We’ve been saying for a while now that, since New Division basically turned into Old Division under different management, it was only a matter of time before Nikita rebelled and went rogue again. I don’t know if the writers decided that would be too obvious a route to go down at this stage, though, because instead what we got this week was Nikita fully on board with a kill mission and the previously kill-happy Alex mounting a rebellion, ostensibly for moral reasons, but really because she’s a teenager in a strop with her “mum”.
The episode was actually very good: exciting, fast, and unexpectedly funny, I enjoyed it lot. But the flaw at the centre of it was that Alex just can’t be convincing as the voice of truth and reason. Not just now, anyway.
Using her as the messenger weakened the crucial point to be made about New Division by turning it into part of her South Ossetia arc instead of actually being about Division at all: the roles had clearly been reversed just to give Alex something to argue with Nikita about, since Amanda told her she should. Because the best way to prove you are your own woman and won’t agree with your friend all the time is of course to let your enemy manipulate you into disagreeing with your friend all the time instead. And accompanying said disagreement with lots of storming out of rooms in a huff.
Sigh. I just don’t see how we could take La Udinov’s arguments too seriously when she was all “we MUSTN’T kill the President of Chad to save lives, that would be WRONG, no matter what Nikita says” one moment, and all “we MUST kill the Director of the CIA to save lives, that would be RIGHT, no matter what Nikita says,” the next. Try for a little consistency, girlfriend.
The thing was that the fix was right there in the ep, natty camo scarf and all. Birkhoff’s lines about Percy’s active choice to cross the line as against our heroes continually letting themselves be pushed over it were perfect, and if Birkhoff had led the rebellion too, instead of being Alex’s sidekick, it would have been brilliant.
Having said all that though, it was still kind of great. And in fairness to Alex – since I’ve spent this whole post having a go at her – her “You thought we were working for the government, maybe it’s time you let someone else do the thinking” was magnificent. In your face, Ryan. In. Your. Face.
So, after last week’s Swiss-based shenanigans, Amanda has Alex, Division has Ari.
It’s time for a trade.
The characters seem to think this is a straightforward(ish) choice, but surely I can’t have been the only viewer thinking Division would be getting the duff end of the deal there? Ari might be bad but he’s also awesome: smart, sarcastic and brilliant at manipulating people, all of which comes across in every scene of this episode. Alex, meanwhile, is handy with the high-kicks, but she’s also whiny, hotheaded and easily manipulated, and all of that comes across in this ep too. It doesn’t spoil “The Life We’ve Chosen” at all – thanks to Ari and Birkhoff, I loved it – but Amanda and that Larissa woman play the littlest Udinov like the proverbial violin and before you can say “Nuh-uh! Nikita’s not the boss of me!” suddenly Alex is mounting her own little mutiny. With that mutton-head Sean in tow.
Of course, Nikki has her own mutton-head Owen to keep an eye on, while defying Ryan’s sneaky little scheme to resolve the “trade” issue in a way which he seems to think suits everyone but DOESN’T SUIT ME, RYAN. DOESN’T SUIT ME. Or Nikki either, as it happens, since, as she points out, they’re “not that kind of Division any more.” Except that they are. Ryan saying “I know we had our differences over tactics….. But I cannot argue with these results” makes abundantly clear Percy may be dead but his spirit is alive and well and running Division again. I mean, “tactics?” That is cold, dude. COLD. Sure, Nikita might be distracted by Alex acting out just now, but the real enemy within is clearly the guy our heroine helped put in charge. I’m looking forward to her putting him right back out soon as she likes.
Mission of the week has Nikita and Alex heading off to Switzerland to try and get to Ari’s teenage son before Amanda does; the two principal problems with this being that a) his bodyguard Krieg hasn’t got the memo about Division not being the enemy any more and b) Amanda’s already there.
Cue Krieg not being particularly impressed with any of the Division women, whether current or former, which in turn leads to torture, fire and Amanda getting a bit weepy and weird before going all psycho evil again. Hm. I’m not really interested in Amanda’s Origins of a Super-villain story but it looks like we’re going there soon.
While the girls are away, meanwhile, Ryan and Sean are off somewhere being surplus to requirements, so Owen keeps Michael busy by being a total moron. Good work, Owen. I’m not really interested in his Origins of a Super-Assassin story either, but again, looks like we’re going there too….
Anyhoo, never mind where we might be going. Back to this ep and where we actually went – it was fine. Nowhere near the best the show can offer, of course, and it teetered dangerously close at points to giving us too much teenager in the form of huffy Thomas, but, for the most part, it was solid stuff with the added bonus of a great cliffhanger at the end to liven things up. Plus, Michael got to punch Owen in the face – that’s always a good time.
Amanda finally pushes a furious Ari too far – setting Interpol on your boyfriend, seizing all his money and trying to have him killed is a combo of things I don’t think even couples counselling can ever really fix – so he tries to make a deal with Division: bags of cash for the goods on Amanda’s next diabolical scheme.
He reckons without Nikita, however, who has picked this week to try out a new “shout and storm out” method of interrogation which gets her precisely nowhere, since it’s Ari and he’s not about to give anything up unless you ask super-carefully. So of course, Nikki tries pummelling his face in, instead. And various other horrors too. Ugh. Nikki is not very impressive this week, it has to be said. Although things do get infinitely more productive when Michael gets involved (“good cop, bad cop” indeed), everybody starts to use their brains instead of their fists and we get both a reason for Ari to help Division and confirmation that Mikita is back on, so yay and hurrah for that.
It’s a violent but well-tooled and watchable (except the torture bits – I had to cover my eyes for them) episode; I always enjoy Ari a lot more than Amanda and I’d quite like to see him work with Division for a change. I’m not too sure about the other storyline that the ep sets up, though; yes, Alex has a surprisingly productive week, coming up with an actual, useful plan – instead of trying to beat their source’s head in – but starting her own little love triangle? With Beefcake and Brawn-for-brains? I suppose it’s too much to ask that no one ever mentions it again….
Just when you think it might be safe(ish) to run your reformed (sort of) secret governmental black ops group, up pops an FBI agent with a flash drive exposing you, and – like you needed the extra challenge – here comes your ex-boss Amanda with a dastardly plan to frame your pal.
Man. It sucks when that happens, huh? Particularly for the unfortunate fellow who’s been framed, although hanging out with these guys was always going to bite REDACTED in the butt at some point, wasn’t it? Still, poor REDACTED. At least he has friends willing to fake his death and whatnot, instead of – Oh I don’t know – speaking to the President (whom one of said friends works for) and pointing out he didn’t actually do it and it was all the psycho in the red bob’s fault. Hmmm…
But that hasn’t ever been the Division way, I guess. Which is why that final scene with Ryan and Nikita trying to convince themselves that Division might be alive but the old Division ways are dead sounded a tad hollow to me. I’m guessing REDACTED might have been even less impressed; I hope we haven’t just swapped Michael’s moping for someone else’s….
This is much more like it.
Nikita dashes off on a secret, solo kamikaze mission and gets into a spot of bother. Michael finally snaps out of his blue funk and dashes after her – “I gather his plan is: Step 1- fly to Kosovo, Step 2 – kick ass”. (Heh) And Ryan develops some personality (at last), albeit by adopting “What Would Percy Do?” as his new motto. Uh-oh. So instead of all the moping and misery of the past couple of weeks, it’s back to madcap missions and the road to megalomania: thank goodness and hi-fives all round for that! No more down in the dumps: Michael and the show are re-energised, Nikki looks like she might get to go rogue again in the not too distant future and Birkhoff is Birkhoff. That’ll do me.
Michael – perfectly sensibly, if you ask me – is keeping out of the field for now, which means he’s running the missions from Ops while Nikita and Owen are partnering up on the ground. Unfortunately, Owen’s more brawn than brain, though, and the show leaves us in no doubt that he has none of Michael’s usual finesse and style. Not that Michael himself is any great shakes in the finesse and style department at the moment, mind; staying out of the field is one thing, but continuing to push Nikita away is another entirely and neither she nor I are happy about it.
With all this going on and the main mission of the week being the hunt for a crazy ex-Division agent who’s kidnapped his extremely unfortunate ex-wife in a bid to re-kindle their relationship, the whole episode ends up being about when to let go and when to hold on, and what to let go of and hold on to, which is a subject Michael really needs some schooling on right now. Perhaps he’ll take some of the advice he dished out to Sean – it worked, didn’t it? – and get over himself a wee bit next week. I hope so, because Mopey Michael’s no fun and Owen’s fine as back-up but has the charisma of a brown paper bag. Although his hilariously passive-aggressive exchange with Sean (have they really never met?) on how they’d expected each other to look was far and away the scene of the night.
It’s been three weeks in Nikita-time since she REDACTED Michael’s REDACTED and things aren’t exactly peachy-keen: she’s sleeping alone and he’s sporting a sleek, electronic replacement but not really loving it. Both of which are understandable, I think; dude has some serious issues to work through (the least of which is making a fist) before he can get back to being all-action super-Michael. Poor Niki is too terrified to leave him to it, though, and keeps trying to help him with said issues, which is not a great idea since one of said issues is obviously Niki herself.
The mission of the week is a half-assed “kill the cleaner” thing that’s really just there to highlight how Michael’s struggling to cope, both physically (he missed the shot!) and mentally (he threw them under the bus!), and deepen the division between him and Nikita, while giving Owen a chance to slide in and remind everybody he’s always “cared about” her too. All of this works so well that by the end of the ep, all things Mikita are worse than they were at the beginning (sob!) which worries me slightly since the last time they were having problems (the Cassandra arc, argh) it seemed to go on for A WHILE. And I don’t like it when Nikita and Michael fight.
Still, the speed with which the show resolved the mole story gives me hope that it won’t string this one out too long (lest we forget Grey’s Anatomy are still dragging out a similar plotline after a full season of it) and in the meantime, we get Dr Birkhoff handing out advice and, er, limbs, and Michael being fantastic in Ops if doing a lot of glowering everywhere else. So I think I can deal with the discord between then for another week or two but, writers please, after that: FIX IT.
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO .
But also – sigh – yes, I suppose. Albeit with a very heavy heart.
Nikita (the show) has been feeling a little stale this season; after the great first ep, the writers seemed to be struggling to generate exciting stories from the perspective of Niki and co on the inside trying to make Division work rather than on the outside trying to tear it down. After all, being rogue is much more fun than being responsible.
The Dirty Thirty thing has been more miss than hit, Amanda’s monologues have become more tedious than terrifying…. in short, the show has been in desperate need of a shake-up. Till now. Because the ending of this episode shook everything (including me) up so much it turned it upside down, inside out and every which way.
After the opening fake-out (I almost bought it till the last second), I was a little frustrated at first that the writers hadn’t had the courage to follow through and kill off you-know-who. But the writers hadn’t chickened out, they were just biding their time, eventually putting their money where their, er, pens were and doing something a lot more controversial.
Before that ending, though, we got a corker of an episode; a relentlessly exciting thriller, as our heroes risked all to play Amanda at her own game, neutralise the moles and (thankfully) resolve the Sonya conundrum a lot quicker than I thought they would. Nothing was off-limits: Michael and Alex messed with shippers everywhere (and enjoyed it, I think?), Birkhoff carried out actual BRAIN surgery and THEN Nikita REDACTED Michael’s REDACTED.
I repeat: Nikita REDACTED Michael’s REDACTED.
OH. MY. GOD.
It had to have been an incredibly bold, difficult decision to make, both for Niki and the show, and it was a horribly tough minute of tv to watch. A few months ago I accidentally read a spoiler about the, er, injury but I didn’t know how or when it was going to happen, so I’ve been waiting and dreading it for a while now; even semi-spoiled, though, it was undeniably shocking and what’s to come may be even harder to navigate. But the show needed something game-changing to happen and,grim though it was, that’s what we got. (Although, if I were Shane West, I might be wondering why people kept picking ME for this particular brand of plotline, before I reminded myself it was a compliment.) Let’s see where they take it from here.
Finally, a rogue agent I’d like to hang out with!
Our heroes’ latest quarry is the only one they’ve caught so far to show us a good time. Ok, he’s an arms dealer and he enjoys a double-cross every now and then, but it’s nice to see someone enthusiastic about their work, right? And after a fun opening sequence with Niki and Michael, my new buddy Cyrus turns out to be the episode’s MVP: he’s charming, funny and has a big old soft spot for Nikita and doing the right thing hidden somewhere among all his untraceable weapons stocks. And he smiles a lot, which is more than welcome this week, since Alex’s back in junkie mode, Sean’s back in asshat mode and Amanda’s gone full-on crackpot.
(I am so bored with Amanda right now.)
At least Niki and Michael are still keeping their heads (if not quite as cheerily as Cyrus) since even Birkhoff, after impressing me by trapping the mole, promptly loses me by agreeing to keep it a secret. DUDE. That is a terrible idea.
Especially given that the mole might be the worst Division agent ever. Here’s everyone else kamikazically throwing themselves into harm’s way, daring Amanda to blow them up or abseiling into a gun battle with Ari’s goons, while the mole is all “Oh woe, Amanda threatened to kill me, I’m so scared, wah wah wah!” FFS, mole. Man up! You’re embarrassing me.
Although, on second thought, maybe the mole is the best Division agent ever. Turn on the tears, get Birkhoff in protective mode and create a wedge between him and his friends? That’s either pathetic or it’s genius. We shall see…