After the underwhelming "Covenants," I was looking for Nikita to punch back this week. And it does to an extent - mostly because Devon Sawa steals the whole show.
Unsurprisingly, after all that ridiculous sexual tension, Nikita and Michael are having a little issue keeping their hands off each other. (Hey, in her defense, if Shane West wanted to sleep with me, I wouldn't turn that down!) Into this cuddly moment walks Owen. He's arrived with information on the black box that's in London, and Michael is not happy to see him. Especially since Nikita wants to go with him to London. "You don't know what he's done," Michael tells her, referring to Daniel's murder, but she corrects him that she does, and that Owen is trying to change. Not unlike, you know, both of them.
Inside Division, Alex is deleting their files on Nathan from their computers. Just as she finishes doing so, Amanda appears seemingly out of nowhere (isn't that creepy, how quiet she is?) and wants to put her to work. Michael tells Birkhoff he wants to review Division's internal security, but Birkhoff is busy with an operation gone wrong - one that involved Jaden. Amanda thinks Alex should debrief Jaden, much to Alex's amusement. "You're in the perfect position to help me get to the truth," is her reasoning.
Nikita and Owen arrive in London - one of my favorite places in the world - where Owen has gone all A Beautiful Mind on the walls of his hideout. He's so proud of himself as he explains his thought process to Nikita. As he's explaining about Guardians to her, we get our first glimpse of Darth Maul. I mean, Toad. I mean...well, it's Ray Park. Owen reveals that Guardians are on enough drugs to make a pharmacy (a "metabolic dominance program"), from which the withdrawal is nasty. Unfortunately, he's almost out of pills and their new opponent's got plenty.
"No one wants to be here less than me," Alex tells Jaden when she walks in to debrief her. Jaden is profoundly unhelpful except to say that corporate security arrived ahead of schedule and then there was shooting. In fact, she starts talking about Alex sneaking through the air vents and her use of the thumbprint pad from earlier in the season, which draws Amanda's attention. So much so that she wants answers from Alex.
Michael calls Nikita and Owen with information on a shipping container, including its number and location at the Port of London. Nikita asks him about the drugs, and when she tells him Owen is in withdrawl, Michael suggests that she leave or shoot him. Apparently, the withdrawl involves "wildly erratic behavior" and becoming "psychotically obsessive." Nikita ignores his advice and goes with Owen, finding the container and a whole megaton of guns, ammunition, and nasty stuff including a "carbon steel bone saw." We've pretty much wandered into a slasher movie, folks.
True to TV form, since Michael has just called Owen potentially nuts, Owen has a psychotic moment, ticked off that Nikita doesn't want to release the information inside the black boxes. There's just enough time for him to throw something dramatically before the shipping container blows up, nearly taking them with it.
But that Michael, he's a sneaky bastard. He tells Percy that Owen is in London, in order to get himself sent there. Unfortunately for him, the guardian has already called and told Percy this, so Michael is tasked with not only taking out Owen, but Nikita as well. We all know he's not going to complete that mission, so the question is how will he get away with failing it?
Alex tries to explain away Jaden's accusations, but when Amanda doesn't budge, she gets indignant about how the other woman can't "solve" her. Amanda's response is to call in Birkhoff and an FMRI that can read her brain and tell if she's lying. Gee, Alex, I think you lost that one.
Back in London, Owen is officially out of drugs and has developed a fondness for tattoos, and Nikita is worried about what to do now that they've been found out. In order to narrow down which bank the black box is in, she asks Owen to tell her about the one he used for the same purpose in Montreal. Once they've found the right bank, Nikita wants to talk her way in, but Owen sees the guardian as he's leaving with the black box and decides to chase him down instead, into traffic. Very public shooting ensues. Then there's a brawl between all three of them that ends with Owen dumping the guardian off a bridge into the frozen water below.
Before Nikita can destroy the black box, she has another argument with Owen over it, and is hit by a car in the process. Owen escapes with the box, and the guardian - who is clearly cooler than the rest of us as he is not dead as we would all be - rears his head again.
Oh hai, Priest trailer. Fitting to have the spot for the movie with Maggie Q during the show in which she stars.
Alex fails her impromptu lie detector test miserably, much to Amanda's delight. She confesses that she lied to protect Thom. No harm in selling out the dead guy. She tells just enough truth to support a fake story that allows her to ace the test the second time around. Amanda says she's very disappointed in Michael, as it was Michael who was Thom's supervisor. "If what you say is true, I'm sure Michael was aware of it," she tells Alex. Alex is going to need a bigger shovel to dig herself out of this hole.
Michael arrives in London, reuniting with a slightly worse for wear Nikita, who is still in denial about Owen's disintegration. She plays the "if it were me, would you give up?" trump card. He really has no defense against that. There's only one right answer. What's he going to say? "I don't care that you're my girlfriend, I'd probably just shoot you?" She'll be able to use that one on him over and over again for as long as they're together.
Owen discovers that he can't transmit the information from the black box he swiped. Seems it's tied to the blood signature of the guy he stole it from. He steals a guy's laptop and a cell phone, then decides to call Percy and talk about his plans - because it's always a good idea to tell your plans to the person you're plotting against. But his insanity has a grander purpose: when Percy nails down his location, that sends everyone running, including the guardian.
As Michael and Percy speed to the scene, another case of only-on-TV-timing happens as Amanda chooses then to call Michael and ask about Alex's accusations. With Nikita asking him to help her, Michael backs up Alex's story and takes a tongue-lashing from Amanda for it. Amanda tells Alex that she's not recommending her for cancellation after all, but the moment she leaves, Birkhoff calls Amanda a liar.
The guardian and a bunch of nameless Division strike team guys - who will soon end up dead because they don't even have names - arrive to take out Owen. Once the thugs are out of the way, it's Owen versus the guardian, round two. A struggle ensues until Owen breaks his neck, then uses his still-cooling corpse to open the black box. Michael and Nikita arrive just as he's getting ready to broadcast its contents. Michael shoots the box and puts an end to that plan, so Owen just decides he'll hit Michael, which leads to Nikita hitting Owen, which leads to Michael and Owen going after each other again...the whole thing is just a mess.
Eventually, Michael calls Percy, relays the bad news, and suggests he rethink his black box system. Owen, meanwhile, gets a well-deserved nap. Thanks to Michael, he's got the rest of the dead guardian's drugs, so he'll be okay for awhile. He tells Nikita that he has "things I have to do by myself" and won't be coming back to the States with her. Oh, and he apologizes for killing her fiancee. This makes her cry, and give him a hug, before leaving him with his kind of ugly furniture.
Alex tells Nikita that Amanda recommended her cancellation, and Nikita decides to move up their timetable for her extraction. When Alex expresses surprise that Michael saved her life, Nikita only says that they have to talk about Michael. That'll be a fun conversation, but we don't get to see it, at least this week. Blackout.
Was this a great Nikita episode? Yes and no. After "Covenants" was so profoundly average, I was looking for something really great to prove to me that the show could survive headed in its new direction. This is not that episode, because first and foremost, it's a guest star's episode. The only major thing that happens to someone not named Owen is that Alex gets recommended for cancellation. And that rings hollow in my head because of the established principle that 99% of the time, leads on a show are safe. As Alex is not named Teri Bauer, I feel comfortable in saying she probably won't die by the end of the season.
Mostly, we get to see that Nikita and Michael are most definitely together, hence the being half-naked (which in this case, I have no problem with, because they've been playing with their obvious sexual frustration for forever and a day now). And at least we hear Michael sort of address the obvious concerns over how this whole thing is supposed to work without getting them shot. I'm happy to see that Nikita is still affected by mentions of Daniel's death. After hearing how it drives her all season long, it would be incredibly annoying if she suddenly forgot all about him and his effect on her life just because she's now together with Michael. This episode doesn't help us any further in determining how their romance will affect the show.
If there's one thing that nags me about this episode it's something that's common to many shows: how people have the worst timing on the face of the planet for dramatic tension. Owen just happens to have a psychotic moment in the scene following Michael's warning that he's crazy? He has a debilitating headache right at the moment where it's least appropriate for him to have one? Amanda just happens to call Michael right as they're driving to save Owen's life? By mid-episode, I was guessing what bad moment would happen next, and I was right all along. It all smacks of "only on TV" timing, which makes certain things fairly predictable, but Nikita is hardly the first show to commit that foul.
This is Devon Sawa's episode, and he gives a fantastic performance as a guy who's going to pieces both physically and mentally. The thrust of the episode is really about Owen - what's happening to him and his chances at redemption - and he sells that story emotionally in addition to some great stunt work. There are a lot of people who might look good beating up bad guys but can't get the emotional weight of their character across the screen. That's not true here. I actually really felt for the guy, and it made me hope that we see more of him someday. His performance really carries the episode. He gets a gold star for effort. (Check out my interview with him from earlier today.)
With only four episodes left it's time for Nikita to start building to its conclusion. As a standalone episode, this one's pretty fun to watch. But I think it's now time to turn our attention to wrapping up the show's complex plot threads, and see if the series pays off its ongoing storylines.