Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 2, Episode 14 of The CW's "Nikita," entitled, "Rogue."
Was this week's taut, labyrinthine installment of "Nikita" the standout of Season 2 so far? Sorry, "Fair Trade," I think "Rogue" just usurped your position at the top of the pile, as the episode combined all the best elements of our favorite spy drama: juicy backstory, dastardly double-crossing, well-paced plotting and one hell of a curveball ending. Kudos to Carlos Coto for constructing such an engaging hour, in which we learned, once and for all, that "there are no coincidences."
The revelations of the week certainly lent credence to some fans' speculation that Percy and Nikita might somehow be related, and I'm sure conspiracy theorists latched on to his "you wanted daddy's attention, you got it," line in particular. It's obvious that the pair are locked on a collision course now that Percy is free, and the involvement of Nikita's closest maternal figure had certainly upped the stakes for them both.
Let's talk a little about Carla Bennett, played by the excellent Erica Gimpel (of "Fame" fame). Aside from her excellent performance, alternating between empathetic warmth in flashback and cool composure in the present, the character has certainly given the show another shot of adrenaline straight to the heart, propelling the second half of the season in an intriguing new direction. Though initially, Carla appeared to be just a kindly mentor to Nikita, a generous woman who ran a halfway house for troubled addicts looking to get clean, it makes far more sense for her to be tangled in Division's web too. As I touched on last week, the show has been going to great lengths this season to emphasize the idea that Nikita is "destined" to be an assassin, that this is the life she was born for and that all of her choices have inevitably led her to the crossroads she now finds herself at. Carla hammered that point home this week, insisting -- whether Nikita wanted to hear it or not -- that her little wildflower "thrived" in the desert, and must've found her way back to Carla for a reason. Not just for Nikita's destiny alone, but for both of them.
Whether Division found Nikita because of Carla and the cop shooting, or whether they'd been tracking her for far longer than that, doesn't really matter at this point; I trust that all will be revealed in due time, and that it will invariably lead Nikita even further down the rabbit hole than she's already fallen. I love that Nikita's journey continues to mirror Alex's -- both of them with mentors from Division who directly affected the course of their fates, ensuring that they would always be driven by a need for revenge and the desire to right some cosmic wrong.
Carla's scenes with Percy were particularly fascinating; the pair certainly didn't seem antagonistic towards each other, and it's not often that you see Percy afford anyone with respect, so Carla is clearly a force to be reckoned with. That was further illustrated by Amanda's apparent hatred for the woman; it's equally rare for Division's current HBIC to play her hand so overtly, but with Carla's position at the very top of Amanda's personal "to kill" list, as Percy pointed out, "that's a long way to go for a grudge." I think Carla's holding out on us, too, but what secret could she have discovered that would make Amanda want to kill someone as important as the creator of Division? It was also interesting to see her tenderness with Roan -- there's definitely more to that story.
It's always a pleasure to see flashbacks in this show, and despite Nikita's serious bad hair day, the scenes set 10 years ago proved very enlightening in terms of what a younger, more defeated Nikita was like, as well as the details of the crime that landed her on death row. I enjoyed director Brad Turner's decision to color the flashbacks with a warm, sepia tone to convey the safety Nikita felt in Carla's presence, as well as to emphasize the "aged" quality we associate with old, faded photographs.
There were plenty of clever narrative strokes that demonstrated a well-thought-out story, even if they were used for convenience's sake; Percy using the partner of the cop Nikita killed to send her a message, using Madeline as a middle-man for contact, and Nikita and Michael tracking Percy's location with his deadman switch. I'm glad that the show is still finding sensible ways to keep Senator Pierce tied into the story even now that Oversight is defunct.
It was also satisfying to see Nikita and Michael working as such a well-oiled machine, even if their former intimacy has been eroded by the appearance of Max in Michael's life. I found it sweet to see Michael making tentative steps to reforge that bond, like his abortive gesture to reach out for Nikita before she got the call from Madeline (I'm not sure whether that was scripted or if Shane West ad-libbed it, but it was a wonderful touch), and his attempt to put a silver lining on Carla's betrayal by pointing out that he and Nikita never would've met if Carla hadn't saved her. It's clear that Nikita is still trying to stay closed off to avoid getting hurt again if Michael decides to leave once more, and that distance is certainly jarring, but I think both Shane and Maggie are playing it well.
I'm also glad to see that Alex doesn't seem to be underestimating Amanda now that they're grudgingly working together; she's wholly aware that Amanda has her sights set on Zetrov, so I just hope she can continue to stay one step ahead of Amanda's plans -- she's certainly proving to be a useful asset inside Division again. One of my favorite aspects of this episode is the realization that I have absolutely no idea where the show will go from here, and that's incredibly exciting as a viewer.
Did you find "Rogue" as thrilling as I did? What secrets do you think Carla is keeping, and why does Amanda want her dead? Weigh in on the episode below!
"Nikita" airs Fridays at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.