OK, so Nikki and Paolo were terrible characters. Unforgivably awful, and awfully unneccessary. The end - period; game, set, match. We all hated them at first sight. We all still hate them today. And as a result, "Expose" (the episode which features the pair most prominently, including their AWESOME plot line involving millions of dollars worth of diamonds and wicked spiders that are totally super poisonous, but only make you appear dead) ranks only slightly above "Stranger In A Strange Land" in terms of how much LOST fans hate the episode. BUT - write this episode off at your own peril! There is a potentially huge easter egg in there, my friends, and because it's buried at the tail end of a largely unwatched episode, it's gone totally under our collective radar.

In the beginning of the episode, we're shown through a "show-within-a-show" device a scene from Expose, the fictional series that Nikki is guest-starring in. She and her crack team of stripper detectives (urgh... yes, the episode does suck), under the leadership of Billy Dee Williams' character Mr. Lashade, are fighting to foil the villanous supercriminal known as "The Cobra". In a stunning twist, we find out that Mr. Lashade IS The Cobra - just before he kills Nikki to protect his secret evil identity! GASP! And then the scene-within-a-scene ends, and we're thrown back into LOST. The immediate result for viewers: chuckle for a moment having seen Lando Calrissian in a cheesy crime spoof, then back to hating Nikki and Paolo for another 42 minutes.

But the Easter Egg doesn't really pop up until the end, courtesy of "the immovable force at the center of all things": Hurley. Witness this bit of dialogue, after the Losties have found the Expose script among Nikki's things after they've buried her and Paolo:

HURLEY: Only of the most awesome hour of television ever. It's like Baywatch only better. Its about Autumn and Crystal, two strippers that solve crimes with the help of their suave, smooth-talking club owner, Mr. LaShade.
SAWYER: How'd I miss that one?
HURLEY: Check it out, look at the cast list, Nikki Fernandez. That's gotta be why she was in Australia. This must have been her big break.
CHARLIE: Well it certainly sounds like it.
HURLEY: No way!! Mr. LaShade was the Cobra?!
CHARLIE: Is that supposed to mean something?
HURLEY: Dude the Cobra's this big bad guy. His identity's been shrouded in mystery for four seasons.

So, the big reveal in the fictional Expose episode turns out to be that the identity of the chief villian - after four seasons of speculation - is suddenly revealed as someone the audience not only knew, but knew to be a leader of the good guys. So, was this foreshadowing? Is this a clue that perhaps Jacob and Esau/Jacob's Nemesis/Unlocke do not represent the sides that their black and white outfits would have us believe? Is it possible that such a throwaway episode (well, as much as you can use that term in LOST) would hide such a tantalizing hint in plain sight? We watched the finale with FOUR complete seasons under our belts, and most of us have long believed Jacob to be a force for good. Knowing what little more we've learned about Jacob, including the fact that he even HAS a counterpart, should we perhaps consider as a real possibility the idea that Jacob may not be the benevolent force in this game, and that Esau may indeed be working for something noble - to counteract Jacob?

Is Jacob going to be the "Cobra" of LOST? And if so, what fighting force of strippers will heroically save the day? (um, Kate? This may be a good time to start making yourself useful...)

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