‘The White Lotus’ Episode 5: Why Didn’t Paula Try to Stop Kai? — ‘Abort Mission’

In HBO’s The White Lotus Episode 5, Paula (Brittany O’Grady) encourages Kai (Kekoa Scott Kekumano) to steal the Mossbachers’ bracelets. However, when she knows he’s about to get caught, Paula doesn’t do anything to save or stop him. The director and creator of the series, Mike White, weighed in on why Paula didn’t tell Kai to “Abort mission.”

Sydney Sweeney and Brittany OGrady as Olivia and Paula in The White Lotus
‘The White Lotus’: Sydney Sweeney and Brittany O’Grady | Mario Perez/HBO

‘The White Lotus’ Episode 5 recap: Paula and Kai

In The White Lotus Episode 5, Paula convinces Kai to steal Nicole Mossbacher’s (Connie Britton) $75,000 bracelets. The Mossbachers head out on a boat to scuba dive, so the college sophomore believes it’s the perfect opportunity for Kai to enter the suite. However, Mark and Nicole get into a fight about respect as they are about to get on the boat. So, Nicole storms off and heads back to the suite.

Paula watches as Nicole walks away, and then Mark follows her. She helplessly sits on the boat with Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) and Quinn (Fred Hechinger). Meanwhile, many viewers at home yell at their screens, urging Paula to do something to stop them or at least warn Kai.

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Kai is in the room stealing the bracelets when Nicole arrives back at the room. She begins folding laundry, and Kai puts a mask and hat on. He scares Nicole and tells her to count to 1000. However, as he’s leaving, Mark comes into the suite and tackles Kai. Luckily, Kai punches Mark and runs off. When Paula, Olivia, and Quinn return to the suite, the police comb it for evidence. 

‘The White Lotus’ director Mike White explained why Paula didn’t do anything to save Kai

The show’s creator and director, Mike White, spoke to TVLine about Paula’s lack of action to help Kai. So, why didn’t Paula at least follow Mark and Nicole?

“People handle shocks to the system in different ways,” White explained to the outlet. “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.”

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The series creator added that he modeled her behavior after his own.

“I’m the kind of person who when a car’s coming at me and I’m in the middle of the road, my mouth just hangs open, and I [freeze],” he added. “When something catches fire in my house, my boyfriend immediately jumps in and grabs the fire extinguisher; I” m [the opposite].”

Fan Reddit theories give another reason Paula didn’t help

Although The White Lotus creator thinks Paula froze, and that’s why she didn’t help Kai, fans have other theories.

“Because she realized sending the message could be an issue for her later,” one fan wrote on Reddit. “She can play the card ‘he used me to get the password.’ Thank god Olivia knows Kai didn’t do it alone.”

Some viewers believe that Paula also covered up for herself by not jumping to action to save Kai in the last episode of The White Lotus.

The White Lotus Episode 6 series finale airs on HBO and HBO Max on Aug. 15, 2021, at 9 p.m. EST.