Nikita, Season 3, Episode 19: “Self-Destruct”
Written by Kristen Reidel
Directed by Nick Copus
Airs Fridays at 8pm (ET) on the CW
The process, or lack thereof, of dismantling Division has been a looming concern for all of Nikita’s third season. The concern voiced by many from within and outside of the organisation focused on how the process was not happening fast enough, and would perhaps never really happen, came to a head last week as the place underwent a full-scale rebellion that came with its share of casualties. This week focuses on the aftermath of the actions of the last few episodes, turning the focus to character development while still setting the stage for some large-scale actions, some of which already redefine the show with the potential for further change.
The exploration of Alex’s emotional state following Sean’s death was fascinating to watch, particularly in how it mirrored Nikita’s emotional state following Daniel’s death. The idea that Alex would embark on trying to save everyone else she was unable to is a great path to take the character down, and for the first time, gives Alex a purpose outside of Division, which may hint at what she will choose to do if and when the organisation is shut down, or her services are no longer needed. Getting the drug distribution centres and the brothel shut down is a major win for Alex, one that she’s needed for some time now, following her relapse into addiction, as well as the mental manipulation she was subjected to by Amanda.
It was also great to see the immediate aftermath of Daniel’s death, and how it affected Nikita. In addition to providing insight into the fact that Nikita truly understands how Alex felt after seeing Sean die, the flashbacks also give the audience another look at how the relationship between Amanda and Nikita developed all those years ago, further deepening the understanding of what drives Amanda now, and proving that she was not always necessarily a completely bad person; in fact, she was instrumental, in her own way, in helping Nikita realise that Daniel’s death wasn’t the end of the world, and thus helping her off the ledge. How Nikita helps Alex this episode and how Amanda helped Nikita all those years ago also serves as an interesting contrast to Amanda’s way of helping, and Nikita’s way, and proves once and for all that, when push comes to shove, Nikita may now occupy the Division slot that Amanda once held, but she will never be like Amanda, for better or for worse.
If Nikita is the Amanda stand-in in the new Division, there’s no doubt that Ryan Fletcher is the Percy alternative, and the parallels and differences between the two have been illustrated throughout the season in how Ryan has chosen to deal with numerous obstacles that have threatened Division. It was good to see Ryan acknowledge as much in admitting that, in the course of running Division, he made some questionable decisions that his old self would have balked at, and coming to that realisation and correcting himself is possibly the strongest proof yet that becoming like Percy was as much a result of who Percy was as it was a result of the fact that he was running the organisation. The fact that both Ryan and Nikita end the episode as still fundamentally good people proves that running Division is not a corrupting force, and Amanda and Percy were bad people regardless, and one doesn’t necessarily have to become like them when given control of something like Division.
Overall, this was a great episode, and set up a potentially nail-biting run of episodes to end the season. Ryan’s decision to release the remaining Division agents and set the place up to destruct has some very interesting ramifications, and it’ll be exciting to watch how it all plays out, particularly with Danforth no longer backing up Ryan against the President. Ryan’s shock at trying to process everything that happened since Alex shot him was a great way for the show to illustrate how many events had transpired over the past few episodes. Stripping Division down to its core is also a great decision, as it puts Nikita and co. back in a position of strength; a group of skilled and loyal underdogs, without extra concerns weighing them down. Nikita and Ryan’s desire to ensure that no old Division agents got hurt meant that large numbers of them had no role to play in the major conflicts throughout the season, and giving them a free pass and letting them run effectively removes the dead weight, and allows Nikita to focus on taking down Amanda with less possibility of being compromised. How the remaining members of Division choose to go after Amanda, what role Sam plays in the upcoming fight, and how Ryan copes with working alongside Alex after their last encounter, as well as how Alex deals with the knowledge that Amanda manipulated her, are all worth tuning in for next week.
– Deepayan Sengupta