Paulo & Nikki:
A ‘Lost’ Morality Play
“Morality plays are a type of theatrical allegory in which the protagonist is met by personifications of various moral attributes who try to prompt him to choose a Godly life over one of evil.” [Wikipedia]
There is no question that Nikki and Paulo’s introduction to the series was a moment where many felt that Lost had crossed a line. The idea of just randomly placing two castaways into the show’s mythology was sketchy at best, and it wasn’t met with any less resistance when they proved entirely worthless in every way for the first dozen episodes this season. We were told that this episode would be the one to justify their existence; it is my humble opinion that it did not do so, but yet it was an absolutely fascinating hour of television.
Honestly, it was kind of fun to go back into the past of the island and make some sense of quite a few things. Often times Lost has been too quick to forget its own history, and this episode brought back a lot of those memories. As an example, Sun’s capture at the hands of Sawyer and Charlie designed to ensure Sawyer regained political power was pretty well forgotten; now, it returned to the forefront of the discussion. The beach castaways have long been rather forgotten in many ways, and yet here they finally got a chance to return to some of their drama from last season.
And yet, in the end, it was all a morality play. The ‘deaths’ of Nikki and Paulo were a reminder to the people about the wrongs which had been done, about the problems which had been left untouched. And, really, it’s quite the message to send, and the fact that they buried them alive only further shows that these people are not purely moral citizens.
And, the episode was a fantastic piece of writing and directing. The entire episode was filled with inside jokes, editing Nikki and Paulo into the show’s mythology rather seamlessly all things considered. It made the moment earlier this season when Paulo came out of the bathroom in the Pearl station sensical, and the return of some island favourites (Ethan (Ian Mapother), Shannon (Maggie Grace), Boone (Ian Somerhalder), Arzt) was neat on all sorts of levels.
And yet, even not form a nostalgic sense, the episode resulted in a fantastic twilight zone ending complete with the burial of perfectly alive Nikki and Paulo. The slow reveal of the spiders, itself foreshadowed previously in the episode, was a fantastic device, and it resulted in a ‘Holy Shit’ moment which the show hasn’t achieved in a long time. It was different than anything else we’ve seen on Lost, which I think was good. As The Elder was discussing earlier in terms of BE Something’s criticism of Lost, people are sometimes left out of the speculative loop with the show’s big storylines. Here, however, we were welcomed into the story, sucked into the plot as it weaved its way from present day to the past. It was, if anything, a mystery story where we were offered the chance to step into Hurley’s shoes and try to find the true ‘killers.’
But yet, as I say all of these good things about the episodes…was that it? Were these two actors brought in simply for this one episode with little to no connection to the main storyline? The episode was very standalone, very indulgent, and didn’t really justify their salaries for their earlier episodes. Have we seen the last of Paulo and Nikki? If so, were they really worth it just for this hour of television? It’s an interesting question, and I look forward to the weekly podcast to find out the answer.
If you want to know what happened in the episode, continue on. Note that highlighted sections take place in the past, while non-highlights are in the present.
– The show opens with a frantic Nikki running for her life, stripping for her money, and having some lead dropped into her by Billy Dee Williams. One of these takes place on the island, the others on the set of ‘Exposé’ in Sydney.
– Before the end of the cold open, Hurley and Sawyer witness a character collapse and die in front of them. Their dying words: “Paulo Lies,” according to Hurley.
– 84 Days Ago: Nikki sits in Sydney with Howie, her old man lover, who has a new chef who, coincidentally, looks quite familiar, and is the Wolfgang Puck of Brazil.
– By the end of the scene, Nikki and Paulo are opening a safe which contains a Russian doll; Nikki’s reaction is ‘Razzle freakin’ Dazzle.’
– 80 Days Ago: Paulo and Nikki sit in the airport reading the obituaries, where Paulo reveals a big personal change in his life before they’re interrupted by some blasts from the past in the form of Boone and Shannon.
– Paulo promises that they’ll never end up like them. You mean dead? Hmmm.
– We cut to the site of the plane crash, where Nikki is cut rather seamlessly into the crash footage. She searches for Paulo and finds Locke, Arzt and Boone at various stages. She wants to know where the bag was.
– In the forest, Paulo lies. On the ground. He’s not breathing.
– There is no wound on either of the deceased, but it appears that his shoe is in the tree and his pants are undone. Sawyer and Hurley
– 75 Days Ago: Paulo thinks that it was a dinosaur in the woods, but Nikki ignores him and mentions that they need to work on finding that bag. An old friend, who also ‘lost their luggage’ (Or never had any), stops by to visit before Jack gives his inspirational speech.
– Jin’s theory is that it is the monster, and Hurley agrees; he thinks that Eko’s ‘You’re Next’ was directed to the two dead castaways, who were present at the time.
– 57 Days Ago: Dr. Arzt gets paid a visit by Nikki, and he discusses the new species he has discovered in terms of spiders. She’s looking for some help in finding her luggage, and wants to know about trajectories. In the jungle on their search, they come across an airplane high on the cliff, and discover the Pearl hatch on the ground. Nikki refuses to go down into it.
– Charlie’s theory: Virus. Hurley insists it is still the monster. Artz’ creatures are alive with Nikki’s, and Hurley is incredibly excited to learn that there is an Exposé script, and that Mr. LaSalle is ‘The Cobra.’ Sawyer is less than excited to find, however, that Nikki and Paulo have one of the others’ walkie-talkies.
– 48 Days Ago: Shannon and Arzt deal with Kate regarding the discovery of a case full of guns which no one told anyone again. Nikki is interested in where the case was found, so they figure that the bag might be in the same spot under the waterfall.
– Paulo dives below the surface, and seems to find a bag…but tells Nikki that he does not.
– Sun wonders, at this point, who it was that dragged her into the jungle last season. Of course, it was Sawyer and Charlie that did that, but they have to pretend they don’t know that.
– 48 Days Ago: Paulo digs himself a hole to place the Russian Doll in, and Locke comes up and gives him a piece of advice: “Put the shovel away and save yourself some trouble. Things don’t stay buried on this island.” He talks about erosion, and Paulo seems interested in the reality of things.
– Paulo decides that the perfect place to hide the doll is inside Pearl Station, fancy that. I wonder if…oh snap, I bet he picked it up while he was there later. In the bathroom! He’s putting it in the toilet bowl! Oh snaps!
– He gets a visit from Ben and Juliet, who are observing Shephard. Juliet thinks he’s cute, and believe that Jack will never do the surgery. Ben plans to exploit Jack’s emotional investment, and plans to use Michael to bring them to him. As they leave, Ben leaves the walkie-talkie behind.
– Hurley visits with Desmond, figuring that perhaps his psychic powers could be of use. It apparently doesn’t work that way, and Hurley decides his superpower is kind of lame. Desmond does have some information: Nikki and Sawyer were in a yelling match earlier. And he claimed he didn’t know her. Hmmm.
– Vincent decides to pull the sheet off the bodies, and Charlie decides to lift the sheet off of his fake kidnapping of Sun. He apologizes, claiming he was not himself, and notes that he didn’t mean to hurt her. Oooh, the drama.
– 9 Days Ago: Locke is organizing the party to the Pearl Station, and Nikki decides to go along for the ride. She questions what the other TVs are for while, as I expected, Paulo pulls the Russian Doll out of the toilet. Whatever was inside is put into his pants, and he leaves the remains of the doll in the toilet bowl.
– Let the burying begin, as Hurley demands that Sawyer give them the gun due to his indiscretion. Why was Sawyer fighting with Nikki this morning? Hurley thinks Sawyer killed them, but no: Nikki wanted the gun, and Sawyer stole the diamonds and didn’t want to fess up to it.
– 12 Hours Ago: Nikki sits on the beach and Paulo stops by to visit. She notes that Thanksgiving was two weeks ago, and Paulo decides that not finding it was good for them. Paulo tells her to wait there, and he’ll go get her some breakfast. They kiss. She looks to the sand and finds his nicotine gum, which brings her to Sawyer to look for the gun.
– Sawyer decides to start digging the graves, shirtless, while Sun stops by to confront him about the fake kidnapping. She isn’t going to tell Jin, because then he’d have to dig another grave. She gives him back the diamonds, as they’re worthless here, and then slaps him upside the head.
– Hurley delivers yet another stellar eulogy, this one rather unaffective. He really loved Exposé, and says goodbye. Sawyer makes a decision to bury the diamonds with them.
– 8 Hours Ago: It’s a surprise, Nikki says. She found the diamonds, you see, and demands them. She’s pissed. She wants to know where they are, and then tosses a poisonous spider onto him…that’s a harsh way to be…paralyzed. For 8 Hours. Holy shit.
– Nikki pulls out the diamonds, and Paulo apologizes. He was afraid of losing her, and that if they found the diamonds she wouldn’t need him.
– Amazing callback to earlier: When the female spider is released, all of the males run to that spot. It was a note from Arzt earlier, and Nikki suffers from it now. She is bitten, and then runs to to find Sawyer and Hurley on the beach. She says her final words: “Paralyzed.”
– We return to the present, as they begin to cover them up, conveniently at the feet. After the initial burial, only Hurley and Sawyer remain. Nikki opens her eyes just as the last shovelful is laid atop her. And now, under a completely filled in grave, Paulo and Nikki lie.