Nikita, Ep 3.17: “Masks” dives into Owen’s past, as the situation at Division becomes more volatile

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Melinda Clarke, Lyndsy Fonseca
Melinda Clarke, Lyndsy Fonseca

Nikita, Season 3, Episode 17: “Masks”
Written by Kamran Pasha
Directed by Chris Peppe
Airs Fridays at 8pm (ET) on the CW

Division has largely been able to remain one step ahead of Amanda this season, and while the former head of the organization has managed to force Division to incur some losses, the most prominent at one point being Michael’s hand, Amanda’s plans have, by and large, been thwarted. However, Amanda is a formidable opponent, and history has proven that she always has another trick up her sleeve, this time with both Alex and Owen having had Amanda invade their mental space. This week explores the fallout of Amanda’s experiments on the duo, as well as Owen’s pre-Division history, delivering a thrilling episode that pushes the show towards some potentially huge changes.

The coup of Division is a great turning point of the series, forcing a decision on what the fate of the shadowy organisation really will be. While Nikita and her core group are undoubtedly qualified individuals to lead and top-notch agents in the field (with the exception of Ryan and Birkhoff), it must be remembered that the rest of Division is also comprised of the best group of assassins in the world, with the capability to organise, as the last two weeks have shown. Percy controlled the group with fear, but Nikita’s insistence on not doing the same means they never really had a firm hold on Division agents, with them instead accepting Ryan and Nikita’s leadership because of the promise of freedom. This coup, however, is bound to force some answers, and how Michael, Alex, Sean, and Birkhoff manage to keep tension down in Division while keeping the US government and their SWAT team at bay, particularly with Danforth now dead, Nikita out of commission, and Amanda and Owen/Sam still viable threats, is a promising storyline.

Devon Sawa, Shane West
Devon Sawa, Shane West

The emergence of Owen’s alter ego Sam Matthews was also a fascinating aspect of the episode. While Amanda has been dropping hints about Owen’s less-than-stellar past during their interactions, seeing just how bad an individual Sam is really drives home the point, while also effectively demonstrating how capable Amanda’s brainwashing can be. Sam’s presence in Division is the one big wild card in the midst of this coup, as Michael is the only one aware that he is intent on betraying them, and he isn’t interested in helping anyone but himself, which means his actions could inadvertently help tip the scales in favour of one side or the other. It will also be interesting to see if defeating Sam becomes a rallying point for Division, as him working with Amanda makes him a common enemy to everyone, making him an unlikely point of unity that could force Division agents into working with each other. The rescue of Nikita could likewise work as a common goal for Division to rally around, and whether it ends up that way, or if the members of the coup decide to freeze Nikita out of the organisation and leave her to battle Amanda on her own is worth looking out for.

Overall, this was a great episode. The tension inside Division as the rebel group built up to the coup was palpable, and how it progresses with neither Ryan nor Nikita around to stop it promises to be nail-biting. It was also interesting to learn more about Owen’s backstory, and credit must be given to Devon Sawa for managing to make Sam Matthews someone who feels like a completely different person than Owen. How Michael and Birkhoff react to the coup, how Sam’s desire to get out clashes with the controlling group of individuals now in charge at Division, and how Nikita manages to get free from Amanda, as well as what Amanda has planned for Nikita once she has been captured, are all plotlines worth turning in for next week.

– Deepayan Sengupta

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