Picking up where last week’s episode left off, we further probe Nikita’s backstory and that of Division in this week’s Nikita. There’s a lot going on in both past and present…
We start in 1998, when Division is just an old missile silo with Percy giving Carla (Erica Gimpel) a tour of the place like a bad realtor. Yet we’re only there for about thirty seconds before we go back to the present day, where Nikita tells Carla “I only survived because of my memories of you. And now all of my memories are a lie.” Ouch. Carla says that Division was a good idea until Amanda “corrupted” it.
Speaking of Amanda, she’s meeting Ari (Peter Outerbridge) in New York. “It’s over,” he tells her. “It won’t be long until Nikita learns your secret, and we know what happens then.” He thinks the only way out of the situation is to sacrifice Alex, who is with Sonya trying to primp for her public debut. Seems Zetrov has decided to buy a New York hockey team, which pretty much ensures a huge scene for her to crash. “God, I hate that guy,” Alex says of Ari, who tells Amanda he thinks that Alex needs to die so that Sergei Semak can be framed for her death. Even though Amanda likes Alex, that doesn’t stop her from choosing her new boyfriend over her psuedo-protege.
Flash back again, this time to 1996, when Percy approaches Carla outside of the prison where she’s working as a counselor. He offers her a chance to expand her efforts. Two years later, he introduces her to Amanda (who has a different and kind of odd haircut), and the two immediately begin to disagree on how to do things. Amanda later tells Percy that Carla is going to betray them, so Percy approves Carla’s assassination, except that she sends someone partial to Carla to do it, and the guy decides not to.
We get to see Nikita’s first meeting with Amanda, which consists pretty much of Amanda asking questions about Carla. Right after that, Amanda goes to beat up the guy that didn’t kill Carla, except for that she’s stopped by Percy and Michael. Percy tells Amanda that Michael has “proven to be a top-notch operative, so I’m putting him in charge of agent operations.” Not really interested in that, Amanda just takes Michael’s gun and shoots the other guy. And to borrow a phrase, it all makes sense now…pretty much.
There would be some discussion of this, but it’s time for Semak’s press conference, which Alex promptly crashes. She announces to the international press that she is Alexandra Udinov, with a well-deserved smirk on her face as she does it. We learn that Birkhoff refers to Ari as “Lord Voldemort,” and while I’m still laughing, Carla says that she knows Ari, because everyone knows everyone else on this show. Seems Carla was introduced to Ari by Amanda in 1999, when he was pretending to be a Southern guy named Bill. Me personally, I can’t look at Ari the same way anymore after seeing how different Peter Outerbridge looked in ReGenesis.
They all look on as Alex gives a speech and says she’s ready to come back to her family, while Ari has the very definition of a flat look on his face. Off-stage, Alex tells Semak that she wants an offshore bank account – and her mother. Ari’s response to this is to send a random guy to take care of her, but as this guy isn’t even important enough to have a name, it’s no surprise that Alex subdues him and then gets the jump on Ari just as he’s calling his girlfriend. This forces Amanda to reveal to Alex (and therefore everyone else) that she and Ari are collaborating. It’s one of those “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” scenarios, folks.
It’s up to Ari to get Alex out of the hotel alive if either of them want to have a pulse by the end of the episode, no matter how much everyone hates the idea. “It is in their interest for you to survive,” Nikita tells Alex, who has to use a radio left by Ari and Birkhoff’s usual tech wizardry to stay one step ahead of Gogol. Never mind that Carla hates this plan and is ready to leak an incriminating audio file that will get everyone killed, although Birkhoff (of all people!) has no problem shooting her if she does.
While Amanda’s random people come to Alex’s rescue, Nikita realizes that Carla still believes that she can save Division (even though Carla already said it earlier in the episode), and her old friend doesn’t care who she has to hurt to make that happen. It takes some pleading, but Carla relents and allows the plan to continue on, enabling Michael (and Division, but Michael is cooler) to come to Alex’s rescue. She survives and crashes Semak’s second press conference the following day, announcing that she’s taking over Zetrov, much to Amanda and Ari’s pleasant surprise.
Meanwhile, a disgruntled Carla calls Percy asking for his help to “reboot” Division, because she still doesn’t get it, and lets slip about Amanda and Ari’s relationship. Uh-oh…
There are things I like and things I dislike about “Origin,” with more of the former than the latter. I’ve talked before about this season’s heavy reliance on flashbacks, and it feels particularly disjointed here; the first flashback lasts all of thirty seconds and doesn’t really have any meaning until we see the same scene again later on. The flow of the first half of the episode felt to me like it could have been a lot better.
And there are still lots of questions that I hope we get answers to by the end of the season: we now know that Amanda knew Ari at least by 1999, or the second year of Division…so how long have they been an item, and how does that fit with what we know about her apparent interest in Percy? I’m guessing that she and Ari hooked up after she and Percy were no longer an option, but I don’t know, and I’d like to see how screwed up that backstory is. Plus I still vibe that there was something going on between Percy and Carla, who is as frustratingly vague as ever. All these holes in the past might be important to everyone’s current motivations.
Having said that, it’s nice to get at least some insight into how Division came to be (which I think, if I remember correctly, is completely unique from La Femme Nikita). And in terms of single episodes, this one is a whopper with plenty of action, that pays off a lot of what we’ve been building to all season, with Alex getting back at the man who killed her family, and the exposure of the Amanda/Ari relationship (which is a pretty good idea, as the two actors make an interesting pair). We learn some important facts and we see a few things happen that will certainly come into play for the remainder of the season. Remember, we’re more than halfway through the season, so it’s time to start revealing answers and coming up with surprises, and Nikita is definitely doing that.
It’s also awesome to see Birkhoff get an action moment this week, because Aaron Stanford is certainly capable of playing those moments, and that continues to flesh Birkhoff out as more than just a computer nerd who sits behind a desk and lets everyone else do the hard work. His being capable of taking care of himself makes him much more well-rounded. That’s more than can be said for Carla, whose singlemindedness makes her feel like an incredibly one-dimensional character. I want to root for her since I know her importance in Nikita’s life, but I just don’t care for her. I’d rather see more of Michael, who gets limited screen time this week (although his one major scene was awesome; he does have a knack for showing up and saving people, doesn’t he?)
This is a solid and wonderfully entertaining episode of Nikita, but it does provide more questions than answers, and I’m curious to see where those questions take the show next.