Expose' was a very strange episode - half murder mystery, half 'The Other 48 Days'. I liked parts of it and disliked others. It seemed to create questions that no one really asked (such as what Paulo was doing in the bathroom of the Pearl hatch), then went on to answer those questions all at once. Here are the Things I Noticed:
Previously on Lost???
When I started watching this episode I thought maybe my TiVO had skipped the intro, but actually it hadn't. This was the first episode I can remember where they didn't do a "Previously on LOST" voiceover. There were no past scenes pertaining to the current episode, they just launched right into Nikki running through the jungle. (Unless my TiVO really did miss the intro).
Actually, this makes perfect sense. Nikki and Paulo were never previously on LOST. They were never previously a part of anything, up until this season, and I think the writers and producers realized they'd made a mistake in trying to introduce them. More accurately perhaps, they made a mistake in the way they introduced them.
Killing these characters off so quickly may have been a way for them to atone for this error. If so, you have to give them credit for at least listening to the fans. Having seen Nikki and Paulo from soup to nuts, we now know they truly accomplished nothing. They brought nothing and revealed nothing. They interacted with most main characters yet impacted no one, and they had little or no effect on the storyline. In fact, watching this episode it was almost the opposite: as they stumbled Mr. Magoo-like across the island's deepest mysteries, it's almost like they went out of their way to NOT get involved.
When all is said and done, it's almost as if Nikki and Paulo never existed at all - which is an interesting perspective itself. From the first time we saw them up until the episode they died, the running joke all season has been "Who the hell are you?" so they might be the one thing on the island that will actually stay buried.
Sawyer - Picked Last for Kickball
"I don't have the guns... the A-Team took them all". Funny line, but Sawyer's definitely feeling left out. He's used to being right in the thick of everything, but now he's relegated to grave-digging and playing ping-pong with Hurley. And losing, to boot.
Missing Kate, missing the action, Sawyer's left with nothing to do but don his glasses and read. Although he gains posession of a gun this episode, he doesn't get bullets - a metaphor for how useless he feels while Jack, Kate, Sayid, and Locke are off getting into jungle adventures without him.
The Pigs Are Walking!
Cool Animal Farm reference. A book very akin to Lord of the Flies, but the book references are getting a little too common lately.
The Plane Crash... Now Starring Nikki & Paulo
Sorry, but jamming Nikki and Paulo down our throats this episode just didn't work for me. Superimposing them into the plane crash doesn't legitimize their existence. Breaking out the episode one debris and shooting a few beach scenes doesn't give them the same street cred that everyone else gets for having been there all along. We all felt the hairs stand up on the backs of our necks as Shannon screamed creepily along with the whining of the jet engine... we all winced when flaming debris landed inches away from Charlie. Seeing Nikki and Paulo walk around in the background of these great scenes did nothing but piss me off.
And the part with Locke, right as the guy gets sucked into the jet engine... it didn't jive with me. "Hey you get away from there!" was all Locke said before that guy became the first spectacular casualty of LOST. Locke certainly didn't turn to Nikki in the middle and shout "Get back, get out!" before turning back to jet engine guy - and the season one disc I just watched again proves it. So why would the writers make such a mistake? Were they really that desperate to shove Nikki into the most memorable scenes possible, or was there an even stranger reason behind it?
Boone, Shannon, Ethan, Arntz... it's always cool to see these characters again. Still, because of Nikki and Paulo the whole thing just seemed extremely forced. One interesting thing about the Ethan scene: he actually sends Nikki and Paulo inland, encouraging them deeper into the island. Maybe he wanted the monster to eat them.
Promise Me We'll Never End Up Like Them
Nikki's referring to Boone and Shannon's constant fighting, but loyal LOST viewers know the sinister double-meaning behind this dark statement: Boone and Shannon are dead. For those who missed the more obvious "We all know what happens to guest stars" line, this one pretty much seals the deal for Nikki and Paulo this episode.
Dude Monster... Vincent Dude!
The 'Vincent is the monster' theory has picked up a lot of steam lately, and I'm definitely leaning that way myself. For a while now it seems Vincent has shown up during crucial times only to lead someone into danger or to uncover something weird. He was the 2nd character we saw in the entire show, too - right after Jack. Light dark, black white, good evil? It's early to say, but the word MONSTER was used several times tonight by different people.
However, one thing bothers me. Instead of stirring the pot this episode, Vincent actually (almost) helps Nikki and Paulo by uncovering their 'dead' bodies. If he's just a dog, it makes sense that Vincent would sniff out the fact they're alive way before everyone else on the island would. But going with the theory that he's not a dog, is he doing the island's bidding or is he actually working against the island here?
If the island is punishing anyone at all, Nikki and Paulo deserve the worst of it. Although other characters have committed murder, the poisoning of Zuckermann was probably the most ruthless thing we've seen so far. Ironic justice would be served by them dying in the same manner (poison), and we definitely hear the sound of the monster just as the army of spiders marches up Nikki's leg. Yet Vincent seemed to be trying to prevent their demise by uncovering them - perhaps undermining the island's will.
No Polar Bear Bite, Nothin'
The murder mystery feel to this episode lightened the mood, especially considering that the main detectives were Hurley and Sawyer. I thought this was a pretty unlikely team. Funnily enough, Hurley took on the more serious role of trying to figure things out while Sawyer cracked jokes like "Is there a forensic hatch I don't know about?"
Hurley's new closeness to (respect for?) the island is more and more evident as his character evolution continues. He somehow remembered that Eko's last words of "you're next" were uttered in the presence of Nikki and Paulo. Damn, even I missed that. This is something Hurley never would've figured out one or two seasons ago when he was too busy acting as the comic relief. This episode? He's collecting evidence, tracking down witnesses (Desmond), and reconstructing the crime scene step by step. Go Hurley.
Locke Blows Everyone's $^ Up
It was great to see 'old' Locke step all over Paulo's little picnic. It reminded me of the first season, when everything out of Locke's mouth was fascinating and we hung on his every word. "Things don't stay buried on this island". Hells yeah.
It's a well-known fact that all luggage jarred out of flight 815's torn fuselage ends up landing in the same lake, under the same two corpses, and that the only way to find it is to strip down and dive from the cliff at the far end. So it was perfectly natural for Nikki to assume, after asking Kate where she found HER case, that she would find the case she and Paulo were looking for in the EXACT same spot.
And of course it's there. Right? :)
Paulo Sucks at Hiding Stuff
Okay, here's a scenario: You have tens of thousands of acres of jungle upon which to hide a small handful of diamonds. Do you pick a unique tree or hillside and dig a nice deep hole? Uh-uh. Locke told you "the island's eroding". A better idea would be to find the one place on the island that actually looks inhabited (working lights, monitors, a bathroom, etc...) and hide the diamonds in the toilet basin. Yes it's a strange furnished hatch in the ground with full plumbing and electric... and yes two minutes after you get there an unknown man and woman show up to watch some TV - but hey that's not the point. The toilet basin is an AWESOME place to hide stuff because no one will EVER look there! Totally kickass.
Watching the timed history of 'The Other 48 Days' last season was awesome. So many little things fit together with what was going on during season one (Boone talking on the radio, etc...) that by the time the episode ended you knew the writers really did a fantastic job making everything click. But not this time. This time was kinda ridiculous.
Paulo and Nikki walk right past the Beechcraft, with no intent on mentioning it to anyone? Far-fetched, but okay. Five seconds later Nikki trips over the Pearl Hatch? Come on. Wouldn't this knowledge have been useful during Jack's "Holy crap the Others are coming to get us and I'm trying to find us a place to hide" speech? Guess Nikki didn't get green-screened into that scene.
I don't usually pick on LOST but there were many details that seemed sketchy this episode. How long has it been since Arntz blew up, yet all his moths and spiders are still flapping and kicking in those glass jars? Please. 'But Vozzek, maybe there were air holes'. Yah. Maybe there were.
Charlie + Sun = Cool Scene
One thing I really did like this episode (aside from Nikki on the stripper pole) was the interaction between Charlie and Sun. Knowing Sun's misconceptions on how close the Others really were might affect decisions they made as a group, Charlie chose to come clean about her abduction. There was a good possibility he might be alienated again, yet Charlie did it anyway. That was pretty cool of him, and I thought that scene was well shot.
Sun defending Sawyer as not being a murderer was important because it shamed him into doing the right thing in the end. And although she struck him out of anger for what he did, I think she and Sawyer shared some unspoken thoughts between them. Telling him the diamonds were 'worthless here' was something Sawyer already knew, but the Sawyer of old would've surely hoarded them away for when they'd be rescued. But he didn't, which leads me to think Sawyer's resigning himself more to fate than to science. He's starting to realize they're probably not ever getting off the island. Sun is too. Together they share that moment.
I also somehow got the feeling that Sawyer dumping the diamonds was important to his survival... as if the island would put a giant boot in his ass if he'd tried to keep them. No real evidence to support this, it was just a gut feeling.
The Others Rulebook
Even Ben seemed out of place this episode, showing an uncharacteristic vulnerability as he revealed his plans to Juliet (and Paulo). I also wasn't sure if Ben hesitated and almost glanced Paulo's way for a second, maybe even noticing him(?)
Ben needs to convince Jack to do the surgery because he needs him to want to do it. For some reason he can't put a gun to Kate's head and make Jack operate... I still believe for things to work out correctly it has a lot to do with free will.
Similarly, it's confirmed the Others couldn't just "grab them" when they wanted to, but rather the 815 survivors "needed to come to them". This is why Klugh let Michael go - although the Others could've probably taken who they wanted at any time, it seemed they needed bait to draw them there willingly. Come to think of it, maybe this is why the whole thing with seizing Claire never worked out right for them (it almost seemed Ethan was acting alone on that one). I still don't know all the "rules" on how this free will thing works, but I'm sticking to it.
He Was The Cobra?!?
Billy Dee Williams turns out to be the Cobra - the big bad guy right in the midst of the good guys all along. This little scene could be really important, especially if we consider the title of the episode: Expose'. The very word means "a public exposure or revelation". Could this mean that someone big (HIM?) is planted right before our eyes, right in the midst of what we consider to be the good guys? "Shrouded in mystery for the last four seasons"?
I think it might. That kind of mind-blowing twist would definitely make a good season finale. I can't imagine who it would be at this point, other than maybe someone we don't know much about - like Danielle. Still, it's something to consider. Whoever it is, I don't think they were exposed by Paulo or Nikki.
Nikki Bad... Paulo Good
In the end, I think Nikki and Paulo were finally distinguished by the way they died. They both died by the same method, but not in the same manner.
Nikki died for her lust for power. Paulo died for his lust for Nikki, and I think that's really the lesser of the two evils. Nikki seemed the more heartless of the two - grabbing the key from her dead boyfriend's neck and orchestrating the whole spider thing. It was obvious she was more interested in the diamonds than in Paulo himself.
If you look at Paulo in that last scene and watch his eyes, I think he was trying to warn Nikki about the spiders. Even though she'd intentionally poisoned him, he was still trying to save her. Maybe in the end he saw some redemption, but not Nikki. The same way she lived was the same way she died.
The last thing I noticed... Hurley's shirt was wayyyyy too dry after covering a 3-foot double grave with all that sand. There wasn't the slightest hint of sweat.
Big catfight next week.