|Nikki and Paolo are retconned into the first two seasons.|
Nikki and Paolo are some of the most hated characters in Lost history - this being the show that produced such asswipes as Martin Keamy, Zoe, Danny Pickett and Jack Shepherd. (I'm only teasing, Jack fans.) Their sudden appearance in the show at the start of this season came out of nowhere and for no reason, and the fact that their personalities weren't that likeable anyway didn't help matters. After the intial reviews of the season pointed out that Nikki and Paolo were more or less useless, the writers decided to devote this episode to putting their existence to bed, developing a simple centric story into a thrillride which uses and abuses Lost's format, history and idiosyncracies. I think it's wonderful.
Nikki strolls out of the jungle and collapses in front of Hurley and Sawyer. As they attempt to find out what happened to her and the similarly afflicted Paolo, we revisit their time before and on the island through flashbacks. The two were lovers who conned a rich TV producer for $8 million worth in diamonds, before their return flight to Los Angeles turned out to be Oceanic 815. The episode digitally edits Nikki and Paolo into a number of events from the first two seasons, as well as retconning certain discoveries such as the Pearl Station and the Beechcraft to be theirs. Eventually Nikki finds out that lover Paolo has been hiding the diamonds from her to prevent her from leaving him, resulting in her using a spider to paralyse him. Before she can gloat, the spider paralyses her too, and to the survivors they both appear dead. Just before their funeral, in which they're buried alive, both Charlie and Sawyer own up to Sun about kidnapping her last season.
The number of meta references to fan speculation and questions is quite nice throughout, with the script being entirely aware of the fandom's opinion of the characters, and milking it for all it's worth. As much as I don't like their characterisations, I think the fact that they've gained fairly thorough character development over the course of 45 minutes is a mean feat, as well as what is something of a successful retcon which adds to the story instead of taking away from it. (With the exception of the Pearl discovery, which raises a bunch of awkard continuity questions that I won't get into.) What I liked the most was that the episode made it clear from the outset what the tone was going to be, with a showing of Nikki's cheesy TV show Exposé - and what follows matches up to it well, with a mutlitude of cameos from dead characters all thrown in as something of a celebration of Lost's journey up to this point.
|Charlie confesses to Sun. From Wikia|
Exposé was great fun. Yeah, it did a lot of things that I've criticised heavily in other shows, but the tone of the show was so tongue in cheek and making such an effort to celebrate Lost's little foibles that I can't really damn it for any of the stupid things that happened. If Nikki and Paolo were one of the show's first big mistakes, then it's really telling that the writers not only fixed this mistake at the first opportunity, but that they did so with such grace and such gusto. If I can criticise this episode for anything in particular, it's that all those shots of earlier seasons made me want to go back to Season One and rewatch it again. But that would make this run-through even longer than it already is, and there are even better episodes to come.
NEXT WEEK: The small band of Kate/Juliet shippers get their golden hour when the two of them are Left Behind.