'Nikita' Recap: 'Partners' (2.04)
This week's Nikita continues to dig up the past - but this week it has a specific name and a face, and a whole lot of festering anger.
We're in Turkey this week, and Kelly (Katheryn Winnick) is trying to make a quick escape. When that doesn't go as planned, she starts shooting and steals a getaway van. Yay for generic white vans.
This big, loud escape brings her to the attention of Amanda at Division, who decides to send a cleaning team - and Alex, because Kelly happens to be Nikita's former partner, presumed killed in action on the operation during which Nikita escaped Division. Cue the now-obligatory flashback to four years earlier, and then Michael tells us that Kelly tried to complete the mission without Nikita, which is how she got in trouble. "She's been in prison for four years bexause I left her behind," Nikita tells Michael, already forming another guilt complex.
Amanda confronts Alex about assassinating Anton last week. She tells Alex that tracking Kelly is her chance to redeem herself for disobeying orders. Oh, and if Alex goes along, she might get some intelligence on the man responsible for killing her father, which is of course all that Alex needs to hear to play ball.
Cut to the Russians discussing Anton's murder. Sergei - the man in question - is not thrilled with the situation, and wants answers from Ari (the head of Gogol who just keeps popping up like a cockroach). I swear Sergei looks like an older Russian Chris Parnell with that haircut. When the random third guy in the room objects to Ari's involvement, Sergei shoots him and promotes the Gogol agent. "This is personal," he continues, reminding us that he used a Division strike team to kill Alex's father. If we didn't get that he's a bad guy, he leaves the dead guy on the floor as he walks out.
Back at Division, Alex works with New Female Assistant to track Kelly, and believes that the ex-agent had a safety net at a former Division safehouse. She's interrupted by her partner on this little gig: Roan, aka Joey Greco, looking as cheerful as he ever does. Awkward moment ensues, but not as awkward as Percy taunting Amanda. Could we please get Xander Berkeley out of his box already?
In Turkey, a very disheveled-looking Kelly retrieves a hidden phone that just happens to ring at the same time. Nikita is on the other end, sitting in a car with Michael. "I'm going to get you out of the country," she promises, "and I can explain everything." Kelly doesn't answer, but Nikita believes she'll show for a meeting just to get an explanation for what happened four years earlier. When she does show, she has a gun pointed at Nikita's head. A brawl ensues until Michael literally rushes in to separate the two of them, and the scene attracts a half-dozen local police units. There's a little carjacking and some stunt driving - while they might escape the cops, they don't escape Alex's watchful eye.
As soon as she has the chance, Kelly decides to slug Nikita for not telling her the truth. She goes on to twist the knife a bit, talking about Nikita's ability to "bat her eyelashes at Michael" and asking who Nikita had "to screw over" to get him out. Nikita retorts that at least she showed up to help, unlike anyone at Division. "Don't expect a thank-you," Kelly tells her. And I try not to laugh as the two of them don bad wigs and bad French accents to get onto a train to Istanbul.
Meanwhile, Michael and Birkhoff are having a conversation of their own, with Michael telling Birkhoff (and by extension the audience) about Nikita and Kelly's history while he's busy breaking into another vehicle. He's efficient. It's not hard to see why he became Percy's number-two man. Time management is an invaluable skill; just ask Jack Bauer.
Ari's busy investigating Anton's shooting. He gets one of the staffers there to squeal about a female photographer who wanted a better view than the one she was provided, and points out to him (and us) that no press passes were issued to any female photographers. Oh, this guy's dead, even as he's giving a pretty good description of Alex.
Alex herself has boarded the train with Roan, pretending that she's trying to find her two "friends" despite using pictures that are obvious file photos. She's lucky the guy she asks doesn't think that's weird. Unfortunately for her, Birkhoff has tipped Nikita off to her presence, sending Nikita and Kelly on the run (but they have plenty of time to argue about a course of action). A two-on-two fight ensues in the dning car, where a bunch of stuff gets broken and a perfectly good pizza gets wasted. Once it ends, Nikita and Kelly jump off the still-moving train while Alex looks on in frustration.
They make their way to a restaurant so that Nikita can call Michael and tell him that their plan is busted. Kelly decides to take that time to use the restroom, by which I mean that she swipes a cell phone and calls Ari. First Owen, now Kelly - is everyone that Nikita once knew now friendly with Gogol? The important thing is that Kelly gives Ari a description of Alex, which of course matches the one that he got from the staffer earlier. "She's an assassin who I would very much like to speak with," Ari tells Kelly, instructing her to bring Alex to him.
Kelly purposefully punctures a tire before she gets into the car that Nikita has managed to obtain, and presses her ex-partner for more information on Alex. "We were partners," Nikita says. "Before Michael and Birkhoff, it was Alex and I against Division." Hearing those sentences, Kelly starts needling her again. The woman has a seriously hard time burying the hatchet.
Amanda and Percy are having tea and discussing Alex as if one of them isn't in a giant box. Percy points out to her that she merely wants Sergei out of the picture so that she can replace him with Alex, whom she can control. Furthermore, he ominously tells her that she knows what he wants.
When that punctured tire finally goes, Nikita and Kelly are predictably semi-in the middle of nowhere. While updating Michael, Nikita realizes that the tire was sabotaged and finally wises up to her former colleague. She grabs the stolen cell phone, hears Ari's voice on the other line, and it all becomes clear. When Kelly comes back, she's the one to get the gun pointed at her this time. "Ari offered me a way out," Kelly explains. "As much as Ari wants you dead, he wants Percy's black box more. When I told Ari about Alex, my orders changed. I went from Trojan horse to bait." For that, Kelly gets herself stuffed in the trunk.
Now Nikita has a tough decision: save her own behind again, or try to save someone - anyone - she knows. She takes off running as Roan and Alex arrive looking for Kelly and finding some Gogol minions instead. Roan shoots one and tells Alex to run. You know, for once, I might actually like this guy.
Nikita has decided to stay and help as well, which is a good thing because Kelly has captured Alex, threatening to shoot her if Nikita doesn't show herself. Nikita reminds her that Ari wants Alex alive. Kelly's the one who ends up dead soon after. I would be laughing at Kelly's obvious idiocy, but I'm too busy cheering at Michael showing up to save the day. I know the show is called Nikita, but I have to admit that I really like Michael. Which is saying something, because in my La Femme Nikita days, he was probably my least favorite. What a difference an incarnation makes.
Realizing that Gogol has its sights on her, Alex considers Nikita's offer to come with them, but is convinced that Division can protect her. She can't be dissuaded from killing Sergei, no matter what. At least she's nice enough to tip Michael and Nikita off to the fact that Division backup is on the way, and there's a clear conflict in her eyes as she watches them leave, claiming there's no sign of them.
Once again, Michael attempts to reassure Nikita, and Nikita tells him about how much she wanted to help. "That's who you are," he tells her, as she's got double guilt on her shoulders between the death of Kelly and Alex's near-capture. He says that he and Nikita are partners and she suggests coming up with another word. I can't blame her. Meanwhile, Amanda promises Alex safety as there's an ominous dramatic music swell and as Ari tells Sergei that she's responsible for Anton's death.
"Partners" makes me concerned that Nikita might be falling into a formula: our team digs up/finds out about something that connects to a past Division operation and sets out to fix it, Nikita feels guilty over something, and there's at least one flashback involved. It's not all that dissimilar from last week's "Knightfall." Granted, there's going to be a fair amount of backstory because the thrust of season two is using Percy's black box to right the wrongs of Division, but I hope that doesn't mean that the show starts doing the same thing every week.
Next week seems like it could be the same old song again, too: a figure from the past (this time Michael's) that one of our lead characters has an emotional investment in? It feels from the preview like Michael's version of this episode, plus the added dose of Nikita's jealousy, and I hope that's not the case.
This again brings up my worries from "Pandora" about where this show is going in the long term - is it just going to be about the black boxes for the whole of season two? What about season three? - but those are questions we won't be able to feasibly answer for a long time now, so I'll just sit back and give the writers the benefit of the doubt.
Taking the episode on its own, though, it's another entertaining if not impressive outing for Nikita. The action in the show usually sustains it through weaker scripts, and this is one of those times. We get a lot of action, from forest shootout to train brawling, and Michael saving the day is an action-hero moment if there ever was one. In terms of the action sequences, Nikita may be the best show on television.
Yet the episode is far from flawless. Katheryn Winnick falls flat to me in the role of Kelly - literally, as at times her tone and glaring make her seem like a robot. I didn't really get interested in her character, which made it harder for me to get into the episode since I had no real concern about her fate. It was a surprise when Owen was up in arms with Gogol, but Kelly too? It seems like something the writers made up just to get the episode's final reveal, which wasn't much of a surprise either. If somebody was out killing people I worked with, I'd want them dead, too - no matter who they were.
I was really hoping that season two of Nikita would dig seriously into these character's psyches and continue to let them grow, as we saw them change across season one. So far, they seem to be standing still. It's a bit bothersome. Yet if nothing else, I can count on this show to shoot a few people, destroy a lot of property, and entertain me on a typically slow night for television. The question is: will that be enough?
(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.
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