This review contains spoilers.
There is a well-know and regarded saying that goes, ‘assumption is the mother of all splatty-poos’.
Actually, no there isn’t. There is a saying that is similar in many ways, bar the severity of profanity at the end, but the saying in whatever form of swearyness with which it is uttered is a good mantra to live by. I once assumed that the odds of a scrounging, shambling stranger drinking a pint of lager that I’d left on a bar, one that I had publicly, audibly and horrifically vomited into, were remote. But once again life threw my senses of reality and decency a particularly disgusting curve ball.
Percy, head of all Nikita-based bastardry, seems to be operating with similar delusions of the harsher realities of life. Had he ever seen any action movie at all he would know that if you are shooting a gun at someone who then leaps into a river and doesn’t resurface, you could pretty much bet your favourite testicle (I call mine ‘Righty’) that not only have they certainly survived, but they will be quite angry about the whole thing in retrospect.
So Percy, someone so careful and thorough he sees fit to hoard his political leverage on several black boxes guarded by nigh-on invincible super-soldiers, deems the lack of bubbles rising to the surface incontrovertible evidence that Nikita and Owen are bobbing limply at the bottom, and gets on with the rest of his day. It’s amazing he survived past puberty.
This week’s episode begins with the return of The Flashbacks. We are shown more of Nikita and Alex’s early days, and over the course of the hour we learn that Division were responsible for the death of Alex’s parents, and Nikita is, intentionally or not, the reason Alex was subjected to the horrors she was as a child.
Never usually the foundation for a lasting relationship, these developments eventually serve to bring the two closer together and, while it’s hardly adrenaline-pumping stuff, these scenes seem somehow necessary in conveying the depth of the friendship that results in Alex putting herself in quite severe mortal danger in order to combat a common cause. The question of why Nikita chose Alex is one that needed answering, and it would be nice if this was it, without the need for week after week of endless (budget-friendly) sulking.
Equally sedate were Nikita’s bedside dealings with the convalescent Owen. The two of them spent the vast majority of the episode exchanging huge chunks of exposition in Nikita’s inexplicably grand lodgings, the only respite from which being a brief but welcome close-quarters ding-dong during which the restrained Owen was both effectively stabbed and shot by Nikita. Nightingale she ain’t, it seems – she is to bedside manner what Ed Gein is to evening wear.
It turns out that Owen was the very same Division agent that killed Nikita’s fiancé, and it was this revelation that, whilst a welcome twist, did stick out as rather unlikely in terms of sheer odds. Division, apparently, has scores of agents doing evil and whatnot all over the world, yet it is the one Nikita happens to take into her home that killed her squeeze? Hmmm.
Nevertheless, the main strand of the plot this week, once again, was really rather good. An Alex-centric episode is becoming something to look forward to as Lyndsey Fonseca is the strongest actor in the show by quite a margin. Part of her training this week involved an elaborate, convoluted and risky test thrust upon the recruits without their knowledge in order to test their resolve and loyalty.
Nicely dancing along the knife-edge of whether Alex would spill the beans or not, the show continues to surprise that it continues to be so surprising. Once events had settled down and all cards were on the table I was forced to cross out the phrase ‘Man-sized air vent with loose panels in torture chamber…Why???’ that I had cynically scribbled during Alex’s ‘escape’. The torture scene itself was almost shocking in its nastiness, and nicely juxtaposed with the onlooking Division elite comically treating it as their little movie night.
It has also been admitted previously in these reviews that I am a bit of an idiot, but I have to admit did not see the ending coming. Alex’s ‘test’ was not so obvious that it would have ruined the episode by being the ‘twist’, but kudos to the writers for adding in the extra layer of unpredictability. The eventual Michael-centric ending was hardly a game-changer, but it was welcome.
It also further examined the steady dissolution of Michael and Percy’s relationship, with the latter now openly questioning the loyalty of the former as he sees parallels between Alex and Nikita and is loathe to repeat former mistakes. Percy is still the character that needs explanatory flashbacks more than anyone, however, as even Xander Berkeley seems to be becoming unsure of whether he is a solipsistic despot or a pantomime villain. All we know is that he kills people’s loved ones and will work for money. We need more to go on.
In the episode’s favour, it kept the appearances of perpetual annoyances Thom and Jayden to a minimum, with Thom largely unconscious and Jayden conspicuous (but not unwelcome) in her absence. It also unnecessarily showed Maggie Q in nothing but her smalls for the first time in a few weeks, doubtlessly causing a few teenagers to whoop with glee.
We are left with the intriguing possibility of another rogue Division agent, not directly in collusion with Nikita, but reading from the same page, and also the inevitable swaying of Michael’s loyalties to look forward to in future episodes.
This week’s was another solid story, slow on action yet effective in its delivery, but would it be seen as shallow to please request some more gunfights next week? Thanks.
Questions we are left with this week:
- What happened to all the other recruits on the bus, were they in on it?
- With Alex now raising suspicion, will Division consider monitoring her computer activities?
- Cleaner. Guardian. Reaper. Does this make Percy a High Wizard-Mage or something equally grand?
- What’s orange and sounds like a parrot? (Answer: A Carrot.)
Read our review of episode 5, The Guardian, here.
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