Nikita, Season 4, Episode 03: “Set-Up”
Written by Carlos Coto
Directed by Marc David Alpert
Airs Fridays at 9pm (ET) on the CW
With the death of a key doppelganger mole last week, Nikita and the ex-Division crew fired a shot at The Shop that, while not crippling their plans, was nonetheless too strong to ignore. However, Alex’s arrest, coupled with Amanda’s assertion that The Shop had another ace up their sleeve, did not bode well for the team. This week explores the connection The Shop has drawn between Alex and Nikita while exploring Birkhoff’s backstory, in another fast-paced episode that once again manages to leave the end in a way that leaves the possible course for the season wide open.
The idea of Alex Udinov as a CIA fugitive is an intriguing one. While Alex herself is no stranger to being on the run, since her public return to Zetrov, the Udinov name has always been a safe shelter, both for her, and for other members of the ex-Division crew. With the Shop feeding false information to the CIA, combined with Alex’s escape from a CIA safehouse, puts her on a watchlist as well, a watchlist it will be much more difficult for her to evade than any prior ones. It will be interesting to see how this development affects the team, especially with Nikita’s return, as this puts two highly sought fugitives in the group. The freezing of the Udinov assets also adds another layer of difficulty to the actions of the ex-Division crew, particularly in light of The Shop’s extensive resources. How this affects Alex’s personal actions is also something worth keeping an eye on, as Alex has previously made no attempt to hide her Udinov persona, using it as a front to fight human trafficking and get the ex-Division crew into high profile places. It might be more difficult, thus, to adjust to her non-Division side being hunted for once, and is likely to complicate things.
Getting to know more about Birkhoff’s personal history is also a compelling aspect of the week’s episode. While the possibility of Birkhoff being inside The Shop and replaced by a double did not pan out, finding out Birkhoff’s personal history, and getting an idea of what makes him tick, is just as good. It’s interesting to note that, while every Division agent had a past that was wiped clean prior to their beginning at Division, Birkhoff not only is part of that group, but he also did so voluntarily, making him more of a fit at Division than many may have realised. Seeing his reaction to finally being able to connect with his father after decades of estrangement, how he reacts to the knowledge that his father is still alive despite the doppelganger’s death promises to be fascinating. It will also be worth watching to see if Birkhoff can re-initiate contact with his father, as well as whether or not the team is still able and willing to locate The Shop and take on them face-to-face. Amanda’s manipulation of Peller is also bound to throw a wrench into any plans going forward, and just how big a wrench looks to be a promising development.
Overall, this is another strong episode, continuing the season’s trend of aiming in one direction, but organically shifting away from it over the course of the episode. Sam’s extraneous motivations continue to be intriguing, and it’s possible at this point that he may steal the remainder of Alex’s money, or ask for it as a favour to pay off his debts, and what course of action he chooses will tell a lot about Sam and, in turn, about Nikita’s faith in him and Owen sharing personality characteristics. It is also good to see the ex-Division team tackle the idea that there may be one of Amanda’s moles within the group, an accusation that would have to have been tackled sooner or later, given the deep reaches The Shop has already demonstrated. Having the connection between Birkhoff and Peller be a mystery to Amanda is also a nice touch, as it ensures she is not seen as infallible and omniscient, and that it is possible to keep secrets from her. The growing rift between Amanda and The Shop, and the latter’s increasing irritation at Amanda’s inability to keep any of their moles alive, is also a promising turn of events, and it is likely that The Shop will soon be just as interested in taking Amanda out as the ex-Division team, which is bound to shake up events. How Amanda handles her current standing in The Shop, as well as what plans they truly have in mind, and where the show goes from here, is worth keeping an eye on as the second half of the final season begins.
– Deepayan Sengupta