observations below). Finally – and most fittingly, Expose was a winking in-joke; a celebration of the Red Shirt (that token background character made famous in the original Star Trek who is given just enough lines to move the plot along before fate (or a screenwriter’s whimsy) steps in and ends their tenure).

On with the show.

1.   Five minutes in and Lando Calrissian saves the day. I cracked a Colt 45 and a smile.

2.   So Billy Dee was playing Billy Dee who was playing Mr. LaShade who in actuality was The Cobra. Genius. Also, knowing the little puzzles the writers like to toss in here, that whole segment may have been a bit of playful foreshadowing. Later in the episode, Hurley pages through the Expose script and stumbles across the revelation that the Good Guy LaShade was really The Cobra. He then lets Sawyer know that Mr. LaShade has been the good guy for four season before revealing his deception. Could this be foreshadowing a fellow good guy changing his stripes? Maybe, Jack??? (Yup, I’m reeling in The Manchurian Candidate theory again).

3.   First tip off to the Red Shirt – in an episode brimming with playful references, Nikki confesses to her director who offers to bring her character back from the dead, “I’m just a guest star. I’m destined to be killed off.”

4.   Was it Flight 815 that crashed on this island or Con Air? As Sean pointed out, there are approximately 4 con men at work on the island. Sawyer is the obvious one. Followed by Kate. Shannon was grifting wealthy dudes (and her lover./brother) to get at her Dad’s cash. Cooper was hand-delivered to Locke in a box. Now we have Nikki/Paulo scamming the director for his stash of diamonds. Man, this is a tough crowd.

5.   There’s an old filmmaking adage, ‘If you show a gun in Act 1, it better go off in Act 3.’ The same rule applies to Medusa Spiders.

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6.   So Nikki and Paulo were essentially the Forest Gumps (or Jungle Humps) of the island as they were spotted in every single major event. Some were obvious (of course we would need to revisit the plane crash – nice effects work meshing Nikki in with pilot footage by the way) while others were surprising. So the two apparently found Boone’s plane and The Pearl station long before anyone else. While it’s a bit of a stretch that neither felt the need to tell anyone about the shelter that they found, once you come to terms with how selfish they were, it’s a little easier to take. Plus The Pearl segment effectively removed Paulo’s unfortunate web nickname. After last season’s episode, where Paulo emerged from The Pearl ‘john’, the net had dubbed him – TASG – which loosely translates to (and this is a family site here so I am being a bit delicate) – Take A Dump Guy. Now we know he was just stashing his rocks. NO!!! That’s not a euphemism.

7.   When Nikki spied Shannon and Boone arguing in the airport she proclaimed “Promise me we’ll never end up like them.” What – Dead? Or Brother and Sister Lovebirds?

8.   Another shout out to the Red Shirt – the reappearance of Dr. Artz – who when last seen, blew himself up with dynamite. “Dude, you’ve got some Artz on you.

9.   I like Sawyer’s continued befuddlement whenever he spies Nikki. When Hurley tells him “Dude, Nikki’s dead” – Sawyer speaks for the audience, “Who’s Nikki?”

10.   Ultimately, that leads to Paulo and Nikki’s fate. I can’t help but think that their awkward insertion into the show (unlike the eloquent introduction of the Others’ Juliet and Ben) was tied to ABC’s demand to ‘sex’ up the show. During last Spring’s Network Upfronts (where the major nets profile their programming schedules), an ABC executive promised that Lost would inject more action and romance in the third season. To me, that always sounded like some executive lobbed bullet points at Cuse and Lindelof and told ‘em to make it work. That they did and that it failed so spectacularly is testament to the fact that the suits should leave the creative types alone. Lindelof and Cuse did what they were told, they cast the mannequins. Nobody told ‘em that they couldn’t kill them off.

11.   But how about that ending? In a playful episode brimming with sly humor, the entire story culminates in one of the more chilling deaths to play out on this show. With Nikki and Paulo paralyzed by the Medusa Spider’s bite, they are thought to be dead and are promptly buried alive by Sawyer and Hurley. At the moment when they began tossing dirt on the grave, Nikki’s eyes flashed open. Neither Hurley nor Sawyer noticed and continued piling dirt. That last shot, of a massive dirt pile resting atop the still living Nikki and Paulo was a chilling moment, although in true Tales from the Crypt fashion, they really had it coming.

12.   By the way, after Nikki’s pole dancing and her ‘revealing’ run through the jungle, I think they may have offed the wrong chippie. I’d offer Kate up in a heartbeat. Ah well, there’s always DVR.

Next week (or rather – yesterday) – the Kate-centric ‘Left Behind’.

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Comments now closed (6)

  • It’s funny, I forgot about Shannon’s exploits and last night’s Kate-centric ep reminded me that she’s one too! That makes six of the Survivors, not even going to mention any Others!!!

    At first, I was very disappointed that they killed off my previously current fave Lost chica, Nikki, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. I’ll miss her, especially after all the good *screen time* in this episode, but the way they played this whole thing out was way better than the short build up of Artz before his explosion (which was also classic).

    The close soundingness of “Paulo Lies” and “Paralyzed” has me wondering if they specifically named his character that so that they could set this whole thing up. Certainly seems too convenient.

    Until Kate dumps the hobbit, I’m going with Juliet as my current fave Lost chica…

  • Ed,

    While I found this episode entertaining I found it as equally frustrating. What was the point? Why bring them into the seaon so awkwardly and dispose of them so quickly? Seemed like a waste to me. I understand (and appreciate) the wanting to “sex” up the show, but it made no sense as it didn’t advance any other plot that was going on. Except for the fact that Hurley can beat Sawyer in Ping Pong at any time. As stand along episode I thought it was very good, but within the structure of the show I was disappointed.

  • I don’t know, I found this one to be a better break from the action than the Hurley VW bus episode. I don’t think you can call it a clip show or a standalone show, in the sense of an X-Files monster-of-the-week, but it felt like that. Sure, they showed up earlier to set this up, but they weren’t getting in the way of earlier episodes and this served as a nice way to showcase something different.

    I guess it was just funny that they did take that time to set it all up and then kill them off. Just like that ass Artz.

    Oh, also… I think it also let a little light shine on the survivors that aren’t part of the cool kids club that are all interconnected outside the flight. From the flashback, they didn’t run into anyone in the club prior to the airport and we haven’t seen them in anyone else’s flashbacks. Some folks on the island serve no purpose in this grand scheme they have going and it kind of makes you realize that. Paulo and Nikki are like Rose and Bernard — who have seem to have disappeared — except, they are now dead and probably not good people like them…

    And, they did throw in some other minor main plot points like Sun finding out about her *abduction* and folks looking to Sawyer as a leader in the vacuum of the other four being gone, although if you ask me, Hurley is a better leader than Sawyer, but he’s the guy behind the guy, right? 😀

  • @Chris – I don’t think any of the creative talent in the show wanted to introduce Nikki and Paulo or ‘sex’ up the show. I think they simply followed the networks orders and tried to fit them in. When it was apparent that they had too many plot lines to satisfactorily work them in they decided to cut bait and run. I thought the Expose episode was a clever way to say “We F’d Up.” And – coicidentally – you can now add Hurley to the long llist of people who have murdered someone on the island.

  • Ed, I wouldn’t go so far as to call Hurley a Murderer! Yes he led to their death, but there was no intent there. Death definatly follows him! Trish Tanaka, his grandfather etc…