After tonight, there are only two episodes left in Nikita's first season. This would be the time to start the final push toward the end. Instead, we get an episode that reminds me of The X-Files' "Arcadia," only with more bullets and a lack of the supernatural.
Alex is telling Nikita how easy it would be to leave her apartment and her cover. Nikita doesn't think now is the time for that. "We can't afford to make a mistake," she says, but Alex insists that now that Michael has turned sides, she's no longer needed. I think I asked that same question awhile back...
Speaking of Michael, he's getting a briefing from Percy on a black box that's located in Plainview, Pennsylvania. Percy believes that it's Owen's fault Nikita got her hands on the two black boxes that were destroyed. He wants Michael to keep an eye on Dana Winters (Christina Moses), the guardian in charge of the black box in Plainview. Birkhoff calls Percy a tightly wound freak, and asks Michael about something called Operation Sparrow. Michael believes that's the name for Percy's master plan, and tells Nikita that, along with warning her that there's a six-hour window for her to get to the black box in Plainview before he's supposed to roll into town. (And a spiffy clock shows up just above the CW ident! And follows us through the episode!)
Nikita arrives in Plainview and breaks into Dana's house. She finds that Dana has left her tracker on a thug who's taken up residence in her house. So where's Dana? That's the burning question. Michael is not happy, but Nikita tells him to get down there, believing that Dana hasn't left town.
Alex has another conversation with Nathan. He wants her to go to San Francisco. She tells him that the people she works for will look for her when she leaves, and blurts out that those people are government assassins. He thinks she's feeding him a bad excuse to break up with her and walks out.
Jaden is having a chat with Amanda, mindful of a bandage on the back of her neck, covering up her new tracker. Wonder if that one's got the kill option too. Amanda wants her to lean on Alex for support. I'm sure that will go so well.
Back in Pennsylvania, Nikita has tracked down the bank where she believes the black box is, and goes in pretending to rob the place. (It sounds like she also tries to alter her voice to make it sound more masculine, which is just weird.) This draws the attention of the cops, and in turn, of Dana. Nikita is thus able to follow Dana back to where she's hiding out, which happens to be on a street with some white picket fences. Hello, obvious symbol! We find out that Dana is happily shacked up with a local sheriff and they've got a kid. This is not really a surprise (after all, we saw Owen in a relationship too) but it certainly makes things more complicated.
Michael finally shows up that night and meets Nikita in a local diner. Nikita feels responsible because Dana wouldn't have come under scrutiny if not for her earlier successes. "It's not like we could just show up on her doorstep," Michael says...so we cut to the two of them doing just that, pretending to be a happy couple. One awkward dinner scene ensues, in which we learn that Nikita's a vegetarian and Dana's husband tells them they met almost two years ago when he pulled her over for speeding. When he asks Nikita about kids, Michael chokes on his wine. This is probably supposed to be funnier than it is.
Nikita finally pulls Dana aside to have a real conversation with her, which turns into a tussle in the hallway until Nikita pulls the "once upon a time" card. I wonder how many times she's going to give that speech over the course of the show.
Michael has run out of time to stall, and he calls Percy to advise that Dana is gone, Nikita is there and he needs a strike team. This motivates Dana to tell her husband who she really is, which he does not take well. His son overhears this and decides to run away. Nikita advises Dana and her husband to find his son and get out of town while she goes to look for the black box.
Alex is surprised to find Jaden on her doorstep. Apparently the other girl's new apartment is only about ten minutes away and she's got all sorts of questions. She also thanks Alex for what she did for her. Nathan walks in and leaves just as quickly. Jaden naturally asks Alex about her relationship with Nathan. Her insistence that it needs to be reported leads to a fistfight in the middle of Alex's apartment. It's a straight-up catfight, and just as Jaden is about to kill Alex, Nathan shoots her. Oh, snap. I did not see that coming. Alex warns him to pack and get out as fast as he can, and then calls Nikita in a panic. Nikita tells her to call Division and tell them the truth, and then to call her back once the cleaner disposes of Jaden's body.
While Michael breaks the strike team and Birkhoff locates Dana, Nikita tracks down the missing son, and tells him that her mom wasn't her real mother either. Michael and the strike team find Dana at an intersection, and Michael goes through the usual interrogation questions. Thankfully, she's saved from having to answer too many of them, as Birkhoff alerts Michael that he's found Nikita and the kid. Naturally, the strike team rolls up there next, with Dana in tow...and one guy who likes shooting stuff up. Seriously, he's shooting about five seconds after the van stops.
Nikita negotiates for the kid's safe escape, or so she thinks, as the trigger-happy guy would rather use him as a hostage. Dana decides she'll just shoot everyone on the strike team for that.
Problem solved, Dana gives Nikita a sample of her blood to gain access to the recovered black box, and thanks her for her newfound freedom. This leaves Nikita to look on wistfully as Dana and her family drive away, with Michael standing awkwardly beside her. He apologizes to her for how he's not used to planning ahead for happily ever after. He doesn't know how to deal with it after everything he's been through. Tear. They kiss, and I wonder if it's a requirement now that there has to be a cute Michael/Nikita moment in each episode. I get that there will obviously be more affection between them now that they're a bonafide couple, but I don't want there to be too much of a good thing either.
Meanwhile, Roan (that guy that looks like Joey Greco from Cheaters) is disposing of Jaden when he notices Nathan's aftershave and gets suspicious. He tells her that when she's done throwing up in the sink, Amanda wants a full debriefing. In fact, Amanda has a recording of Alex's phone call to Nikita, which she recovered from the cochlear implant in Jaden's ear. This makes Amanda nearly crush Alex's windpipe as she calls her "Alexandra." And in that moment, Melinda Clarke wins the episode.
This is another Nikita episode that I just can't get too excited about, which I think is because it all feels telegraphed to me. I can see the parallels which we're meant to draw all too well. The show hits on the theme that in the spy business, it's next to impossible to have a normal life, and we see that in the relationships between Dana and her husband, Alex and Nathan, and even Nikita and Michael. But when you can see the lines so well you know what's coming: Nikita will pine for a happy life with Michael, Dana will redeem herself, et al. It reminds me of what I liked about Buffy The Vampire Slayer: the monsters of the week were often born out of whatever personal story Joss Whedon was trying to tell about his characters. Nikita is trying to do the same thing, but it doesn't work so well when it's this obvious.
Having said that, I did get a lot of satisfaction out of the subplots that almost made up for my lack of surprise at the main plot. I definitely did not see Jaden's death coming at this moment, though I figured her for dead at some point given how there were always going to be confrontations between her and Alex until one of them was no longer part of the equation, and Tiffany Hines wasn't a series regular. I was surprised that it was Nathan who was the one to kill her, though. One only wonders what that will do to him and if he'll stay in the picture. If not, I hope we at least get a mention of where he ends up - it's so frustrating to have characters disappear and never be mentioned again, especially if we're supposed to believe they were significant in the lives of our protagonists.
And I certainly didn't expect Jaden's death to be Alex's undoing. Amanda had her suspicions about Alex and after the lie detector test previously, I figured again that it was only a matter of time before Amanda blew her cover. But that was one nifty way to find out. It should also allow Melinda Clarke to be as villainous as Alberta Watson was in the original series. I am all for seeing some truly wicked Amanda, because now she has all the power. These were two things that I'd suspected would happen, but they took me by surprise because of the how and when - and they set up some interesting questions about how things will all end.
We've had our share of standalone stories, last week with Jaden and Alex, and this week with Nikita and to a lesser extent, Michael. Now I think it's time to get back to the main plot, because these are some juicy possibilities that are coming out and I can't wait to see where they end up.
For more Nikita, head over to DigitalAirwaves.net.