When Nikki & Paulo turn up dead under unusual circumstances, the remaining survivors must determine how and why they died. A long-buried secret comes out between Sawyer, Charlie, and Sun.
|Written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
Directed by Stephen Williams
Nikki and Paulo were once, like so many others on this show, skilled con artists. Just days before the flight of Oceanic 815, they were involved in an elaborate con of the producer of a horrible TV show called Exposé, named Howard Zukerman. Nikki guest starred on the show, which filmed in Sydney, while pretending to be in love with Howard. Paulo, meanwhile, posed as Howard’s cook. But it was all a plot to kill Howard and steal a collection of diamonds from him worth $8 million.
Four days later, the two of them celebrated their victory with a special meal at the Sydney Airport, realizing from a newspaper article about Howard’s death that they’d gotten away with it, successfully making his death appear to be a heart failure. They briefly met Boone and Shannon there who bickered horribly, and Nikki and Paulo expressed a desire to never end up like those two.
The honeymoon was over between them from the moment Oceanic 815 crashed. When Nikki found Paulo survived the crash, instead of expressing concern for his welfare, her only interest was in finding the bag that contained the diamonds among the plane wreckage.
Six days later, the two of them still hadn’t found their luggage on the beach. Ethan Rom helpfully appeared and pointed out that a lot of luggage had landed the jungle and they might try finding it there. This was the same night that Jack made his famous “If we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone” speech.
A few weeks later, Nikki charmed Dr. Arzt into helping her search for the missing bag, hoping his scientific knowledge might help her deduce where the bag may have landed on the island. He drew her a map, and also told her all about his scientific discoveries on the island, which he said included 20 new species of insect. He also pointed out a Medusa Spider he’d collected, which he said has incredibly powerful pheromones. They followed his map and came across the beechcraft lodged against the cliff face, days before Locke and Boone would later find it. Nikki tried to convince Paulo to climb up to the plane and look for a radio, but he refused, insisting that it would fall if he did. They then found the Pearl station hatch — again, before it was found by any of the other survivors — but although Paulo wanted to check it out, Nikki said there was no way their bag could have fallen down into a sealed hatch, so they left it and kept looking.
A few days later, Kate told some of the survivors about the case of guns that she and Sawyer found in the lagoon, and Nikki wondered if her missing bag could be in the same place. She convinced Paulo to dive in to look for the bag and spotted it, but Paulo, suspecting that she was only maintaining their relationship because she needed him to find the diamonds, returned to the surface without it and reported that it wasn’t there. When Nikki left the lagoon in frustration, Paulo dove back in and retrieved the bag.
Later that night, Paulo dug a hole in the beach, away from the survivors’ camp, and buried the diamonds there. Locke stumbled across him while he was doing this, and had no problem with him keeping secrets. He merely advised him to do his hiding somewhere further inland, because the tide was starting to erode thanks to the changing seasons. So Paulo returned to the Pearl station, climbed down inside, and hid the diamonds in the back of the facility’s toilet. While he was there, Ben and Juliet entered and Ben used the monitors to give Juliet her first look at Jack, the man she would help Ben manipulate into performing surgery on him. Ben formulated his plan while Paulo watched from his hiding spot in the bathroom, telling Juliet that they would need to lure Kate, Sawyer, and Jack out of their camp and capture them with the help of their captive, Michael. After they left, Paulo found a working walkie-talkie in the station and took it.
Only nine days prior to this episode, when Nikki and Paulo accompanied Locke, Sayid, and Desmond to the Pearl station, Paulo tried to dissuade Nikki from going because their stolen diamonds were still hidden there. While there, Paulo snuck into the bathroom alone and retrieved the hidden diamonds, pretending to be using the restroom.
The morning that they both died, Nikki and Paulo sat on the beach talking about how their lives were better off because they never found the diamonds, which likely would have caused the end of their relationship. But Nikki realized he was lying to her and went to Sawyer looking for a gun. He refused her, insisting he didn’t have one, and that she was in no condition to wield one.
Later, Nikki took Paulo out into the jungle and demanded that he turn over the diamonds. She appeared to be unarmed, but she had Dr. Arzt’s Medusa spider, which she threw on him. It bit him, and its venom paralyzed him for 8 hours. While he lay paralyzed by the spider, she searched him and found the diamonds. He told her he did it because he was afraid of losing her, but just as she was about to respond, the male Medusa spiders, attracted to the female’s pheromones, turned up and bit Nikki as well. She buried the diamonds in the jungle, intending to return to them later. When Sawyer and Hurley found her on the beach, thinking she was dead, what she said to them was not “Paulo lies,” but “paralyzed.”
Nikki runs frantically through the jungle and buries something in the ground. When she returns to camp, she stumbles out of the brush, hurt somehow. Hurley and Sawyer find her while she’s having trouble breathing. She whispers something to them that’s hard to understand, that Hurley says sounds like “Paulo lies.” Before they can get help, she dies right there. Sun, Jin, and Charlie show up to help, and the five of them try to figure out what killed her. Sawyer suggests finding Paulo, so they search for him and find him in the jungle, in the same state as Nikki: dead but showing no wounds. Sawyer spots something nearby but says nothing to his friends, while Jin proposes that the monster must have killed the both of them.
When they return to the beach with Paulo’s body, they take both bodies to the graveyard. There, they make preparations to bury both of them, but Sawyer wants to search their tent to hunt for clues. He, Hurley, and Charlie hunt through the tent and turn up a script from the TV show Exposé, which Nikki once guest starred on. Sawyer finds a walkie-talkie that’s still working, and reveals that he saw walkies exactly like these in the possession of the Others. Sawyer theorizes that Nikki and Paulo must have been working with the Others all along.
Back at the graveyard, Sawyer reports his theory to everyone else, but Hurley points out that the Others live on the other side of the island. How could Nikki and Paulo have made contact with the Others without anyone else knowing? But Sun argues that the Others are closer than anyone thinks, pointing to her attempted abduction in the jungle — which she still doesn’t know was actually the handiwork of Charlie, under instructions from Sawyer, as part of his “long con” to acquire all of the survivors’ guns. Sawyer perpetuates his deception of Sun, deciding to make a “perimeter sweep” in case there are any Others lingering by that are responsible for killing Nikki and Paulo. He reveals that he has a pistol that he swiped from one of the Others.
Hurley visits Desmond, hoping that Desmond’s precognitive ability might provide some insight into what killed Nikki and Paulo, but Desmond has nothing to offer. He did, however, spot Nikki yelling at Sawyer earlier today before she died — a fact Sawyer has failed to reveal to the rest of the group. He’s even gone out of his way to repeatedly insist he has no idea who Nikki and Paulo are.
Hurley reports Desmond’s intel about Sawyer and Nikki to Charlie and Sun at the graveyard, suggesting that Sawyer is working some kind of angle. But Sun defends Sawyer, refusing to believe that he would deceive again after his heroic efforts trying to help Michael get Walt back. When Hurley leaves, Charlie finally divulges to her the truth about the day she was attacked in the jungle, months ago: he did it, not the Others. And it was Sawyer’s idea. Sun walks away from him without a word
When Sawyer returns from his supposed perimeter sweep, the group confronts him about his lies. He confesses that he argued with Nikki that morning because she was asking him for his gun, which he refused to turn over. He didn’t tell them about it because she had dirt under her nails when she died, and then at the place where Paulo died, he saw a mound of fresh dirt. So he wasn’t doing a perimeter sweep at all, he was searching for whatever they had hidden in the ground. And he found it: a bag of diamonds, which he turns over to Sun, insisting that he had nothing to do with their deaths.
Later, Sawyer sets to work digging their graves alone as a sort of penance for his lying. Sun confronts him there, telling him she knows the truth about what happened to her at Charlie’s hands. He asks if she’s going to tell Jin, and she says no — because Jin would kill him. She gives him the diamonds back, but then smacks him hard across the face.
The survivors gather for Nikki and Paulo’s funeral, where Hurley struggles to find some nice words to say to them. To everyone’s surprise, Sawyer spreads the diamonds over them like ashes. Unbeknownst to the survivors, the two of them weren’t dead at all — merely paralyzed. They were accidentally buried alive.
“Exposé” is the first and only Nikki & Paulo-centric episode of the series.
With the deaths of Nikki and Paulo, the survivors’ numbers have dropped to 43.
Ah, what a story. Hey, don’t riot on me — I’m not talking about the episode. I’m referring to the saga of Nikki & Paulo, the two most reviled characters in Lost history. Looking back on the show with 20/20 vision, I’m not entirely sure what they did that caused so much hatred among viewers. We hardly ever even saw them. But whatever the original plan was for these two, I think it’s safe to say that it was ditched once the fans raised their voices to cry foul. So this wicked little episode was written to do away with them, and it was just one wink-at-the-audience after another… The shifting reality of the first set of flashbacks, Nikki dying not once but three times, Nikki’s line about “knowing what happens to guest stars,” Howard’s description of Paulo as “the Wolfgang Puck of Brazil” — when actor Rodrigo Santoro had been publicly touted as “the Tom Cruise of Brazil” when he was cast on the show… the list goes on and on. Plus, there were all the revisits of bygone characters like Shannon, Boone, Dr. Arzt, and Ethan Rom. And let’s not forget the cameo by frickin’ Billy Dee Williams. The writers even gave us new reasons to hate Nikki & Paulo by showing that the two of them knew about the beechcraft, the Pearl station, and the Others’ plan to abduct Jack, Kate, and Sawyer long before those events ever happened — and yet they told no one. “Exposé” was an attempt to cut the show’s losses and create a bona fide classic out of a mistake, and I think it worked for some, but most fans just seemed glad to see the end of Nikki & Paulo.