Ever since Michael lost his hand on Nikita, there’s been talk about him getting it back. In that sense, “Tipping Point” is way overdue. Yet while it accomplishes some things we’ve been waiting for, it also telegraphs the rest of its punches.
The episode opens with Michael making nice with an office building receptionist in order to steal her keycard so that he can steal a hard drive. Nikita is amused by his tactics, and he explains to her that he’s been chasing after former Division psuedo-mad scientist Heidecker, who’s now in Cincinnati. Could whatever Heidecker’s working on now help Michael get a new hand? He and Nikita decide to find out.
Meanwhile, someone else is doing some hacking of her own – inside Division to help an unidentified figure get into the server room. Clearly she’s still upset about last week. She feigns being concerned about when she goes with Ryan and Sean to check out the situation later. It’s a pretty big deal. “You could cripple key systems, erase files,” a startled Sonya warns them, so Ryan enlists Alex and Sean to find out who’s responsible for the intrusion.
Michael and Nikita realize that they’ve been lured to Cincinnati by someone pretending to be Heidecker. The mysterious person instructs Michael to open a nearby case, and inside is a bio-prosthetic hand, which they call a “gift” for mending the relationship between their two organizations. “We don’t have a relationship,” Nikita says, to which the enigma replies, “We do now.”
They take the hand back to Division, where they receive another message from their new friend, who says they’ll perform the surgery necessary to attach it to Michael if they retrieve something for the other organization from a lab in China. Birkhoff balks, but Michael is interested, because he admits to Nikita that he’s still in pain and hates his new-old job running operations. He wants to be back in the field, which is exactly where we want him, too.
Downstairs, Sean and Alex brief Ryan on the intrusion, and Ryan is convinced it’s a sign of “organized dissent. A mutiny. I was afraid something like this would happen when you told everybody about Danforth.” He goes on to explain that if enough people join up and go rogue, the situation would hit a tipping point and unintentionally cause the destruction of Division, hence the title of the episode. Cut to a few random Division agents talking about how to get rid of their trackers.
As if Ryan’s day isn’t bad enough, he hears from Nikita, Michael and Birkhoff about what they’re up to. (He also lets slip that Owen is assigned to Danforth surveillance duty.) After he reluctantly approves a volunteer-only mission, everyone heads to China, with Nikita creating a diversion while Michael and his friend Jason break into the lab. Unfortunately, her diversion fails after a few minutes, causing Nikita to have to spring into action and trigger a full-scale security alert. Jason gets shot and eventually dies, since he’s the expendable one.
After Sean gives us another reminder that everyone’s worried about Alex, the random Division operatives talk about how Jason’s death is good for their cause. One of them runs into Nikita all of thirty seconds later, and pretends to care about how Michael is taking the loss of his friend. “You’re the reason we’re all going to get out of here someday,” she tells Nikita, as we all snort at what that really means.
Faux Heidecker is pleased with the success of the China mission and tells everyone when and where Michael will receive his new limb. After asking Birkhoff to handle something, Nikita tells Alex to find the would-be mutineers, saying that “We’re going to march them out in front of everyone, and we’re going to forgive them. This is not the old Division anymore.” Alex’s blank, unimpressed face makes it really obvious whose side she’s on.
Michael and Nikita arrive at another poorly lit empty office building to turn over the tech they swiped from China and for Michael to have his surgery. They’re surprised to find there isn’t anyone there waiting for them – just another digital recording and one uncomfortable-looking chair – and debate whether or not they should go through with the deal. Michael tells Nikita to do it for him, and she reluctantly leaves him in order to deliver the tech, although doing so means exchanging shots with some angry Chinese guys.
No sooner has Sean told Alex and Sonya that he left a bit of dummy code behind for the mutineers to find then Sonya realizes someone is trying to erase it. Thanks to that big window, Sean is able to spot the guilty party instantly and tackles her to the ground in full view of everyone.
The Chinese guys threaten to derail Nikita’s delivery, but don’t stop her from handing the tech off to…an empty car. She returns just in time to reunite with Michael, who stares at his new appendage for a long moment in disbelief.
Ryan and Alex interrogate the rogue agent that Sean took down. Her name is Rachel and she pretty much laughs in Ryan’s face. She claims the mutiny dies with her, but when she uses the phrase “tipping point,” he realizes that he only used those words in limited company. He turns around and his jaw drops as he turns on Alex, who launches into her own spiel before pulling a gun on him. She shoots him, and after Ryan drops to the floor, Alex tells Rachel that she will have to take the fall for the greater good.
No one’s the wiser when Nikita and Michael return to Division to find Alex sitting by Ryan’s bedside in Medical. Alex tells them her cover story, sounding entirely flat when she does so. “Division’s being run by an inner circle. One that isn’t concerned with anyone’s future or shutting this place down,” she adds ominously, causing Michael to look perplexed while Nikita just sits there and looks guilty. While we learn that the head of the lab in China allowed the break-in as part of a larger plan in collaboration with Faux Heidecker, Nikita tells Ryan how he saw a future for Division when no one else could. Through tears, she wonders if he saw this coming.
“Tipping Point” is for the most part an obvious episode, and that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good that after all the talk about Michael being able to get his hand back, there’s an episode that finally addresses that. (Although one wonders what the point was of having him lose it in the first place if it was just going to be replaced later on, but that’s another argument.) It’s good that this development means he’ll be able to be back into the field, and therefore hopefully a bigger part of the series. Those things needed to happen.
However, it’s bad in that the things that we weren’t supposed to see coming are equally as easy to figure out. There have been so many mentions about people being worried over Alex post-kidnapping that it got tired awhile ago, and also made it apparent something big was going to happen to her. “Inevitability” made it clear that something was going to pit her against Nikita. Watching the way she reacts to Nikita in this episode is another major hint in that direction. All these things lessen the impact of much of what happens in “Tipping Point,” especially the final reveal. The only significant shocker here is that Ryan takes a bullet. Hopefully, he’ll be back, because Noah Bean has been a good addition to the show, although he’s basically turned into a desk jockey this season (to be fair, if Michael returns to Division, that problem will be alleviated because Ryan should then return to being head of operations).
If this episode was supposed to be a game-changer, it didn’t provide much that loyal Nikita fans shouldn’t already know. The true merit of this installment will be judged by what happens in the episodes afterward, of course, but on its own, it’s a decidedly average hour of work.