This week’s Nikita could be classified as a ‘very special episode,’ with all the connotations that entails. It begins as someone’s breaking into an Army research lab, and it’s not Nikita. She’s busy admiring the engagement ring that Michael gave to herlast week, and talking to Alex about whether or not she’ll ever become a mother. Her fiancee, on the other hand, is finding out from Ryan that the “psycho” in charge of training recruits before him, Wade (Chance Kelly), was the guy breaking into the Army research lab.
When Michael and Nikita track down Wade’s former residence in Boston, they discover Liza (Annalise Basso), the girl he kidnapped, trained and brainwashed to work for him. Liza is the team’s best shot at finding Wade and the explosives stolen from the Army lab before something horrible happens, but she doesn’t want to help. After two years with Wade, that’s her new normal.
While Nikita tries to get through to her, Michael is still at Wade’s house and ends up having a not-so-friendly phone call with Wade, who refers to Liza as Sarah and insists that she be returned to him. Snark between the two ex-training agents ensues and ends with Wade shooting up his own kitchen in an attempt to kill Michael. Meanwhile, Ryan sends Alex to Liza’s parents’ house to see what she can find out, while forbidding her to tell them what’s really happening. This nearly backfires when Liza’s mother tells Alex that she looks just like Alexandra Udinov.
Just when Nikita thinks she’s gotten through to Liza by revealing her own past struggles within Division, Wade opens fire on the complex from outside (and if you’ve ever wanted to see the outside of Division, it’s got a barn and a tractor!). Nikita makes the rookie mistake of leaving Liza alone with a nameless other agent, and Liza beats him up, steals his gun and rejoins Wade, who re-renames her Jessica.
Back at Division, a frustrated Ryan recognizes something Liza/Sarah/Jessica said as a snippet from the Pakistani national anthem, and from there it’s a hop, skip and a jump for our heroes to deduce that Wade is planning on killing the Pakistani Ambassador to the United States at his own consulate during a televised youth summit. Seems that the Ambassador was a target of one of Wade’s trainees a long time ago, except the mission failed, and now Wade wants to restore his perfect record. Nikita doesn’t like the fact that Ryan considers Liza a target, and decides to save the girl even as the kid’s wandering around in the consulate with armed explosives strapped to her.
When Wade becomes aware that his plan is being interfered with, he tells Liza to detonate the explosives early, but she hesitates. This gives Nikita enough time to talk her down, and Liza has an emotional moment. Meanwhile, Michael puts down Wade, gloating a little when he tells Wade that Nikita was “my recruit.” He gloats a little more when he tells Nikita that he knew all along about the keycard she had hidden in her Division bedroom – he just chose not to tell Percy about it.
Alex reunites Liza with her parents (after they go over a carefully prepared cover story that doesn’t mention Division or Pakistan whatsoever), and all’s well that ends well.
‘Innocence’ will not go down as one of the best episodes in Nikita‘s history; the script by story editor Mary Trahan is incredibly heavy-handed, making sure that the audience sees the parallels between Liza and Nikita/Alex, and the differences between Wade and Michael. These themes are things the audience could’ve figured out on their own – we don’t need to see Alex getting choked up as she interviews Liza’s mother to know that Alex can identify with Liza, or find out that Michael turned a blind eye to Nikita’s hiding place to get that Michael was much more compassionate as a trainer than Wade was.
As it is, the whole episode seems to be conveying its points in Capital Letters, from the recently-engaged Michael and Nikita conveniently getting to go undercover as honeymooners down to the sappy music playing over the tearful family reunion at the end.
In addition, between this episode and last week’s premiere, Nikita is definitely trying too hard to inject humor and/or cuteness into its world. Birkhoff complaining about being the last to know that Nikita and Michael are engaged is funny for a few moments, but whether it’s that or the nosy jeweler who provides Nikita and Alex an excuse to talk about kids, a lot of the material feels forced. It’s fantastic that the characters can now have normal lives, but too much of it detracts from the seriousness of everything else going on. These characters should (and would) leave their personal concerns at the door, just as all of us normal folks are taught when we go into work every day.
That’s not to say that this episode doesn’t have its good moments: though it’s something that’s earmarked from a mile away, there’s still that moment of glee when Michael is talking to a dying Wade, having his “I won” moment, just because the audience has come to embrace Michael so much that we are having that moment with him. (On that note: way to tease us with the possibility of learning his last name and then not tell us, show.) Not to mention that Birkhoff’s impression of the Daleks from Doctor Who is worth a laugh, if only for the expressions on the faces of Ryan and Sonya when he does it.
For the most part, however, ‘Innocence’ is an episode that clearly had something to say, but didn’t say it very well at all.