Finally, we get to see the second half of Nikita‘s first multiple-episode arc. While there wasn’t exactly a “to be continued” at the end of “The Guardian,” the main components of that episode continue through into “Resistance.” If you missed any of “The Guardian,” you can find last week’s recap here. While that episode set the table, “Resistance” is where the real payoff is.
Not only does Nikita give us an intriguing main plot in the staged kidnapping of Alex and Thom, but we’ve been teased with the promise that Owen (returning guest star Devon Sawa) is going to tell Nikita – and us – who killed her fiance Daniel. Will we really find out or is it just another tease, not unlike the Michael and Nikita backstory in “Rough Trade”? Only one way to find out. At least they’ve now updated the opening narration to catch viewers up on the previous episode.
We open a year ago, with Nikita bringing Alex to visit her fake gravesite, and explaining that to the world, she died five years earlier. She tells Alex that Division killed Alex’s parents when her father became a target, and that she herself saved Alex’s life. Alex does not take this well and runs off. Back in the present day, she’s asking Nikita for help with an upcoming test on interrogation.
Meanwhile, Michael walks into Percy’s office to discuss his breaking into Percy’s office. (He’s had a wardrobe change, too, and he looks good.) Percy reminds him that there’s only been one time Michael’s loyalty was ever questioned – during his relationship with Nikita. “What relationship?” Michael asks, and reminds an arrogant Percy that they have no proof that either Nikita or Owen are dead. Percy’s ego keeps him from listening to anything Michael is saying to him, and he reminds Michael that soldiers who don’t follow his orders end up dead. Cue the “wow, you really are dense” look from Shane West. It’s as if his look communicates everything I’m thinking.
Owen isn’t dead, obviously. He’s handcuffed to a bed in Nikita’s apartment (at least he’s not in a box), demanding to know the location of the key. The two struggle briefly and then argue about the events of the last episode, before Nikita tranquilizes him one more time.
Alex goes in for her interrogation test. Amanda explains that she has ten minutes to get the names of her suspect’s co-conspirators, and gives her the remote to an electrocution device “in case he needs a little motivation.” Yes, this Division can do wicked things as easily as Section did. Alex goes to work (it has to be the lighting, but Lyndsy Fonseca’s skin looks so pale in some shots that she could be a mime), while Michael, Percy and Amanda look on. Percy particularly enjoys pushing Michael’s buttons this episode, asking him if Alex is “another rising star,” which just earns a vaguely annoyed smirk to the back of his head. Everyone is watching as Alex gets strangled, causing Michael to come to her rescue. While he’s concerned with how she is, her failure to perform casts doubts on her in Percy and Amanda’s eyes. Speaking from experience, I’ve seen worse, but then again, I wasn’t employed by Division.
Later on, Michael tells the recruits that they get to spend the day off-site practicing with sniper rifles, which sounds like my best friend’s idea of a good time. Thom tells Alex he’s sorry that he wasn’t there to help her when she needed the save.
Back at Nikita’s apartment, she tries for the second time to have a conversation with Owen, attempting to bond with him over their similarities. She tells him all about Daniel, and what happened on the day that he was killed – that she found his body face down in the water off the dock near his parents’ beach house. Owen appears to be really uncomfortable with that information.
On the training bus, Thom tries to apologize to Alex for kissing her. This is just to distract us from the fact that the bus is about to be completely shot up and all the nameless Division agents are going to be dispatched with quickly. Thom and Alex are knocked out cold. Alex wakes up attached to a chair in the world’s filthiest basement, talking to the brother of the guy she was interrogating earlier. Now it’s her turn to be put on the spot, as he tells her that either she’ll help him find where his brother is, or really hate this day trip. We’re supposed to be shocked when we see Amanda, Percy, Michael, Birkhoff and the fake interrogation victim (who is really a Division agent) watching, but if you read the synopsis before watching this episode, you knew that already.
Michael has a pained expression on his face, getting a headache as he argues that they shouldn’t be electrocuting their own recruits. Amanda uses that to insinuate that his relationship with Alex is different in some way. Cue that “oh, please” look on Shane West’s face again. Classic.
Alex breaks all of a minute later, telling her captor about Division, and that she’s “not one of them.” It’s a smart move from her perspective, and I give her credit for it. Of course, since she has no idea that Division is listening, we know that it could also be the stupidest move she’s ever made.
Alex tells her interrogator how she really got to Division. Amanda thinks it’s brilliant. Michael is annoyed that Alex had to go through three rounds of electroshock, complete with eyeroll. Maybe that’s Shane West channeling those three seasons of ER and all that medical knowledge he soaked up, transferring it into Michael. His expressions during this entire sequence are classic.
Alex’s captor threatens Thom in an attempt to get her to break, but she has nothing else to tell him. We finally see that Thom is being held in another room, told it’s just an exercise. He gets to involuntarily fake his own death! A gunshot rings out and his “body” is dumped in front of a horrified Alex. Michael continues to believe this is overkill, while Birkhoff just fawns over the special effects. It’s like a morbid version of Mystery Science Theater 3000, while I (and I’m sure plenty of you at home) continue to yell at the screen that Michael is oh so obviously right and yet again is not being listened to. How many times does he have to be right before people realize he’s the top operative in Division for a reason?
At least one more, apparently.
Out of options, Alex knows she’ll have to do something drastic, and she manages to free herself. She grabs the interrogator’s gun and shoots him, over his plea that it’s just a test, and takes off in a panic. “You pushed her too far,” Michael tells Amanda, who remains completely unfazed, further cementing my belief that she is a sociopath. Alex escapes from the Division agents into the woods and is gone. I think someone owes Michael an apology that he’ll never get.
It’s time for another flashback. After running off a year ago, Alex is finally tracked down by Nikita She tells Alex that she found her hiding in the cellar and saved her from the Division agents who murdered her parents – and that it was in her plans when she escaped from Division to find Alex and make sure that she was okay. “I wanted you to know the truth,” she says. “You deserve at least that much.” So we know now that Nikita didn’t kill Alex’s parents, but she was there when it happened. Those flashbacks in the previous episodes are making more sense.
Speaking of flashing back, Owen is feeling vaguely chatty. He tells Nikita where he hid the “black box” and for her to go and get it. Then he drops the bomb: he cancelled other agents and people close to them. It becomes clear to her that he was the one who murdered Daniel. She breaks down as he tells her that it was quick, and that Daniel didn’t feel a thing. “Did Michael know?” she asks of him, and he tells her “Percy gave me my orders.” In other words, Michael is innocent in the whole fiance-killing situation. That sound you hear is me and a few other Shane West fans breathing a sigh of relief.
The tense moment is broken up by Alex calling Nikita for help, still not knowing that her entire predicament is a test. Yet as she relates details to Nikita, it becomes clear to the former operative exactly what’s happening, and she breaks the news to Alex. Horrified, Alex says, “Does that mean I killed a Division agent?” Yes, that’s exactly what it means. Owen sees Nikita handling a gun and thinks he’s about to be murdered. “This is the way it’s supposed to end,” he tells her, but she says nothing, just goes to rescue Alex.
No sooner does she get there then Michael also rolls up on the scene, all great wardrobe and endearing sympathy. “You did what you had to do to survive,” he tells her. “We’ll make this right, okay? I’m not going to let anything happen to you. I’m not going to lose you too.” I want to hug him. I really do. (Though if this is meant to intimate some future relationship between Michael and Alex, that I definitely do not want.) He brings her back to Division, where she fully expects to incur the wrath of Percy. Michael surprises Alex by suggesting not so explicitly that she be cancelled.
Percy tells Michael that Alex was not the only test subject. He was also looking to test Michael’s loyalties and make sure that Alex was not another Nikita. “You’re already so bored that you’re playing puppeteer to amuse yourself,” Michael replies, incredulous. Percy points out that Michael is making his point for him, to which the veteran agent retorts, “Feel free to tell me what that is anytime.” These two are definitely getting tetchy, and I love it. I wondered after “Rough Trade” if Percy suspected Michael, and we know now that he definitely does.
After that little argument, Michael comes to talk to Alex and warns her that things such as this little experiment happen all the time. He maintains, however, that what he told her at the truck stop was the truth. Alex is left to contemplate that as we see yet another flashback, in which Nikita explains to Alex how she plans on thwarting Division. We see that it was Alex’s idea to get involved, wanting revenge for the death of her parents. Alex knew what she was getting into, and now it’s time for her to put up or shut up.
By the time Nikita returns to her apartment, Owen has managed to escape, leaving her a note telling her that he has to do things on his own. He’s gone back to Montreal, where he’s unearthed the black box and set off on his own mission. It’s frustratingly vague, but it does leave the door open for seeing him again, which is something that I would not turn down.
Wow. What an episode, huh? Certainly a satisfying conclusion to some of what we saw in “The Guardian,” while continuing Nikita‘s tradition of asking more questions for each one that it answers. Unlike “Rough Trade,” we actually got the answer to the burning question on our minds, too. I was fairly sure that it was Owen who had killed Daniel, but it was still great to have that confirmed, and Maggie Q’s performance in that moment was brilliant.
Yet as much as the story was about Alex, and Nikita got the answer she had always wanted, for me this episode was about Michael and Percy. The number-one question on my mind at the end of “Rough Trade” was if Percy suspected that Michael was beginning to waver, and we know now that he does. He’s slightly misguided as to why Michael is unraveling – he doesn’t yet realize that it has little, if nothing, to do with Alex – but he has enough of a suspicion to set up this elaborate test. Perhaps Michael has passed for the time being, but how long will that last? Not to mention that Michael himself now knows that Percy is watching him more closely, and how will his behavior change as a result? There’s definitely something brewing between these two, something which we’ll no doubt understand better when we get to Michael’s origin episode and which has to come to a head by the end of the season. Whenever it does reach its boiling point, the confrontation will be amazing.
Once again, it’s Shane West who sort of steals the episode out from under everyone else. He’s the only one with any palpable reaction to watching Alex and Thom being tortured, and his reaction is not unlike that of the viewing audience. We want him to tell Percy and Amanda that they’re nuts. We want him to go and do something about it instead of just sitting there and watching it unfold. We also get to see another vulnerable moment for him, which I admit had me wanting to just hug him. Now we understand why Nikita told him in the pilot episode that he was just staying to protect the recruits; this is exactly what she meant. It helps that Shane West is infinitely likeable, because he sells a sympathetic and protective side of Michael that I don’t recall ever seeing in any other version of the character. He’s just such a likeable person himself that I’ve embraced Michael, and for once Michael gets to show that aspect of his personality. Well done, Shane.
My only caution is that I do not want that to be the start of anything romantic between Michael and Alex, which I still maintain would be the one thing I definitely never want to see. Fans have talked about this show not becoming a spy version of Gossip Girl, and a triangle between Michael, Nikita and Alex would do just that, besides how implausible and uncomfortable it would be. I’d much rather see where they go with Alex and Thom, because Ashton Holmes needs more to do before I can even figure out if he has any chemistry with Lyndsy Fonseca or not. It would also give both of them another aspect of their characters to explore. (Speaking of Lyndsy, it’s great to see her take Alex in a completely vulnerable direction where she doesn’t have a smart comebacker for everything. I would call “Resistance” her best performance to date.) As I’ve said before, The CW has gotten fans invested in Michael and Nikita as a potential couple, and it’s best to respect that, rather than trying to break them up with the insertion of anyone else, whether that’s Alex or some new character.
That aside, “Resistance” was a great finish to “The Guardian.” I only have one burning question now: how many times does Michael have to be proven right before people actually start listening to anything he says? He’s Percy’s right-hand agent for a reason, right? Yet he gets ignored all the time. Episodes would go a lot faster if people realized that he knows what he’s talking about.
I’ll see you next week for “The Recruit,” which will presumably be a lot better than the movie of the same name featuring Colin Farrell. Until then, I’m off to brush up on my interrogating skills.