This review contains spoilers.
9. One Way
The stoic and mysterious Michael took centre stage in this week’s episode of Nikita, as we were finally given insight into his reasons for both joining Division, and, more importantly, staying there.
To its credit, the show’s flashbacks always examine a character’s motivations for their seemingly inexcusable actions, and they always do so in an interesting way that has yet to feel contrived or unnecessary. Other shows would claim to use flashbacks for the same purpose, but it’s undeniable that some are guilty of using them as little more than cheap filler and in scenes which hold one’s interest with the same ability as a sock can hold a pint of lukewarm wee.
The flashbacks in One Way delved deep into the murky and troubled past of Michael, who ranks as the character second-most in need of a bit of back-story (just behind the still diabolical-for-the-hell-of-it Percy). In Michael, we have seen a man whose moral compass has survived undamaged in his years of service to Division, to the extent that it seems highly incongruous that such a jolly good egg would even be seen dead associating with an odious little toe-rag like Percy, not to mention a nasty old bunch like Division. This week we saw his reasons for doing so: his family were brutally slain by a terrorist named Kaseem, and Percy held his only chance at getting his revenge.
Now, Shane West hasn’t exactly been the best thing about Nikita in its first eight episodes. No. In fact, truth be told, his pouting, growling-like-a-teenager-trying-to-get-served-for-booze sulking act was on the verge of becoming quite tiresome, as was his frightful goatee (although the beard hatred is irrelevant and probably more a personal thing of mine that stems from wanting to be sick whenever I see Noel Edmonds). This is not a slight against West himself: he hasn’t truthfully had the chance to do much more than growl his way humourlessly through every one of his scenes so far, but his quest for revenge displayed an acting range that could easily have been thought to be beyond him, and the fact that he pulled it off admirably added considerable weight and pathos to a character that had previously had none.
To West’s credit, his rage towards Kaseem was palpable and, most importantly, entirely believable.
Percy, in a rare display of altruism, had allowed Michael a free pass to get at Kaseem, but he had not foreseen Nikita stepping in to assist, to facilitate what she called Michael’s first ‘baby step’ to leaving division. Nikita saw to it that she and Michael formed an alliance to take out Kaseem, thus freeing Michael from his burden of debt to Division and gaining another ally in her struggle against them.
While the episode itself was distinctly light on the action, it was nice seeing the sparks fly between Nikita and Michael, and their pursuit of Kaseem did have a few standout moments. Nikita’s exploitation of a fat man’s love of women and football was entertaining enough, and Michael’s waterboarding was just as unpleasant as it needed to be to effectively get the point across. Division’s realisation that Nikita was involved was a bit daft, though. If they are capable of spotting her on a random CCTV camera in the Middle East, why do they have such trouble locating her on her – and their – home turf?
Nevertheless, the eventual dissolution of this newly regained partnership came about in a genuinely tense scene in which Michael stalked his nemesis at an airport, armed with nothing but a shard of broken glass, only to be foiled by Nikita in order to save his life.
It was sad to see his hatred of her as a result, especially as he would never have known she was responsible if she had decided not to continue her discussion with the local fuzz over the radio within his earshot (d’oh!). While this was all clearly just a stall to prevent him from leaving Division after nine episodes, it definitely left the show in a more interesting place than if everyone just got along. Whether he will reserve equal disdain for Percy as thanks for foiling the whole mission will be seen next week.
Less successful, on pretty much every level, was Alex’s storyline, which was so full of plot holes that it was practically transparent. Getting ‘rumbled’ for sneaking her way onto the over-amorous doctor’s computer was fine, if really rather stupid, backing Alex into a corner and forcing her hand (which happened to have quite a large needle in it). But her eventual blackmailing of the reanimated Jaden (where has she been?) into corroborating her story was a plan so flimsy it was would have fallen apart at the first sign of questioning.If Jaden is simply going to be brought out of the cupboard as and when Alex needs to be annoyed, then here’s hoping she meets an untimely end quite soon. Although, with the whelp Thom now firmly on the full-time staff, it seems more likely that she will hang around for some time yet.
A decent enough episode to keep interest piqued, then, but with the highs the show has managed to reach before now this does has to be seen as the weakest effort so far. By no means a bad hour of telly, but some way short of the brisk and intelligent storytelling seen in previous episodes.
Stuff to ponder:
– How long will it take Michael to forgive Nikita? I bet 5 episodes- Where do they keep Jaden when she’s not needed?- Will we ever delve into Percy’s past?- Will Michael ever get his revenge?- Can Alex go one week without drawing attention to herself?
Read our review of episode 8, Phoenix, here.
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