Nikita knows how to hook me. Last week, it gave me some of my favorite scenes ever to be had on this show, and now this. It just keeps getting better.
I have never understood the appeal of clubbing, so I’m at a loss when it comes to Alex showing up at a club to be the date of an Internet rich kid named Dustin Zimmer. It doesn’t take a genius to see why Division is interested in a rich computer geek (they want his shiny new cell phone), but it does put Alex in an uncomfortable position, considering she’s an ex-junkie surrounded by booze and drugs. No, this isn’t awkward at all. It gets even weirder when she runs into a familiar face in the bathroom: Irina (Ksenia Solo), who weighs all of eighty pounds and is high out of her mind. Alex recognizes her instantly, and is spooked; as she turns over the phone to Nikita, she explains that while “[Irina] couldn’t recognize a paper towel,” she is one of the girls who came over from Russia with her years earlier.
This motivates Alex to return to the nightclub, even after her job is done, to re-establish contact with Irina, who refers to her as Sasha. “I thought I’d given you a way out,” Alex says, adding that she’s there to help. Irina seems amenable and tells her to meet her behind the building in fifteen minutes, which is completely not suspicious in any way whatsoever. Nothing good ever happens in an alley after dark, so I am entirely not surprised to see a Russian thug and several of his henchmen. So much for old friends.
When Alex doesn’t return a phone call, Nikita goes looking for her. She’s not the only one; Michael is equally suspicious and also starts searching. “I don’t laugh at your jokes because I have a sense of humor,” he tells Birkhoff, and I love him even more. Nikita quickly identifies the thug as Vlad (Mark Ivanir, looking for all the world like a poor man’s Carlo Rota), because Vlad is a standard name for a Russian bad guy. It takes her and Michael both a matter of minutes to deduce that Alex is in trouble.
Specifically, she’s in a cage. Thanks to Vlad’s tendency toward epic speeches and some handy flashbacks, we learn a lot about Alex: her full name is Alexandra Udinov, those fiery flashbacks she’s been having all season are in fact memories of her parents’ deaths in a fire from which she was rescued by Nikita, and that as her father was royalty, she’s worth a whole lot to certain people. Eight months earlier, we see how Alex began to construct who she is today. “What do you want me to tell them?” she asks Nikita, who tells her that “The best lies contain the most truth.” Unfortunately, Vlad doesn’t believe the standard half-truth, because he has Alex’s father’s watch, which she gave to Irina before she escaped. She’s caught red-handed.
At Division, Michael, Amanda and Birkhoff are having a team meeting. Watching footage from the club, Amanda is easily able to deduce Irina as Russian, and Michael has a contact in the Russian mafia. “You’re not such a Boy Scout after all,” Amanda says and I laugh, because I think about what that says about him, and his Division colleagues.
He shows up to visit said contact just as Nikita is threatening the mobsters with a fake Claymore mine. All hell breaks loose, in another impressive fight sequence that sees Michael nearly get strangled not once but twice, before he and Nikita barely escape with their lives. This does not stop them from arguing with one another (at gunpoint, no less) about the merits of industrial espionage and the fact that Alex is missing. In order to keep Alex’s cover, Nikita pretends she’s just interested in the device that she lifted on her “date,” and is visibly pleased when Michael is a whole lot more upset about his missing agent than the glorified cell phone.
“I wanted you back, I wanted you to protect me,” Irina tells Alex, who’s getting really frazzled while stuck in her cage. Being an ex-junkie staring at a needle will do that to you.
Thus we get to the best scene ever on Nikita: while plotting to spring Alex, Michael and Nikita have it out over her actions in “One Way.” He’s still bitter, and he has every right to be; as he reminds her, he was seconds from murdering the man who killed his wife and daughter. “All I knew was you could have easily been killed,” she replies, surprisingly vulnerable with him. “What I did, I did out of…” Michael stares at her. The hearts of fangirls everywhere stop. But it’d be too soon and too easy to have her say the L-word. Instead, she tells him that it was out of wanting to see him again, and that she’ll do anything to help him bring down Kasim. It’s as close as the two will get to closure on the subject, and it’s a masterful minute and a half. Everything we need to know about their relationship is spelled out in that scene, which is so beautifully acted by both Shane West and Maggie Q. The words are all there, but there’s an extra layer of truth that we can see in their expressions. It’s one of those instances where there’s solid material and actors who can take that above and beyond to make it something special. At least, when I think of this show now, this will be the first scene that comes to my mind.
At her wit’s end, Alex tells Vlad that she’s a Division agent, rattling off her skills while Michael (speaking impressively fluent Russian) and Nikita begin their rescue operation. Thankfully, he thinks she’s still lying and leaves, allowing her to convince Irina to let her out of the cage. She fittingly puts a bullet into Vlad, just before telling him that he was right all along. She gets her revenge by shooting him twice more, and nobody can blame her. “I need you to run now,” she advises Irina, warning that if the other woman talks about anything that she’s just heard, she’ll kill her.
Nikita and Michael both find Alex at nearly the same time, which is almost awkward, but both of them are concerned with Alex more than anything else. Michael tips Nikita off that a Division extraction team is coming, allowing her to make her escape while he tends to Alex – who, in a very smooth move, hands him the cell phone she just so happened to find on Vlad’s body. Michael literally carries Alex into Division, where Percy is not thrilled in the slightest. “Whatever she needs, you let me know,” he says, which might be the nicest thing I’ve ever heard her say, but I think that’s only because he also has his new toy.
Back at her loft, Nikita watches Alex confessing her real identity to Vlad, thanks to the handy video camera that caught the whole thing. She’s not the only one taken by surprise. Michael takes a clearly messed-up Alex to Amanda, whom he thanks for keeping Percy out of the loop regarding Alex’s involuntary relapse. Unfortunately, as soon as he leaves, Amanda wants to ask her questions about her past. The game is up now.
I had incredibly high hopes for this episode based on the previews, and this is one of those rare occasions where an episode actually lives up to its teaser. Fans of Nikita and Michael get to see their best scene together, plus another episode showcasing that they make a very effective team. More importantly, though, this is the episode that I’ve been looking for all season long. I’ve said before that I wanted to know Alex, to get to understand her the way I had with the other characters; now she makes a whole lot more sense to me and I’m interested to see where she goes from here. We’re done with the mystery of who she is, and she has her closure, so now what? That makes this Lyndsy Fonseca’s episode, and she carries it well, proving that she does belong with the more veteran members of the main cast. From top to bottom, this was a top-notch episode, and it’s clear that we’re going to see shockwaves to come. I, for one, can’t wait. This show has me for good.