Nikita, Season 3, Episode 2: “Innocence”
Written by Mary Trahan
Directed by John Badham
Airs Fridays at 9pm (ET) on the CW
Despite Nikita’s intentions, and the good she did for Alex by weaning her off of drugs and giving her life a purpose, there’s no denying that their early relationship had the potential to go bad. Someone with less integrity would likely have been tempted to brainwash Alex and make her a single-minded weapon to achieve their own ends, as Percy did at the end of season 1. Nikita eventually came to that realisation herself, leading her to let Alex go her own way, but less scrupulous individuals would never allow for that possibility in the first place. This episode focuses on one such scenario involving an ex-trainer of Division and illustrates the dangers of going rogue in fine fashion.
The parallels between Wade and Nikita are very interesting to note. Both have missions they take personally, based in part on past failures. Both take on a young trainee and mold them to be ruthless killers, and both send their protégé into the thick of the action as they coordinate from outside. But perhaps most importantly, both are spurned by Percy. It is very interesting to note how both individuals, put through almost similar circumstances, react in such different ways and end up doing very different things. Agents like Wade are a fascinating addition to the show and hopefully the writers will further explore the idea of people who remained loyal to Division but were spurned by Percy. Amanda’s reign showed many that leadership can change, but Division remains the same, thus the wariness of others to trust Nikita and Ryan is perfectly understandable. It will be interesting to see how many other agents like Wade are out there, as well as whether their paths end up crossing with Amanda.
The parallels between Liza and Alex are also fascinating to watch. While an examination of Nikita and Wade reveals a lot of similarities, the contrasts between Alex and Liza really illustrate the fundamental manner in which Wade and Nikita differ. Brainwashing and forcing a captive to become an assassin, however, sounds very similar to what Division did, and while the latter dealt only with individuals who would have been lost causes otherwise, it’s not difficult to believe that more than a few Division agents will sympathise with Liza’s plight, and perhaps even feel the same way. Nikita and co. will face challenges as the season progresses in convincing agents that the place is different, but Alex is in a unique position, having experienced the terror Percy wrought from all angles, to convince agents of the change in the institution, and perhaps this episode is a setup for Alex to convince Ryan to incorporate reunions between agents and their old families as part of the new Division’s policies. Whether the show chooses to use Liza’s imprisonment as a gateway to explore the humanity of Division assassins whose physiological makeup may differ from Nikita, or even Owen, remains to be seen, but the basic foundation for it is certainly laid this episode.
Overall, this is another thrilling episode. The conflict between Nikita and Ryan with regards to Division policy rears its head again this episode at a crucial moment, proving that this will be a continuing issue as the season progresses. Birkhoff, while entertaining in the season premiere, really shines this episode as well, from his harmless anger at both Nikita and Michael at being the last one to find out about their engagement, to his Dalek impersonation when shooting at Wade, proving that his ability to bring levity to the proceedings remains intact. Alex suddenly realising that she doesn’t know Michael’s last name is also an amusing moment, as well as an interesting reminder that the audience has yet to learn what Michael’s full name is, despite his importance to the show. The writers once again manage to put a lot more into the episode than would theoretically be feasible, yet manage to not make it feel overcrowded or shortchange any plotlines. It will be worth tuning in next week to see if they can pull off this feat once again.