Nikita: Fair Trade

"People want to believe that God has a plan for them. They don't wanna believe that anyone else does."

Finally Nikita is back on track. This was a stunning return to form and the season's first near-perfect episode. No more floundering about, no more useless subplots, just straightforward epicness and I couldn't be more excited.

First off, welcome back, Amanda. The beast has been unleashed and it's a joy to behold. I can't express how happy I was to see her back in her element (in the interrogation room) torturing and abusing Birkhoff, which was just terrifying to watch. Melinda Clarke imbues Amanda with such malice and controlled fury that make the character so damn compelling. She's just the kind of evil the show needs (not Percy's rambling kind) because you actually fear for our characters' lives when she's around.

Moreover, this episode flourished with the emphasis on Nikita and Birkhoff's fantastic relationship. I didn't use to like the character much last year, but I'm one of his biggest fans now and this hour cemented that. While Birkhoff almost certainly has a crush on Nikki (which Amanda so sinisterly pointed out), they have such a loving brother-sister dynamic that's immensely touching. Nikki herself was back on track in this hour. Although her negligence got Birkhoff captured, she also showed just how much he meant to her and I adored their final scene as she kissed him on the head.

Alex also got some excellent material to work with, as well. I quite liked her being proactive and deciding to go to Russia. Not only did she save the girls from the corrupt immigration agent, but she's now more dedicated to her quest than ever.

And finally, Nikita is off to find Owen? The season is finally in full gear and things can only get even more epic now.

Bits & Bullets:

- Loved Birkhoff getting a transmitter into the senator's coffee by flirting with her assistant.

- Cringeworthy dialogue as Birkhoff talks to Nikki about Michael not being there. The episode's only weak point.

- I quite enjoyed Amanda arguing with Sean about "protecting his mama" and calling him "a baby boy." So deliciously evil.

- Birkhoff on comms with Nikki as she infiltrated Oversight was much more entertaining than Michael.

- Alex pole dancing then kicking ass was pretty cool.

- Fantastic sequence as Nikki runs from Sean on the streets practically barefoot and then hits a policeman with a basketball to ensure her escape.

- Amanda casually taking off her jacket and then viciously smashing Birkhoff's hand with a hammer was beyond brutal and shocking. God, she's so phenomenal.

- Nikita calling Michael and panicking about "losing Birkhoff" was insanely heartbreaking.

- Amanda screaming "what" like a beast as Sonya interrupted her torture took me aback. She seemed genuinely disappointed. So sick and twisted; I love it.

- Loved Nikki figuring out Sean is the Senator's son.

- Awesome scene as Alex saved the girls and killed everyone in sight.

- The look on Nikki's face when she saw a beaten-up Birkhoff for the first time really broke my heart.

- Birkhoff and Nikki's helicopter escape was such a pleasant surprise.

- Nikki giving an incapacitated Birkhoff the Alex shell program was a brilliant touch.

- Sean using Alex's watch to keep track of her was an interesting beat to end things on.

Nikki Notables:

Birkhoff: It's amazing how much you've already bought with MY money.
Nikita: Not really. I'm a girl.

Amanda: You're the Shadow-walker, able to break down any system and type 120 words a minute. (smashes his fingers with a hammer) Now 60.

Birkhoff: (To Amanda) You might as well ask me where Carmen San Diego is, bitch, because I'm not giving up Nikki.

Amanda: You used to be such a selfish creature. Now you've mutated into something quite different. You're a puzzle, Seymour, and I'm gonna solve it.

Nikita: (To Birkhoff) You are so worth it. You rule, nerd.

- Equal parts gripping and touching, this is Nikita's first masterpiece of the season. Incredible.

4.5 out of 5 broken knuckles.

Previously posted at Nad's Reviews.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I didn´t like the Alex story in this episode. I don´t know why, but her mission was to easy to me...a young woman against prostitution in Russia and that all after Alex´ past.

The torture scene was incredible. Gosh, I feared for Birkhoff and Amanda really scared me. The depths of the relationship between Nikki and Birkhoff was so obvious, although they were not together - really great.

Finally the reason for having Sean around got more developed.

ChrisB said...

Wow! Your review caught me really off guard as this was, by far, my least favorite episode of all. In fact, I came very close to turning it off and walking away from the series.

I thought the torture scene went too far in terms of sheer horror. I had no doubt that Birkhoff wasn't going to be subjected to the needle in the nose. The writers would not leave Nikita without Alex, Michael or him, so there was no tension at the moment for me. It was horror for horror's sake and I have no time for that.

Secondly, the phone call with Michael was a travesty. I found it completely out of character that Nikita would break down to such a degree when someone she cares about was in trouble. That is usually when her laser focus kicks in. It felt as though the writers needed to somehow get Michael into the show and this was the only way they knew how to do it.

And, the whole thing with a five year old being up in the middle of the night just so that Michael could say "son" and Nikita could make the connection? Please.

Don't get me started on Alex and the girls. It was absurd and the whole thing with the tracker in the watch was obvious from the moment Sean handed it to her.

Sorry for the rant, but this one really annoyed me. I have grown to expect much more from these writers.

JK said...

This one was a little "meh" for me. Didn't hate it; didn't love it.

What I do find fascinating is how our takes on the characters are so different. I find Amanda unstable and unthreatening (in a long-term sense, at least), while Percy seems calm, collected and wonderfully manipulative. (Admittedly he does tend to ramble, but somehow that's part of his charm. And I love how his little cell keeps getting progressively cozier.) Meanwhile, Alex irritates me with her adolescent behavior, while I find Michael compelling - even if the thing with Max annoys me, I can understand where his paternal need is coming from.

What's probably most fascinating of all is how people with such different takes on individual characters and episodes can still find plenty to love about this show. A mark of greatness, methinks.

Anonymous said...

Love the episode. It had plenty of action and plenty of heart and development for the characters.
I love the dynamic between Nikki and Birkoff and her breakdown on the phone with Michael seemed very believable and heartbreaking.
Also, Amanda is terrifying. The way she was handling the torture was unsettling to watch and showed who she really is.
Last, I am liking Alex/Sean interaction.