So maybe I'm in the minority, but I kind of like Nikita more when they don't do heavy action. I'm not entirely sure when spy-centric shows and movies drifted into nonsensical action, but a good thriller should have smarts. This episode felt smarter than the premiere, which for me was a step in the right direction.
I even liked Amanda in this one. I still hate how smug she is, and her obsession with Nikita is bordering on romantic at this point, but she was almost an effective villain in this one. She's just not a mastermind. I say this because her actions in this episode illustrate the underlying reason why she doesn't work as a big bad. She often acts impulsively, and doesn't care about the consequences of those actions. Her conflict with the Shop head honcho framed this issue perfectly. He appears to tolerate her because she gets results, but she clearly doesn't act entirely within Shop's master plans -- which apparently involve setting off a conflict between the U.S. and Pakistan.
The standoff between Nikita and Amanda was tiresome to me. I feel like we've traveled up and down this road with them several times before. So it was nice that Michael got fed up with the game and stepped in. I also really liked Team Nikita's plan to expose fake Graham and assassinate him. It felt like classic spy escapades a la Mission Impossible. It was also interesting that the real Graham knew he was never going to get out of that situation alive either way, and practically begged Nikita to kill his imposter. His sacrifice made sense, and Michael's actions felt right no matter how Amanda tried to paint the situation.
The Nikita and Michael interactions also worked for me, especially since we finally got some consequences for Nikita's actions. The cost of her choice to run from her spy family was that she's lost Michael, maybe forever (although probably not). At least the rest of the gang are happy to have her back. The hugs from Ryan and Birkhoff were nice, although I think my favorite reunion moment was between Alex and Nikita. They are the heart of the show, and I hope they get to interact again because that relationship is still the most important one in the series for me, even more so than Michael and Nikita.
That being said, I loved the scenes between Owen/Sam and Alex. I think the fact that we can't really trust Sam yet is a good plotline moving forward. How much of Owen is in there? I wish we didn't have this conflict at all, but it's more interesting than making him a total villain. Whether he ends up as good or bad, there's some fascinating character stuff going on there. Unfortunately, Alex got captured... again. I hope there isn't too much torture in the next episode, and I hope Sam and Sonia get to save the day. Or maybe Alex can kick some ass and get out herself. Either way, I hope it's a good sign that Sam acted to get Sonia out of Dodge. Although I wonder, she is the only one that could decrypt that piece of Shop technology, so was he really protecting her or just acting in his own self interests?
How on earth did Sam blow through 350 million dollars so quickly? Did he buy an Island or something?
So the Shop is using the money trail created by Alex financing Michael and the gang to pin the whole Pakistan angle on Nikita. That's complicated and convoluted, yet surprisingly cool.
I loved the detail that Birkhoff covered Nikita's ass while she was on the run anyway.
How long did it take Alex to call Sonia? Because the scene shifted from day to night. Did it take her hours holed up in a standoff before she called for backup? Didn't Division train her better? She did make it to active agent, didn't she?
Ryan jumping to the doubling idea was a bit of a stretch, but given the tech they've seen from the shop so far it isn't one that I can't buy.
Sam shooting Alex was a fun exchange, and also kind of romantic/creepy. Did he really know she would stick to protocols? Also, again with her situational awareness, she needs to work on that.
Nikita saying she needed to leave again just made me roll my eyes at her. Such a martyr.
The digital mask videotape was much better than the sniper scope photoshop thing in the last episode.
Since they keep using her picture, can we assume the President is still alive?
Who is Ronald Peller, and why did Birkhoff hide his search results from Ryan?
Alex: "Shouldn't you be on a beach somewhere doing whatever retired Cleaners do?"
Sam: "Got boring, turns out I freckle."
Birkhoff: "Proof, this is America. All they have to do is hint, vaguely insinuate."
Ryan: "Well then they are planning to hint their way into a world war."
Alex: "You put a gun to Birkhoff's head, and tried to shoot Michael."
Sam: "In my defense, it was Michael."
Michael: (to Nikita) "I'm still here to fight Amanda, and the Shop, but I'm done fighting for us."
I liked this one. It felt more like the Nikita I loved back in Season 2. Also, the plot involving the Shop has potential. So I'd call this an improvement over last week.
3 out of 4 Digital Face Masks
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.