Classic TV: Nikki and Paulo of the ‘Lost’ episode ‘Expose’

In the tradition of Cousin Oliver on “The Brady Bunch” — unwanted characters added to a hit TV show — we present Nikki and Paulo, the attempt by the producers of “Lost” to add some fleshed-out background characters during the third season of that series.

According to Internet legend, the producers of the show — about airline crash survivors fighting to survive mysterious happenings on a Pacific island — were asked about the mostly nameless other survivors of the crash, usually seen in the background as the major characters play out the storyline of the week.

So they added, gradually at first, Nikki (Kiele Sanchez) and Paulo (Rodrigo Santoro). Extremely easy on the eyes — even among the good-looking cast of “Lost” — the couple seemed like a good way to add some depth to the cast.

But even though fans had asked for more about the background characters, turns out most people didn’t like the modern-day equivalent of elevating “third red shirt from the left” on classic “Star Trek” to supporting character status.

Backlash on Internet sites was quick and brutal. Santoro in particular had the misfortune of being dubbed “Takes A Shit Guy” on Ain’t It Cool News in reference to a scene in which he comes out of a bathroom, flushing sounds behind him, in one of the secret science stations discovered on the island.

So the producers made a funny and canny move: They explored, through trademark “Lost” flashbacks, the backstory of Nikki and Paulo … in the same episode in which they killed them off.

Written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz,” “Expose” — the 14th episode of the third season — revealed that Nikki was an American actress who had been working on a TV show called “Expose” in Australia before boarding the flight. Paulo was the chef of the show’s producer.

The two — led by the ruthless Nikki — poisoned the producer and stole millions of dollars in diamonds before boarding the Oceanic Air flight home.

As the episode revealed, Nikki and Paulo were desperate to find the diamonds, hidden in a suitcase that was dropped somewhere inland when the plane broke up over the island, and had spent much of their weeks and months on the island looking for it.

Since it’s well known there is no honor among thieves, the two ended up meeting a harsh end. In the opening minutes of the episode, Hurley, Sawyer and the others find the two paralyzed — they assume they’re dead — and proceed to bury them. And they do bury them — alive, unknowingly.

How’s that for harsh? If “The Brady Bunch” had Cousin Oliver skateboard in front of a moving van, it still might not have topped this.

I loved “Lost” pretty much right up until the final episode, when it seemed obvious the producers were not going to pay off on many of the nifty teasers and red herrings they had planted through the show.

But I have no complaints about their handling of Nikki and Paulo, and “Expose” is one of the most clever ways of getting rid of unwanted characters I can imagine. Viewed years after the fact, the episode is a time capsule and love letter to the series, bringing back characters who hadn’t been seen since early in the series, “previewing” characters in flashbacks we hadn’t yet met and providing great lines to characters like Sawyer, whose attitude about the two summed up the feelings of many viewers:

“Who the hell are Nikki and Paulo?”

 

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