'Nikita' Recap: Nikita Is Torn Between Michael and the President in 'Invisible Hand'
May 11th, 2013 9:30am EDT
This week's Nikita has a title that sounds like a low-budget horror movie. Thankfully, this is Nikita, which means it's of much better quality than a low-budget horror movie. Unsurprisingly, it sets up a major finale that aims to be a springboard for things bigger, badder and more breathtaking.
Ominous music swells as Nikita walks across a mostly abandoned parking lot and retrieves the keys to a car. Once she gets inside, she has a video conference with an associate named Henry, who tells her that he can't identify the hitman who was with Amanda previously. This does not make Nikita happy - but her mood gets worse when she watches her friend being shot and killed by the same hitman, who identifies himself only as Smith. He takes control of her car remotely, and Nikita leaps free of the vehicle just before it goes up in a fireball.
She goes back to not-Division and breaks the news to Michael, who informs her that the President is signing their pardons as they speak and they could just walk away. Nikita doesn't like the idea of letting Amanda and her new allies at The Shop run free. Michael would rather start living the rest of his life. "She'll come after me. She'll come after us. And she'll keep coming unless we stop her," Nikita insists, but that line's not good enough for Michael anymore. Awkward conversation is truncated by Birkhoff saying they're going to dismantle what's left of the car to look for evidence.
Once he and Sonya do just that, they find a handy little network card that Birkhoff uses to access The Shop's satellite network. Once he's in, he taps into a conversation between Smith and Amanda's new partner, who orders him to New York for another planned assassination: that of a human rights activist named Hasan (played by Raven Dauda). Michael reminds the audience that The Shop tests on human subjects, so Hasan is messing with their business. Nikita swears saving Hasan is the last mission, but nobody really believes her.
Off everyone goes to make contact with Hasan, with Alex getting more use out of her celebrity status. When Hasan calls Alex a hero and offers her a gig as a special envoy to the United Nations, Alex looks really uncomfortable. Her moment of surprise gives Smith the opportunity to stab Hasan, luckily only wounding her. Nikita pursues the assassin into the alley and a brawl ensues that ends with Nikita introducing him to his own knife. She steals his phone and sends a text message back to Amanda before running away from the cops.
Birkhoff traces Amanda's response back to her new secret HQ and intends on storming the gates, but Michael is not on board with that idea. However, she insists that he come with her "in case I stop being myself," and he follows like a good fiance.
Their break-in attempt doesn't go smoothly, with Nikita horrified at the interior of the facility, which includes cages for test subjects and one poor dude being injected with something against his will. That last part prompts her and Michael to spring into action, but it's too late for the guy, who begins coughing up gross amounts of blood. As if that's not bad enough, the computers are too fast for Birkhoff and a bunch of automated turrets open fire, one of them wounding Michael.
After our heroes make a narrow escape, Michael gets patched up while Nikita interrogates the doctor, who claims to be "just a biologist" and have no idea who Amanda is. Nikita isn't impressed by his "don't pretend to understand what I'm doing spiel," so she injects him with his own nanotoxin. He promptly dies in the same disgusting way, but at least he tells Nikita that the nanotoxin is not just a virus, but the nanites inside are intended to be an upgrade on Division's kill chip - they can be activated remotely. Michael puts two and two together and realizes that Hasan's stabbing was meant not to kill her, but to infect her, so that she could die a very public death.
Nikita decides on two operations: Michael can get the antidote to the nanotoxin to Alex, and she's going to Philadelphia to stop whoever has the trigger, presumably Amanda. Again Michael does not want, but he eventually caves when Nikita promises that if he reaches Hasan before she gets to the trigger, she'll stand down or at least wait for backup. Surprising no one, Nikita loses contact with Birkhoff just before she has another face-to-face with Amanda, who tells her, "My target is, and always has been, you." Yes, Amanda, we've all noticed.
In case you missed something, Amanda basically walks the audience step-by-step through her evil plan. It's the Nikita equivalent of that part at the end of Monk where Adrian Monk says "Here's what happened." She reveals that the nanotoxin was injected in the carbon fiber bone that makes up Michael's artificial hand. Literally as they are speaking, he is delivering Team Nikita's only dose of the antidote to Alex, who then injects it into Hasan.
There's a "but" coming: Amanda offers Nikita another dose of the antidote, if she assassinates President Spencer. As if Nikita would really trust Amanda to keep her promises. "Even if I do this, even if Michael lives, we'll never be together again," Nikita realizes tearfully. "My life is over." After some more taunting, Nikita silently walks away. She returns to not-Division in a daze, and very obviously pretends to be totally okay, while the needle drop over the closing scene is even more obvious (with lyrics like "keep quiet" and "poison in your bones").
"Invisible Hand" reads very much like part one of a two-part story, which admittedly isn't atypical of episodes before season finales. Many of them these days are setting the table for the next episode, and that makes them feel like filler. Where "Invisible Hand" succeeds is that, while you can argue that it's one long setup plot-wise, it's still very much worth watching. There's the show's usual great fight sequence, some truly cringe-worthy blood being spit up, and hints at a new direction for Alex that are refreshing after how her story's felt like a retread the last couple of episodes. Speaking of hints, Birkhoff and Sonya realizing that The Shop goes international is a clear setup for a new antagonist network in season four. (Whether or not that will actually play out, well, see below.)
The good news for Nikita fans is that the show is coming back: it was renewed earlier this week for six new episodes. The bad news is that six episodes is less than half an average TV season these days, and the fact that The CW would extend such a limited renewal in the first place isn't a huge show of confidence, which in turn doesn't make it seem likely that they'd consider increasing that order. It wouldn't be out of line to presume that season four will be the last.
What does that all mean for fans of the show? Aside from the obvious disappointment, whatever story arcs the Nikita writers create for season four are going to have to fit within that limited space. All the smaller stuff - like the subplots and supporting characters the show has come to use more of recently - might not fit in that picture.
On one hand, this could be a great thing for the show. Season three (and even parts of season two) hasn't had the same focus as the tightly plotted season one. Maybe the reduced order will mean that we'll see another season with a really well developed arc. Maybe we'll see the emphasis placed back on the core characters. On the other hand, the writers might be unable to use some great ideas because they can't be done in so few episodes. It will really be interesting to see how the show adjusts to fit the network's decision.
That's something we won't be able to find out for months, though. Right now, all we can focus on is the upcoming season finale, which has now set up this 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' scenario and should also - if there's any justice left and credibility left for these heroes - see the end of Amanda. How next Friday's episode ends should also be a big clue as to what's possible in season four (or at least what the writers thought was possible when the finale was penned). Keep your eyes open, Agents. A huge crossroads is ahead.
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.
Photo Credits: The CW