Following Alex’s implosion last week, there are only three episodes of Nikita left for the team to pull themselves together – and for the show to hopefully secure a fourth season from The CW. “High-Value Target” is not really the way to go about either of those things.
We’re going to flashbacks yet again, as in 2005 Michael debriefs Nikita on the operation that we’ve already seen looks back at during season one, in which she took out the head of a major drug cartel. It turns out this is film that’s being watched by an associate of said drug dealer, after still-evil Owen gave it to him. He’s plotting to auction off the black box, which will of course cause untold chaos. Back at Division, Nikita, Ryan and Michael are trying to figure out how to stop the sale, but they’re not getting anywhere. While Nikita remains the eternal optimist, “It might be time to think about our options,” Michael admits.
Yet as if on cue, arms dealer Cyrus (Isaiah Mustafa, who last appeared in “Sideswipe”) is back in the picture. He knows where the auction is going to happen – at the G20 economic summit taking place at a Toronto hotel that should look familiar to anyone who watched season one – and who some of the interested parties are. They’ll need money to get into the game, and Alex has plenty of that, which she offers up saying that she owes it to the team. While Nikita doesn’t want to believe that Owen’s a lost cause, he walks into a hotel room where he’s got Amanda chained to the bed. It’s cringe-worthy. Worse is the fact that a bunch of armed Navy SEALs have given up waiting and decided to bust into Division. Really, Ryan Fletcher’s life sucks right now.
This turn of events forces Nikita to tip her hand, telling the head SEAL to call the President and inform her of what they’re doing. That then motivates Michael and Alex to accelerate their mission’s timetable. Alex approaches a low-level diplomat from Turkey and offers to back his play for the black box with a cool two hundred million dollars. The President, who is conveniently at the G20 summit herself, subsequently approaches Nikita in full “do not want” mode. “Do you understand that if you fail, your friends back at the bunker will pay the price?” she queries, but decides to be helpful for the time being.
Thanks to the President, Nikita gets into the reception during which the auction is scheduled to occur. When she makes herself visible in hopes of flushing out Owen, she draws the attention of the dead cartel leader’s associate, too. This means that while Nikita and Michael are confronting their former teammate, they’re set upon by miscellaneous thugs, and Owen is able to escape. At least until Alex wants to strike up a conversation with him about dead significant others. Her attempt at persuading him to turn back from the dark side falls flat.
As things get worse, Cyrus wants to start plotting an escape plan, but Michael reveals that they have one lead: a room key he swiped in the scuffle. It almost leads them to Amanda, except for that they arrive just as she’s being liberated by people they can’t identify. Not to mention that Turkey just lost the auction for the black box to Germany, so Team Nikita is batting zero-for-three at the halfway point of the episode. To throw the cops off the situation, Michael and Nikita pretend to be an overzealous couple caught in the shower. It’s not that funny.
Alex watches as the German representative (Greg Bryk, who plays a jerk in so many things, like 24 and ReGenesis) takes custody of the black box, then kills his own entourage. Trying to figure out what that’s all about, Nikita calls Owen and helps him connect the dots until they both realize they’ve been played by Amanda. While she enjoys her victory, with the SEALs having been given a kill order, Ryan, Birkhoff, Sonya and Cyrus make a break from Operations. Their only hope is Nikita and Michael, who are engaged in a shootout with some henchmen, at least until Amanda tells one of her associates that “for our plan to work,” they need the two heroes alive. Uh-oh.
No one said anything about Owen, who arrives on the scene and retakes the black box just as Amanda escapes for the umpteenth time. He decides the best course of action is to destroy it with a well-placed gunshot. Lest you think he’s back to his old self, he drives off himself at the sight of Michael and Nikita. This information makes it to the President – and everyone who’s anyone – just moments before the SEALs can off the main cast. Never mind that Ryan’s holding a bomb trigger and isn’t afraid to blow up everyone anyway. He’s definitely no longer a low-level analyst.
After the President calls off her attack dogs, Birkhoff decides the official death of Division calls for champagne. Yet the party ends quickly when Cyrus walks in and tells the team that he found the company Amanda’s helicopter is registered to, which proves she’s in league with an even worse bunch of people. As if anyone expected that she would just go away quietly. Here we go again…
With the whole ‘fall of Division’ storyline mostly behind us, “High-Value Target” moves on to the plot surrounding Owen and Amanda. The problem is that it just isn’t very captivating. The general concept of this week’s mission – a secret auction for something dangerous happening at a diplomatic event – has been done before (see, most recently, the Human Target episode “Embassy Row”). And if you start to think too much about what’s unfolding, the episode begins to fall apart. It’s not hard to figure out that Amanda’s going to escape captivity – after all, the show needs to keep its biggest villain on the lam until the season finale. Nor is it much of a surprise that the SEALs turn on Division, because Nikita‘s only been mentioning that could happen for weeks. After all those warnings, it was time to either put up or shut up.
Having said that, the installment does get the black box off the table, which is a plus in terms of then allowing the plot to move past that, too. Now, with a fairly limited amount of time left, there’s basically one thing left to resolve, and that’s Amanda. How her story wraps up – if it wraps up – will probably give us a big clue to what a potential fourth season of Nikita will look like. Will she still be in the picture? If not, the show will have to at least hint as to who a new central antagonist might be (every season finale so far has ended on a big note, so it’s unlikely that there won’t be some clue in there somewhere). Nikita seems like it’s reinventing itself by the end of this season, and we deserve to see what it’s going to look like, after investing so much time and so much of our attention into the world we got to know with “3.0″ onward.
Let’s just hope that whatever happens, it’s an ending that provides some sort of substance to the fans. Before this season started, I had the opportunity to interview Craig Silverstein, and here’s a quote that sort of puts this into perspective:
Past this season I don’t have a plan. What I’m hoping is halfway through this season I begin to come up with a plan for the next one.
Given that, and the general fact that most shows write their season finales before they have any clue whether or not they’ll be renewed, we’re likely looking at a conclusion to this season that’s at least somewhat open-ended in case Nikita returns (and hopefully it does). Yet at the same time, the writers owe the fans a significant amount of resolution after episodes like these. We’ve waited for answers, only to mostly get more plot twists and more questions. Now it’s time.