I am generally opposed to TV episodes that take place in a character’s head, as they lend themselves to bad writing. All too often, they are code for “we’re going to use a bunch of half-baked, implausible ideas that wouldn’t fly in normal canon, and/or tease fans with what you want by giving it to you without actually making it canon, and we’re going to get away with it.” This is not that episode. Not at all. In fact, by episode’s end, my heart actually stopped.
The episode – and the drug trip – opens with Nikita giving Alex a pop quiz on Division lingo, mid-sparring match. When Alex says “I feel like I’ve been drugged,” we all laugh knowingly because we know she is. Alex retorts that Nikita has plenty of secrets of her own, including the guy that got her the loft, who happens to be named Whitfield. (File that away in your trivia banks for later use.) Alex becomes aware of the drugs and vows to stop Amanda, while in the real world, she’s on a bed in Medical, loaded on Ibogaine (and yes, that’s a real drug) while Michael looks really unimpressed. I maintain Shane West’s experience on ER is secretly rubbing off on Michael. “You’re using rehab to run an interrogation,” he tells her, “Taking a crowbar to her subconscious.”
This argument could go on for awhile, but that is when Alex starts spouting off randomly – the drug makes her say out loud what she’s speaking in her head – causing both of them to stop and stare. Amanda seizes the moment to force Alex to hallucinate something of her own making, namely Alex in Division, where she runs into her younger self. She’s desperate to protect Mini-Me, but they are soon confronted by Amanda and a horde of Division security.
In the world outside Division, Nikita is trying to get a new identity for Alex, hoping to get her out of harm’s way. There’s a certain cynicism to this, as we know that she can’t exactly succeed, or Lyndsy Fonseca might be out of a job. At the very least, the show would get a lot more difficult to write. However, you can’t fault a girl for trying. Speaking of trying, Michael recruits Birkhoff to do some legwork on the name “Whitfield,” whether he wants to or not. This leads them to Operation Superdollar (well, if that isn’t a ridiculous name), and we learn that Nikita was responsible for killing Whitfield, an investment banker. It’s not a stretch to figure out how she may have gotten a hold of his money, if not his assets.
Alex leads Mini-Me through Division, where she finds her car (hello, Kia product placement), and the two of them decide to hide underneath it. She’s certainly come a long way from the panic attack she had during the bomb-diffusing exercise earlier in the season. Her younger self obviously doesn’t have the benefit of this experience, though, and freaks out. Alex is pulled out from under the car by Nikita. Needless to say, Amanda is quite curious as to why Nikita is in Alex’s head.
An equally suspicious Michael is going over the archives from Operation Castle (the events of “Coup de Grace”). He plays back audio from their phone calls and something doesn’t sit right with them; he asks Birkhoff to construct an audio profile of where she was when she took his last call. He doesn’t think she was in her apartment after all.
You know who’s in her apartment? Nathan. He walks into Nikita, who takes his baseball bat and dumps him on the floor in about ten seconds. “Why are you breaking and entering?” she asks, and he shows her that he has a key. He hasn’t heard from Alex, but he saw her going into the apartment and became worried. Nikita says that Alex went on “a really sudden trip” and tells Nathan Alex “will be” okay before making a quick exit.
“You don’t know Nikita the way I do,” Amanda warns Alex, who sees herself run into a randomly appearing Michael in her head. Needless to say, this is the perfect time for another Michael/Nikita fistfight (as if I ever tire of those). This one is shortlived, and they’re soon making out like teenagers. “I knew there was something between them,” Alex mutters, choosing to leave Nikita behind, and invoking the phrase “personal baggage” much to Amanda’s amusement. What Alex is saying just confirms Amanda’s suspicions (or previous knowledge?) of Michael and Nikita’s complicated relationship. I can hear all of the Mikita fans squealing right now, though knowing that none of this is real, I have to admit that I’m not as excited as they are; remember, we’re seeing what Alex believes, not an actual happening. I’ll allow myself to celebrate when it counts. That said, there’s not even time to enjoy the moment before Alex and Mini-Me are under attack yet again.
Birkhoff’s work proves to Michael that Alex couldn’t have been in her apartment when she answered his phone call. This is the kind of geeky stuff nerds like me love. This only prompts Michael to wonder where she really was, and what else she might be lying about. Oh, Shane West, I love how you show me the wheels in Michael’s head turning even when you don’t get dialogue.
“She’s fighting me. I don’t know how, but she is,” Amanda says, as Alex somehow gets from Division to her apartment. She calls Nikita but gets only voicemail. Hearing running water in the next room, she grabs her handy firearm and walks out to see Nathan making breakfast in her kitchen. Hello, goofy smile on her face in the real world. In her head, Alex asks Nathan if he’s seen Mini-Me, but is instead greeted by a baby – their baby. He tells her that they’ve been married for three years. This happy interlude leads Amanda to say “I’ve lost her completely” and get cranky. She interrupts, and Nathan says that Alex received an envelope, which contains a card with a mysterious symbol on it. The moment she sees it, there’s a random earthquake. Alex is really sick of all this by now, and opens the apartment door, only to find herself back in Division.
Nikita meets her forger, who gives us some exposition: he’s done the same thing for her with Whitfield, Daniel, Alex and Sara. “You know this can’t go on forever,” he warns her. “I know who you used to work for.” He asks her if Alex is worth it.
Speaking of Alex, she runs into Jaden, who has taken up the violin (and yes, that’s really Tiffany Hines playing; I can’t help but hear that classic line from Family Guy in my head: “I’m playing the world’s smallest violin.”) Of course, it’s about two minutes before the two of them are brawling again, causing Alex to sob over killing Thom.
Michael is capable of doing his own legwork as well – you didn’t think he was second-in-command of Division just because he’s good-looking, did you? – much to Birkhoff’s annoyance. He confesses that he’s afraid Alex was promoted too soon and is unable to cope. He is trying to save her from Percy. Aw, if that’s not a hug-worthy moment. “You need to stop getting personally invested,” Birkhoff says. “It’s getting kinda creepy. Alex is not Nikita.” He’s the first person to voice the parallels that have been going on all season, and for that, I give him a cookie.
Alex and Mini-Me are still on the run, and go hide in Percy’s office while Percy and Amanda have a chat. Into the middle of this walks Nikita, and they’re joined by Alex’s father. Okay, this has officially become creepy. We learn the mysterious symbol is the logo of her father’s corporation, Zetrov. And with that, Amanda knows that Alex has daddy issues.
…and Michael is still doing his homework. I wonder if he has any hobbies. Or when he sleeps. You know, if you told me he was a cyborg, I wouldn’t be surprised. He pulls up some of the audio from Operation Superdollar, and we learn that not all the money was recovered from that operation. Not to mention that Nikita’s audio profile from that op matches Alex’s from their phone call. He now knows they were in the same place. He’s a smart guy, so you can just see him connecting the dots one right after the other.
After blowing up at her father, Alex goes off the rails, tearing herself out of Medical while still hallucinating. She starts wandering down the hall stoned out of her mind. Michael comes looking for her not long after, only to find her and Amanda gone. Just as Alex is standing where she shot Thom, he arrives and stops her. With Alex between them, he and Amanda have a conversation about what Amanda has learned. “It makes perfect sense,” Amanda tells him. “She’s afraid of herself.”
And so we see Alex being dragged out of Division to confront an older version of herself – the woman that she could have been, that her father wanted her to be. Her family home has been completely restored, and her future self is not impressed with who Alex has turned into. Alex, in turn, doesn’t want to be her father’s successor, insisting that she wants “somewhere new, somewhere better.” Future Alex’s answer is to shoot Nathan and the baby while Alex is dragged off.
Back in the real world, Amanda has a very loaded conversation with Alex once she’s lucid and upright. “Don’t worry, Alex, I don’t think Nathan has anything to fear, as long as you continue to do your job,” she says and no, that’s not ominous at all. Amanda later visits Percy, saying that she’s afraid they might have another Nikita on their hands. She recommends Alex’s cancellation. Again, we know this can’t happen or Lyndsy Fonseca would be unemployed, but how is it going to be avoided? I haven’t a clue, and I love that.
Once Alex gets back home, she phones Nikita to say that everything is okay…ish. She’s reconsidered the whole “getting out before it’s too late” argument, and she’s afraid for Nathan. Nikita would give her some advice, except for that Michael is sitting in her living room with a very huge gun that we know he can use.
Best. Cliffhanger. Ever. I can’t stress that enough (hence the bold and italics).
Now if only we didn’t have to wait until April 7! Yet this is the moment that I’ve – and I imagine many of the fans – have waited for all season long. I’ve spoken repeatedly of the fact that the show was setting it up for certain inevitabilities, many of them hinging on Michael; as smart and cunning as he’s proven himself to be, the series couldn’t keep him in the dark forever, not unless it wanted to risk him looking stupid. Well, we’ve seen him continue to find evidence, and this week he’s finally put all the pieces together. It’s a step that validates his intelligence and strength of character, as well as sets up one heck of a (potentially literally) explosive confrontation. Michael’s character has kept growing all year, getting smarter and stronger and starting to find himself, and it’s all been leading up to this moment. Now he’s found his last answer, and now he has to see what’s there and decide what he’s going to do with what’s in front of his face. I, for one, cannot wait to see that happen.
I, for one, cannot wait to see that happen. The primary reason for Michael’s being able to go on such a dynamic journey is because he’s portrayed by an actor who has the smarts and sublety to show us every nuance of his character. It’s because of Shane West that I’ve come to care for and empathize with Michael, and he’s going to have even great material to tackle from here on forward. I have every confidence that he’s going to make the most of it – just look at his performance in the last few episodes. Even when he’s not on screen often, or when he lacks in dialogue, he always gives us the sense that something is happening with Michael. Now it’s all coming together.
And with Michael on that precipice, where will everyone else go? Obviously. Nikita’s fate is currently resting in Michael’s hands. He can’t kill her (or we’d be out the title of the show), but that doesn’t mean he can’t make her life hell. Alex’s secrets are all out in the open now, and it’s only a matter of time before people other than Michael start putting pieces together. None of them are idiots. We’ve now seen just how ruthless Amanda can be, and you bet once Percy catches on, he’s going to have some fun exploiting the situation at every possible turn. In short, things have the potential to get very thorny – physically, mentally and emotionally – for every single character on Nikita for the final four episodes. Anything can happen. And that is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. This is more than I could have ever hoped for. Bring it on.