Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 2, Episode 23 of The CW's "Nikita," entitled "Homecoming."
It's been a revelatory season for The CW's "Nikita." This year, the show shed the last vestiges of its procedural beginnings and wholeheartedly embraced its compelling mythology, drawing fans deeper into Percival Rose's treacherous web of politics and bloodshed, keeping our heroes on the run, outgunned, but never quite outmatched. We've seen allies become enemies, Oversight dismantled, Zetrov returned to safe hands, Amanda deposed and finally, Percy fallen once and for all.
It's easy to forget, in the halcyon glow of the show's renewal, that this episode could easily have been "Nikita's" series finale -- would you have been satisfied if it had been? From a storytelling standpoint, the narrative truly has come full-circle; this season has been focused on the concept of "home," and as both Nikita and Percy pointed out in this episode, Division is the only home Nikita has ever known.
"I grew up here, I learned right from wrong here, and I fell in love here," our heroine pointed out, effectively scuttling Michael's plans for retirement on a desert island, but also embracing the idea that Division had a hand in shaping her into the honorable, powerful woman she is today.
Yes, Division took away her life, but it also inadvertently provided her with a new one, with a destiny that's far more important than the one she left behind. Nikita was on Death Row, she was an addict with no friends and no future, and so -- in ways she's probably reluctant to acknowledge -- Percy's twisted agenda changed her life for the better, albeit by making her suffer through the worst. That doesn't excuse what he forced her and the other recruits to do over the course of their careers, of course, but it's a silver lining to one man's depraved cloud.
Just as last year's finale brought all of the seemingly disparate elements from Season 1 together to reveal the extent of Percy's Machiavellian scheming, this season's closer beautifully wove the threads of Nikita's Season 2 journey into a cohesive tapestry, illustrating that, in the end, running Division was not only the obvious choice, it was the only real choice for Team Nikita to make.
From Nikita's mentor, Carla, and the faith she had in the idea of Division as a place for rehabilitation and second chances, to Owen and his belief that Nikita's unique skill-set should be used for protection as much as aggression, Nikita's path this year has been inexorably leading her towards this outcome.
In our recent interview, Shane West pointed out that "Team Nikita has been put together for a reason," and clearly, that reason was to force Nikita into a leadership role that she never would've chosen on her own; to help her realize that she is capable of taking command without abusing that position of power, and to prove that, in learning to trust others and let her loved ones in, she's no longer making decisions for everyone else -- she's allowing them to demonstrate their faith in her by risking their own lives for her cause.
Alex, Sean, Ryan, Birkhoff, even Michael, all could've walked away from her at many points this season, but they stayed because they believed in Nikita and her ability to know right from wrong and to make hard choices without ever sacrificing innocent lives. Division truly has a chance to fulfill Carla's original aspirations for it with Nikita, Michael and Ryan at the helm, and I'm glad that the writers chose restoration over destruction when it came to solving the problem of Division and all of the equally helpless recruits that Percy and Amanda manipulated over the years.
The outcome of "Homecoming" was just another illustration of the grace that Nikita never could've discovered without going through everything she had to endure this season: almost losing Michael, Birkhoff and Ryan; actually losing Carla; being betrayed and manipulated by Percy and the man she had hoped was her father; facing Amanda and her own darkness after being captured by Brandt -- all instances of our heroine being thrust into the fire again and again, forging her into the person that Division truly needed to lead it.
While it was bittersweet to see Percy and Roan die (and aren't you impressed by all of the cast's misdirection in teasing the show's deaths?), their stories have run their course. As integral as Percy has been to "Nikita's" story for the past two years -- and as phenomenal as Xander Berkeley has been in playing such a memorable and formidable villain -- Nikita (both the woman and the show) need to evolve. It would have undermined Nikita's strength to have such a major adversary remain on the board after everything he's done to her, especially with Amanda still at large. I also assume that the enigmatic "Group" that Percy was trying to get into will feature heavily next season, so there are still plenty of battles for our heroes to fight. Having Percy end up back in his glass prison was a poetic touch, and I loved the image of him falling through the glass, shot from below -- one of many fascinating visual flourishes from director Eagle Egilsson in "Homecoming."
I loved that, in typically Percy fashion, he managed to turn the tables and force Nikita to work with him one last time in escaping Division -- the pair have such a dynamic, antagonistic rapport that it served as a fitting send-off for an iconic character. I'm sure that one of his final lines -- "I brought you into this world, I can take you out of it" -- will keep conspiracy theorists speculating whether he truly was Nikita's birth father, as some suspect. It was also surprisingly touching to see just how affected Roan was by his commander's demise, and I'm glad that he got to go out with a bang (literally) following another stunning fight scene with Alex and Sean.
I was especially pleased with the way writer Carlos Coto toyed with the audience's expectations during the episode. From the outset -- with Sean's attempts to ask Alex out on a real date -- those endearing emotional beats seemed to be positioning Sean as one of the episode's casualties, building up to the possibility of a tragic demise that would serve to motivate Alex next season. There was an undercurrent of tension in all of the pair's scenes together as the possibility of his death loomed -- further played up by Coto's decision to have Alex and Sean split up, to go against every horror movie scenario ever committed to celluloid. Even in their joint fight with Roan, Sean seemed poised to go out in a blaze of glory, defending the woman he loved before tragically dying in her arms. The fact that Coto so knowingly subverted that classic action trope only made the episode more delicious, even if it came at the expense of Roan. And Alex continued the trend of getting her arm broken during dramatic fight scenes; was that the same arm that Nikita broke at the beginning of the season, continuity buffs?
While the episode undoubtedly placed Nikita in a leadership role, it did the same for Ryan, and now that Noah Bean is officially a regular next season, it will be interesting to see how the dynamic evolves between him and Nikita. We saw the mild-mannered analyst truly stepping up to the plate this week; he effortlessly took command of Team Nikita early in the episode, directing Birkhoff and Alex and Sean in their tasks while Nikita and Michael took care of Division. As the team's only trustworthy link to the government left, I'm intrigued to see how Ryan will adjust to straddling the line between answering to the president and looking after Team Nikita's interests.
I was also pleased to see Michael interacting with the Division agents he'd trained when he and Nikita stormed the castle -- even as an "outsider," it was obvious that he found it easy to fall back into old authoritative habits, and Shane West perfectly portrayed Michael's confidence and resolve once he was back on the home field. I wonder if he'll be back to wearing a power suit when we see him next. We had a brief, obscured moment of friction between Michael and Ryan when they were debating Division's future, so I'm curious to see if that will continue next year. When we spoke, West also pointed out that their new living situation is ripe with possibilities for conflict between Nikita and Michael: "They're different; Michael's very conservative and Nikita's very liberal ... When you see how it ends and what their current destiny is going to be, they're going to have different opinions on how to handle the situation." Whether that means trouble for "Mikita," we'll have to wait and see.
Even though she was the show's calm, steely center last season, I think Maggie Q has truly come into her own in Season 2, and it's clear that episodes like the phenomenal "Wrath" have given her new confidence in portraying Nikita, just as the character herself seemed to reach a new level of self-possession after the events of that episode. She has such admirable poise now, clearly buoyed by the support of her team, that I can't wait to see how the character faces next season's challenges. But as thrilling as her rousing speech to the Division personnel was, I think my favorite moment of the episode was her quiet, sunset conversation with Michael regarding their future. It was an understated, but heartfelt moment between two characters who have suffered more than their fair share of heartbreak, and I was impressed by the understated, but potent emotion on Q's face.
That segued into Birkhoff finally getting some action with Sonya (and a welcome cameo from showrunner Craig Silverstein, who could be spotted talking to Ryan in the background) before Nikita effectively ruined yet another romantic moment between Sean and Alex, who really do need to have a proper date over the summer.
Having the finale end where the show began, with Nikita and Alex steeling themselves to change the course of Division's destiny all over again, proved a fitting punctuation mark, while still leaving the door open for more thrilling adventures next season. I, for one, can't wait to see where "Nikita" takes us next.
What did you think of "Homecoming"? Were you glad to see Percy and Roan exit while Team Nikita got to fight on for another day? Share your reactions and predictions for Season 3 below!
"Nikita" returns in the fall with Season 3 on Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.