As a disabled person, I was pretty happy that we were represented in this week’s Nikita. Unfortunately, the handicapped dude’s a villain. Tough break – but regardless, ‘Knightfall’ is still a pretty good episode.
In Quebec City, a mysterious figure on a motorcycle assassinates the Energy Minister. He’s not mysterious for long: his name is Ramon (Simon Kassianides from the last James Bond film, Quantum of Solace), and his face is familiar to Michael and Nikita. She captured him six years ago, and now they find out that Division’s decided to keep him on the payroll instead. Needless to say, this does not make Nikita happy.
We flash back to the night of Ramon’s capture, when Nikita cornered him on a rooftop in Paris. Rather than kill him, she knocked him unconscious and called Percy, who told her “You have a good heart, Nikita. It’s going to get you into trouble someday.”
Amanda thanks Ramon for his latest accomplishment, then has a new assignment for an unenthused Alex. It involves Anton (Paul Braunstein), a thug who once worked for her father. Amanda wants him killed in order to prevent his current dealings from coming to fruition, and she knows that Alex won’t miss him either.
Team Nikita’s first step is to make nice with the reporter (Rekha Sharma of Battlestar Galactica) who’s been reporting on Ramon’s handiwork. Michael approaches her under the guise of being a CNN producer. It’s awkward and hilarious as he asks her out for coffee, while Nikita looks piqued from where she’s sitting in the car. It doesn’t help that the reporter would rather glue her lips to Michael’s face. Then again, if I were here, I wouldn’t mind doing that either.
Let me take an aside here. I think this particular guise of Michael’s is positively adorable. Yet I also can’t help but laugh at it somehow. One would never confuse him with, say, mild-mannered Peter Parker. Shane West has the physicality to snap someone’s neck, the attitude to go with it, and he sounds like Batman. He (and therefore his character) gives off that imposing vibe. I wouldn’t be believing Michael’s innocent act for a second. Even though I do still think that the man needs a hug.
With this in mind, I’m not all that surprised when the reporter doesn’t buy it either, because she’s not a reporter but a Division agent. I’m sure every agent in Division knows and probably interacted with Michael during his time there. After a brief scuffle, she calls Division on a secure phone to tell them that she’s made contact with Michael – while also giving away Ramon’s current location in Colombia. Next stop, the land of coffee and drugs!
In the jungle, Michael asks Nikita why she didn’t kill Ramon, adding that Percy knows how to manipulate a man’s soul, considering that he had Michael’s for ten years. She’s not feeling quite so forgiving now as she insists that they’ll find Ramon, hogtie him and dump him on Interpol’s doorstep. Michael proceeds to sneak his way into the Division facility where Ramon is holed up.
It’s flashback time for Alex as well, as she recalls an encounter she had with Anton. He can’t remember the security code to her house’s back door, and when she won’t give it to him, he gets in her face. Feeling pressured, she gives up the code. That memory sticks in her mind as Sean critiques her plan to deal with Anton. “This man held the back door open for the strike team that carried out the hit on my family,” she tells him, and he reminds her that “I don’t trust you. You would be the last person I would pick to do this job, and now that you have it, at least do it right.” He suggests she use a sniper rifle to allow her more physical and emotional distance from her target.
New Female Assistant tells Amanda that something’s wrong, so Amanda tells her to spring Division into action in order to protect Ramon. At that same time, Nikita has eyes on him outside the compound, and sees that Ramon is in a wheelchair – so how could he possibly have been on a motorcycle gunning down the Energy Minister?
While Michael spends a lot of time in a vent, Nikita invites herself into the compound. She hears Ramon telling Amanda that he’s finished his next video and she mentions that their agent will complete the kill in 20 minutes. Who and where? Well, that just happens to be Anton, and the hitter in question is Alex! It all makes sense now…
Nikita re-introduces herself to Anton (again at gunpoint). “Percy told me all about you. He was devastated when his favorite girl went rogue,” he tells her. Another flashback shows Percy offering Anton his “whole new life” working for Division, which involves crippling him. I actually feel sorry for the guy, but Nikita doesn’t. The two get into another struggle, and as Ramon rolls ass out of there, Nikita starts exchanging gunfire with his Division minders. Michael shows up to lend a hand, but by then Ramon has gotten into his truck and driven away.
While she gives chase on a motorcycle, Michael faces some increasingly rough odds, and loses communication with Birkhoff while he’s at it. In an attempt to escape, he gets himself locked in a saferoom. At least it contains a tablet that lets him see all the bad guys swarming the place. As Nikita catches up to Ramon, Amanda informs her that they’re even, “because I have Michael.” Oh, snap. The two ladies argue for a bit, while Nikita sends Ramon’s video to Birkhoff and threatens to have him upload it – therefore exposing Division’s whole scheme. Amanda is unruffled. She has a really bad CGI Predator drone on her side. “There’s no trade. You’re going to kill Ramon,” Amanda says, forcing Nikita to complete the mission she refused to six years earlier in order to save Michael’s life.
Instead of doing so, however, she appeals to Ramon, asking him for information that could help Michael escape from the saferoom. He’s not interested, and tells her to kill him. Michael’s fate, he insists, is not his problem. Hey, when I was in a wheelchair, I was a cranky piece of work, too. She might not need him, because Michael is a crafty guy who’s working on a plan of his own, a la MacGyver. And Alex, still ready to shoot Anton, is getting quite impatient – and rightfully blaming Nikita for the hold-up.
Despite Ramon trying to needle her into splattering his brains across the view, Nikita won’t pull the trigger. Instead, she gives him the gun to do it himself and speeds off to rescue Michael, who is putting the finishing touches on his plan to go out big. He gets a phone call from Ramon, who tells him how to use an underground passage to escape the saferoom. In true dramatic fashion, Nikita arrives just as the Predator drone’s missile blows up the compound, making her and everyone else think that Michael is dead. But what kind of show would we have if we killed off Shane West? Not much of one, I tell you.
So, much to Nikita’s relief, he emerges from said passage, just a little extra crispy for the wear. He tells her that Ramon called. “He said you’re welcome,” he adds. Amanda is not happy to hear that Michael is alive, as it means that she’ll have to call off the hit on Anton. I know someone else who won’t be thrilled with that information. Even though both Amanda and Sean tell her to abort, Alex decides to shoot him anyway, and on that “uh-oh” note we fade to black.
“Knightfall” is an entertaining hour with some legitimate surprises – I certainly didn’t guess that Ramon was going to be disabled, and while I did guess that Alex would kill Anton anyway, I’m certainly intrigued to see how much fallout and arguing there’s going to be from that decision (a lot). There’s also some particularly good acting in the final act from Maggie Q, as Nikita sees the last six years going in one big circle and not liking any of it. Her final interaction with Ramon is really a scene for the show to hold the mirror up for her, and question her righteous crusade against Division. You can see some cracks in her conviction, and it’s her best scene so far this season.
The episode also highlights something that I’m coming to appreciate about season two: that obvious weaknesses are exploited and not ignored for the sake of good storytelling. Yes, it might be cute to see Michael and Nikita together, but it also makes them vulnerable because they’re emotionally invested, and that’s something that an enemy would exploit. It would be ridiculous if Amanda wasn’t preying on their relationship. Likewise, Alex is blinded by that big old chip on her shoulder at points, and as ruthless as Amanda is supposed to be, it would be stupid if she didn’t manipulate that to her advantage. I like that the show is being realistic in that aspect; otherwise, it might just have dissolved into a CW soap opera by now.
Thankfully, Nikita is not in danger of jumping that shark. While season two might not have the bite of season one just yet, it’s still one of my favorite action shows on television.