'Nikita' 1.21 'Betrayals' Recap and Review
Last week's Nikita was fairly forgettable except for that awesome scene that saw Amanda expose Alex as a traitor. It's time to pick that mayhem up where we left off!
Michael and Nikita are discussing how much time they have before Percy enacts his plan for world domination. "Whatever it is, if it fails with Percy's fingerprints on it, then he burns, and he knows that," Michael says. They know they need Birkhoff to help them break the encryption of the black boxes. She expects him to get a hold of the hacker, but he knows doing so will expose him for good. Then there's a now-required cute moment between them.
Where's Alex in all this? Being electro-shocked by Amanda. Percy arrives, and when Amanda tells him everything he needs to know about Alex, he is not a happy camper. Amanda isn't happy when Percy kicks her out of the room. He wants to handle the situation personally, because we already know he's not just that guy who sits behind his big desk all day. "Nikita has one of my black boxes and you're going to lead me to it," he tells Alex but she replies that she's ready to die. To the contrary, Percy says. Today's the day he saves her life.
Michael catches up with a peeved Amanda and is suspicious when she won't let him see Alex. He knows this is the longest debriefing in history. However, it gives him time to go down to Birkhoff's lair (love the couch), where our favorite hacker looks like he's been wallowing over a bad breakup. Turns out, he's just sick of being confined to Division. Birkhoff is convinced of...well, everything Nikita has asked Michael to do. "Percy is taking out anyone who even has a chance of breaking the encryption," he rants, showing Michael that there's only one surviving cryptographer, CIA nerd Malcolm Mitchell (Mad Men and Burn Notice's Rich Sommer).
There's already a Division agent outside Malcolm's house...and Nikita inside his house. The agent and two of his colleagues make entry and Nikita dispatches all of them fairly quickly, proving to Malcolm that she's for real. She brings him back to her safe house and tells him about the black box. Right on cue, Michael walks in, telling her Alex is "on hold in Amanda Land," which makes me giggle for no good reason. Malcolm informs both of them that cracking the box will not be as easy as they think.
Birkhoff tells Percy that Nikita has Malcolm, and Percy informs him to keep an eye on Ryan Fletcher. He then goes back to Alex with a black box of his own in hand. "You've been manipulated by those closest to you," he tells her, before showing her what's inside the box: information on the operation that killed her parents. He tells her that it was her father's right-hand man who used Division to kill her family, and says that he regrets Division's involvement, but he was following orders from Oversight. It's a surprisingly genuine apology and another reason I love Percy. As much as I hate him, he's not born out of a plume of hellfire. He's still a human being.
Ryan (Noah Bean) has a nice new office at Langley, and he's relaxing in it when Nikita calls him, pretending to be a guy named Bob. They covertly set up a meeting at Union Station. Michael warns her that Percy will be all over Ryan, and insists on going with her. Nikita asks him again where Alex is, and he finally realizes that something isn't right.
Percy continues to give Alex the blow-by-blow of the night her parents died, and through flashbacks we can see it ourselves as he explains the details. Now we know exactly what led up to those fiery scenes we saw earlier in the season. This leads to a reveal many Nikita fans figured out quite some time ago: that Nikita was the Division agent who shot Alex's father. "Did she forget to mention that?" Percy says, with just a hint of smugness. This is why Xander Berkeley is perfect for Nikita's big bad. He's not as outright scary as Eugene Robert Glazer was in La Femme Nikita, but he doesn't need to be. He's got that deadpan wit about him that he doesn't ever overplay. It's that extra verve that makes all of his characters so memorable.
Michael asks Amanda where Alex is, but she'd rather question him about Operation Sparrow. Neither of them want to give the other any answers. Michael goes straight to Percy, only to find Alex there. He has to look shocked when Percy tells him that she is the mole, and to be honest, he kind of fails at it. Percy calls it Michael's mess to clean up, only to see Michael grab the gun off his desk and aim it at him. "You can't shoot me," Percy tells him, just before giving Michael a nice electrical jolt as well. He was prepared for this all along - again, not all that surprising since we know from "Covenants" that Michael was only recruited because he survived the attack that killed his family.
Ryan arrives at Union Station, and Nikita tips him off that he's being followed. He goes to a storage locker, retrieves a bag, and quickly loses it in a scuffle with two Division agents. Unfortunately for them, the bag is full of exploding dye packs and money. Pwned.
A tearful Alex doesn't like Percy's chess metaphors, much to his surprise. At least I understand them. (Wow, my vice-presidency of the high school chess club finally came in handy for something!) He tells her to start thinking for herself, before adding that her kill chip - the one we thought was dealt with episodes ago - has been reactivated. It's up to her what she does from that moment on. "You can choose to die or you can choose to live," he says ominously. I wonder how hard it must have been for Shane West to lay there faceplanting the floor during this whole spiel.
While all this is going on, Nikita is pleading with Ryan for help. He correctly deduces that she needs the box decrypted because there are incriminating things about her on it, and she gets upset with herself for not refusing what she was told to do as a Division agent. "I have someone to live for, and he's on that box, too," she adds, but he stands firm, saying the only way he can get the access she needs is to go through CIA official channels, which will damn her.
A bit sullen, she arrives home to find Alex waiting for her. Tetchy conversation ensues, but Alex eventually tells Nikita that Michael is trapped inside Division. As she rattles off details about Division movements, we find out that she's just feeding Nikita information that Percy has given her. She's leading Nikita right to Joey Greco, who has orders to execute both of them upon arrival.
Nikita, Alex and Malcolm meet with Ryan. He takes the black box from Nikita and also takes responsibility for Malcolm. When Ryan slips up and mentions that he was involved in deactivating Alex's kill chip, she gets curious, but Nikita pulls her away from him before he can answer.
Michael, meanwhile, has taken up residence in Division's concrete basement. Percy comes by to say hello and the two start arguing about their differing approaches. Percy points out that Michael changed his tune about Operation Sparrow far too quickly, and that what we thought was a major script flaw in "Glass Houses" - that Michael made a call with Nikita right next to him - was in fact a hint. Division picked up on it the same as we did, Percy having struck a deal with Dana. Okay, parts of last week's episode don't seem so sloppy anymore. The final nail in the proverbial coffin? He wanted Ryan to get hold of the black box all along.
Once he's messed with Michael's head, he has a conversation with Amanda, referring to a "nasty surprise" inside the box. "Everything is about to change. Just be glad you're on the right side of things," he tells her, in a tone that warns her she'd better stay there. As he says that, Nikita is following Alex's bad intel to an empty warehouse, where it's perfectly convenient for Alex to aim her gun at her and demand that Nikita tell her if she killed her father. The gun discharges accidentally and then...well, you'll have to wait till next week, but I think it's safe to say Nikita isn't dead, or the show would need a new title.
There are some major revelations in "Betrayals." Unfortunately, they would have been more effective if Nikita's fanbase hadn't sussed them out awhile back. I've been hearing from fans that suspected Nikita was the killer of Alex's parents since the house fire flashbacks were first introduced. Alex subsequently at odds with Nikita is not a shocker because it wouldn't make sense if it didn't happen. It would be ridiculous if she just went, "Oh, you killed my parents? Never mind."
Likewise, it's not all that surprising that Percy turned on Michael, either. We've seen that loyalties in Division don't count for anything, and frankly it would have been out of character for Percy not to protect himself from everyone including Michael and Amanda. In his own mind, he's the only person that matters. We've seen that time and again. We should know the characters well enough by now to understand how they think and act. With that in mind, nothing here really caught me off guard, although I feel a lot better about "Glass Houses" because of this episode. That script was pretty weak at points, and while using parts of it here doesn't make it all okay, at least that helps it make some more sense. After all, if I can figure out something looks wrong, of course Division should see that it looks wrong.
What's most impressive here is the acting. I've been a Xander Berkeley fan ever since he was George Mason on 24, and this is some of the juiciest material that he's had to work with since "The Guardian." I love how Percy stays calm and collected the entire episode while saying and doing some pretty nasty stuff - that only makes it even more uncomfortable. He is an amazing actor, and I'm glad that he's really getting to amp his evil into high gear. Lyndsy Fonseca also gives a stellar performance this week. We get to see Alex's resolve crumble and her loyalties shift, and it's completely believable. She struggles with it. This isn't just Alex magically believing what Percy has to say. Lyndsy lets us see and feel how Alex, with all the information in front of her, has to deal with how the person closest to her has betrayed her. I hate to say it, but Percy actually gave Alex some good advice. She has to make a decision for herself and she does, even if it's not one we might want to see.
Next week is going to be interesting. I can see how season two might gel together, should there be one. All the same, I expect that with such significant changes put into play, the season finale will be a big deal - if it's not, then it would be a letdown after a season's worth of complex mythology having been rolled out. Let's hope that it follows through with the plot and character development, and doesn't turn into one of those all too common season finales that relies more on gunplay and explosions than the stories that got us to the end.
This is going to be fun.
If you missed my interview with Lyndsy Fonseca, check out what she had to say about this episode and next week's episode.
For more Nikita, head over to DigitalAirwaves.net.