(S03E14) Well, "The Man From Tallahassee" was a tough act to follow, and it is probably unfair to compare the two episodes. This episode had its moments--shirtless Sawyer, double-crosses, and guest star Billy Dee Williams. Nikki and Paulo's story needed to be told, and I think that the writers accomplished what they set out to do. I might have to watch "Exposé" again before I can make a complete assessment.
I actually thought that the earlier parts of the flashback were pretty entertaining. Nikki Hernandez played a character named Corvette in a show that Hurley compared to Baywatch, with strippers. I thought that was Baywatch? From the looks of it, Exposé was a naughtier version of Charlie's Angels, with the incredibly cool Billy Dee Williams as the boss. I'm still in shock after seeing Lando Calrissian on a Lost episode.
Apparently Nikki and Paulo conspired to con, poison, and steal from the show's director, using Nikki as bait. The plan worked, and a remorseless Nikki and Paulo cackled their way into millions of dollars in diamonds. It seemed like a really complicated plan for both Nikki and Paulo to get jobs close to Howard, but it worked, so who am I to judge?
It's safe to say that the plane crash destroyed both the plan and Nikki and Paulo's relationship. It took Nikki about five seconds to shift her attention from a shaken Paulo to the bag o'diamonds. Some familiar faces showed up during the mostly post-crash flashback. Ethan's appearance existed only to lead gullible viewers like me down the "working with the Others" path. How awesome would that have been, though? Leslie Arzt had a scene with Nikki that turned out to be very significant. Nikki should have been paying more attention to his spider lecture. That mistake literally came back to bite her.
Paulo started to catch on to Nikki's priorities, and wisely hid the diamonds from her. His desire to save his relationship was sweet, but I guess that Nikki is not much of a romantic. Once she realized his "betrayal" she coldly threw a poisonous (but not fatal) spider at him. Unfortunately for Nikki, the spider's ability to attract males worked against her. That's why you never trust other women, ladies.
For my money, the best part of the flashback was Nikki and Paulo's one-track mind when it came to the island mysteries. They found Yemi's plane and the Pearl Station, but could not have cared less. Who knew that it was possible for Lost characters to be even less curious about the island? Paulo even overheard Ben and Juliet's ultimate plan for Jack, Kate, and Sawyer, and did not bat an eyelash. At least the Others' intentions are clear now: Ben cleverly manipulated Jack using his feelings for Kate, and used Michael's love for Walt to get him to deliver the gang. Ben's ability to exploit people's emotions reminds me a lot of the late Livia Soprano.
Back in real time, a frantic Nikki buried the diamonds in the jungle and collapsed in front of Hurley and Sawyer. Their exchange about her final words was priceless. Plywood? Power lines? Paulo lies? Detective Hurley decided to investigate, and even Sawyer got into "the case" after they found Paulo in the jungle. As usual, Sawyer was acting out of selfish motives, and only wanted the diamonds.
Sawyer had a lot to juggle during this episode. A guilty Charlie finally spilled the beans to Sun about her fake kidnapping, and Sun took her anger out on Sawyer. Hurley's suspicions also had to be dealt with. After questioning Desmond, Hurley believed that Sawyer was somehow involved in Nikki and Paulo's demise. Sawyer eventually revealed that Nikki asked Sawyer for a gun (presumably to kill Paulo). I don't want to speak for Paulo, but I would have preferred a nice, quick gunshot to the fate that Paulo received. Nikki didn't fare so well, either. They were both presumed dead and ended up being buried alive with their diamonds. Now that is poetic.
A few final questions/thoughts:
In the crash sequence during Nikki's flashback, she cast a long look up at the sky. Was there something moving quickly through the air? Check out these before and after photos and give me your opinion. I had to watch the scene several times before I saw anything, but it could be any number of things (or nothing).
There was a shout-out to Rodrigo Santoro's "Brazilian Tom Cruise" nickname in the flashback. Howard mentioned that Paulo was like the Wolfgang Puck of Brazil.
I loved all of the faux-police talk between Hurley and Sawyer: "perimeter sweep" and "forensics hatch" were my favorites.
Nikki's speech about the spider as Paulo was becoming paralyzed reminded me a lot of Daryl Hannah's snake speech in Kill Bill Vol. 2.
What was the point of the scene where Vincent runs off with the blanket that covered the corpses? As a dog owner, I find that kind of mischief believable, but why throw that in?
See you next week!