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'Nikita' Season 2, Episode 7 Recap

by Laura Prudom, posted Nov 4th 2011 11:45PM
Nikita and Gaines['Nikita' - 'Clawback']

It feels a little like critical laziness when I find myself heaping praise on 'Nikita' week after week, but I'm not being hyperbolic when I say that 'Clawback' may have just replaced last season's Kasim episodes as my favorite of the series to date.

The plot was densely packed and yet maintained an energetic pace that kept me guessing, and the episode was replete with important character development to drive the emotional story forward right alongside the narrative.

And as for that twist ... midway through the episode, I wanted to hurl my laptop across the room in outrage, before the eleventh-hour reveal had me thanking the capricious televisual gods for their mercy.

In some ways, I almost wish the show had followed through with killing Ryan, because that moment in the hospital was so shocking and so startlingly impactful (for me, at least), that I found myself caught off-guard and reeling in a way that TV seldom affects me anymore.

But then I remember Noah Bean's compelling performance and all the intriguing angles that Ryan brings to the story -- and to his scenes with Nikita -- and I can't help but feel relieved that we get to keep him a little longer. Many genre shows make a habit of killing off so many supporting cast members that death starts to lose its power (especially if they're later resurrected), but 'Nikita' has done an admirable job of illustrating the high stakes of the world the characters inhabit without cheapening the emotions involved, and the bait-and-switch was so well-executed that I can't hold it against the producers.

I'm also very intrigued to see how Amanda intends to manipulate (or "persuade") Ryan to put his talents to use for Division, since their goals have momentarily aligned. Still, despite Amanda's mind games, I doubt Ryan will easily forget that Division and Percy were the ones who got him incarcerated in the first place, nor what the agency has put Nikita through in the time he's known her.

Speaking of Nikita -- just when I thought she was making progress last week, finally telling Michael the truth about Max, she took two steps back this week by drugging him in an attempt to keep him out of the fight with Gaines. She's still hellbent on protecting those she loves at any cost, and far too focused on keeping her makeshift family close to stop and consider what they want or what they think of her potentially suicidal plans. I think Michael was perfectly justified in giving her some long-overdue tough love this week, pointing out that "there's no 'my' anymore, there's only 'ours.'"

Sheltering Alex from a painful truth was one thing, considering she had built up trust with Nikita based on a necessary lie from the start, but Michael is not Nikita's student or responsibility (if anything, it's almost the other way round), and he's demonstrated himself to be a more than capable partner and tactician. The more Nikita continues to inadvertently undermine that trust and equality -- even with good intentions and Michael's best interests at heart -- the greater the distance between them becomes.

And what distance it was. I'd be fascinated to read the script to figure out how much of Michael and Nikita's emotional distance this week was written, and how much was purely Maggie Q and Shane West's nuanced performances. After Nikita's revelation about Max, the tension was palpable between the pair, even when they were in close proximity and working as efficiently as always. While the case was business as usual, their interactions were still brusque and guarded in comparison with their usual intimacy, with Michael clearly still simmering over his partner's perceived betrayal.

That made it all the more satisfying when things came to a head at the episode's end, and Michael's raw and heartfelt declaration of how much Nikita means to him was one of the most painfully honest (and touching) scenes the two have shared yet, brought on by Michael's abject terror over potentially losing the woman he loves. As I said last week, I don't think Mikita fans have anything to worry about -- to paraphrase the immortal words of Spike on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer,' they'll be in love 'til it kills them both.

Another happy progression in this week's episode: I'm finally warming up to Sean. I know I've been hard on the character thus far because of his status as Future Alex Love Interest, but now that we're finally starting to peel back his layers and get to the motivations beneath, I'm willing to eat humble pie and admit that he's becoming more compelling. It was an interesting twist to tie him into Oversight as the son of one of its key members, giving him an unfortunate conflict of interests that will no doubt lead to some painful decisions somewhere down the line.

But now that Amanda knows that Oversight wants to depose her, I wonder how accommodating she'll be towards her resident Oversight overseer. I admire his nobility, and his readiness to trust Alex to tell him the truth despite their initial animosity. But since he clued Amanda in to what his mother and Oversight were planning, then tried to protect her identity from Nikita and Roan (or did he?), where do his loyalties truly lie?

Sidebar: How awesome was it to see 'La Femme Nikita' alum Alberta Watson return, with the name Madeline, no less? I can't wait to see her face off against Amanda more directly.

The episode also did an excellent job of expanding Alex's story at a slow burn, allowing her to grow closer to Sean in a believable way as well as giving Lyndsy Fonseca some meaty material to work with during Alex's scenes with Yuri. Fonseca brought her A-game this week, and I think she's tied with West for MVP of the episode, thanks to their vulnerable performances.

Clearly, Alex can't have a showdown with Semak this early in the season, but writer Michael Brandon Guercio cannily allowed the show to address the hit that Gogol has placed on her, using it as an opportunity to delve deeper into Alex's childhood and her current alliances. It was interesting to see her defending Nikita and how she chose to kill Alex's father, and it also emphasized just how surreal Alex's life truly is, since I couldn't blame Yuri for being dubious about the veracity of her complicated story.

Now Amanda has Alex right where she wants her, back under lockdown at Division where she can no longer openly communicate with Nikita. Will she find Ryan, or at least a way out thanks to Sean? I'm intrigued to see where they take her from here, since for all appearances, she seems to be trapped.

A new alliance between mother and son revealed, another Oversight member dead, one faked death and another powerful Mikita scene -- I didn't even have time to miss Birkoff or Percy; did you? (I did love all of Nikita's new gadgetry, though -- how badass was the doohickey she used to scale Gaines' building?)

'Nikita' airs Fridays at 8PM ET on The CW.

What did you think of the Ryan Fletcher twist? Are you glad to see him sticking around? What's your opinion of Sean so far? Share your reactions in the comments!

Follow Laura on Twitter: @LauinLA

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January 04 2012 at 2:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

awesome review I loved how well you explained about Ryan, I was upset to think they would take him of the show got worried there for a minute but thanks to the writers. I don't want to see him go either he is a really interesting character I would love to see how they will keep him in Division just hope he stays on Nikita's side.

November 18 2011 at 7:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Love your reviews Laura – you're such a fan!
When you see how Ryan is factored in later his death scene makes sense, and I honestly didn't think they'd really kill him off so I wasn't that upset about it. I'm really looking forward to seeing Ryan in the mix, especially now he's in Division. It was good to see Ryan's got some moves and I'm looking forward to watching him play with Amanda's head which I'm sure he'll be doing.
Michael came so close to telling Nikita what she needed to hear – and didn't. She doesn't know how much she means to him because he hasn't told her. And he still didn't tell her. I think until he does she'll be tempted to do something like she did in this episode.
He also took such a huge step backward into the angry, isolated person he was in the first season. It was hard to see him do it but I get why. He had trusted Kasim too and it shattered his life. Then he had ten years of being lied to and manipulated by Percy and he had, to some extent, trusted him. Now in a short span of time he's discovered Nikita kept her knowledge about Max from him and she actually drugged him rather than let him make the decision to accept the risk with her. The path they're on is too risky for them not to be able to trust each other and right now neither of them really does. Think there will need to be a leap of faith here for one or both of them to let them continue together.
Good to see Sean become a more defined character and not just the conveniently placed available guy for Alex to be attached to. Sean has a very personal stake in defeating Nikita and he's a credible threat against the pair so the ante has definitely been upped.
And poor Alex. She obviously cared about Yuri and was shocked at what he believed about her. In that final scene with Amanda she seemed to have reverted to being like a child again when she wanted to talk to Yuri at the end of the episode. She was being so meek, all the attitude she'd given Amanda most of this season was gone. Now she's sucked into Amanda's web again, a prisoner in Division and it was wrenching watching her slow walk to the old recruit room. Lyndsy Fonseca did an incredible job this episode – I found the scenes with her as powerful as the Michael/Nikita scenes.
Every episode this season has ratcheted up the mysteries, the tension and the threats. I can't think of any show that has the ability to do that on the level that Nikita does. The writing is so good and the cast have been brilliant. This show really, really needs to be seen by way more people.

November 07 2011 at 12:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Alberta. Watson. Playing the Senator. Ahhhhhhh...!!
*dies out of awesomeness*
Last scene with Sean (Dillon?) at the park was so full of meaning
More, more, please!

November 05 2011 at 10:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This episode brought all the players (or at least reps from each) together in a way that was even better than the season one finale. Extremely well done. The prison infiltration scene and the very last Alex scene were also beautifully filmed. Nikita has been called a "dark fairytale" before, and that's all I could think of as Alex walked back to her old Division room.

Yes! to everything you said about Michael and Nikita. I like how you bring up their teacher-student relationship, because I thought Shane played that in the scene so subtly and beautifully. Like he was scolding his student, but of course with the extra layer of Michael really loving Nikita. Is it wrong that I'm just a little teensy bit excited for their upcoming rift/break because I know Maggie and Shane will play it so damn well?

Love your recaps, Laura!

November 05 2011 at 2:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i have to admit the only other thing i'm looking forward to each week (aside from a new Nikita episode) are your incredibly-written, spot-on reviews. i agree with all of your highlights, particularly with regards to your observations about the growing distance between Michael and Nikita as of late, and the reasons behind it. your analysis of Nikita's well-meaning but skewed sense of altruism is perfectly accurate and i couldn't have said it better. i love Niki, but Michael was definitely right in this episode and she had to hear it from him like that, or else she'd definitely do it again.

Sean has definitely been growing on me too. Dillon Casey plays him briliantly. I enjoy his interactions with Alex and I hope to see them work side by side more often. Amanda played the game flawlessly througout this episode and this made me realize how much more menacing she gets the longer she sits head of Division. Could there be something about this position that eats away at a person's soul in exchange for making them wiser and more powerful? The same thing seemed to happen to Percy when he was still in power.

Anyway, I missed Birkhoff and Percy in this episode, but this was definitely one of the standout eps of the show to date (My favorite is still last season's One Way, but this comes very close). You can't help but heap praise upon praise on Nikita every week, and it's highly understandable. The surprise twist at the end of this episode nearly killed me. At the rate this show is going, I might end up dying every week. This show=What a ride. So glad that you're on board, Laura.

November 05 2011 at 10:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Camilla Sandman

Good review! I think you hit on an interesting difference in character between Michael and Nikita - Nikita tries to keep those she loves safe by keeping them out of it, while Michael tries to keep those he loves safe by being there for them. Both are perfectly understandable, but can make for bad decisions at times, like Nikita's in this episode. It makes the conflict believable. They've loved each other a long time, but they haven't really tried being together, so they will have to sort out issues like this.

Like you, I think they'll make it, though. That much love gives them good odds.

Sean is growing on me as well. And his alliances play into a very complicated map of who wants who taken down - makes me curious what an open Oversight-Division split would do to people's alliances. And Ryan - I kinda saw him being alive coming, because Roan and his drugs and faking of death has come up before. Still, be curious to see how Amanda intends to use him and if he'll be able to resist it.

Awesome action and really fast-paced episode. More people need to watch this show, seriously.

November 05 2011 at 7:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The action was off the chain in this one. Not only did Nikita dodge a shotgun blast, she managed to do a reversal and use it on her attacker at point blank range - if only they could show the stomach disappear.

Then she escapes a room with like 4 guns pointed at her by using an industrial tycoon as a human shield, then jumps out of a window and repels down on some sort of Batman-esque gadget.

Best stunt work and action choreography/shooting(of said action) of any show ever.

I want a big car chase at some point.

November 05 2011 at 2:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First of all, what?! All the plot twists in this episode had my head spinning!
Sean is the senator's son?! Ryan died?! Amanda killed yuri?! Ryan is alive?!
What an emotional rollercoaster. Laura's tweet was right. SO MANY FEELINGS!

I'm so glad the writers didn't disappoint with Amanda. Knowing her, we wouldn't expect anything less than her trying to take down oversight now that they want to depose her. Its also awesome that in just one episode, the story has created so much more possibilities now that Sean has to take down Nikita, Amanda teaming with Ryan to overthrow oversight and Nikita knowing the identity of one more member of oversight. I'm so excited to see what happens next!

The emotional scenes in the episode were great too. I felt so bad for Alex. and her story does sound so dubious even though we know it to be true. I'm glad she can finally see that Nikita had to lie to her. I love their relationship and really want them to reunite. Although chances are low now that Alex is stuck at Division. Bravo to Amanda's skillful manipulation that led to that. Maggie was amazing as always, especially in the scene when Ryan died. Mikita scene was epic as always. I understand Nikita's need to protect those she loves but I'm also glad Michael called her out on it. She does need to realize that she can't always make others' decisions for them.

Once again, great writing from the Nikita people. They truly are beyond fantastic. And great recap Laura! I look forward to reading them every week. :D

November 05 2011 at 1:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Awesome episode! One of the best episodes so far this season yet also so sad for everyone (except Amanda). Thank goodness that Ryan didn't die (BIG sigh of relief and yes, I thought about throwing my laptop too). Alex is more alone and trapped than she's ever been. Yay for her finally getting why Nikita did what she did. I bet she is really wishing she listened to Nikita now (get out!). Michael w/ his son. Nikita thinking she lost another person she cares about to division. Ryan fake dying and now trapped in Division. Mikita problems. Sean having to protect his mom from a big target. Speaking of Sean, he still doesn't register as much as Ryan or Owen yet he has appeared in more episodes and a part of the series cast. Love, love both Ryan and Owen. Can't wait for all these story lines to collide. Nevermind, I can. Nikita has a way of killing off people and I rather not see anyone of Nikita's dysfunctional make-shift family die!

November 05 2011 at 1:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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