Original Air Date: Feb 1, 2013
Andrew – TwoCents Reviewer
Is it only the ninth episode of Nikita? While little has happened in terms of overarching plot, there have been lots of character clashes and internal restructuring within Division, and it feels like we’ve had more than nine hours this season. That continued in “Survival Instincts;” Amanda didn’t resurface, while the President’s threat of closing Division was only a faint, looming shadow as the team chased another member of the Dirty Thirty.
The rogues we’ve met so far have each displayed unique specialties. We’ve met charmers and cleaners, and this week, we’re introduced to Ray. He’s a “survival expert,” dubbed “SERE,” an acronym for survival, evasion, resistance, and escape. Percy’s name still comes up as they discuss how he liked diversifying the skill sets of his team of agents. If you remember, Nikita herself was trained in seduction.
Ray has resurfaced to kidnap his ex-girlfriend Kate with deluded visions of his former romance with her. Team Division springs into action when he pops up, but once again, it’s Nikita and Owen who go into the field. Michael elects to stay and once again, coordinate from Operations. He’s not quiet about it though, as he harshly lectures Owen on the art of undercover speech after a gaffe in the episode’s open.
Kate uses her credit card when she distracts Ray, which flags Birkhoff’s computers. Nikita and Owen follow her and Ray into a forest, the comfort zone of a survivalist. Within it, Ray has built a homey shelter, stocked with light, weapons, and old photographs of him and Kate. He even has traps set up all around it for intruders.
The living quarters demonstrate Ray’s stubborn hold to the past. He’s carved out space for him and Kate, a romance that died years ago. He says things will go back to the way they were. Then he chloroforms her.
Back at Division, Michael isn’t so delusional; he tells Nikita that he’s trying to groom Owen as her new partner. With a cybernetic hand unfit for the field, he’s accepted that he can’t support her anymore in combat. His realization flows from his torn anguish in “Aftermath” and he seems more at peace now, but Nikita doesn’t like it. The fighter in her never gives up that easily.
Hey, Sean’s here! More on him and Alex later. His Alpha team joins Nikita and Owen, which makes for a funny and awkward introduction between the men. His backhanded insult (“I thought you’d be bigger”) is countered with Owen’s rejoinder: “I don’t know what you look like because, well, no one ever talks about you.” Owen’s a little testy from Michael’s commanding voice in his ear.
Multiple agents from the Alpha team are taken out by Ray, and Sean sustains a concussion, but Nikita is able to locate Ray’s hideout, with an assist from Alex, and kill him, rescuing Kate. It’s a fairly clean operation that organically developed the Michael/Owen relationship, and while it was about Nikita, it didn’t involve her. Good writing from this week’s pen, the reliable Albert Kim.
- Sean returned this week, and Alex is still mad at him for his ultimatum. There wasn’t much to this, as they resolved the minor fight by episode’s end, before having some fabulous Division dorm sex to the tune of Nosaj Thing’s “Eclipse/Blue.”
- With Amanda only popping up sparsely so far, Nikita has morphed into a thriller-procedural revolving around the Dirty Thirty. But they do a damn good job with illustrating the different lives of those rogues.
- To that note, I liked seeing the little stealth booby traps Ray set up, which included a sentry arrow shooter and foot traps. (Anyone know the technical terms for that claw trap and wire?)
- Birkhoff Quotes, Part 1 (after scanning satellite images of the forest): “I can’t look at another tree. This must be what squirrels feel like.”
- Birkhoff Quotes, Part 2: “Actually, Owen versus Bear would be pretty sweet.”
- More good Owen stuff in this episode, as I mentioned. There’s good spy chemistry between him and Nikita. Of course, spy chemistry leads to raging sexual feelings on TV and movies, but there’s no reason to go there with this.
- How will Michael react when Nikita and Birkhoff bring him a potential solution to getting a worthy right hand again? Accepting a major loss like that is a big step for anyone, as they would have ostensibly given up hope.
Next Week: Brave New World</emFollow @039TTCAndrew039