Original Air Date: Jan 25, 2013
Andrew – TwoCents Reviewer
Nikita, three seasons in, has been remarkably consistent in its pacing, using twisting and shifting plot to guide the majority of its episodes. In “Aftermath,” we dealt with, well, the aftermath of last week’s story-heavy “Intersection.” With Michael reeling from the loss of his right hand, we got some solid, extensive character moments between Team Division’s major players this week.
After last week’s ending of knives and explosions, we open with a calmer scene: Nikita’s hand, engagement ring still glittering, resting in a black cybernetic model hand. It’s Michael’s replacement hand. As Birkhoff explains, it’s guided by brain signals. But Michael is frustrated by its lack of apparent utility, as he can’t seem to form a combat-worthy fist with it. Birkhoff says Michael needs to figure out his emotions in order to fully control the cybernetic hand.
Alex has been benched from field work, as she also tries to mentally recover herself. After her drug episode, Ryan has stipulated that she must lower her blood pressure before she’s activated again. Michael and Alex have fallen into the background this season, Alex more than Michael, as they support our lead Nikita. Both are closer to the forefront in this episode, as they must solve their internal puzzles to relieve themselves of frustrations. Unless they are physically and mentally composed again, Team Division as a cohesive unit will have several weak points in its support system. Rational minds are required in the field, but Alex and Michael lack the current ability to make clear, level-headed decisions.
Of course, they’re both very stubborn about their recovery. Michael isn’t speaking to Nikita about the incident, and he hasn’t come home to her either. He feels Nikita is being too concerned, and he wants to deal with the situation alone. This develops nicely from established character traits and patterns. Nikita is obviously eager to help her fiancé. But she’s also the leader of Team Division, and a stubborn one who wants to be the primary decision maker, even for her loved ones’ affairs. Michael, who usually acts in her shadow, wants some emotional space in this instance, something Nikita seemingly has a hard time respecting. It’s emasculating enough losing his right hand in that impossible situation. He doesn’t also need Nikita to be taking care of him every step of the way.
He chooses to tag along with Nikita and Owen on their mission. This week, they’re chasing a member of the Dirty Thirty: a cleaner named Liam. He’s in New Mexico, and Nikita and Owen are unable to capture him. Michael, sidelined in the car as the last line of defense, fails to shoot him with his less-sure left hand. Liam escapes, and Michael later blames it on tactical errors by Nikita and Owen.
Over at Division HQ, Alex has eschewed Birkhoff’s meditation advice for her preferred venting method: a punching bag. Ryan catches her, but he has more pressing matters worrying him, namely the state of Michael’s mind. That act pretty much defines how Alex has been used (or rather, unused) this season; upper struggles between Ryan, Nikita, and Michael have taken precedence over her, leaving her with the short end of plots, even ones supposedly featuring her drug recovery.
A short quarrel between Nikita and Michael takes place at the gun range, and again, the emotional distance between them is palpable. Owen is listening in, and later, he visits Michael, who’s still grappling with weaponry unfamiliar to his cybernetic hand. Owen dresses Michael down in a really effective scene, where Owen perceptibly informs Michael how he’s pushing Nikita away. Michael wants to deal with his new condition individually, but Nikita wants them to make decisions together as couple. He’s unwilling to let her pass advice or even speak to the incident. But Michael doesn’t own Nikita, as Owen points out, just because he gave her a sterling ring. It’s just a further emasculation of Michael, who suffers further pain when he tries to strike Owen, but misses and is shaken with pain from his lost hand.
The Liam plot cleans up quickly when they follow him to the Federal Building in Houston to retrieve a laptop. Michael coordinates from Operations, tactically moving Owen and Nikita over the map to corner and kill Liam. Division Ops applauds his choreography, which is a little too much icing for my taste, but demonstrates that he’s still a competent agent despite his injury.
The episode closes with Nikita and her two strongest relationships. She reconciles with Alex, promising to help her through her drug habit. But things with Michael still aren’t better despite the operations win. He still doesn’t want her helping him get through and living with his new cybernetic hand. Their conversation becomes heated, and he effectively implies blame on her for putting him in this situation. When she walks out on him, he seethes in anger. With flames arising inside him, his cybernetic hand curls into a fist, and frustration seeps out in the form of booming, vicious punches against a defenseless locker. Are Nikita and Michael headed for a break in their relationship?
- I really liked Owen’s role in this episode. The traditional CW love triangle trope wasn’t exploited, as Owen displayed genuine concern for Nikita and Michael’s relationship when he was telling Michael to get it together. There wasn’t any evident jealousy at all, even from Michael, a sign of how strong the Nikita/Michael relationship is underneath this (hopefully) temporary strain.
- Birkhoff, on Alex’s innate impatience: “With you, it’s little ‘why’ dolls stacked up inside bigger ‘why’ dolls.”
- Birkhoff has obtained cameras in the Federal Building: “I got eyes like Beyoncé’s got thighs.“
Next Week: Survival InstinctsFollow @TTCAndrew