Nikita-the-show continued its determined mission to shake up everyone’s alliances and re-write everyone’s game-plans this week as Team Beach House took it upon themselves to try and save both Division and Sean’s Mama, Amanda finally introduced her rebound guy to us, and, hey presto! The battle lines had to be re-drawn once again.
In fairness, “Clean Sweep” was full of clever ideas opening up intriguing new paths for the story to go down and proving once again how willing the Nikita writers are to change things up to keep them fresh. I had my suspicions as to who Amanda’s new “friend” would be, but that didn’t make the reveal any less of a brilliant moment, and I loved Mama Pierce’s proposal and what it might mean for Team Beach House, even if Nikita herself didn’t seem too sure about the whole idea. Birkhoff’s interactions with Alex, meanwhile, were quite sweet (how do we feel about Balex as an idea, by the by?) and Percy’s stirring annoying Michael was quite funny at first - your hair looks great, though, hon, don’t pay any attention to him – till, of course, he flipped to ruthless killer and manipulator in the blink of an eye. Percy can be utterly terrifying, y’all. Shiver.
Despite all that, though, the episode still didn’t really grab me as it should. Maybe the story was too thinly spread amongst all the different teams running around different locations. Maybe Roan’s pursuit of Alex was too close to the silly sequence in every horror movie where the baddie just WILL NOT STAY DOWN. Or maybe it was just that Michael’s been back for TWO WEEKS now and I’m still waiting for something to SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE about. No matter – whatever the reason was, this ep worked more as smart set-up for the rest of the season than super entertainment in itself.
OMG. Where to begin?!??
Nikita and Alex are holed up at the beach house (with, as I understand it, very expensive bullet-proof glass and Kevlar blinds ) as Alex continues to
whine work her way through her mummy issues. Luckily, though – because there is always the risk of extreme tedium with that process – Nikita and Alex are not alone. Birkhoff’s back! Yay Birkhoff! Understandably subdued (with Aaron Stanford doing a brilliant job conveying the damage under Birkhoff’s surface snark) but still awesome. And adorable.
But he’s not the only one – yes, Michael returns to Rebel HQ 2 as well! Yay Michael! Although he’s not so much subdued as a little embarrassed, seeing as everyone in the room (and plenty of people watching from their sofas, no matter what Jed says) is shipping him and Nikita, super-hard. Hurry up and fix it, man! She’s miserable without you around. (As am I. Just sayin’.)
Team Mikita just cannot catch a break, however, as their long-awaited heart-to- heart is interrupted by another reluctant assassin in the throws of forbidden love – hey, it’s Sean! The gang’s all here! Well, missing one – I was sure Sean had a buddy with him when he surfaced on the beach but we never see or hear of that dude again, we’re too busy tying Sean to a chair in just his underwear. Bygones!
Anyway, after a little half-hearted roughing up of half-naked Sean (or, in the case of Alex, let’s call it foreplay), Nikita decides talking to Mr Boy Scout is the way forward. And why not? It worked on Michael. And Birkhoff. And Owen. Nikki has a more successful diplomacy success rate than the UN. Plus, the fact that Sean is a fool for Alex has to help, right?
Right. And just as well, too, as Oversight have now turned on Division and Mamma Pierce can’t stop them alone. Time for some of that Division and Nikita working together we mentioned on last week’s thread? Oho! But then it’s a week for surprising twists as, in other shocking news, it turns out Amanda has feelings. FEELINGS! Amanda! Babes! We didn’t know you had it in you!
Sucks for Percy, obviously, as hell hath no fury, etc, but well done to Melinda Clarke who added a pretty convincing layer of wounded vulnerability to an already compelling villain and finally gave us a chink in the Amanda armour. She’s still EVIL, though. Even if she has the most gorgeous silver chairs in her office. How beautiful were those chairs? I really want…. Eh? Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah. Amanda has FEELINGS! And then promptly regrets acting on them because of the MASSIVE, fabulous twist at the end, which I did not see coming. At all. What a super-tricksy, game-changing episode! I thought it was great.
It’s the international spy equivalent of school disco week on Nikita as the boys hang out on one side of Europe, while the girls hang out on the other – and, in the case of Mikita, look sad about not hanging out together. Aw.
In Russia, Nikita and Alex sneak around the Udinov estate, eventually bumping into each other while evading the frankly appalling security who fail to notice not only one intruder but TWO until a) they’ve teamed up and b) it’s way too late. Nikki, being the “soft touch” Ari says she is, agrees to help Alex spring her mother, although it’s blatantly obvious from the start that Alex’s mother has some ‘splaining to do. Still, the ladies working together again is just like old times, and Alex is far less boring to be around when Nikita’s there so, while I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen to spend half the episode re-jigging the Udinov back story (AGAIN), it all works out quite nicely in the end. And if it means Alex finally shuts up with the hero-worship of her mobster papa and not-exactly-squeaky-clean mama, I’m all for it.
In Belgium, meanwhile, Michael - rocking a leather coat – and Owen just about manage to take on one Guardian together, before infiltrating the Guardian secret code and crashing the Guardian secret meeting. Not a secret any more, then, Guardians – I’m just saying.
Much like Nikita lifts Alex out of the realms of the dull and tedious, Michael adds a bit of life to Owen, and both teams work pretty well together, giving us a decent, well-tooled episode, even if it does mean yet another week of keeping Nikita and Michael (and Birkhoff – can somebody please bring back Birkhoff?!?) apart. Owen goes right up in my estimation by trying to remedy this, however, telling Michael a couple of things somebody needed to – since Michael doesn’t seem to be reading my posts – and helpfully reminding him that if he doesn’t get back with Nikita soon, someone else might. A little competition always focuses the mind, eh, Mikey?
Of course, I could have done without the return of that other dullard Ryan as Amanda’s bitch – you’re only a super-analyst if you tell us stuff we DON’T ALREADY KNOW, dude – but Percy, having enough charisma for both of them, made him a lot more bearable too. An episode built around odd couples then, and not a bad one for it.
Much as I love it, I know that Nikita-the-show is less than realistic, steeped as it is in big guns, big stunts, and madcap missions. But all of that is part of what makes it so exciting and entertaining; silly or not, the programme doesn’t tend to be boring. Unfortunately, however, this episode was one of the rare exceptions to that general rule.
The black box storylines this season have been fine thus far as background to the mission-of-the-week stuff, but front and centre I don’t really have much interest in them, and I never really had any interest in Alex in the first place, so an episode with everyone basically stuck repeating “We have to find a black box!” in between endless scenes of the tedious Ms Udinov on the dullest, longest revenge mission since this one - you’ve been talking about it for WEEKS now, Alex, just get it done or shut up, will you? - was more like an opportunity for a nap than one of my favourite shows.
“Guardians” suffered badly from a lack of Michael and Birkhoff, so much so that I nearly threw my arms around the tv at the gorgeous sight of you-know-who roaring up in that silver car, all guns blazing. The fact that it was telegraphed some time earlier at least gave me something to look forward to as I endured the rest of it. I’m completely on board with the idea that Nikita is buckling under the strain of everything that’s happened to her, but I really don’t think the solution is for us all to hang out with dullards like Owen and Alex. Stop manufacturing reasons to keep the “bizarro Three’s Company” apart, show, and give poor Nikki (and us) her boys back. Pronto.
“Look Nikki, you’re allowed to miss him. But he’s coming back. You guys are… meant to be.”
Oh, I do hope so. Nikita missing Michael is a mess – running about half-cocked and hell for leather, she only just escapes capture and it’s poor, faithful Birkhoff who ends up in serious trouble as a result. Thankfully, Michael is as steadying an influence across a phone line as he is in person - swoon – and he manages to talk her back from the brink and back into the game.
Of course, why Oversight don’t just organise a video conference instead of a face-to-face ”Hello, anyone who wants to know, we are the people you want to identify!” meeting in a hotel when they know that’s what Nikita wants is a giant plothole, and Alex and the strippers is just dodgily-accented filler. But, overall, it’s an exciting and unexpectedly poignant episode thanks to a couple of themes usually simmering quietly under the surface being brought into sharp focus. Much as I love bad-ass Nikita, noone can or should keep everything bottled up all the time, so it’s nice to see the vulnerability under all that leather finally coming out in more than just a grimace. And, seeing as we’ve all known what it’s like to have a crush on someone we’ve no chance with, Birkhoff’s feelings strike a very sweet, touching chord. Michael only appearing for a couple of minutes gives our favourite nerd a chance to step out into the limelight a bit more and, while Aaron Stanford is always great, this week he’s perfect. Doesn’t mean the writers should be getting any ideas, though - I adore Birkhoff, but I want Michael back too. Guess I’m just greedy that way….
Aw, HELL no.
It’s ”so you thought I was the patsy?” week on Nikita, as Sean and Cassandra try turning the tables on Alex and Michael, respectively.
While it does seem like Sean is trying a different personality and motivation every week (and none of them are sticking), the writers deserve a bit of credit for coming up with new ways to try and make him seem interesting, despite all evidence to the contrary. This week’s plan is actually a really good idea: I think we all knew he fancied Alex rotten, but I would never have thought he had it in him to try and manipulate her to his advantage. Unfortunately for the writers, though, his attempts are so unconvincing that I still don’t think he does. I’m pretty sure she’ll be the one effortlessly doing the manipulating as dude is now even more whipped than he was before, and it ain’t by Senator Madeline Pierce.
Cassandra, however, is a whole other story. Michael, all misty-eyed after sharing a cookie with wee Max in Fake London, is ready to forgive the mother of his child a lot of things, especially if he’s guilty of them too. Birkhoff (who’s back, awesome!), Nikki and I know this is going to cause some serious trouble in Mikita-land, but none of us realise quite how much or how twistily; it turns out the kid isn’t the only secret Blondie McLyingPants was keeping and the fabulous, action-packed reveal knocks everybody for six.
As well as the all the emotional battering going on, the physical stunts are fantastic, with Nikita walking on the ceiling (!), Michael catching fire (!) and Homewrecker herself doing jujitsu. All of that rocks. Not quite as much as the expression on Michael’s face when he says “I don’t think you get to ask me that question anymore”, though. Burn. Not that that lasts; Michael is (as usual) so reasonable and sweet about everything, that what could’ve obliterated any prospect of Micandra does the complete opposite, in quite brilliant fashion, and suddenly Mikita is in real trouble, Jed is no doubt delighted, and, I say again, HELL no.
An episode focussing on two of my least favourite recurring guest stars was never going to be on my list of favourites, but actually there’s more than enough going on this week to ensure that “Clawback” isn’t too bad at all.
Ryan is back (joy), boring his fellow convicts (who don’t care) about how he’s innocent, it’s a set-up, blah, and ripping pages out of newspapers to add to his Conspiracy Wall. There’s apparently no red string in prison, but there’s plenty of news media to read and thereafter decorate your cell with. Handy.
Despite Birkhoff being a genius with a super-computer and unlimited funds and all, it’s Lo-fi Ryan and his, um, wall of cuttings, who finds the beginning of the trail leading to Division’s money man, played by that same guy who plays bad guys with money in everything on tv. Ryan of course signals Nikita, and we’re off to find Midas, taking on a crazy cat lady with a Kalashnikov, a prison breakout and Sean’s sub-plot making less sense by the minute along the way.
“Why don’t you know about any of this stuff?” and “Didn’t Oversight brief you about anything that happened inside Division?” are both excellent questions: I don’t care who Sean’s mummy is, surely the dude who knows nothing about Oversight’s true nature and says stuff like “I refuse to be part of an operation that murders innocent civilians!” is the wrong dude to be keeping an eye on Division, rolling around in parks at night with Alex or whatever the hell else his job is meant to be? Shouldn’t Oversight have sent someone with a clue what was going on? But then I suppose in terms of convoluted back-stories, it might not be the most implausible: even though we know it’s true, listening to Alex try and explain her history to the Gogol assassin (who wasn’t actually that far off with his version of it) makes it sound mad. Heh.
Never mind all that, though, what of Mikita? Still understandably miffed about last week’s revelation, Michael (who is awesome and lovely, even when in a bit of a mood) doesn’t let it get in the way of the Midas mission and ends up getting shot for his pains. He has a bit of a rough episode all round actually; not only is prison orange not his colour, but Nikita has clearly learned nothing at all from the whole “I was trying to protect you” debacle, since she just goes ahead and does the SAME THING again. Because nothing says “I love you” like drugging your boyfriend. Girlfriend, wtf? Jed may have a point about your behaviour this season, after all. Listen to the boy when he says “You ever pull a stunt like that again, we’re through.” LISTEN GOOD. Especially when he saves your hide, yet again. Swoon.
There comes a point in just about every secret agent tv show when they have to deal with a mystery surrounding the hero or heroine’s parents. Sydney Bristow got entire seasons of Alias out of it, Roz from Spooks’ dad took a couple of eps to try and overthrow the UK government, and, this week, Nikita – so she could learn that keeping a certain wee boy secret from his father is definitely not cool - decided it was time to join the club and go looking for trouble in the guise of her “real” family. Oh, girlfriend. Like all secret agent tv shows make absolutely clear, this is always a road fraught with peril. And gunfights. And more peril. And sometimes even a missile strike! Gosh.
Having said that, while the episode’s theme was a well-worn one, the execution was reasonably fresh. The action scenes were spectacular; several excellent set-pieces culminated in an extended battle at the “rebel base” (Heh, I love Birkhoff) which was so absolutely awesome that everything not involving a kamikaze jet attack ended up looking slightly tame by comparison. And the script was smart too with Percy several steps ahead at all times, brilliantly and effortlessly outwitting everyone. Yes, Nikita should have seen the twist coming a mile off, but she’s got a lot on her plate worrying about her boyfriend’s secret kid and all. Although the boyfriend part of that may well be removing himself from said plate for a while if that last scene is anything to go by. She only found out a week ago, Michael! We thought she might not tell you at all – give her some credit for proving us wrong! Sob!
Episode 4, ‘Partners” is a little heavy-handedly all about that very subject – Nikita’s former Division partner Kelly escapes Turkish prison, Nikita blames herself for Kelly ending up in Turkish prison in the first place, so off we all go to Turkey to rescue her.
Sort of. I don’t think we actually go anywhere near Turkey, it looks to me like we just put a weird orangey-yellow filter on the camera and hope for the best, but hey, we blew the budget on ep 1, so we make do. Anyway, Kelly’s not too keen on Nikita or the idea of being rescued by her; cue various meditations on the three main partnerships in Nikita’s life, and why they work or don’t. All credit to the writers for making some valid points about our girl’s trust and collaboration issues, but despite shootouts and fake-outs from the very first scene the episode doesn’t really hit its stride till Gogol turns up. I know he’s a baddie, but Ari’s quite a good baddie, isn’t he? He’d be a better Zetrov chief than Alex, at any rate.
Once they’re involved then, everything kicks up a gear, Alex makes a sort of peace with Nikita and it turns into a pretty good ep with some intriguing plotlines left dangling for future development.
Having said that, it isn’t anywhere as good as episode 5, “Looking Glass”, which is just awesome. Michael’s on guilt-trip duties this time as we find out he “turned” the Belarussian President’s wife Cassandra 6 years earlier in one of those honeytrap missions – “standard Raven protocol”, don’t you know - that always cause a bit of tension with your main squeeze, um, “after”. Obviously, he needs to get the lady in question out of Belarus when the President goes rogue, and the stage is set for all sorts of soul-searching and heart-aching amongst all the action.
Nikita handles it all incredibly well, realising that Michael’s connection with Cassandra is more to do with his issues over his murdered family than any feelings for her, the Mikita stuff is all adorable as ever and it all looks like a reasonably simple extraction until a “little complication” gets in the way. Ooooh. (NB: Nikita, honey, keeping mum about said ”little complication” will destroy your relationship. Prove Kelly wrong and TELL HIM. Pronto.)
As well as the minefield of emotional obstacles, Birkhoff gets his snark on in his usual hilarious way, there are some great twists, a couple of genuine OMG! moments and a stunningly ruthless move from Amanda which made me gasp – never mind Percy, girlfriend is ice-cold. Ouch. The one minor quibble I have is the complete personality transplant Sean has had from Oversight robot to “Do the right thing! No man left behind! Justice!” hothead. When did that happen? Presumably when he realised Alex looks better in a short skirt than Oversight does. But no matter. The writers can probably do more with the character as “gung-ho ex-marine” than protocol-obssessed cold fish anyway and when the rest of the ep is as fantastic as this, who cares?
In this week’s tip-top ep, Nikita and co go on a hunt for Ramon, an assassin/would-be revolutionary with pretensions towards icon status and a natty line in propaganda. Turns out, however, our girl has history with this chap: she handed him over to Division years ago, but not till after he’d inspired her whole “I’m leaving Division and I’m taking it DOWN ” life-plan. Dun-dun-dun!
To be honest, I’m not entirely convinced by the idea that a couple of lines uttered by this fellow before she knocked him out cold was enough to turn her head, especially since he seemed more of a fame-junkie than a freedom fighter, but I’ll buy that she heard what she wanted to hear. After all, slicked-back hair and a nice accent go a long way in shaping lots of people’s politics.
But never mind the plausibility, the action and the shipping are far more important!
On the Alex front, she’s still pretending to hate that Sean dude while actually fancying him like mad. He has dropped the pretending to hate her business and is just doing the fancying like mad. I’m struggling to understand what he sees in her, given that she’s become a real huffy-pants but as we’re (or at least I’m) always saying round here, the heart wants what it wants. And as we’re (or at least I’m) also always saying round here: we don’t really care about Alex. Mikita and Birkhoff FTW!
After a frankly excellent fake-out on a Division agent (Michael dons suit, specs, and flirt-mode, making Niki jealous – I like it), Division of course gets wise to the “bizarro Three’s Company” (heh) plan, and there’s a fabulous battle at a Colombian villa, Michael’s trapped, Nikita’s distraught….. oooooh. All of that is ace. And the big old romantic smooch-fest at the end is super-squee-tastic. Aw. Please don’t break them up, writers. I love them.