Lost season 3 episode 14: and the point of this exercise was…?

Remember those two new characters –Nikki and Paolo- that we started seeing this season? This episode is all about them.

She’s dead, James
Hurley and Sawyer are having a ping-pong rematch when Nikki stumbles out of the forest, utters a few words and collapses. Pronouncing her dead, they recruit Charlie and try to find her boyfriend Paolo, only to find that he too appears to have been killed- although oddly, neither of them have any obvious trauma to the body.

As the mystery over their death mounts up, conflicting opinions emerge- Hurley thinks it was the monster, but Sun insists that it must have been the work of the Others. When Sun uses her kidnapping to support her argument, Charlie is forced to admit that he was the one who did it, and that it was part of Sawyer’s plan to get the guns. Meanwhile, to add to Sawyer’s sins, Hurley and the others start to wonder if he was the one who killed them after Desmond tells them that he saw Nikki arguing with Sawyer earlier- a fact Sawyer chose to keep to himself.

Coming clean, Sawyer admits that he said nothing because Nikki had dirt under her fingernails, a sure sign that she had just hidden something important. He reveals that earlier in the day he found what was hidden- a bag of diamonds that they apparently killed each other over. With the diamonds having no worth in the jungle, however, he ultimately pours them into the couple’s grave…unaware that they aren’t dead, merely paralysed and now buried alive.

Flashback: Retroactively adding two more named characters
Back in Sydney, Nikki worked as a guest star on the TV series Exposé, but her ulterior motive was for her and her boyfriend Paolo to get close enough to the director to poison him and steal the eight million dollars’ worth of diamonds hidden in a safe in his house. It was the perfect crime- until the plane crash that stranded them on the island and dropped their diamond-filled bag somewhere in the jungle.

Naturally, there are tensions between the couple as they try to find the diamonds, eventually leading them to dive down to the submerged section where Sawyer and Kate found the guns. Pablo actually finds the diamonds there, but out of fear that Nikki will reject him once she has them, he hides his discovery and keeps them in his trousers (some guys may think the contents of their pants are worth 8 million dollars, but in this case, it’s the truth). Later, however, the couple discovers the Pearl Hatch before the heroes do, and Paolo judges it safe to hide the diamonds in the cistern of the toilet- at least until Locke and the others make their return trip. At this point, he decides to take them back into his trousers, all the while keeping them a secret from Nikki.

Flash forward to more recent days, and Nikki seems resigned to the fact that the diamonds will never be found, even agreeing that it may have been a good thing for their relationship. Unfortunately, after that very discussion, Paolo gives himself away by dropping some of the nicotine gum that also happened to be in the bag the diamonds were in. Incensed, Nikki tries to borrow a gun from Sawyer, but when that fails she borrows one of the deceased Artz’s medusa spiders and uses it to paralyse Paolo so that she can search his body for the diamonds. She does manage to find them, but the released female spider uses pheromones to attract males of the species, causing Nikki to get bitten and run out of the forest, whispering ‘paralysed’ to Sawyer and Hurley before her apparent demise.

Observations and Speculation

  • Whilst this would have been a good episode in some other context, it seems a little pointless here unless Nikki and Paolo dig their way out. If not, then we’ve been asked to invest our time and emotions in the story of two characters who we barely saw before and will never see again. I want to see the main plot advanced, not something as pointless as this.
  • On a similar note, we already have a con man, a murderess and an ex-torturer on this one flight, and yet now we are supposed to swallow that there was a pair of poisoners on board too? I understand that flashbacks need to be interesting, but there’s such a thing as taking it too far, unless we go back once again to the idea that the island is purgatory for sinners.
  • It seems surprising that if the medusa spiders are so plentiful and easy enough to catch, no one has been bitten by one before. Also, who has been feeding Artz’ insects (unless Nikki made time to do it)?
  • Ethan was seen offering to find clothes for Nikki and Paolo- was it that the Others genuinely wanted him to help (quite unlikely) or just told him to curry favour with the survivors in order to allay suspicion? Why did the Others take people anyway?
  • During his time down in the Pearl Hatch, Paolo saw Ben and Juliet watching the camp on CCTV- no real surprise, but something worth noting.

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