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'Nikita' Season 2, Episode 8 Recap

by Laura Prudom, posted Nov 11th 2011 11:35PM
Nikita['Nikita' - 'London Calling']

I knew that the streak of awesome 'Nikita' episodes had to end sooner or later, and last week's 'Clawback' was definitely a hard act to follow, but I was still a little disappointed by how emotionally disconnected I felt from 'London Calling.'

That's not to say that the episode was terrible, by any stretch of the imagination, but the danger of focusing a story around a character who isn't a series lead (and further, a character whom much of the fanbase actively dislikes) is that the audience will struggle to relate to the narrative. I'm sure that the producers hoped that we'd be invested in Cassandra's fate purely because she's the mother of Michael's child, but frankly, I couldn't care less whether she lived or died, which made the stakes of the episode practically non-existent.

It's not even the fault of the writer. Kalinda Vazquez wrote a competent enough episode (even if the missing $200 million felt a little like a convenient MacGuffin that was never really explored in depth), but since Cassandra was introduced purely to be an obstacle to Nikita and Michael's relationship, nothing we learned about her in this episode actually made her more sympathetic.

If anything, Cassandra's unexpected MI6 backstory made her more of a threat to Nikita than before, since the one thing Nikita seemed to consider her trump card over Cassandra was the fact that Michael's presence would make all three of them vulnerable, with one agent trying to care for two civilians. But there's no denying that two agents (plus the firepower of MI6) would be more than enough to keep the trio secure and allow them to play happy family in the process.

Once again, Nikita's martyr complex kicked in, and she tried to end things on Michael's behalf for the umpteenth time this season -- the only difference was, this time Michael didn't fight her on it.

Obviously, Nikita is being driven by her own insecurity at this point, as much as her altruism -- we know that she was a foster kid, bounced around and abused and abandoned until Division got their claws into her and applied their own brand of esteem crushing, so it's a given that this is a woman who is used to being discarded by those who are supposed to care for her. And as much as she loves Michael and wants to put his needs first, as she watched Michael interact with Cassandra, you could read in her expression that she's terrified of being replaced, that she thinks Cassandra has such a profound bond with Michael purely because of Max that it's inevitable that Nikita will be the one Michael chooses to walk away from. (And kudos to Maggie Q. for conveying all of that without dialogue.)

Walking away first was undoubtedly a self-defense mechanism, but it may also be the best decision she's ever made. We all know that Michael and Nikita are made for each other, and even if Nikita doubts it at this point, I still believe that Michael knows it too. Nikita's right that Michael needs to give Cassandra and Max a chance for his own peace of mind, so that he never has to wonder 'what if?', but having a child together doesn't instantly mean that two people are compatible, and his feelings for Nikita aren't just going to disappear because they're on a break (Ross and Rachel taught us that much). By trusting Michael enough to let him go, I think Nikita has ensured that he will come back to her in his own time -- whether that was her intention or not.

I've also got to give continued props to Shane West for everything he manages to express without words. His early scene with Max, just watching cartoons and eating cookies, was particularly touching, and even when Michael and Nikita aren't on the same page (as in the final scene and during the firefight when he thought Cassandra's car had gone over the cliff) the intensity between them always proves compelling and electric to watch.

Sadly, while most of the real character development occurred in the last five minutes, the rest of the London-based plot suffered from the same lack of urgency I mentioned earlier -- Nigel was a one-dimensional British cliché whom most of us probably pegged as a villain from the get-go (and as an Englishwoman, I protest the hamminess), although I did appreciate Birkoff's apt description of him; I'll be adding "doucheboat" to my repertoire, post-haste.

Back on this side of the pond, we got a welcome injection of Percy and a little development between Alex and Sean, though even that felt somewhat throwaway after the major moves we saw last week. It's a given that not every episode can be wall-to-wall action and plot-development, but this episode definitely felt like more of a warm-up than an actual game, and coming hot on the heels of such a pivotal episode, the change of pace definitely felt jarring.

I think my favorite moment of the episode came when Alex's bank transfer triggered the encoded message to one of Percy's remaining Guardians, because at this point, the man is playing a chess game against himself and none of the other characters are sharp enough to even come to the table. Manipulation is as easy as breathing to Percy, and although it's obvious that Alex had no choice but to indulge him, I'm still enjoying watching him move his pawns around the board. Few villains are as consistently devious, loathsome and charismatic all at the same time, and I think his machinations from inside the box are even more fun than when he had free rein with Division's resources last season. It just makes me wonder what Amanda's going to do to catch up.

We're finally starting to see Sean's true colors emerge, now that his mother is in danger; he plans to use Alex as bait for Nikita, given their bond, but is she just a puppet, or is this a convenient excuse to get closer to her because he really is starting to develop feelings for her? After all, cozying up to Alex and destroying Nikita don't necessarily have to be mutually exclusive -- not that Alex would take too kindly to being used, if she discovered Sean's true motives.

I was glad to see Alex choosing the chaste route and kissing Sean on the hand instead of the lips when he tried to get a rise out of her; I'm hoping she continues playing hard to get, since right now it seems like 'taking Nikita out' is at the top of Sean's to-do list. He's definitely becoming far more interesting as the weeks go on, I'll give him that much.

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

How long do you think Nikita and Michael will be separated for? What are your feelings on Sean at this point? Have you warmed up to Cassandra at all? Share your thoughts below!

Follow Laura on Twitter: @LauinLA

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LJ

Shane and Maggie are compelling, no way around that. Even when I don't really like the episode I can find moments that grab me and there were plenty of those in this one. And Max is wonderful – cute but not cloying. I love how formal he is, like a mini-Michael.
In a way we've stepped back into the emotional current that ran through the first season, with Michael pulled in two directions and Nikita struggling with the fear he'll slip away from her. I have a feeling Michael's concern for Cassandra has more to do with his fear of leaving Max effectively orphaned than it does out of any affection for Cassandra. He's also got to be a little wary of her, since she lied to him about Max and it turns out she's with MI6. I think he gets that Cassandra will say and do whatever she has to in order to protect Max and that could well include manipulating him. He knows a thing or two about manipulative people.
Macguffins have a way of fading in significance and then popping up again and I have a hunch the 200 million will do just that. I'm just going to leave that thought where it is for now.
Poor Nikita, it seems every choice she makes has a profound effect on those closest to her and serves to leave her just a little more vulnerable. I find it kind of ironic that it seems like she learned to care deeply about people once she got into Division, but maybe some flashbacks about her earlier life will prove me wrong on that.
We are still getting those, right producers? We're on episode 8 and all we've learned so far is that she always had 'tude and who her daddy ain't. It might help us limp around the sinkhole opening up in Michael and Nikita's relationship if we got a few nuggets about her past right about now. Just sayin'.
And by the way, I'm already feeling sorry for Birkhoff who will have to put up with her when she gets back to New York Michael-less.
I found the scenes with Alex and Sean to be a letdown after the development that happened with them last week. Sean's seduction attempt was…interesting. No wonder his mother reacted the way she did to this plan.
And it's a really good thing Percy has spent most of the last couple of decades underground because this is a man who should not have a doorbell that unsuspecting trick or treaters can ring. Imagine the mayhem he could distribute if he was in the light of day. Here, Alex, have a 100K for doing me this favour so I won't get you cancelled. Are there strings attached to it? Is the Mississippi wet? Worry about your own strings, girl, and don't worry where the others lead.
Cue the Guardians and let the good times roll.

November 13 2011 at 3:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to LJ's comment
lauraprudom

I hope you're right about the MacGuffin - I like to give the writers the benefit of the doubt on these dangling threads, but every now and then, a few slip past, like Robbie in 'The Recruit,' who we never saw again!
I feel like I go one step forward and two steps back with Sean -- that attempt at seduction ... yikes.

November 14 2011 at 1:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chiyuu

I love this show so much but i too have to agree this episode felt kinda rushed and disjointed.
Cassandra being MI6 was definitely a shocking twist but it made the episode even more confusing for me.
The accents certainly didnt help either. But i suppose it must be really really hard to follow an episode like Clawback.

The best part of this episode for me was Percy. What a freaking genius! I'm starting to think he could take Amanda's crown for master manipulator imo. However, I still have faith in Amanda. I expect her to go at him strongly and to be formulating her own plans.
Poor Alex. She keeps being played and doesn't even know it. It's probably going to cause some serious emotional issues in the future. Just like Nikita has issues with abandonment.

I'm so sad about the Mikita break but I agree with Nikita. Michael needs the chance to work this out so that he won't always be wondering what if. I really wonder how the writers intend to wrap up this max storyline. But i have absolute faith in them!

November 13 2011 at 12:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chiyuu's comment
O Nikos

A twist that made the show confusing. Isn't that what we watch this show for? If it was one with each episode tied with a nice bow at the end, it would be like any other show.

As for not understand English accents, you can always use closed captioning.

November 13 2011 at 10:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Emina

Unpopular Opinion: I don't hate Cassandra. As much as I want to, she hasn't done anything to give us that right. (But if she tries to get Michael, then that would be a huge cross over my line) I also agree with Ivy that if Cassandra was an agent, wouldn't she be able to walk off with a shot in her arm WITHOUT Michael's help? And, to fight off those guys that grabbed her. It's a bit fishy to me. Maybe there is a backstory? I hope that she does something that gives Nikita the right to kick her you-know-what and to break Michael's bond to her. I also give kudos to both Shane and Maggie for their acting. Without words, they showed their feelings, which most shows can't do. I know that Michael has a son with Cassandra, but that doesn't mean that they're automatically soulmates and that he should do anything to keep her alive. Like when he yelled at Nikita for not saving Cassandra as they pushed the car over the cliff? You were going to die, Michael, and it all goes back to the last episode when you were the one who told Nikita how much you would miss her if anything happened to her. A bit hypocritical, if you ask me. He was on FIRE, & people were shooting at him. If i were Nikita, I would have done everything she had done, despite his detesting faces he made at her.
At the end. The Mikita break up was too much for me. Everything Nikita told Michael was the flat out truth. Everyone wanted Michael to run after her, but it would make their reunion (which they better have) less exciting.
Percy, oh Percy, as the smartest one on the show, he gets kudos from me. Manipulating Alex. And while transferring, the whole guardian thing? TOO SMART. Who else is wondering whether Amanda knows anything? I mean, we all know Amanda, wouldn't she bug Percy's cell just in case he interferes with her own plan? We'll have to find out.

Overall, good episode, but some parts left me confused. Like the 200 million dollar plot? I don't see a reason for it to be there, and I really hope it wasn't a lee way for Mikita's break up.

PS.. Is anyone else thinking about Nathen? I believe that Division took him in as a new recruit after he killed Jaden. (No Family that will remember him or chase after him.. fits the whole recruit profile) Anyone but me?

November 12 2011 at 2:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ivy

Great review Laura. And I agree with you here. There was something that did not click for me in this episode. I had to watch it twice to be able to process it.
I have to say I felt a bit of sympathy for Cassandra in episode 5. She seemed like a victim in Division's schemes. However, now I have lost any type of sympathy for her. She is an agent, one that I don't fully believe (she could not walk off a shot in the arm? lol or fight the guys that grabbed her?). Like it was mentioned, I don't hate her, but she's annoying to me. It is hard to understand what she says without subtitles and I just dislike her, I cannot help it. I do not want her for much longer on the show, and I don't see yet where the writers are going with this storyline. We have to keep watching to find out.
The Mikta break was just so sad. But I truly believe they need it. Michael needs to get his thoughts straight and figure out what he wants to do; he knows this, and this is why he did not go after Nikita. Nikita is leaving before she is "abandoned;" she still has trust issues. But when they come back together, their relationship will be a lit stronger.
Percy is a genius. He keeps getting his way, and Alex keeps getting manipulated, whether or not she thinks she is. Alex has a lot to learn. I can't wait to see what Percy has in store for his enemies!

November 12 2011 at 12:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wanashahs

HAHAAHHA NIKO WHY U SO STUPID.FROM WHAT I READ HERE,LAURA IS IN HER OWN CLASSIC CLASS TO EXPLAIN THE EPICNESS OF THIS SHOW.SHE'S PERFECT.

November 12 2011 at 11:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cara

I think this episode will be like 10 from last season -- a good, action-driven episode that happened to be sandwiched between the amazing Michael family backstory ep. and the awesome mid-season finale. Last week's ep. was close to perfect and next week's Birkhoff ep. should be great. For me, this one was almost a little too urgent. There was a lot to follow and I had to watch it again just to pick up on some of the big stuff. When I did, I enjoyed it much more.

Cassandra came off so flat in Looking Glass that I was kind of relieved they made her more interesting here, even if you're right that it does in theory make her more of a threat to Nikita. But do I really think she's a threat to Nikita? No, though the episode should have focused less on Cassandra and more on Michael and Max. Their couch scene was so cute, but I guess because of the age of the actor Max can only be used so much...? Either way, Max I love...Cassandra I can take or leave.

The worst (but also exciting) part is not knowing where this is going. We know Michael and Nikita have to reunite, but how will all this fit in with the rest of the season, and with all the other story arcs? Nikita storylines always seem to tie together somehow by season's end, so...I'm curious to see where they're going with this Max thing. I will surely be watching to find out.

November 12 2011 at 10:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Camilla Sandman

Good thoughts and good review. For me too, parts of this episode were a bit off. I do give Nikita a lot of credit and praise for being fast-paced, but it can cause some episodes to either feel way too slow (compared to the rest) or make you wish they'd take calming breaths sometimes. There is such a thing as too fast as well.

Cassandra I don't mind, but I am not all that emotionally invested in here. If she had been around longer, that might be different. Nigel was borderline caricature British - Nikita, you're an awesome show with much complexity, could you maybe afford the rest of the world outside of the US that some complexity? The treatment of other countries and other nationalities has at times bothered me a little. They've still done better than a lot of shows, but because I do like this show as much, I care more.

Like you, I think Nikita's decision was about her as much as it was about Michael. I think she still hasn't quite taken in what Michael told her last episode, that she doesn't realize how much she matters to him. When Cassandra was talking about having that one true thing in the sort of lives she and Michael leads, I was rather thinking that to Michael, that's Nikita. I don't think he's willing to let her go permanently (nor Max for that matter). Michael coming back to her might actually help Nikita with some of her issues. And I think that will very much make her and Michael's relationship stronger, because you know the likes of Percy would prey on her insecurities.

Sean might be getting himself into serious emotional trouble. If he does get close to Alex, and does in the process come to like her, the way he's using her means Alex finding out would be devastating. She's already had bad experiences not being told the whole trust and losing trust because of it. Sean doing the same might disillusion her further, and put her further on the path to becoming her worst fear.

November 12 2011 at 6:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MochiWrites

Underneath that cold cruel Navy Seal facade lies a little ***** cat looking for love in all the wrong places. He and Michael need to go out and have a beer. You're right, Michael's baby mama isn't a very compelling character. I would have loved to hate her, instead, she's just annoying. I can't wait for Nikita and Michael to have make up sex. Pssssst! Hot!

This is one of my favorite shows, so I think it's great, that you pay attention to it! Bring it on!

November 12 2011 at 4:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
theoriginalcynthia

Oh let me start by saying awesome review. you elaborated on all the thoughts runnin in ma head, its like a wrote it myself :D Percy, he may be the bad guy, but that dude so excites me! Master planner at his best each time, he never disappoints. The alex and sean dynamic cracked me up! But Alex is very easily played, im afraid Sean might have this one in the bag...i certainly hope she smartens up a bit. Now about our dear Cassandra, hmmm. having her as an agent definitely takes her off the damsel in distress list. however, i empathized with her situation a lil more tonight, even though i cant seem to explain why.
I agree with you about Nikita. being abandoned severely destroys one soul! Its just sadly the way it would alwys be for her, the people who love her will need to prove doublefold that they are not going anywhere. She's all for ditching before being ditched. I hope the witers dont get this story line more complicated than it has to be, im excited to see how things go, ok maybe im a lil short on excitement tonight but well...its all good tv.

November 12 2011 at 12:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
O Nikos

What's with AolTVSquad reviewers hating good shows? Is it a prerequisite of the job or something?

November 12 2011 at 12:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to O Nikos's comment
Laura Prudom

If you think I hate this episode or the show based on this recap, you completely misinterpreted what I wrote. No series is above constructive criticism, even at its strongest, and after last week's episode, this one simply felt a little flat.

November 12 2011 at 1:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dxgarten

WTF Niko? If you bother to read you'll see that Laura actually loves the show. Otherwise, she wouldn't even bother to do in-depth analysis of the characters and just write off the series.

Anyway, as someone who's been in Nikita's position, I completely understand her defense mechanism. I too will withdraw from someone's life the minute I feel that I may lose them/they may disappoint me.

November 12 2011 at 4:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dxgarten's comment
O Nikos

It's the pattern of reviews of this website. Giving bad reviews to great shows and great episodes. As for this episode we have a great twist on who Cassandra is which moves forward that dynamic, and development on the Percy/Alex/Sean front. What else do you possibly want from this episode? If you don't like the episode, you don't like the show. Unless an episode needs 100 explosions for it to be good. Let someone else that cares about it review it.

November 12 2011 at 10:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

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