Nikita is back this week, and "Clean Sweep" was an episode worth the wait, because the show looks considerably different now.

Picking up where "Sanctuary" left off, Team Nikita overhears the conversation between Amanda and Patrick Miller (Patrick deVry), and makes their own plan to intervene. "It's about saving lives," says Michael to an incredulous Birkhoff. Convincing the group that he's needed, Sean teams with Nikita and Michael to rescue his mom (and the other members of Oversight) from the Guardians.

This puts them on a collision course with Percy, who is finally freed from his box and plots to make his way to where the members of Oversight are being held. This little road trip involves him shooting his entire Division escort. I love these little reminders that Percy isn't just the typical talking head - he's a stone-cold killer in his own right. Eugene Robert Glazer would be proud. When Percy arrives, he's met by Nikita at gunpoint, but I'm too busy laughing at Percy insulting Michael's new haircut and Michael retorting, "Can I shoot him now?"

Percy proceeds to push everyone's buttons. He asks Michael if Nikita knows that Michael knew about Daniel's death but didn't stop it. Then he asks Nikita if Michael knows the truth about her and Owen. When Nikita makes the mistake of letting him talk, Percy orders Miller to "kill them all but Madeline," which Miller promptly does. They strike an awkward deal: Percy walks out with the trigger for Clean Sweep, and Madeline lives.

Ari (Peter Outerbridge) has also deduced what's up and has sent some of his friends as well. He orders them to kill everyone. What ensues is a three-way shooting match between Team Nikita, Team Percy, and Team Gogol. Many nameless people die, and Percy gets shot, but not before he uses the trigger to activate Clean Sweep.

Meanwhile, feeling guilty about having contributed to the situation at hand, Alex returns to Division. She tells Amanda about her mother still being alive, but Amanda seems not to have been in the know about it. Not only that, but Amanda's figured out that Percy is working with Roan, whom she wants to drown in a pool of his own acid. That makes me cringe just thinking about it. She gets into a fight with Roan and from there it's a race against time to shut down the power at Division and save everyone.

Nikita rescues Madeline, and Sean is reunited with his mother, who's polite enough to thank Nikita before trying and failing to rope Amanda in. "I've lost control of her," Madeline admits after Amanda hangs up on her. Her solution? She'll clear Nikita and Michael's names with a Presidential pardon if they'll continue the fight to take down Division without exposing it. Michael calls it "the first time I can see a real light at the end of the tunnel."

This sounds great, but this being Nikita there's a last-minute thorn: Amanda's co-conspirator is none other than Ari. Amanda tells him she has a "future plan" for both Alex and Nikita, and we get to ruminate on that.

There's plenty of suspense in "Clean Sweep," as there should be in an episode we've waited a few weeks for. While obviously the show can't completely wipe the table, there's enough unpredictability to keep us guessing as to how things turn out, and what will happen next.

For example, killing off almost all of Oversight surprised me, and without them to keep watch on Division (although mostly all we ever saw them do was have meetings of muttered disapproval, so I don't know how effective they really were), that ought to shift the balance of power a bit. It certainly fractures the show: now we've got Team Nikita, Team Amanda/Ari, and Team Percy at the minimum, as opposed to just Team Nikita and Team Division. If we can keep all that from getting too convoluted, it's an excellent way to raise the stakes just that much more.

I've been campaigning for Percy to get out of that blasted box all season, and Xander Berkeley does not disappoint. Percy's snide comments to Nikita, Michael and Sean are so perfectly in character for him, going for the jugular just as he did with Amanda the week before. I especially love his comment about Michael's hair, since I've heard a few people suggest that Shane West needs a haircut. (I personally have no opinion.) It's really great to see Berkeley out, about, and wreaking havoc again.

I also love Melinda Clarke in this episode. There's a scene where she goes into her office, believing that Division is about to be gassed. She tints the windows, and then produces a gas mask. For just a moment or two, there's an actual humanity in her eyes, a realization that all these people are going to die slow, painful deaths, and I think she regrets it. But just as soon as it appears, it vanishes and that cold mask of hers is back in place. Talk about saying so much with very little!

Overall, "Clean Sweep" is an entertaining and fast-paced episode that mixes up the big picture a bit. It is to this season what "All The Way" was to season one. It surprised me and made me think simultaneously, and renewed my interest in what's been an off-and-on season. Now where do we go from here?

(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.