So things went down at Division in last week’s Nikita. Many things were broken, feelings were hurt, and a regular cast member died, although we pretty much saw that one coming. It was pretty entertaining, though it wasn’t all that epic, either. Now what?
Nikita goes running through the halls of Division to find out that Ryan has woken up from his coma – which is good, because he’s got a lot of work to do. He’s dumbfounded as everyone else takes him to survey the damage in Operations. Michael tells him that there are only fourteen people left in Division, and there were nine casualties, including Sean. Nikita adds that Owen has the black box. Birkhoff chimes in that Alex is missing. From the look on Ryan’s face, he would like to go back to sleep.
Alex, meanwhile, is wandering the streets again in the usual questionable neighborhood, picking up some drugs from the usual unscrupulous guy. She wanders into the wrong room and we’re supposed to be worried about her, though it’s hard to when we know that even an out of sorts Alex is probably a better fighter than a couple of drug dealers. Back at Division, Nikita, being the savior of everyone, declares that she is going to relocate her former protege and have “a long overdue conversation.” This despite knowing that she was in Amanda’s reprogramming chair last week, so who knows if she’s about to go off the deep end, too?
Sonya and Birkhoff have a heart-to-heart moment as they try to get the office back up and running. “This place doesn’t do second chances, no matter what the brochures say,” Birkhoff grouses, but Sonya points out that they believed in Nikita, to which her boyfriend responds, “Niki’s good at inspiring stupid people to do really stupid things.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
When Nikita arrives in the questionable neighborhood, she finds out that Alex made short work of the drug dealers, taking what she needed from them before disappearing. We then see Alex arriving at a laundromat that’s obviously a front for something else, walking into the back room and confronting the bad guy she finds there. There’s another one-sided fight and then she’s gone as quickly as she came. It’s clear that she’s in a vigilante mood.
Flash back to six years ago, when Nikita is demanding that Michael put her back on an operation after the death of her fiancee Daniel. “Killing yourself will not bring him back, it just makes you both dead,” Michael insists, telling her that he doesn’t want to lose her. This would be sweet if she didn’t then punch him in the face. What we deduce from this is that Nikita knows what Alex is going through, and she’d go and save her from herself – if dirty cops weren’t getting in the way.
Michael and Ryan discuss how exposed Division is with the black box missing, and to make matters worse, that’s when Ryan gets a call directly from President Spencer. She tells him that Evan Danforth’s autopsy results have come out and that he died of natural causes. Michael whispers behind him that Amanda did it, earning another “really?” look from Ryan. The President wants to talk about Division’s future in a week. That might be an awkward conversation to have. Understandably panicking, Ryan decides that a good idea might be to “destroy the facility. Permanently, today. We blow it all to hell.” Everyone else wonders if he suffered some brain damage along with that gunshot wound.
On the streets, Nikita gets one of the dirty cops to take her to what she believes is Alex’s next target, and arrives finding out that Alex is trying to “save” a bunch of down-on-their-luck girls like she once was. She phones Michael for help, while Michael is ranting to Ryan, Sonya and Birkhoff about how they’re all fugitives in twenty-six countries. Leaving to help his fiancee, he warns Ryan like a parent talks to a rebellious teenager, “Don’t blow up anything until I get back here or I’ll hunt you down myself.”
After another brief flashback in which Amanda puts Nikita back on the operation Michael removed her from, present-day Nikita finds Alex, who launches into a spiel about how everyone around her dies. Nikita breaks the news to Alex that her friend Larissa was a hallucination created by Amanda during her kidnapping. “Every single thing that’s happened since then was born out of that lie,” she explains. With just a few sentences, Alex finally realizes she’s been had, but now she and Nikita have to save the real girls that Alex sprung earlier. Lots of shooting and screaming ensues, before the former captives turn on their minders, forming an angry mob that’s broken up only by Michael’s arrival. Nikita convinces Alex to return to Division, which thankfully has not blown up yet.
One last staff meeting sees all the unnamed Division agents getting new identities and new bank accounts, with Ryan thanking all of the now ex-agents for their service. He then tells Sonya and Birkhoff he intends to turn himself in, claiming to be the only survivor of the compound’s destruction, in order to sell their new cover story. After Nikita gives Alex a speech about guilt similar to one that Amanda gave her six years before, our titular heroine declares that she’s not leaving Division while the black box is still at large. There will be no explosion, because Nikita is insistent on getting back in the fight.
Just like “Broken Home” had its great moments and its average ones, “Self-Destruct” is an equally mixed bag. On the good side, Division doesn’t magically pull itself out of the hole it’s now in. Noah Bean deserves a pat on the back for his facial expressions alone; you really have to feel for Ryan Fletcher – the guy wound up in charge of a covert organization, worked his tail off to keep it together, and all he got was a bullet, a coma, and the complete destruction of his workplace. If this is the last we see of him, it’s a sad exit for a guy who was just trying to do some good in the world, not to mention the loss of a really underused actor from Nikita‘s ensemble. When he’s given enough material, like he was in this episode, Bean’s more than watchable. It feels like audiences haven’t seen what he’s fully capable of yet. And Lyndsy Fonseca, no matter what you think of her character’s storyline, is doing some pretty fantastic work in the role of Alex.
On the bad side, Nikita does sometimes have a tendency to hit the nail on the head. Do we really need flashbacks to see that Nikita can empathize with Alex because they’ve both lost loved ones and blamed themselves for it? Nikita fans already know that parallel exists, and for casual viewers, it could’ve been drawn with a simple reference. But Alex’s whole storyline continues to tread familiar ground, as the show has dispatched yet another love interest of hers. In season one there was Nathan and you could also argue Thom belongs in that category; what does the death of Sean give us for Alex’s character that she didn’t go through before? Not much. Alex has been on a self-destructive path before. She’s had to be rescued by Nikita before. (And really, all it takes Nikita to convince Alex that she’s been mentally tampered with is a good speech? That comes off as way too easy, giving the impression she could’ve done that a few episodes ago and saved everyone a lot of trouble.) Especially since Nikita fans spent part of season two and into season three rooting for Alex and Sean to get together, it seems like the show caused a lot of pain for little gain.
Another negative is that after all the fantastic work Melinda Clarke did last week, and as much as we learned about her character, all we get of her this installment is those flashbacks. “Broken Home” did a great job of making us even more interested in Amanda, so to not have her somewhere in the episode wastes that momentum.
All in all, it’s going to be a long road for our heroes on Nikita, and it should be. You don’t destroy the main location of the show and kill several people (even if only one of them is important) and then the next week have everything be back to normal. The show got that part right. Essentially, the episode wiped the slate; it’s stripped away all the resources and some of the additional manpower that our heroes started season three with. That should be a golden opportunity for the writers. Yet so far, we haven’t seen anything that we haven’t experienced before. It feels like the best is still out there, waiting for Nikita to find it. With only three episodes left in the season, and this show being one of the few that The CW has not yet renewed, it’s time for the series to give us everything it’s got.