The theme of this season of Nikita seems to be everyone’s past crawling out of the woodwork (see: Alex’s mom, Michael’s son), so it’s not surprising that last week we met Nikita’s mentor.
Things start in New Jersey, where Percy is having Roan off a Newark detective in an alley in the middle of the night, because that’s where these things happen. The next morning, Nikita and Michael (who appears to have gotten a haircut since Percy’s dig about his looks last week) are sparring, only to be interrupted by the arrival of Alex. “Amanda definitely has complete control of Division,” she says. “No Oversight, no boundaries. Want to know what she’s doing with all that power? Nothing.” The only thing Amanda seems to have any interest in is allegedly getting Alex’s mother out of Russia, so that Alex will help her get control of Zetrov.
Later that night, Birkhoff gets a hold of our heroes to inform them about the murder of the detective – who happened to be the partner of the cop Nikita was accused of killing years ago. There’s Percy on camera being a tool, which triggers another flashback for Nikita. “He’s trying to shake me up,” she tells a bewildered Michael. Percy gets back in touch with her not long after, saying, “We share a common enemy.” When she doesn’t want to help him overthrow Division, he changes his tune and says, “I’m going to take something from you. Someone you love.” That happens to be Carla Bennett (Erica Gimpel), the woman who pulled Nikita off the streets before Division. Cue the angst.
Nikita gives Michael (and us) a flashback-inclusive primer on her past with Carla, ignoring Michael’s comment that this is probably a trap. “You don’t owe this woman anything. She abandoned you, she let you down,” he tries to tell her, but she retorts that “I let her down. Carla got me clean, but I relapsed.” When Nikita returned, she found out that Carla had been on the run from a previous drug charge in another state, hence the cops, and “things got out of control.”
Meanwhile, at Division, Amanda has a perfect plan for Alex to make her public re-emergence, from a drafted public statement to a new, expensive wardrobe. “Your very existence puts Semak in a precarious position,” she reminds Alex. “Everything he has is rightfully yours.” Alex repeats that she has no interest in the company – and is shocked when Sonya later discovers that Amanda has Carla at the top of her kill list, even above Percy. Yeowch.
Madeline is making a public statement of her own, but it’s clear from her face that something’s up with it. That’s because she’s quoting Carla, in a statement obviously designed to warn the woman. Unfortunately for her, Percy hears it too and Roan starts listening in on everything she’s saying, including her meeting with Michael and Nikita. When Carla does finally make contact, it’s not safe, but Nikita doesn’t know that as they agree to connect in Baltimore.
Nikita and Michael go there to meet her, only to find out that she’s fallen on hard times. Nikita wants to know what Carla did to tick off Amanda, and Michael is not happy to find out that Carla used to be Division. He worked there for a decade and he doesn’t know who she is. He’s even less thrilled when Percy, Roan and some thugs show up and start shooting. Erica decides to go have a chat with Percy, and tells him to “leave her the hell out of this mess.” They drive off together, leaving Michael and Nikita to figure out what just happened.
It doesn’t take Michael long to figure out that Percy used Nikita to find Carla, not the other way around. The why is another matter, as Carla has an almost affectionate moment with Roan (which is kinda creepy, all things considered) before catching up with Percy. She confronts him about sending an agent to her house to kill her a dozen years earlier, and he apologizes, saying that Amanda told him that Carla was going to expose the program. “The day after she put me in a cell, she reinstated your kill order,” he continues. “That’s a long way to go for a grudge.”
To find Carla, Nikita has to find Percy, which means using Division technology to hone in on that dead man’s switch of his, which means calling Alex. Alex then becomes suddenly helpful to Amanda, while leaving her cell phone on speaker. Michael’s attempt at a motivational speech falls a bit flat as he and Nikita mount a rescue mission…at the same time that Division’s grab teams show up. Percy figures out fairly quickly that the whole thing is his fault, and picks up a gun that he proves to be pretty handy with. Me, I’m all for any time Xander Berkeley gets to be an action hero (or villain, as the case may be).
Lots and lots of shooting follows, between a shotgun-wielding Michael and Roan popping up out of nowhere to dispatch more people without names. Michael and Nikita eventually get to Carla, but not before Percy and Co. make their escape and leave a ton of bodies in their wake. Percy calls Amanda just to taunt her, landing another good zinger after she says that some people don’t know how to let go. “You’re pulling my leg, right?” he retorts. Oh, snap.
As we near the episode’s end, Carla starts to try and talk to Nikita and Michael. “All I ever wanted to do was to help you,” she insists. “But what’s so crazy is that you didn’t just survive…you thrived. Everything that has happened to you is a gift.” She even throws the word “destiny” in there, which gets Michael all snippy. Carla retorts that she created the program. Chew on that for a week, fans.
This episode is an interesting follow-up to “Clean Sweep,” in that we massively screwed things up and now we’re seeing what falls out. I am still in love with the bickering between Percy and Amanda, which seems to be at an all-time high now that they’re on opposite teams. They’ve never been more fun to watch than they are right now, as their entire lengthy relationship is just unraveling. They’re more fun than the original Operations and Madeline, almost, because I could never remember Operations being this witty. Yet it also goes to show how much more was going on between them than we ever had a clue about during the first season. We’re really getting a chance to dig into both their characters, and I enjoy that.
I’m not too sure how I feel about Carla being one of the founders of Division (or whatever it was called back then). Was it a surprise? Absolutely. But I almost liked her more when we thought she was separate from that. The idea that Nikita had someone from her life before Division who had helped her was kind of sweet. Having Carla connected to Division just makes most of Nikita’s life seem like one big orchestrated conspiracy – and while this is a spy show and conspiracies abound, I don’t think I want to tie everything back to the same source. But we’ll see how that plays out (am I the only one who felt like Carla and Percy might have had a thing, and that might be why Amanda is not fond of Carla?).
On one last note, I want to give kudos to Shane West this week (and not just because of the haircut). Michael’s in the interesting position of having to deal with this revelation from Nikita’s past and how it might jeopardize their future (not unlike she had to go through with finding out he had a son, natch), and then discovering that Carla’s connected to Division. That’s a lot for a significant other to handle, and Michael handled it pretty well, being as supportive a partner as I think one could ask for. But at the same time, we got what was going through his head, the concern and the irritation and the “I’m not really sure what to do with this,” whether it was just in his facial expression or the delivery of a line. Those are the little subtle things that Shane West does all the time, and that make him so perfect for the role of Michael.
My feelings are mixed on this episode, as I think much of how I judge it is going to be by how its plot points play out later on in the season. But if nothing else, we saw some great acting, and Xander Berkeley with an automatic weapon, so I call this one a win in my book.