Episode 5: The Sword's Edge
By: Carlos Uribe
Nikita is a show about a female spy who does missions for a secret, undercover government agency.
The Sword's Edge is an episode that is significant in the long-run because it finally makes almost every character understand the real stakes of failure. The President has made it perfectly clear to Ryan that if she hears a single negative thing about Division then she's going to use special forces to shut it down. This is a serious threat as these forces not only have the floor plans of Division but the roster of every agent and where they live. She's not willing to go with her kill contingency just yet but she will if Division makes any mistakes. This is putting Ryan in a lot of pressure and he's largely been holding it on his own. His primary team of Nikita and friends don't know the real stakes. They're doing this to fix Division's wrongs in an attempt to give the people who have been used by it new lives. They could have gone to the public but the sins of their past selves had landed them on prison terms they haven't completed yet. Characters would go back to prison and Nikita would find herself back on death row. They decided to stick with Division in order to save it. Ryan notes that he's promised a new Divison where people served without a gun pointed at their head. If he revealed that failure meant getting wiped out then it would cause a lot of the people within Division to start losing trust in his leadership. This is an episode where Nikita and all of the other major principal players finally learn the truth that if they don't succeed then they're dead.
It did this through the weekly case. One of the Rogue Thirty had been undercover in Uzbekistan to monitor the movements of a movement. He had been able to work himself up as a party enforcer. With Percy gone, he managed to move his way to become president of the country. This makes him a powerful man who is in charge of an entire army. There is no way that they can allow him to lead this country because there is no telling what he'll actually do with it. They decide that the best way to deal with him is when he's on American soil. This roque agent is meeting with the President to sign an arms deal. The idea is to get to him at his hotel room before secret service takes over his protection detail. They plan to replace him with an undercover agent that looks identical with him. This agent will go back to Uzbekistan and suffer a natural death. It will look like the President had died of natural causes and the situation will have been contained. Everything actually goes according to plan until the rogue agent reveals he has a video that will tell the world about Division along with details of of his missions. If that video is released then Division gets wiped out. Ryan is forced to release him and tell the truth to the rest of the characters.
Nikita is the one who feels the most betrayed. She had trusted Ryan and this huge secret undermined it. The other characters also had problems with Ryan due to this but not as large or as stated. When they learn that this rogue agent isn't planning to steal the money from the deal but to kill the President, they realize that they have to stop him. This involves a fun mission where they have to infiltrate the White House in order to replace the agent with his double. They succeed at the mission without the President or anyone finding out the truth. Division manages to actually bring back one of the rogue agents alive. The mission was a success. The action and espionage scenes were as fun as ever but they weren't the real meat of this episode. That was the shifting relationship between Ryan and Nikita. She is able to understand the stress that he is under better. She agrees in keeping the knowledge about the special forces a secret from the rest of Division but she's able to start trusting Ryan again.
The Sword's Edge is a solid installment of Nikita. It has a fun weekly case that had some pretty good espionage scenes. Letting the characters know the stakes of failure is a smart move by the writers but it's really the only significant thing that happened this episode. Alex and Owen have started a search for Amanda's mole but they don't make any progress. Not every episode can advance the main plots so it's always nice when these “filler” episodes have some significance. Even if it didn't, this episode would still be a good Nikita episode.