Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 3, Episode 3 of The CW's "Nikita," titled "True Believer."
After two of "Nikita's" strongest episodes to date, it seemed inevitable that "True Believer" would feel a little flat in comparison -- mostly because this week's story was less intrinsically personal than "3.0" and "Innocence" were for our main characters.
The season premiere focused so compellingly on Michael and Nikita's relationship, and last week's episode was such a beautiful mirror of Alex's history, that the fanatical cult of domestic terrorists (who actually turned out to be con-artists) didn't pack the same emotional punch. That's not to say that "True Believer" was a terrible episode, or that it didn't throw an intriguing spotlight on the motivations of our heroes, just that it won't be joining my list of favorites.
It was a solid hour overall, and I especially enjoyed the twist that Joshua, supposedly Mr. 99 Percent, was actually lining his pockets and gaming the system, playing an elaborate game of "cowboys and indians" with partner Nick as a far more selfish way of sticking it to the wealthy. I wasn't particularly enamored of Mia, who spent too much of the episode being belligerent for me to truly feel sympathetic by the time she died, but I appreciated the dilemma she represented for Nikita.
We've already seen our heroine struggling with the idea of working for the government and trusting Ryan to have the best interests of the remaining Division agents at heart, but up until now, Nikita's conflict hasn't really been vocalized. Hearing Mia point out that it was Nikita, not Joshua, who made her believe that one person could make a difference obviously shook her to her core, especially since Nikita no longer knows exactly what she's fighting for. Cleaning up Percy's mess is one thing, but it's certainly not the righteous quest for revenge and freedom that it was before, and that lack of purpose is obviously something that she needs to overcome.
"No one thought I could be stopped because they thought I was stronger, faster -- it had nothing to do with that," she told Alex. "I was committed, I was more committed than my enemies. I believed. If I lose that ..."
That search for meaning is obviously going to be an integral part of Nikita's arc this season -- and Alex's, for that matter, since Sean also challenged her to explain exactly why she was still fighting in this week's episode.
As Lyndsy Fonseca explained in our recent interview, as far as Alex is concerned, "it's not just Nikita -- it's the purpose. We as people are happiest when we have purpose, when we feel like we have a job to do and we feel like we're a part of something. And so to just have all of her money and just go off and go on a honeymoon, that's really not going to be great [for her]. Where most people would be like, "Yeah. Awesome," that's just not what she wants. That's what Sean wants, so that's the problem."
Alex obviously still feels like she's making a difference and helping people, but it seems like it's going to take Nikita a little longer to get there, especially now she has Michael and their engagement to think about. It was telling how much she was toying with her engagement ring during that conversation with Alex -- perhaps the idea of a normal life is calling to her now, especially after the discussion of parenthood last week.
Sean hasn't been given much to do yet this season, so it was nice to see him back in action this week. His knife fighting scene with Michael was especially enjoyable, but since the ensemble has grown so much (and will grow further next week once Owen returns), I'm guessing he'll probably be the one to get the short end of the story stick, since he no longer has an individual arc like he did last season with his mom. I hoping that's not the case, and that the writers will continue to find meaningful things for him to do, but as Alex pointed out this week, since Sean wasn't truly Division before, he has less reason to stick around than anyone, and it's his care for Alex that's keeping him there.
We've also heard rumblings about Alex's storyline taking a darker turn, and it seems like those seeds were planted in this week's episode, with Alex getting shot and choosing to forego painkillers during her recovery (at least for the moment). She pointed out to Birkhoff that a morphine drip would send her on a bender, so as she recovers, it seems like we'll be seeing that temptation come back into play. Fonseca always does such an excellent job in portraying Alex's recovery and withdrawal, so wherever the writers decide to take it, I'm sure it will be a believable arc.
Although Birkhoff didn't have as many memorable moments in this episode as he did last week, it was nice to see he and Sonya finally working together despite the obvious awkwardness between them. I'm still itching to find out exactly what went down between them, but as Alex pointed out, she got shot mostly as a result of their bickering, so they're long overdue for a reconciliation. What Birkhoff lacked in hilarity he made up for in gadgets this week, with his BUTR invention proving invaluable in taking down Joshua and Nick. I just can't wait for Owen and Amanda's return next week, since that seems like it'll kick the story into high gear.
"Nikita" airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.
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