Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 3, Episode 18 of The CW's "Nikita," titled "Broken Home."
Welcome back, agents. Apologies for my unintended hiatus from recapping -- other Friday work commitments unforgivably diverted my attention, but I'll admit that I have enjoyed being able to watch the show from a fan's perspective for the past eight episodes. Although Season 3's earlier entries were more self-contained, to enable new viewers to jump on board, I'd argue that the show has been on an unbroken hot streak since "Intersection," raising the stakes and ramping up the action with each new installment.
Amanda's nefarious schemes have been simmering under the surface for some time now, but "Tipping Point" and "Masks" truly demonstrated the extent of the damage our favorite villainess has already wrought, first causing Alex to shoot Ryan and then prompting Owen -- or "Sam" -- to hand Nikita over to her nemesis without a second thought. But it wasn't until this week's episode that the consequences of Amanda and Alex's actions truly hit home (pun intended), leaving Sean as collateral damage and Alex's sense of security well and truly shattered.
"Broken Home" was certainly a departure from our usual stories, in that it saw Nikita as a passive participant for much of the hour, with the action primarily driven by the inhabitants of Division as the situation between Team Nikita and the rogue agents escalated. While it's unusual and a little unnerving (purposefully so) to see our heroine at someone's mercy and truly unable to gain the upper hand, that inherent wrongness only served to highlight how thoroughly Nikita has lost control -- of both Division and her personal relationships.
She and Ryan were so busy trying to minimize the threat from external forces such as Danforth and the president that they failed to see the danger right under their noses. Had Nikita been paying more attention to the forest instead of the trees, she would've noticed Alex's unbalanced mental state, Owen's suspicious behavior or the growing dissent among the Division grunts from being locked out of the Superfriends' numerous closed-door meetings.
"Broken Home" was an object lesson in cause and effect -- every reaction or inaction has consequences, but sometimes, no matter how noble your intentions, the outcome is inevitable. The odds have truly been stacked against Nikita this season; even if she had noticed all the warning signs from Alex, Owen and the Division agents, as well as the threat of the president and the loss of Michael's hand, who's to say Amanda wouldn't have found another way to undermine her relationships? As we learned this week, not everyone can be saved, and with the fate of hundreds -- if not thousands or millions -- of lives on her shoulders inside Division, was there really any way for Nikita to avoid this outcome?
Division might be full of recruits who don't want to be there, but as Lyndsy Fonseca pointed out in our recent interview, it's also full of killers and criminals, people who enjoyed what Percy asked them to do. Some of the agents might be good, but the foundations Percy built Division on are rotten to the core. Our heroes started the season wanting to dismantle it entirely -- the problems only started when "one last mission" changed into "just one more."
It was fascinating to finally get some insight into what made Amanda (AKA Helen) the unhinged but fabulous sociopath we love to hate, and it's indicative of Nikita's admirable but questionable worldview that she considered Amanda butchering "her family" to be the most horrifying part of that psychotropic trip down memory lane. (I, on the other hand, kind of thought Amanda was justified in killing her equally twisted father, played by the reliably creepy Christopher Heyerdahl. Her sister could've been let off the hook.)
Though an awful childhood doesn't excuse Amanda's actions -- Nikita and Alex certainly had it just as bad, if not worse -- one can at least see where she developed her penchant for messing around with people's wiring. But what else did she do to Nikita while our heroine was unconscious, since Amanda promised that she'd used their time together wisely? And, more importantly, when is Nikita going to be able to get through to Owen? As much as I'm enjoying watching Devon Sawa capably explore our lovable Cleaner's dark side (kind of hot, no?) I'd like him back with the Superfriends as soon as possible.
And where does Alex go from here, having lost the most important person in the world to her all over again? She may have saved most of the (ungrateful) Division agents, but not the one person who really mattered -- and she spent an unnerving portion of the episode curled on the floor in a fetal position, which is never a good sign. Is she aware of what Amanda did to her, given Sean's parting words? Or is the programming still clouding her judgment?
I'm aware how hypocritical this statement is, given my job description, but I hate knowing that a character is going to die in advance, since I inevitably spend the whole episode anticipating the moment and trying to guess who it might be instead of allowing myself to be swept up in the story. "Broken Home" did a great job of making me very paranoid about Birkhoff at various points, but when the hammer still hadn't fallen with only five minutes left in the episode, Sean's death lost some of its impact -- although both Dillion Casey and Lyndsy Fonseca played the scene beautifully, and let the character go out with dignity and heroism. While Sean was arguably the most expendable member of the group, he never felt expendable thanks to Casey's engaging performance and the palpable chemistry between Sean and Alex, and he'll be missed. Kudos to writers Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett for that moment and so many other great scenes, giving compelling context to Amanda's insanity and allowing Birkhoff a number of standout badass moments.
So what comes next? Division is broken, Sean is dead (sob), Alex is in the wind, and Amanda and Owen are on the road with a black box. This could be rock bottom -- or it could get worse. Since we've still got four episodes left this season, I'm guessing it's the latter, and that it'll be one hell of a ride.
"Nikita" airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
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