Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 2, Episode 16 of The CW's "Nikita," entitled, "Doublecross."
"Nikita" has made a habit of coming back from its breaks with a bang, and the March 16 episode, "Doublecross," more than lived up to the promise of its title with a series of satisfying twists. It was pleasing to see the show ably maintain the momentum it established in the last few episodes, as if its month-long hiatus never happened.
Now that Percy is outside his plastic prison in Division's basement, he seems determined to cause as much chaos as possible, attempting to undermine Amanda at every turn in order to reclaim his position as head of the agency. This week, that meant assassinating Division agents and framing Gogol for the crime, which easily succeeded in sowing seeds of discontent among the ranks -- especially since Amanda went out of her way to prove the organization's innocence in order to protect her alliance with Ari.
To track Percy down and end his shenanigans, she turned to an unlikely ally, enlisting Nikita's help in exchange for long-suffering CIA analyst-turned-inmate Ryan Fletcher, who has been occupying Percy's see-through cell for the last few weeks. As Maggie Q told me in our interview this week, Nikita was well aware that she was "making a deal with two devils" in pitting Amanda against Percy, which somewhat paid off for her. She ended up with Ryan, but neither Nikita nor Amanda got to keep hold of Percy, who once again slipped through their fingers courtesy of Roan and an opportunistic Division agent.
As with a number of episodes in the latter half of this season, "Doublecross" showcased all of "Nikita's" assets in one artfully constructed package. We were treated to a delicious face-to-face showdown between Nikita and Percy; Birkoff in full snark mode (Nerd got so many excellent lines this week it was hard to keep track, but a personal favorite was his backhanded compliment to Sonja, "That is why you fail ... except at hotness, at which you succeed"); a little more exploration of the tension between Nikita and Michael; and one hell of a double-doublecross which pulled the rug out from under Carla, Percy and Amanda all at once.
Using Carla's loyalty to Percy was an ingenious way for our rogue team to track him via text, and though Percy managed to escape at the episode's climax, he was still dealt a blow thanks to the loss of his remaining Guardian, who was dispatched with great gusto by a pipe-wielding Nikita.
The real highlight of the episode, for me, was Nikita's emotional journey; Maggie Q perfectly sold her character's disbelief and tentative hope at the prospect of Ryan still being alive, and their heartfelt reunion was a beautiful reminder of Nikita's capacity for love and loyalty, whether romantic or platonic.
No matter how many people she loses or how many of her loved ones betray her, she still hasn't lost that sense of right and wrong and the desire to protect those she cares for, even if it means making deals with enemies that are certain to betray her. And in turn, that compassion inspires admirable loyalty in others, demonstrated most clearly through her relationships with Ryan and Owen -- though Nikita has undeniable chemistry with both men, they seem dedicated to her not because they think they can get into her pants, but because she's a born leader and her moral convictions bring out the best in those around her.
But Nikita's capacity for trust and forgiveness can be a double-edged sword, as Carla demonstrated in her pact with Percy. As Birkoff pointed out to Carla, "no matter how many times the people she loves let her down, she keeps on doing the right thing, 'cause it's the only thing she knows how to do," and even after Carla knowingly endangered the lives of Nikita and three men she holds dear, our heroine still mourned her loss. I can totally understand why Maggie was so affected when she watched the episode, because, as she said, it's "one of those episodes where Nikita gains something but she also, in the end, just really loses." In gaining Ryan, she lost her mentor and the only maternal figure she's ever really known, and all because Carla misguidedly believed that Division could be used for good under the right leadership. I did love Carla's final line, pointing out that Division can produce something good because it was responsible for making Nikita who she is today, but is she the exception to the rule?
Mostly, I'm just relieved that Ryan is still alive, because as much as I adore Michael, something about Ryan and his earnest, Clark Kent vibe just resonates with me. He's a guy with no formal combat training and no business being in such dangerous situations, but he chooses to stay in the fight anyway -- not because he's a trained killer like Nikita and Michael, but because he knows it's the right thing to do. A show like "Nikita" certainly benefits from having an everyman character who helps ground the fantastical situations, and I'm sure that during his time helping Amanda with her "special projects" he must've gleaned some useful information.
I'll admit, I find Amanda's decision to release Ryan so easily a little suspicious. Nikita's loyalty undoubtedly dictated that she would attempt to save her friend no matter the cost, but I wonder if he's been implanted with some kind of trigger that might prompt him to turn on her, since he's spent weeks (months?) in the hands of a master manipulator. Maybe this show just makes me paranoid, but I can't help but think there's a catch somewhere, and that Amanda had another doublecross in mind when she made the deal.
Alex's subplot was a little slower this week, but it was clearly laying necessary foundations for next week's episode, since Sean's attempt to copy Ari's hard-drive revealed a pivotal piece of information: Cassandra (who should henceforth be referred to as the Lying Liar Who Lies) is embedded with MI6 under deep cover, and is actually a Gogol assassin who is poised to take out Semak. The woman certainly has a lot of layers, but it's obvious that Michael isn't going to be too thrilled with this further deceit. It was also interesting to see Sean return in less of an anal, strait-laced capacity, and Dillon Casey seemed to be having a lot of fun with his character's more quippy demeanor as Alex's bodyguard. It's slightly bipolar, characterization-wise, but I certainly prefer this iteration of Sean.
As the curtain falls on the Carla drama, another seems to have lifted on Cassandra's most recent betrayal, and I'm intrigued to see how Michael -- and Nikita -- handle this new development and what it might mean for their relationship, since things have seemed strained between the couple for a while. I hope they'll return to solid ground soon, because I'm certainly missing the well-oiled ass-kicking machine they were at the start of the season. What did you think of "Doublecross" and the revelation about Cassandra?
"Nikita" airs Fridays at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.