Post Mortems

The White Lotus Episode 5: Mike White Explains WTF Paula Didn't [Spoiler]

The White Lotus Episode 5 Recap

The following story contains spoilers from The White Lotus‘ fifth episode — proceed at your own peril

Paula’s scheme to balance the scales of justice for boyfriend Kai backfired big-time in Sunday’s White Lotus — and it would seem the well-intentioned teen has no one to blame but herself.

Midway through the HBO dramedy’s penultimate episode, Paula devises a plan to get Kai back some of what was stolen from him and his family by giving him the code to the Mossbacher’s room safe containing those $150K bracelets. All he has to do is wait until she and her BFF’s family head off on their scuba diving expedition, sneak into their room using his master resort key, and swipe the jewels.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters squabbling marrieds Nicole and Mark could bail on the excursion just as the boat is about to shove off, dramatically shrinking Kai’s window of opportunity to make off with the pricey bangles — which is exactly what happens. But instead of cutting bait on the maritime jaunt herself to head off the looming catastrophe, Paula sits in the still-docked boat with a panicked look on her face. Moments later, the ship sets sail and the worst case scenario (i.e. Nicole and Mark interrupt Kai’s burglary) occurs.

We gotta ask: Why didn’t Paula make up some excuse to follow Nicole and Mark off the boat when she had the chance?

“People handle shocks to the system in different ways,” series creator Mike White explains to TVLine. “I think in the moment she’s hoping that the timing doesn’t end up being a problem and it’ll be OK. Maybe she got on her cell phone and tried to warn him and it was too late. I think it just all happened so quickly… It doesn’t seem that strange to me.”

White adds that Paula’s decidedly imperfect crisis instincts mirror his own. “I’m the kind of person who when a car coming at me and I’m in the middle of the road my mouth just hangs open and I [freeze],” he admits with a laugh. “When something catches fire in my house, my boyfriend immediately jumps in and grabs the fire extinguisher; I”m [the opposite].

“I used to think I would be the person who would definitely survive if there was a shooting,” White continues. “But now I realize I would probably be the first down. I’d be like, “What’s happening?” I would have to look and see… I wouldn’t know how to respond until I knew what exactly was going on.”

As we await the fallout from Paula and Kai’s jewelry heist gone awry — the finale airs next Sunday — riddle us this: Did Paula’s inaction give you pause, too? And switching gears, did you interpret Tanya’s side piece Greg’s coughing fit to mean he’s the coffin-bound character