The Life We’ve Chosen
Original Air Date: Mar 15, 2013
Andrew – TwoCents Reviewer
The Life We’ve Chosen is an excellent episode that really explores central characters and major pieces in the constant battle between Nikita and her opponents. Let’s start by talking about Alex, who is often in the middle of all of it.
Back in season one, episode 21 (“Betrayals”), Percy shows Alex video proof that Nikita had killed her father. Amanda and Percy both realized very early on that Alex (and her royal highness, Alexandra Udinov) was potentially a game-changing piece in their battle against the show’s titular character. At the time, she was Nikita’s asset, but convinced that they could change her loyalties, Amanda and Percy both tried, successfully at times, to swing her to their side.
Even though Alex can capably discern evil from good, she’s always been motivated by her own goals. Whether that was with Nikita, or Evil Division for most of season two, she’s been chasing something. After being separated from her family, she’s vowed to retrace them, and she’s never truly relinquished her ties to Zetrov. When Percy showed her that video, she turned on Nikita, and joined Evil Division in hopes of reclaiming her rightful empire.
In The Life We’ve Chosen, Alex meets Olga Fonda’s character, Larissa, and they find a connection in captivity. Amanda has taken prisoner of Alex in South Ossetia, a hostile war zone country. Nikita is on her way there to trade Ari Tasarov for Alex, and it goes down in the dangerous city streets without a hitch. But Alex wants to go back and rescue Larissa, who recognized her as Alexandra Udinov and whose happiest memory will be meeting the Russian princess.
This deters Nikita’s original plan, which was to execute the trade and then rescue back Ari. The team divides then, with Nikita and Owen chasing Amanda and Ari, while Sean joins Alex in finding Larissa in the hospital they stayed in. Nikita can’t risk the contents of the black box being uploaded, and with Ari’s security credentials in Amanda’s hands, the black box is as good as decrypted.
Amanda, who has been dropping hints the past two episodes about Alex and Nikita eventually wanting different things, ends up empty-handed this episode, except for that sadistic satisfaction. Nikita is focused on the so-called greater good, while Alex can’t bear the responsibility of a new friend’s death. This disagreement strains their relationship, and when Larissa ends up dying anyway, Nikita and Alex don’t have any words for each other. They might work well together, but that’s only if they’re actually together.
Nikita, as we know, has become selfish and controlling, perhaps obsessed, in her long-term mission. Her command essentially supersedes Ryan’s, or she finds a way to wrestle it from him, as with the Ari’s kill chip trigger in this episode. She doesn’t want Ari dying, who she believes is reformed, nor the black box contents released, so she tries to save him. When Amanda shoots him, he lies in Nikita’s arms, whispering, “It’s the life we’ve chosen.”
Truly, it is. Nikita has dedicated her life to Division ever since Percy recruited her. Despite their engagement, she and Michael are beginning to spend less and less time apart, and no wedding date has been set yet. She’s chosen this life at Division, and even if she cares deeply for what her closest friends, she might not care about what they want. She’s overly devoted in the missions more than any of her allies causing those relationships to erode.
Earlier this season, Amanda is determined to do just that – take away the friends that Nikita loves. We know Amanda’s weapon is psychological, even if she can competently wield a gun. Michael is stuck running Operations, Ryan is concerned with appeasing the President, Owen is figuring out his past, and Alex is discovering her motivations. Nikita, even if she ultimately kills Amanda, might pay a larger price and be left standing alone at the end.
• RIP, Ari Tasarov. You were terrific these past three episodes, effortlessly taunting our Division members’ troubles while playing the pivotal part in the conflicts. “Yes, I understand these small-minded tasks are usually reserved for you, Mr. Eliott.”
• In fact, Ari might’ve been the most clear-minded character in these latest episodes. It helps when he don’t have many motivations left, though.
• More nice quips from Albert Kim, this week’s writer. “Other couples have survived bad haircuts before, right?” – Alex when Amanda asks about the state of Nikita and Michael’s relationship. She also likes ginseng.
• “Because, screw Amanda.” I commented on the flat dialogue in the past weeks, but this episode was terrific. It was paced perfectly – fast and powerful.
Next week: InevitabilityFollow @TTCAndrew